By: Nicole D’Andria
RED WINTER: FALLOUT #1 is the beginning of a sequel series to the crime noir story published by Scout Comics! I spoke with the creator/writer of the series, Michael Gordon (Transdimensional, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man), who is offering the entire first issue of the previous series here for people eager to jump into the series.
The story of RED WINTER: FALLOUT takes place after the gang massacre at the Moscow Oil Refinery in Kapotnya, the most crime-ridden district of Moscow. Disgraced former NYPD detective Eli Winter and his criminal son Joseph find themselves thrown into this gang war and must find a way to survive!
The first issue includes 20 story pages plus bonus material (art process pages, script to art comparisons, and an essay by Michael Gordon about the inspirations behind RED WINTER) that makes the final page count more than 30 pages! It is the first part of a four-issue mini-series. The art team includes illustrations by Alberto Massaggia (Hotline Miami Wildlife), letters by Nikki Sherman (Tomb of Horror), and a cover by Chris Shehan (If Anthology 2017).
Rewards include RED WINTER: FALLOUT #1 Kickstarter Edition both digitally (£3/$4) and physically (£5/$7) and enjoy a DIGITAL CATCH-UP package including the first RED WINTER TPBD (£10/$13) or the PHYSICAL CATCH-UP bundle (£17/$21). So, back the RED WINTER: FALLOUT #1 Kickstarter, which has already hit its $1,717 goal, before the campaign ends on May 29, 2020, at 4:34 AM EDT right here. Help them achieve their stretch goals!
Below, enjoy an in-depth interview with creator/writer Michael Gordon. You can also enjoy our previous interview for the original RED WINTER #1 here.
Me: For people who haven’t read the first volume, what do they need to know about RED WINTER in order to dive into this sequel?
Gordon: RED WINTER is a crime noir series set in Kapotnya, the most crime-ridden district of Moscow.
The first four-issue miniseries follows Eli Winter, a disgraced former NYPD detective living in Kapotnya and working for the local crime boss Nikolai Dubrovsky, the leader of the vicious Rasplata Rytsari gang. Eli hates his life with every fibre of his being, but the reader doesn’t know what has happened in his past to land him here. He sees a chance for redemption when Dubrovsky enlists him to investigate the destruction of one of his meth labs. Eli soon finds out that the crime was committed by his estranged son Joseph, a low-level criminal, as part of an initiation process for the rival gang, the Chistyye Krovi.
Eli is forced to choose whether to turn his son over to Dubrovsky, or whether to protect him by going against the gang that saved him when his life in NYC went to hell. However, over the course of the story, we find out that all is not as it appears with Joseph Winter, and his true motivations are far murkier than anyone may think. In fact, Joseph is being manipulated by forces that go way above Eli Winter’s pay grade.
The sequel RED WINTER: FALLOUT then continues Joseph’s story, finding him on the run, desperate to find a way out a city that wants him dead. The vengeful gangs are after his head, and the Moscow police force is closing in on him. And, to top it all off, a local detective named Max Voronin has been assigned to the case, and he knows there is more going on in Kapotnya than meets the eye. Oh, and Joseph doesn’t know it yet, but he is about to receive some help from a very unlikely source…
Me: What crime/noir media do you think most inspired RED WINTER and how is it an inspiration?
Gordon: I’m a total crime junkie, so I’d say there is a myriad of influences on RED WINTER. In terms of crime noir comics, probably the biggest influence is the work of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, especially Criminal, which is one of my favourite comics ever. I also see elements of Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s Scalped in the story, and some of the more stylized action moments have a bit of Frank Miller’s Sin City in them.
In terms of Eli Winter as a character, a huge influence is Lawrence Block’s unlicensed P.I. character Matt Scudder. They made a movie in 2014 from one of his books, A Walk Among The Tombstones, and it starred Liam Neeson. Eli is very much a noir protagonist in the classical mould; a grizzled, haunted former detective with a tragic past who is grumpy as all hell and doesn’t work well with others.
I’d also say that, by setting the stories in Kapotnya, I really want to make the city a character in and of itself. To that end, I’m inspired by Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul shows, which have introduced a compelling underworld in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which keeps getting more and more intriguing with every passing series. I love how Eli and Joseph are totally out of their element in Kapotnya, unsure of how to act and how to properly navigate the criminal element of this foreign city. In that regard, there is a bit of Narcos to RED WINTER, too.
Me: Can you tell us a bit about the process of pitching the first volume and why Scout Comics felt right for RED WINTER?
Gordon: RED WINTER was initially a Kickstarter project. I had tried pitching it around to a few publishers, most of whom were interested, but wanted to see a full issue before committing to anything. I decided to gamble and put it on Kickstarter, in order to prove that there was an audience there. My gamble worked and the campaign did very well. It was actually on the last day of the campaign that Scout Comics got in touch and said they wanted to publish the series. I was ecstatic about that, as I’d read a few of their titles and knew they were a new publisher on the rise. I think they’ve accomplished great things for RED WINTER and have gotten it out there to the wider comic book world. Since I signed the contract with Scout, the company has grown by leaps and bounds and is now publishing some of the most exciting titles on the stands, such as The Electric Black, White Ash and Canopus. They’re also really easy and awesome to work with, which is nice.
Me: How did you go about finding your creative team and determining they were the perfect fit for this series?
Gordon: I connected with Francisco Munoz, who drew RED WINTER #1-3, on Reddit. His art was perfect for the series, as he brought so much grit, and dirt, and scratchiness to his characters and his environments. We really wanted Kapotnya to feel dirty and foreboding, and he accomplished that perfectly. In fact, one of the best compliments we ever received about the series was when a reader said they felt like they needed to take a shower after reading an issue! Francisco also gives his characters a slightly exaggerated look, and that worked perfectly too. It made the comic plausible and down-to-earth, but still heightened in some ways.
The first series’ colourist Rolands Kalnins really excelled here too. He contributed so much mood and atmosphere to the pages, and it was actually his brainwave to highlight some of the action panels by pulling all colour away, except for stark white and blood red.
Unfortunately, Francisco wasn’t able to draw #4, but thankfully I found Alberto Massaggia on Twitter and he was able to come in and knock #4 out of the park. We wanted his style on this issue to be fairly close to Francisco’s, and Rolands’ colours would stay the same, in order to keep continuity with the previous issues. But, when it came time for RED WINTER: FALLOUT, Alberto and I agreed that we wanted him to put more of his own stamp on the series. This is why it’s purely an Alberto show now! He is pencilling, inking, and colouring, and has embraced a more Mignola/Jock-esque style for this series, which is going to have more of an action-thriller feel. I think he’s knocking it out of the park again.
Me: This volume takes place in Kapotnya, the most crime-ridden district of Moscow. How did you come up with this location and work with your artist to make it look and feel as realistic as possible?
Gordon: In the early days of coming up with the story, I knew I wanted a setting that would be compelling on its own, separate even from the characters. I stumbled across Kapotnya on Google and after a few hours of reading articles, I knew it was the place to set RED WINTER. I didn’t want to fall down a research rabbit hole, though, so after a few weeks of collecting tidbits and history, I started writing and just began to pepper things in. The Kapotnya of RED WINTER is a heightened, stylized version of the real city, but I made sure to include some real locations, like the Moscow Oil Refinery, to help it all feel more “real.” A huge colony of homeless people lives under the superheated pipes beneath the Refinery, and this plays into the story. Eli relates to them because it’s the only place they can survive, but living there is making them sicker every day.
Me: What is the number one reason why people should pledge money to your project?
Gordon: I think people should pledge to the RED WINTER: FALLOUT campaign because we’re creating one of the best crime comics around right now, with nuanced characters and a hugely compelling setting.
As part of this campaign, you can get the Kickstarter Exclusive edition of Fallout #1, which will have bonus material in the back, like an essay on the creation of the series and art comparisons. But you can also get the trade paperback of RED WINTER, which was published in February by Scout, so in one fell swoop, you can get the whole story so far. As I’ve been writing this sequel and talking to people about it, I’ve realized that there is so much more scope for RED WINTER. I can see this story continuing further, expanding the world in further miniseries’. But that will only be possible if people support this campaign.
Me: Your previous work includes Transdimensional and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man. Can you tell us a bit about these two series and how those experiences differed from RED WINTER?
Gordon: Both Transdimensional and Lucky Man were published by TPub Comics in the UK, and I learned pretty much everything I know about making comics from those experiences. Both were edited by Neil Gibson, who helped me understand comic book storytelling structure, and was just a great friend through the whole process. Transdimensional was also a Kickstarter project, with four campaigns in total. That certainly exposed me to the exciting-but-also-terrifying world of crowdfunding!
The main difference with RED WINTER is that I have no official editor this time. Scout Comics is very hands-off in that respect, as they want their creators to have 100% free reign on their projects. There are people there that I can show things to, but at the end of the day, if it’s in RED WINTER, it was my call. That’s a totally different way of working, and I’ve loved the freedom. I think different projects require different approaches, so I don’t see a scenario where I only work one way in the future. I’ll probably wind up mixing it up.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Gordon: Give it a go. If you want to write comic books, there’s nothing stopping you except you. It’ll be a long road and it won’t be easy, but if you want to write, you’ve just got to write. And don’t be afraid to put your work out there. Whether that’s showing it to friends and family, or comic-creating peers online, or editors. Having other people reading your stuff and giving you honest feedback is the only way you’ll get better at it. You might take a few hits to your ego, but it’ll be worth it in the long run.
Me: Best wishes with your crime-ridden world and thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Michael! Check out his RED WINTER: FALLOUT #1 Kickstarter here.
Do you have a crowdfunding project? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart/IndieGogo/GoFundMe the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website. Also check out the official Kickstart the Week: Interviews with Comic Book Kickstarter Creators Volume 1 on Kindle and Etsy!
Other “Kickstart the Week” features:
HAUNTING #1 – A Supernatural Horror Comic
Two Swords Til Mercy: Chapter One—A medieval tale of bloody revenge.
Nocturnal Commissions: A macabre monster mystery!