Let’s Talk Comics, Tails of Mystery with Asa and Kat
Tails of Mystery; Review
Upon starting Tails of Mystery we are plunged directly into the narrative and the complex dynamic between Steph and Wyatt. Their strained relationship is one based in caring deeply for one another but also feeling frustrated and maybe disappointed with one another and with how life has turned out. Asa has constructed relatable and unique characters, our heroes, though flawed all have their own charms and come together to form a family, a bit of a dysfunctional family but a family nonetheless.
Tails of Mystery is steeped in a noir/ mystery themes, Wyatt really reminded me of those whiskey sipping, cigar smoking film noir style private detectives of the 40’s and 50’s, he is a guy who has lived a hard life and seen more than his fair share of horrors. But we know that deep down, he is a good guy who really cares for Steph and Holland even if he rarely shows it and Steph and Holland also deeply care for Wyatt, this is evident as the story progresses. Asa has managed to really capture the nuances of friendship and navigating the tricky waters of relationships. Tails of Mystery has a strong noir theme with a good dollop of magic and charm, this is a project born out of love and it shows.
The art style that Kat brings is charming if a bit rough round the edges. The illustrations are especially endearing in regards to the cat, Kat has captured Wyatt’s gruff and prickly demeanour perfectly! I particularly liked the scene where the cat is trying to pry the bottle open!
I am keen to see where Tails of Mystery will lead and to see if Wyatt can be redeemed in the eyes of his comrades.
Asa- What was the inspiration behind Tails of Mystery?
“I love the noir crime genre but I like the idea of throwing a curveball into my stories, something that doesn’t quite fit and gives it an element of the weird, like a private detective being trapped in the body of a black cat”
Asa- Have you always been a fan of the noir/ mystery genre? Are there any stand out noir tales you are a particular fan of?
“I have but maybe not in the conventional way. My first exposure to it would have been the animated Batman series from the 90s which is so heavily influenced by noir. From there I got heavily into the Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett stuff and I was watching a lot of Humphrey Bogart and Victoria Lake films. However Double Indemnity might be my favourite noir film”
Asa and Kat- What was it that got you started in the comics industry?
A – “This. Tails of Mystery is the first comic I’ve written and published. I’ve wanted to make comics for years, I’ve always loved telling stories in whatever medium possible. I made short films at university (including a noir) but when it came down to it comics is the medium I loved the most as a creator and a consumer.”
Kat – “Asa introduced me to the world of comics when he’d seen some of my card drawings, mainly cute cartoon animals, and asked if I fancied illustrating his story.”
Asa and Kat- What, other then Tails of Mystery, would you recommend to someone looking to started reading comics?
A – “It depends on what they like outside of comics. I don’t think there is one perfect for that fits all new readers but I do believe that there is one comic for everyone, even if they hate everything else. That being said here are a few comics that you can’t go far wrong with; Saga for Sci-Fi, Invincible for Superheros, Head Lopper or Rat Queens for fantasy, Nailbiter or Hack/Slash for horror and anything Brubaker/Phillips for crime.”
Kat – “Saga, it was the first comic that Asa lent me from his collection and opened my eyes to comics not having to have a certain image. My impressions prior to this had all been Marvel style drawings of characters and superhero stories, so to read one with a unique art style and story was the hook. It’s Romeo and Juliet set in space and the art is brilliant.”
Asa and Kat- What is a typical day for you?
A -” It’s spent mostly looking at spreadsheets at the day job. But I will normally sneak in some writing at lunch, just jotting ideas down or fleshing out a scene. Most of my writing is done at the weekends.”
Kat – “I work a 9 to 5 so I try and squeeze in an hour each evening, far easier said than done. When I do get a free day for drawing I’ll get up and start about 8 and then work through till about 8. It’s obsessive but makes me feel far more like I’ve got my teeth into a project. I’ve been listening to the second campaign of Critical Role, something else Asa got me into, each episode tends to be about 4 hours so it’s a good way for me to work without getting distracted DJ-ing on YouTube. I draw everything by hand then scan and compose the pages on the computer. I then colour everything on Photoshop and send it over to Asa for lettering.”
Asa- How did your collaboration with Kat come about?
A – “Tails of Mystery had been an idea I had had in my head for a little while but I can’t draw to save my life so I hadn’t done anything with it until I saw some of Kat’s art on facebook. I liked the cartoony style and thought that it would contrast well with the dark story I wanted to tell. Throwing another curveball into the mix.”
Asa and Kat- What, if any, difficulties did you face when creating Tails of Mystery?
Kat – “Time. It’s easy to keep agonising over little changes you want to make rather than having a finished product. In the end we set a deadline of going to the True Believers Comic Con. which gave us the push we needed to pull it all together.”
A – “I’d agree with Kat but my job is way easier, I just have to write ‘And they fight’, Kat’s the one that has to draw it all.”
Asa- How much influence/ involvement did you have with the overall look of the comic?
“I pretty much left that all up to Kat. I think when we first started I gave her some character references and gave her some noir films and comics to check out. There might be the odd thing that I’m looking for something specific on but the actual look of the book is 90% Kat I’d say”
Asa and Kat- What is next for you?
Asa- “Quite a lot actually. We’ve got the next issue of Tails on the way. I’m also working on an anthology with a team of all female artists called Strange Tales & Other Curiosities. On top of that I’m writing a few one shot comics that I’ll be looking for artists for at the start of next year.”
Kat – I’m currently drawing the next issue of Tails of Mystery, this year I’ve also drawn four pages with the Tails characters in for the True Believer’s upcoming anthology Tales from Beyond Infinity #2. Independently I’m working on a collection of cute dinosaur illustrations to compile into a short comic. It’s a project I’ve been drawing each Tuesday for my instagram and follows a little girl and her dinosaur friend doing everyday activities. Just something to make people smile.
Asa and Kat- If you were going to be transformed into an animal, which would you choose
A – Gorilla. No question.
Kat – Lots of people have told me I’m an excitable puppy but I’d like to be a monkey or orangutan and live in the trees.
Asa- What big famous case would you like to see Wyatt tackle?
Something overly dark, the easy answer would be Jack the Ripper but I think the more interesting thing would be to do some in depth research and find a really obscure cold case and have the gang get mixed up in that. Something more akin to the Zodiac maybe.
Asa- where can we pick up Tails of Mystery in print?
We released both digitally and physically in February this year and plan to do the same with issue 2 in 2019. You can pick it up from a number of comic shops across the UK including Gosh, Orbital, OK Comics & Vault 29 as well as on my website, AsaWheatley.com
Asa and Kat- What advice would you give to those looking to get started in the comics industry?
A – Finished is always better than perfect. Nothing you do first time is going to be perfect but you shouldn’t let that stop you. I spent years wanting to make comics but what really pushed me was actually making that first issue of Tails. I’d say for your first comic make it a short one shot, don’t try and start an epic series you’ve got plans for for years. Instead just get something complete and produced, it will be the biggest motivator to do more. Once you’ve done that get to comic cons, big and small. Everyone is so supportive and it will just inspire you to make more and more.
Kat – Do it, just get something out there and take it to some Comic Cons. The comic community is one of the friendliest that I’ve been part of and everyone is really supportive.
Asa and Kat- If tails of mystery were to be made into a movie, who would you cast for Wyatt, Steph and Holland, and why?
A – Oh that’s an interesting and difficult question. You’d want someone distinguished but who could also pull off the anger and grumpiness of Wyatt, I think Stephen Lang could pull it off well. For Steph it’d have to be someone who could fight and hold the group together as the essential core, Jessica Henwick would be the perfect choice. As for Holland I’d say Mahershala Ali, for no other reason than he’s an amazing actor.
Wyatt – Hugh Jackman – I think he’d have a great time voicing a disgruntled cat.
Steph – Emma Stone – she’s feisty and can throw some mean daggers when the other two piss her off.
Holland – Donald Glover – he’d be the right mix of serious and comedy.
Kat- What would you say was your influences were in becoming an artists?
I grew up on Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl books so they’ve definitely shaped me as well as animated films having a huge impact. Disney’s Robin Hood remains a favourite and the Disney Pixar short films amaze me with the details and emotions they put into in a short space of time. My parents have always encouraged us to be creative so homemade cards were a big feature in our house and it’s just stemmed from there.
Kat- What was it about Tails of Mystery that drew you in?
One of the biggest selling points for me was that it had to have an animal in, so a grumpy detective cat, what more could I want! I liked that is wasn’t your standard detective story and had more going on than met the eye.
Kat- How did you find translating Asa’s story to images?
Asa gave me lots of reference films and comics to give me an idea of what visuals he had in his head. From there we worked pretty well together I’d send Asa a few pages and he’d tell me what he liked and what needed changing.
Kat- What tools would you say are imperative for a budding artist?
I still favour drawing by hand for the bulk of the work so really it’s just going to be practice and a pack of different thickness fineliners to experiment with. I don’t favour a particular brand of pencils or pens but do have a Wacom Intuos tablet that I love to colour on using Photoshop. This gives me the style I’m after and a finish to my drawings that I can’t get by hand.
Kat- who are you illustrative/ artist heroes?
My favourite has to be Ryan Woodward, his animation ‘Thought of You’ is just perfect, he is just so skilled at drawing movement and people. I also love Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde for her use of a colour and detail, she draws the most gorgeous villages you just want to move to. Fawn Veerasunthorn who does charming character drawings that are filled with comedy and very relatable. Simone Grünewald has a knack for expressions and captures life in her drawings in a way that I’m also very envious of. I could keep going on with names but the final is Jake Parker, the creator of the ever popular ‘inktober’, the tiny details in his drawings just draw you into his world.
Asa- Who are your literary heroes?
I love the work of H.P. Lovecraft, despite his politics, his stories are some of the most influential in horror and tales of the weird. Warren Ellis is one of the best writers in both comics and prose. Raymond Chandler’s works are heavy influences on me as a noir writer as are the Inspector Maigret novels by Georges Simenon.
I really enjoyed Tails of Mystery and getting to know Asa and Kat, you can keep up to date with them with the links below!