First Comics News: How and why was Wizard’s Keep started?
Tim Perkins: I was sixteen and at school when I first coined the phrase, Wizards Keep. I had the notion that I could one day have my own company through which to create and publish books and other merchandise based around concepts, characters, and storylines that I had created. I was lucky enough to find myself working for the big guys at Marvel Comics back in my early mid-twenties. This was followed by work for other companies such as; 2000AD, DC Comics and Defiant amongst many others, but I eventually found myself being uncreative, constrained by the powers that be, inside of the Publishers for whom I was working.
It was time for something new and it arrived in the form of a job as a concept artist within the worlds of themed rides and attractions. It was here that I began to get my mojo back. I found myself becoming creative once more and highly prolific, as my speed returned with this new found enthusiasm and respect for my work, which I was garnering. It was the perfect bridging between comics and my next venture. This concept work, in turn, got me head-hunted to help set up an animation company, where for the first time I found myself writing professionally not just plotting, but actually writing. It was great… I had the greatest fun here and I was even more prolific and creative. Stuff just came to me instantly without thinking and I had ideas coming from everywhere. There were many big meetings with very high flyers, through which I learned a lot about the business side of things. I was very happy with the work… for a while. It was then that I realized I missed creating stories through comics. I had never wanted to leave them, I just didn’t like the constraints or the politics and some of the insane editorial antics. It was then I returned to my original idea of, owning a company that I had had from my teenage years. I told my wife, Margaret about the idea. She asked if I thought I could make it work and I gave her the same answer I did when I thought about going full time as a freelancer, as a comic creator in my mid-twenties. The rest is history, I spent three months planning and organizing a new studio and the biggest computer kits I had ever worked on. I was told, at the time of my setting things up, that my business plan was the biggest and most comprehensive, the folks I was dealing with down at the bank, had seen. I had planned everything down to the last detail, including the actual name, Wizards Keep. It was to become a vehicle for me to create stories out of, rather than approaching another publisher. I did not want to return to the lack of control once again, especially with my own characters. I created Worlds End way back in 1987 when I was working for Marvel Comics, as was generally the case when one was waiting for the next job to arrive in the post back in those days of Pre-Internet times. It began life as a series of sketches and notes about the characters. Back then I figured that if I kept my head down, I would eventually get a chance to create something new for Marvel – I eventually realized this was never going to be the case. I have always created stories like this – they simply pop up in the funniest of places.
1st: What is the story in “World’s End”?
Tim: The story takes place on the weird and wonderful world of Gaeyrth, the planet that is home to the mysterious place known as Worlds End.
It is here that young Ralf and his allies, Gweldar the Elder and his familiar, Geek, and a girl they meet early in their adventures called Zephol, fight to keep their world safe from the invading hordes of alien interlopers known as the Aoevill.
This is a world ‘untainted by evil.’ A world whose peoples have not known war for two centuries, and where the art of battle has been long-since forgotten, since the cataclysmic war known as Last War.
When Last War ended, a provision was put in place to stop another conflict from erupting again. The wizards of old placed the greatest warrior of the time into a magikal sleep, to be awoken, if and when the need arose. Worlds End is the resting-place of, Alchemaost, that sleeping champion.
Here then, nestled amidst the many hamlets, villages, towns, and shires of Gaeyrth, new battles are to be fought and friendships forged, as the saga of Worlds End unfolds.
The Aoevill hordes believe they have an easy task of aqua-forming the tranquil planet. They have not reckoned with our heroes, however, who are determined to outwit the high-tech machinations of the invading aliens, armed with just their courage, and a little help from magikal means.
The guards of Gaeyrth are a token force, at best, and are more of a police constabulary than an army that is strong enough to repel alien invaders, especially those with such amazing capabilities.
Try to imagine soldiers from a bygone medieval era, here on our own world, having to face such scientifically advanced forces. Only then will you understand the depths of terror felt by the people of Gaeyrth.
The saga of Worlds End will be long and eventful – filled with trials and tribulations that even our four heroic friends may find insurmountable…
Only time will tell…
1st: Can you tell us a little about the setting where “World’s End” takes place?
Tim: The planet of Gaeyrth is a medieval type of world, really with the technology that we had on our own planet in our medieval times. The folks of Gaeyrth have been forced into a Dark Ages scenario, due to the arrival of the alien races of the Aoevill who are set on Aqua-forming Gaeyrth. It has all the places I have ever wanted to create. It has many of the traits of our own world but magnified a thousand-fold with the addition of a little sprinkling of magic, fantasy, and science. I want to investigate and check out for myself, as many different environments as possible during our time there. So, already we have seen, castles and cottages, huge deserts, vast vistas, weird creepy forests, snow-capped mountains, massive mushrooms, fantastic space-scapes, strange alien races and their equally strange technologies, and the best is yet to come. In many aspects I am aiming for an idyllic setting, somewhere we would all like to live but now faced with the threat from outer space. Somewhere we feel safe and yet at the same time threatened. It has a cozy, warm feeling and yet there are always undercurrents of something not quite right with the arrival of the alien spacecraft.
1st: What is the quest and who is on it and why?
Tim: The quest is quite simple, as it says on the back cover of the first volume, “A Mathemagician, called Gweldar, his familiar, Geek, a young boy, Ralf and a mysterious girl called Zephol are all that stand before an invading alien horde intent of aqua-forming the otherwise tranquil planet of Gaeyrth in the far reaches of space.
Are they enough to stop the myriad forces, known as the Aoevill from the depths of outer space and solve the mystery of Worlds End…?” Their quest is merely to try and stop the bad guys, who have a vastly superior technology, armed only with their wits and a little magik, thrown in there for good measure.
1st: There are various races in this story who are a few of them?
Tim: There are the indigenous human inhabitants that live on the planet of Gaeyrth. Our little group of four friends and in turn their two friends being the main characters in the story on the side of the good guys. Then, there are the Aoevill, who are made up of aquatic and amphibious creatures, for the most part, such as the Storm Serpents – they are the main strike force. The Harvestors, whose name is synonymous with their role – they are sent ahead of the Storm Serpents being landed on a planet’s surface. Along with the Skelor, who perform the same function as the Harvestors, as an advanced landing force to quell any fight from the indigenous races on the surface of the planets that they invade and aqua-form. The leaders of the Aoevill are the enigmatic, Lord Gralltharr and his son, Lord Dhakross.
Then, there are the air breathers that accompany the Aoevill – the mysterious Shadow Warriors headed by Master Chl’Atheeir; a no-nonsense leader, who it seems is endowed with special powers. Sergeant Qu’Aeltos (a human from a previous aqua-forming on another world) is in charge of the general day-to-day running of the Aoevill forces. The Aoevill pick certain folks from their conquests and allow them to live, as long as they serve their purposes. Over time, I will be introducing many more characters – both, good and bad, alien and fantastical, as the story unfolds.
1st: Who are Zephol and Ralf?
Tim: Zephol is a mysterious young girl that first appears when Gweldar the Mathemagician crashes whilst trying to escape from the Aoevill early in Worlds End Volume 1. At this point, no one knows who she really is or where she comes from. We do, however, know she can be a feisty little thing. Ralf is the nephew of Rynarde, Earl of Phereaux. Rynarde’s castle is nestled near to the village of Ruune in the foothills of the Neozord Mountains in Gaeryth’s Northern hemisphere. He is introduced when what seems like a weather storm approaches him on a lazy afternoon sitting by the river. Upon realizing this he sets off at full pace to the castle passing Gweldar’s shack. He is much too far away from the castle, however, and Gweldar, spying him running past, calls after him offering Ralf shelter. From this point on the two and Gweldar’s Familiar, Geek becomes friends with a common interest – defeating the Aoevill.
1st: What are the main differences between Vol 1 and 2 of “World’s End”?
Tim: Despite the tranquil world of Gaeyrth being invaded in book one, the overall tone and colour pallet of this first volume differs from the second in as much as the mood and colour pallet is lighter in Volume 1 as the initial story unfolds and the threat is only hinted at. Whilst it is darker in Volume 2 to reinforce the dangers faced by the inhabitants of this idyllic world and to help build the tension. Without giving anything away, the second book shows the real power of the enemy and is more about survival for our band of heroes.
1st: Would you like to visit the world of Gaeyrth if it was real?
Tim: Oh, most definitely. I am trying to incorporate scenery that evokes both mood and beauty to those viewing it. One of the nicest things folks have been saying about the book’s artwork is that I am creating places that people would dearly love to visit – minus the Aoevill of course.
1st: Why did you enjoy working on Dr. Who?
Tim: I enjoyed working on Doctor Who because it gave me the opportunity to work with one of my heroes, John Ridgway. Early on in my career, he helped me as a mentor and from those early days until today we have remained good friends. Being able to work and learn from one the best British artists ever is something I am grateful for. I don’t think I was really ready for working with John back in the early days, but he was patient with me and for that, I will always be thankful. I would have worked with John on anything to be truthful, but working on the fun stuff John injected into Doctor Who made it even better for me as a young artist early in my career.
1st: Who are a few people in the comic book world you have enjoyed working with?
Tim: I can’t say I have not enjoyed working with anyone really, as I enjoyed working with all of them, to be honest. However, the ones I have had the most fun with are John Ridgway, Joe James, Janet ‘JayJay’ Jackson, Jim Shooter, Will Simpson, Barry Kitson, Paul Roberts, James Hill, and nowadays all the Folks I hire at Wizards Keep.
1st: What is “Dinoswords” and why will people love it?
Tim: Dinoswords is a concept I created back in the early-mid-eighties with James Hill. I had a bunch of drawings and a basic plot and when James came on board it went through a series of three major changes until we had the finished concept – all of this can be seen in Dinoswords – The Primordial edition. It lay hanging around for a while when I was approached by a company to produce some comic strip work for them for a new weekly comic that I had already produced artwork for in their earlier incarnations, which had served as prototypes for the latest version. When it became apparent they needed me to produce most of the colour content for the weekly comic, I hired a team of inkers, colourists and letterers to help me. James was scripting them from our plots too, but soon became disenchanted with the interference from editorial and left the strip, leaving me to plot and one of the editors adding the dialogue – although I wanted to write it myself.
The comic was launched with a fanfare on Radio 5, by the now legendary, morning show host, DJ, Johnny Walker. It was obvious that The Dinoswords were seen as the main stars of the show by all involved. I remember being excited and proud of the fact they were using the concepts created by James and me in this way. I may have the actual tape recording of the show here in the archives somewhere. I was asked to produce the first 11 episodes in 16 days that meant 82 full-colour pages in just over two weeks – not working weeks – Hence the team. I also created another character and submitted it to the company – he came out in a similar guise in the comic, but I was too busy to work on it with the already fully committed workload I had on the comic. It was an incredibly productive time and not only had I drawn, inked and mostly coloured all the 11 episodes of the Dinoswords strips. I had drawn up a further eighteen episodes of Dinoswords, with the eighteenth only penciled. I had also penciled and inked up to episode 16 for the other two strips as well. It was at the end of this that I was told not to draw anything further, as the comic was being canceled. The untimely cancellation of the comic meant my creations were again allowed to sit here gathering dust. That was until I decided to re-launch the Dinoswords in their own one-off edition, which was to contain the unpublished episodes as well.
Unfortunately, none of the original full-colour artwork for any of the comic strips mentioned above, including episode two of the Dinoswords’ double page spread were returned. However, due to the way, I was producing the artwork, fortunately, all of the black line work still survives and so I was able to produce the Dinoswords easily. It’s important for me to point out that the script used this time around is based on the plots and scripts that James and I originally wrote – so, in the end, it appeared as we both originally saw it.
1st: What has been your most rewarding experience with comics?
Tim: There are some highlights in my career in comics to date – the first being The Dreamstone, followed by The Dinoswords, followed by Dark Dominion, followed by Chopper, followed by Dark Crusade.
The biggest reward for me, however, was when I held Worlds End – Volume 1 in my hands for the first time on the night before the first day of Malta Comic-Con in 2011, which was my World Exclusive Launch. The organizers of the event were also present with me when this happened, which made it all the more special. This was repeated with my family and friends here in England upon my return from the convention for the UK launch. Both of these events were highly emotional moments for me. I cannot express the feeling of elation at finally holding something in my hands that was created totally by me that showed what I had always wanted to produce, from even before I got into comics working for Marvel – fully painted art and my storyline in a hard-backed Graphic Novel. Now, I hope I experience those same feelings with the second book.
1st: Are you at all like Gweldar the Elder from “World’s End”?
Tim: Well, folks say I look a little like him nowadays. LOL. I guess there is a little of me in all of my characters. I am me when I was young when I write Ralf’s parts and Gweldar’s when I write
his and the bad guys when I write their parts too. I suppose I am a little like him nowadays too, as he is a bit forgetful – I can certainly put myself in his shoes here with this.
1st: Any words for all your many fans?
Tim: I would just like to say a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone that has supported me throughout my career in comics and continue to do so. My Worlds End fans are the best and getting more and more vocal in their support and in their appreciation of the time and effort that goes into each panel. Without them, I would not be speaking to you now, Richard. I spend far more time producing the Worlds End books than I have ever spent on anything else in my life. I really appreciate all the patience that the fans afford me to make this my magnum opus. By the same token, I cannot wait for them to finally hold the latest volume in their hands when it is ultimately in print. Working in comics can be a very solitary experience and the only time you feel that things are working is when you get feedback from the fans of the work. When that feedback is as positive as it is on Worlds End you feel on top of the world, or at least on Gaeyrth – the World’s Edge.
Thank you so much, for asking me to take part in this interview, Richard.
Richard Vasseur is a Canadian who has had a love of comic books his entire life. I started out as just a fan reading comics every chance I had. This evolved into writing reviews for a small newsletter which evolved into having my own column at Jazma Online and doing interviews. I also worked briefly as a columnist at Comic’s Buyers Guide. Everyday I am involved with doing something comic book related and I love the hobby.