Comic Book Biography: TY GORTON

ty-gortonTy Gorton’s new comic Runes of Ragnan has just made the jump to Image comics. The story of Runes of Ragnan takes place over a period of a thousand years. It’s a story about two warring Viking brothers and their quest to collect the Runes of Ragnan. To figure out what that actually in tales and how Runes of Ragnan ended up at Image, we sat down with Ty and a few of his friends.

First Comics News: While acclaimed here and there, the first issue of Runes of Ragnan was pretty…well, hard to find. Is that a reason that you are moving the series to Image, for greater exposure?

Ty Gorton: If you’re a creator who wants to develop your own properties, Image is the place to be. Certainly more exposure for the book, but also absolute freedom in terms of our 22 pages of content plus 100% retention of character/story rights for the creative team. Doesn’t get much better than that.

1st: Ty, most of you work has been online, what’s it like waiting for a comic to print?

Ty: Nightmarish. I imagine it’s similar to those poor souls with their heads in the guillotine, waiting for the swoosh of that giant blade. As an online junkie, I’m accustomed to instant gratification, instant response. The bursts of creativity followed by long periods of waiting is really tough, but ultimately far more rewarding.

1st: How were sales on the first issue?

Ty: For an independent comic, pretty much what you’d expect. For a comic in general, not good. For a piece of entertainment medium, absolutely horrid…but that’s a whole mudslide of an issue. Friends and family have stolen my soap box just so I won’t talk about comic sales in the U.S.

1st: How did the move to Image come about?

Ty: Silent Devil stepped up to the plate and published Runes of Ragnan after a long, rocky road for us, the starving artist folk. The book made its debut at Wizard World Chicago. I didn’t have enough beer money to go, unfortunately, but the good people with Image/Shadowline got a look at issue #1, and here we are.

1st: Wasn’t Runes of Ragnan originally going to be published at Roaring Studios?

Ty: Wow. Good memory. *twiddles thumbs*

1st: The press release said, Runes of Ragnan would be published under the Shadowline/Image imprint. Is this different then the regular Image imprint?

Ty: This would be Jim’s territory, I have enough trouble with my own family tree.

Jim Valentino: Shadowline is my imprint at Image. Therefore it is separate from Image Central in much the same way that Top Cow and TMP is, but still part of the larger Image umbrella.

1st: On a more practical note, with Image publishing issue 2, it should have a higher print run then issue 1. What is the plan to help reads who may have missed the first issue and discover Runes of Ragnan at Image?

Ty: Besides a quick summary of #1 on the inside cover of #2, Runes of Ragnan #1 is available online through Silent Devil (Silent ). We’ll be letting readers know in the back of issue #2 about this as well, so if readers want to snag the first issue, it won’t be a problem. Silent Devil is also offering a special deal to retailers (Buy Runes of Ragnan.php) so they can make the book available to their customers who are picking up #2.

1st: You use actual Viking mythology in the comic, were you a Teutonic Mythology buff before, or did you research it for this series?

Ty: Teutoni-who?

1st: Just to clear this up this is more swords and sorcery then a history lesson?

Ty: I was kidding in the previous question, of course. This is definitely NOT a history lesson. The idea here is to make the story more rich by smoothly integrating authentic Viking mythology into the storylines. It is not going to be forced and I never want it to overshadow the characters themselves.

1st: For people who have not seen the first issue, you would describe this as more in the Conan genera then the Marvel Thor genera?

Ty: More Conan, yes. It slants toward giddy brutality. We want steel and flesh and blood to outweigh the magical and/or supernatural elements, although both will be important to the plot.

1st: The story focus on the struggle between two brothers Eldjarn and Gunnarr, this has been a classic conflict since Cain and Able. How is it handled in Runes of Ragnan?

Ty: As with Cain and Abel, the battle between Eldjarn and Gunnarr is symbolic of a much larger conflict. However, avoiding the black and white, good vs. evil storytelling device is crucial. All of us have shades of gray mixed in with our personalities. It is in extreme situations that our true motivations become clear, and I want that level of depth to exist for these characters.

1st: The title is Runes of Ragnan not Eldjarn and Gunnarr, what is the importance of the Runes?

Ty: All I have to say is….issue #4. All will be clear. Until then, I’m not talkin’.

1st: What struck me from the press release was the art, what else has Joshua Medors done?

Ty: Quite a bit. I’ll let him chime in. From the first moment I saw a piece of Josh Medors art I knew two things, one, I had to work with him and, two, He is going to be one of the greats in the industry. His talent combined with his work ethic and generosity are a treasure for the fans of this medium.

Josh Medors: In the past I have worked on Fused Think Like a Machine over at Dark Horse, Horrorcide , Dial M for Monster, with Niles at IDW, currently I am working on In the Blood with Niles over at Boom studios. This was recently optioned by Lions Gate Films, along with a few other of Niles’ books. I will also be penciling The Gift #14 written by Raven Gregory.

1st: One of the more unusual elements of this comic is that it connects to a role playing game system. How did that come about, and how does it actually connect?

Ty: Essentially, you can take the role playing material in the back of Runes of Ragnan #1, and plug it into ANY game that utilizes the d20 system. Due to time constraints and available pages in the back of upcoming issues, the d20 stuff is going to be put on hiatus and I’m not sure if it will make a comeback.

1st: What can you tell readers that are on the fence about Runes of Ragnan to get them to give it a try?

Ty: Fences are uncomfortable.

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