Friday, November 1, 2013

Seven Questions with Chris Charlton from Assailant Comics

On October 19, at KokomoCon (Kokomo, IN), I had the privilege to meet Chris Charlton at his booth for Assailant Comics,

While there we talked about Binary Gray and their two other titles. Fortunately Mr. Charlton was able to take some time and answer seven questions for us at Hammond Comics Blog. – Arthur Black

AB - I have read the first two issues of Binary Gray and really liked them. How did you come up with the idea for of Binary Gray and the main character for Alex Gray?

CC - First off, Arthur, thank you for taking the time to talk with me and I’m really glad you enjoyed the first two issues!  The idea for Binary Gray was actually hatched from my own work as an IT Technician.  I was never electrocuted thankfully, but I definitely had moments where I would day dream about the ability to talk to computers and speed up the troubleshooting, diagnosis and repair process.  This is Alex’s power in a nutshell – the ability to communicate with electronics through physical contact.  Once I started to explore that, I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose against a world where there are other heroes and villains who are more powerful on a physical level – super strength, speed, flight, etc.  Comparatively, Alex doesn’t see himself as “powerful”, and I think that makes him a more relatable character and definitely fits more with his self-deprecating sense of humor and general outlook on life.  He’s not a very happy camper, but in this day and age, he is actually EXTREMELY powerful and the readers are along for the ride as he discovers just what he’s capable of.

AB - There are some pretty advanced electronics in the world. Are there any processing speed limitations for Alex Gray? What would happen if either a computer or Alex pushed the limitations of the other?

CC - Other than Alex’s ability to “hackess” secure networks, which has more to do with the speed of his abilities trying combinations of code, I don’t think that there are necessarily any rules of physics or electronics being broken.  It’s the speed of his power and the calculations taking place in his brain (the ultimate CPU) that allow him to access multiple networks at once to get what he’s after.  Since part of the storyline is Alex searching for his father’s killer and the memory/dream of his death is a recurring theme in the first arc, I thought it was interesting to show how his brain starts behaving more like a hard drive as his powers evolve – actually recovering and storing memories like files on a server.  I would personally jump at the chance to have the ability to clearly recall memories (especially from childhood).  Who wouldn’t?!

AB - What can we expect of Binary Gray in the future?

CC - I don’t want to spoil anything for you or future readers out there who want to give the book a try, but I can tell you that Alex has a dark path ahead of him.  As much as he tries, he can’t seem to get out of his own way.  There will certainly be more revealed on how Alex’s powers came be, the history of The Agency and their role in the larger scheme of things, plus some pretty epic battles!  Issue #6, which is coming out in November, is a particularly huge issue that will change the direction of the book and Alex’s life forever.  The first story arc is 12 issues total and I’ll be collecting it in two volumes.  In fact I just got the cover art for the first trade and I can’t wait to show it to everyone.  Definitely excited for the second half of the story to play out and get some reader reactions.  I don’t pull any punches.  Issues 7-12 will definitely up the ante.  I want to spoil it but I can’t!!

AB - Assailant Comics also has two other comic lines available:  Black of Heart and Sleepless.  What can you tell our readers of these stories?

CC - Sleepless is an anthology book with a “Twilight Zone” vibe.  Not necessarily horror, but definitely DARK.  Four short stories – a different artist lending their talents to each one.  Originally I wanted it to be an annual series released around Halloween, but I’ve been dragging my feet on the new issue and I’ve started looking toward next year’s schedule.  Part of that reason is Black of Heart – a five issue miniseries about a detective tracking a serial killer in 1949 New York City.  Absolutely a throwback to film noir and dark pulp mysteries, with the volume cranked up to 12.  The mixed media artwork by David Hollenbach (cover artist for Binary Gray) is every bit as creepy as it should be for a story about a killer who abducts women in a taxi before removing one eye and dumping their bodies in the rat-laden alleys of post-war NYC.   We just completed a very successful Kickstarter for the 2nd issue which released in August and the book has garnered a lot of good attention – even from pros like Charles Soule, Tony Moore and Tony Isabella.  I’m very thankful that the book has received that kind of response and I’m anxious to get Chapter Three out!  Lots of great twists around the corner and I like that Black of Heart includes some actual history in the context of the story.  I think it lends an extra layer of authenticity to the rich backdrop of that era.  I had to go to some dark places to write it, but I couldn’t be happier with outcome.

AB - You have a new comic series coming called Freedom Run.  What can we look forward to in this new line?

CC - I guess you saw the teaser on the Assailant Facebook page!  That’s good.  Hopefully that means I’m doing my job haha.  Freedom Run is actually the first story in a new series called “Open Tree – Legends & Tall Tales”, which features a new one-shot story in each issue.  Beginning, Middle and End – all in one book.  In some ways it’s the basic anthology concept of Sleepless in a slightly longer format.  I’m also reaching a bit outside the boundaries of what someone may think when they hear the name “Assailant Comics” – but each of the stories in Open Tree are thematically love stories.  Albeit, the first is a Supernatural Western – so there’s nothing traditional about it – but it is what it is.  The second issue is also in the works now with a completely different artist and style - it’s an original Tall Tale set in the 1900’s and all of the dialogue and narration rhymes.  It was a real challenge but also a great accomplishment and a lot of fun to write.  Definitely be on the lookout for these in 2014!

AB - You stated on Assailant Comics’ Facebook page that KokomoCon was your last event of the year until March of 2014. What are your plans during the winter months for Assailant Comics?

CC - Well there’s definitely some R& R penciled in, but beyond that I’ll be finishing up a new miniseries I’m collaborating on with artist Todd Beistel on called “The Weight of Air”.  Todd came to me earlier this year with the premise and I loved it right off the bat.  It follows an asthmatic psychic named Robert Gellman who’s working with a detective to find a serial killer in present day Hollywood in the middle of a record heat wave.  I know what you’re thinking – WOW another serial killer story?  But let me tell you that when this one is finished, I think people will be talking about it for a while.  I’d love to say more but I don’t want to ruin the surprise!   Keep an eye out for the first teasers coming early next year.

AB - If you were able to have one super power, what would it be? How would you use it?

CC - That’s tough!  It’s a toss-up between flight and invisibility.  Flight is an obvious one but if I could turn invisible I could sneak into banks and steal the money I need to keep funding my comics!  

We would like to thank Chris Charlton for giving us his time and providing us a glimpse at what Assailant Comics has to offer. Please check out the website at There are digital and print copies of their comics available. Also be sure to check out Assailants Facebook page to see the teaser to Open Tree – Legends & Tall Tales. Next month, my review of the first four issues of Binary Gray will be posted for everyone.

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