Brendan McCarthy’s creator-owned psychedelic comics opus Dream Gang is out this week, published by Dark Horse Comics – and we caught up with this hugely talented creator for a quick chat about the project and what he’s currently working on.
Collecting the story originally published in Dark Horse Presents, this re-mastered edition of Dream Gang represents Brendan at his finest – and has earned him well-deserved praise from both his fans and fellow comic creators.
In the story, a young man is transformed into a Dream Voyager while he sleeps by the mysterious Dream Gang. They’re searching for a destructive dream bomb that has been implanted into one of his memories. But to find the bomb, a secret memory must be uncovered…
“Dream Gang is a story that takes place in dreams entirely,” says Brendan. “It’s the story of a young man who lives a dreary, grey life. One night, he has a vivid dream that connects him to a group of naturally gifted psychic voyagers known as the Dream Gang. The dream that follows changes him forever.”
Brendan studied Painting and Film at Chelsea School of Art and is one of Britain’s most gifted graphic novelists, well known for his work on 2000AD, working on “Judge Dredd”, “Zaucer of Zilk” (also published by IDW), Tharg’s Future Shocks” and more. His ground-breaking comics of the early 1980s (Strange Days, Skin, Rogan Gosh), part of ‘The British Invasion’, paved the way for comics’ increasing popularity in Hollywood.
He was also one of the pioneers of computer animation, creating the visuals for the 1990s computer animated TV series ReBoot, the first long-form digital narrative that preceded Pixar and Dreamworks’ later successes. He has spent more than 20 years working in Hollywood, and is the co-writer and a designer on Mad Max Fury Road.
His many comics projects also include including Spider-Man Fever (for Marvel), Solo (for DC Comics) and his limited edition art book, Swimini Purpose – and a best-selling retrospective collection of his classic comic book work was released last year by Dark Horse Comics, The Best of Milligan & McCarthy.
“I’ve had the idea for Dream Gang simmering away in my head for about 30 years,” Brendan tells downthetubes. “I have about half a dozen stories that I mentally tinker with… Anyway, it felt like the right time to do this story, so I pitched it to Mike Richardson at Dark Horse — and he gave it a green light the next day. I spent about a year and a half writing, drawing and designing the book.”
This graphic novel version of the story is a completely remastered version of the story published in Dark Horse Presents, Brendan reveals.
“It was designed to be read in one sitting,” he says. “It takes about an hour and a half to get through it — about the same length of time as a movie.
“There are also about 20 pages of ‘extras’ in the back of the book. Early concept art, character designs. It’s a nice little package. A keeper!”
Response to the version published in Dark Horse Presents, from fans and fellow creators alike, was very positive, and Brendan is hopeful that success will be duplicated with the graphic novel edition.
“Dream Gang is the legendary Brendan McCarthy at his visionary best,” enthuses All-Star Superman and Jupiter’s Legacy artist Frank Quitely of the story.
“It’s nice to see that Brendan McCarthy still writes, draws, paints, thinks and dreams in pure, unadulterated magic,” says Garth Ennis.
“I think it’ll go down well, especially for people looking for something different and imaginative,” says Brendan. “It’s been described as ‘the X-Men in dreams’ — a kind of Fantastic Voyage in the mind. It’s very psychedelic in style, and was inspired by the beautiful 1960s Yellow Submarine film.”
“It should appeal to stoners and those people who are into pop music. It features the classic sixties album by Love, Forever Changes.”
He tells he’s hopeful there will be a sequel, but that depends on the sales.
“With creator-owned original projects, you have to rely on how many people buy,” he explains. “It’s not like a movie franchise-backed series, where the comic can serve as a ‘loss leader’ to keep the intellectual property in the hands of the corporation who have bought the rights.
“I’ve got some good ideas for a sequel to Dream Gang. But I have some other new stories I’ may do first and then come back to it in a year or so.”
And what are the projects he’s working on now?
“I’m in the middle of drawing a Dr Fate one shot for DC Comics,” Brendan tells us. “It’s the final story in writer Paul Levitz’s run on the character.
“This may result in a new series for Dr Fate with me more creatively involved… We’ll see.”
To stop a psychic plague-bomb that threatens to render humanity catatonic and the Dreamfields barren, the last Dream Voyager awakens!
When the evil Zeirio commandeers a powerful Dreamship and goes on a rampage throughout the collective mindscape, it’s up to a group of psychic travellers known as the Dream Gang to stop him.
Coming in October: Dr Fate #17
On Sale: 19th October 2016
Previews Orer Code: AUG160297
Writer: Paul Levitz Artist/ Cover Artist: Brendan McCarthy
The threads of fate are dangling down to the Freedom Tower, latching and taking away the souls of New Yorkers, including the current Doctor Fate Khalid’s family and friends. Khalid’s mad pursuit to save them will take him on a cosmic journey, through space and time, to the world of the Dreamspinners – all illustrated by the uniquely fantastic art of Brendan McCarthy!
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.