We at downthetubes were lucky enough to be sent a preview copy of the excellent Cogs & Claws published by Markosia, an anthropomorphic space saga of astounding attention to detail and design from Brian ‘Clank’ Bennett and Jimmy Pearson. It’s presented in black and white and hosts a wealth of design and originality that is rarely seen. Not only are the different clans of animals on show – rats, giraffes, badgers and more – but you get some amazing mecha and spaceship designs.
Brian, who runs Aloft Studios with his partner Ruth, is an artist and electronic music composer and the creator of Cogs & Claws. Jimmy is the author of Bayou Arcana (and the anthology editor), The Reckoning, Heart of War, Cogs and Claws and The Engines of Eternity.
After reading the book, I thought that it would be great to reach out to Brian to see how the project began and grew.
Tony: Hey Brian. Really enjoyed Cogs & Claws. An incredible achievement that’s genuinely a feast to the eyes. I’m astounded at the detail and world building you have carried out. It feels a little French comics, bande dessines influenced?
Brian: Thanks very much. Yes there is a French comics influence in Cogs & Claws. I’m a fan of various French comics and artists, with Orbital drawn by Serge Pelle a particular favourite.
Tony: What would you describe as the elevator pitch on the book?
Brian: I always describe the book as “Star Wars meets Wind In The Willows!”
Tony: Could I ask how this project came about? It’s incredibly well imagined and dense. How did you workshop the ideas?
Brian: I have been drawing for as long as I can remember and always loved comics. After some time away from producing art I came back to it a few years ago and had the idea of working on an animal based space opera!
I’ve always had a special love for animal characters and the connection with this and sci fi was sparked by Rocket Racoon being a backup story in the British Transformers comic back in the 1980s and the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness RPG which I saw long before they became famous. Also I’ve always loved robots, vehicles and machines so it was a natural step for me to mix these two concepts into one world.
So Cogs & Claws started off as a 12-page mini comic but gradually grew and grew. It was my original intention for the book to be ‘silent’ (without any words) but when Markosia wanted to publish the book they asked for words to be added. I met Jimmy Pearson at a graphic novel workshop he ran here in Worthing which led to me working with him on a few projects as artist and graphic designer (on books he has out through Markosia such as Bayou Arcana). So when Cogs & Claws needed words, he was the man for the job.
Tony: How do you and Jimmy collaborate? How does the exchange of ideas work?
Brian: Cogs & Claws was pretty much finished (except for the prose sections) before Jimmy was involved. So Jimmy and I worked through the pages and he added captions and speech etc as we felt necessary. I had other ideas for stories expanding on characters shown or hinted at at various stages of the book which led to the prose sections. I wrote treatments for these and worked out the character names (and jokes etc) which Jimmy then based his ‘novel style’ writing on.
As we worked through the book it spawned more ideas and back story which also became absorbed into the text and prose. So basically I came up with the concept, basic story and art and Jimmy wrote and re-wrote the words based on that, rather than creating the artwork based on a script. So we kind of made the book back to front!
Tony: How can readers get hold of the book?
Brian: Cogs & Claws is available in softback, hardback and digital formats from lots of stores which can be found via this link. The story updates every Friday with a new image at www.cogsandclaws.com.
Tony: What can we expect in the future from you?
Brian: I am currently in the early stages of a new project based around a character I first imagined about 15 years ago called ‘FishTank’: A kind of Rogue Trooper meets Sherlock Holmes mash up! This will probably be in comic form before eventually being collected as a graphic novel.
• As well as the sites quoted by Brian you can also pick up a copy of Cogs & Claws at Amazon.co.uk – hard cover, soft cover and Kindle editions are available
• Jimmy Pearson can be found on Twitter @JimmyPearsonUK
\Many thanks for reading.