Nov 17 2014

Andrew Constant goes sideways: ‘Fly’ and ‘Broken Line’

Andrew Constant's Fly (Art by Kathryn Mann)If you go by his Gestalt Comics bio, writer Andrew Constant has voyaged through journalism, salesmanship, I.T. management, bartending, and being a hippy before finding his feet as a comic book writer. His debut graphic novel Torn, first published back in 2011, was a reverse werewolf story with art by Nicola Scott and Joh James. His two latest projects have seen the author continue his journey in two very different directions, with the release of Fly, a kind of love story featuring artist Kathryn Mann, and the continuing tale of Broken Line, a post-apocalyptic battle of the wills.

“By the time I got to the end, the characters were literally doing their own thing.”

Fly, released exclusively at Australia’s Oz Comic-Con this year with the tagline ‘Your best friend in the world may just save the world’, is a departure from earlier releases Torn and Broken Line. “If you followed my previous work,” Constant told us when we sat down with him earlier this year at the ‘Con, “you’ll realise I have a tendency to go a bit dark occasionally, and maybe the sad puppy story.”

“So,” he continues, “I thought why not try and write something with a bit of a science fiction edge, with a little more hope attached for all ages? It started off that way, but no. It’s a love story involving robots, meteors, bombs, and terrorists in 27 pages. It was fun to do, and it’s selling well, so that’s been kind of a revelation as well.”

Prior to its release, Constant described it at the Gestalt Comic Panel at the Melbourne Oz Comic-Con as “an all-ages book gone sideways”. Fly, one of the less conventional love stories you’ll read, is a curious mix of modern social commentary and Steven Spielbergian hope. Indeed, in a single issue, Fly has the scope of a book several times that length.

Andrew Constant's Fly (Art by Kathryn Mann)

Fly (Gestalt Comics) Artist: Kathryn Mann

“I wanted to have a go at writing all-ages,” he explains. “I think there’s a real validity in writing a story which a large audience can read and everyone can find something to attach to, or something they can identify with. That was the idea at first, but by the time I got to the end, the characters were literally doing their own thing. I had no idea where it was going, by the time I got to the last page, I thought ‘this can’t be an all-ages’. Maybe 13 and up is what I’m thinking. I was reading William Gibson when I was 13 years old, so maybe 12 and up?”

“I realised that was clearly not what I intended,” he adds. “But that’s great. That’s the sort of story you want to write, you want to be surprised by your own ending, you want to be surprised where you’re going to. You want the story to take you places if at all possible. I like to think that when I write a story I always have the first and last page planned, but this story was a bit different in that the last page skewed a bit towards the end. I think the thing I liked about writing it was that it had a lot of elements that I might have seen before, but I presented them in such a way that you didn’t get to the elements until it was time to be revealed. I didn’t ‘frontload’ the story. You work it out as you read, and I think it’s a nice smooth structural movement.”

Joining him on this exploration is artist Kathryn Mann. Her published works featured in the Before, After, & In Between anthology. “The only reason the story works at all,” says Constant, “is Kathryn Mann. She’s incredible. The colouring is devine. Just how smooth the storytelling is. The panelling, and how it breaks from one panel into the next, the way the pages are laid out. She’s incredible and cheeky as well, and that makes her incredibly easy to work with”.

Broken Line #2 - Page 3 (Gestalt Comics)

Broken Line #2 (Gestalt Comics)

The collaboration continues on the second issue of Broken Line, set in a world after a nuclear apocalypse, and featuring two road warriors confronting each other in this barren landscape. It could not be more different from Fly. “She’s actually colouring the second part of Broken Line right now,” Constant told us back in September. “Broken Line was introduced as one issue, we’re doing the second issue now. It’s being drawn by a guy called Mark Lauthier. He’s fantastic, and it’s just great, and her colouring is just perfect.  It’s got that whole dusted, post-apocalyptic, dirty saturation effect on it.”

Beyond that, readers can look forward to another new work from Constant, taking into the world of noir. “I’ve got Old Heroes. It’s going to be a very noir piece. It’s going to be my attempt to see how gritty I can be without any horror tropes involved. It’s a very different story for me once again, but I think that’s a challenge. To find that normal thriller element without using my normal fall-backs which is science-fiction or the supernatural, and it looks like it’s going to be an interesting tale.”

Broken Line #1 is now available digitally from the Gestalt website. Torn is also available digitally and in print from the same source.

You can also hear Andrew as a guest on Behind the Panels, chatting about some of his favourite comics, in Behind the Panels Issue 113 – The Punisher by Greg Rucka.

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  1. Australian comics, graphic novels and events that excite us in 2015: Part 1 » Behind The Panels

    […] 1 will follow. Andrew Constant will also continue his own series with BROKEN LINE #2, something we spoke to him about last year. With art by Mark Lauthier and Fly collaborator Kathryn Mann, this brutal post-apocalyptic story […]

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