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July 31, 2013

‘Head Smash’: New revenge tale launched with grass-roots campaign

Posted in: Comic-Con,Comics

Comic-Con International hosted its share of crowded red-carpet events filled with A-list stars talking up a raft of new projects, but amid the media frenzy, a relatively unknown property sought out its own corner of the limelight in San Diego’s busy Gaslamp Quarter earlier this month.

“Head Smash,” a new comic book tale of revenge released Wednesday, premiered in full at Comic-Con after an extensive grass-roots campaign to market the title to readers.

Co-written by Erik Hendrix and Vlad Yudin, with art by Tim Bradstreet (covers) and Dwayne Harris (interiors), the sci-fi-inflected story centers on the character Smash, who, empowered by a super serum, sets out to get even with his adopted father, a ruthless crime lord, and a sinister organization known as the Horde.

“It started as a simple story of revenge,” Yudin said. “It takes place in the city of Ares, which is ruled by different syndicates and gangs. It grew into something much bigger, and it starts a movement against oppression. In today’s world you have a lot of people fighting for power, wars, and fighting for their rights. So the inspiration behind it is actually a bigger picture.”

The pre-apocalyptic story — Yudin mentions that society has broken down, but is not yet lost completely — has echoes of “RoboCop” and “Escape from L.A.,” and is infused with a B-movie verve that fits the sensibilities of co-writer Hendrix, the vice president of publishing for Arcana Comics, whose credits include the award-winning graphic novel “The Evil Tree.”  The title also fits comfortably within the oeuvre of cover artist Bradstreet, who has experience with vigilantes in drawing the Punisher and Blade, and the supernatural with “True Blood.”

Yudin and his producing partner Edwin Mejia dreamed up the idea for “Head Smash” first as a potential feature film, but as they developed the project, a different path emerged. In a somewhat unusual step they opted to tell the story in graphic novel form, and they soon launched a grass-roots campaign to help familiarize comic book readers with the world and the characters.

The duo eventually partnered with Arcana Comics and Hendrix, and Yudin and Mejia introduced the project at New York Comic-Con last year, debuting the first 10 pages.

“When you go to these places, like New York Comic-Con, those people give it to you raw,” Yudin said. “If they don’t like something, they tell you. They say things like ‘Hey, why are you trying to copy this or that?’ So that was definitely a testing ground. And it also gave us motivation to keep going.”

Yudin and Mejia traveled to comic conventions in Detroit, Houston, Miami and Chicago, though they saved the unveiling on Bradstreet’s cover (along with a limited edition cover drawn by Kanye West collaborator, art director Joe Perez) for San Diego. They also put together a trailer for the title featuring voice work from actor Bill Paxton.

A film project is finally in the works, said Mejia, with shooting set to begin next year, though the duo isn’t going to abandon the graphic novel — they’re planning for it to become the first installment in a trilogy.

“We’re focused on this being an ongoing story [in different media], but a graphic novel, first and foremost,” Yudin said.

“We’d gotten offers to do this as a film before we finished the novel, but we wanted to build the brand and build the story and have these visuals executed as a graphic novel,” Mejia said.

The book is available on Amazon.

— Jevon Phillips

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex


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