Writer Lawrence Goodman makes his comics debut with an exceptional and gripping story on his first outing, Gray Cells. Lawrence was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and let our readers know all about Gray Cells and provide a free 23-page preview.
Lawrence Goodman: Lina is a novice journalist looking to establish a name for herself in her career while her family has other ideas for her. She’s been stuck writing fluff pieces for her newspaper when her boss offers her an opportunity of a lifetime to write something more substantial. Little does she know that she’s about to uncover more than she bargained for.
1st: What is her relationship with Michael like?
Lawrence: Not the best. All the characters are trapped in some ways, whether that is literally like the kidnapped children, or metaphorically through poverty or addiction. Lina is trapped in her marriage which is breaking down even though neither has said it to the other.
1st: How would you describe Ashbank?
Lawrence: Ashbank is a suburb outside of the gritty reality in Downtown Stonebridge. Lina and Mike live there apart from the crime and poverty seen in grimmer areas of the city like the Marshes. Lina isn’t rich but her experience of the world is completely different from people living in the city.
Lawrence: Josh’s kidnapping kick starts the story. He is a young kid with a passion for art. Even before he is abducted, Josh is in a bad place. His home life is rotten, he’s surround by crime, urban decay, and desperate poverty. The school has written him off as another casualty. Just the type to catch the eye of the Frogman.
1st: What is his relationship with his mother like?
Lawrence: There’s love there. A massive amount. Josh doesn’t know how rough he has it growing up with a drug addict for a mother. To him, it’s normal. And Cherry loves him too. She’s also a prisoner of a life that she maybe hadn’t planned for herself and is using drugs to escape it when Josh is taken.
1st: Does Lina actually care about Josh or just her job?
Lawrence: Lina definitely wants to make a name for herself but she has jumped in at the deep end with this story. Her natural compassion quickly overwhelms her as she starts to care too deeply and rubs up against the roadblocks the system throws in her path.
Lawrence: Dante is a protector. He has his crew, his people that he looks after but he’s not wholly invested at the start. He’s getting by in the underworld he inhabits, looking out for his friends but mostly himself.
1st: What are his secret powers?
Lawrence: Psychics are rare enough in this world that most people dismiss them as nonsense but there are a few people with abilities. Frogman is one and Dante is another. Dante can sense people’s intentions. He can look into their thoughts and know what they are up to. He’s been using that power to keep his friends out of trouble before the story starts.
1st: Is Dante one of the good guys or one of the bad guys?
Lawrence: Dante thinks he’s one of the good guys, and by the end of the story he is.
Lawrence: He is a much more powerful psychic than Dante. He can make people see the world how he wants them to. He uses that ability to create a persona he thinks will appeal to his victims, a sort of perverted Kermit the Frog. It also means that those children who haven’t fallen into his clutches yet are likely to be ignored and dismissed if they start talking about a Frogman trying to snatch them.
1st: Is he real?
Lawrence: He’s not a literal Frog-Man hybrid, he’s something more dangerous.
1st: You have a free 23-page preview, how much of the graphic novel is complete?
Lawrence: I’d say 90%. We’ve inked and lettered all but around 110 pages so far and colored about a third. The goal is to have it close to ready at the launch of the Kickstarter campaign so that backers can get a copy in their hands almost straight away.
1st: When can backers expect to get a copy?
Lawrence: We are looking to start the Kickstarter up in November, maybe sooner if the stars align. Once that ends, it should just be printing and shipping that we’ll need to do, so December/January.
1st: What rewards do you have planned?
Lawrence: A completely limited edition, not available in shops after, version of the book for starters. We’re working out what extras we can put into the book with our publisher at the moment, but there will be some artwork and content that won’t show up when it hits the shelves afterward. Outside that, we’re putting together some fun stuff, like getting yourself drawn into the book, special thank you credits, pin-ups and posters, signed or personalized copies.
Lawrence: Good value. I want the backers to be getting a bargain because I think that is what this should all be about. They’re helping us turn this into a real, tangible product so it’s only fair they get it at as big a discount as we can get away with. We need to work an exact number with the publisher first.
1st: What is the minimum pledge for a print copy?
Lawrence: Same story. Cheaper than you’ll be able to get it in the shops after but need to work that out with the publisher.
Get your free 23-page preview here…