It's not often we get to showcase something brand new here, so we were delighted when Kristian sent us The Ditch. It's a prison zombie horror vignette, wonderfully dynamic, quite gory, and his first comic.
This 12-page short opens with Sal - not a particularly nice man - stuck in solitary confinement, having just smoked his last cigarette, noise all around, something ominous clamouring to get in.
That's a classic pressure/isolation horror opener, and from here we pull back to find out quite how Sal got there. Spoilers: it's a blend of a) zombies, and b) being just a total dick.
Kristian's a professional animator, so it's not surprising that the comic has a wonderful sense of flow an motion. Which is what you want for a story about the hungry dead biting chunks outta folk.
You can read the whole thing here:
Or check out more artwork and sketches on his site.
We know Kristian from a combination of early Consequential pub meets, and the Cambridge tech sector being something of a richly linked network. So when he sent the PDF over, Roger asked him a few questions:
The Ditch is an extremely polished first work, and I was quite curious about whether this was something he'd always had as an ambition and been working towards.
It seems comics have indeed always been a passion, and from early on:
I grew up with access to tons of comics. My dad had a near complete collection of Asterix & Obelix and Lucky Luke and as soon as I could get a library card I'd be carrying mountains of random comics home from the local library. Getting my hands on a lot of age inappropriate stuff in the process, (hello Morbus Gravis) It did expose me to a lot of different styles and stories though.
From lugging home his childhood bodyweight in occasionally-racy bande dessinée, it seems comics were nearly a career:
I pretty much wanted to be doing it as a career ever since I can remember, and I even visited an artist collective back in Denmark when I was like 13 or so to find out more about it. Unfortunately what I found out was that, at that point, there were like 3 or 4 people in the entire country that were able to actually live of it. Probably fewer now. So I put that idea aside and focused on animation instead which was another passion of mine.
More specific visual influences for The Ditch are drawn from prison movies - Kristian mentioned The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, as well as a general fascination with work from Mike Mignola, Guy Davis, Max Fiumara and James Harren.
There's a playful note to The Ditch, too, in amidst the gore. A prison work gang beat a guard to death with a shovel, in what's already a slightly coy reversal of zombie tropes, and when the iconic hand pops up from its shallow grave, Sal just stamps it back down:
Later, that same hand rises again, shown against forking lightning, and we just know this doesn't end well. Similarly, the rise of the undead is intercut with little panels of characters chewing chicken legs, and some no less bloody prison violence.
It's a well constructed thing that I reckon richly deserves more eyes on it.
So, you can read the whole story here: The Ditch, PDF