Independently published No More Heroes has an odd claim to fame that has made it a headline generating title: being pirated as often as marquee titles such as Batman. The comic, written by Gordon Mclean and penciled by Caio Oliveira has taken off as a download and has greatly increased exposure to the book. Writer & creator Gordon Mclean recently took some time to discuss his series and the double edged sword of being a highly pirated title.
Gordon Mclean: I had the opening – where an average guy receives a text message asking, “Should I kill myself?” – lying in a notebook for years. I could never come up with a suitable story and pay-off for an opening like that and so I had to leave the poor wee bugger trapped on the page for ages.
But then I went to the Kapow Comic Con in London last year. I was at the Millarworld panel listening to Mark Millar, Frank Quitely etc talking about how great it was working on their own creator-owned books and it made me get my arse in check and make my own comic rather than just think about it.
I started turning story ideas over in my head and the suicidal text message reappeared along with the suggestion of it coming from a superhero. That was the big break through! The rest of the story came flooding in and No More Heroes was born.
AL: Straight from the architect’s mouth: what can you tell us about the world of No More Heroes? Are heroes few and far between? Is this a world of super powers or vigilantes like the world of Kick-Ass?
GM: It’s basically our world if you wrapped a cape around it. There isn’t hundreds and hundreds of heroes whizzing around, but there’s a few. So far I’ve kept it grounded and only had them be in the vigilante vein but there’s a nasty SOB coming up in issue two called ‘Pieces’ who pushes that boundary with an unusual skin condition that allows him to rip off and reattach his limbs. He’s the only character in the four issues that you could argue has a power, although that’s really more of a cool party trick, surely?
AL: You recently put out a press release discussing this comic’s popularity as a pirated download. As a creator of this self-published comic, is the digital popularity of this comic bitter-sweet? Have you noticed an increase in sales due to the extra exposure?
GM: It’s a double-edged sword, definitely. On the one hand I was astounded that it had become so popular so quickly (it’s a self-published small press comic by a couple of industry unknowns, after all) and a relief that people liked it. Of course, the other hand has to hold on to the knowledge of all those lost sales.
As I mentioned in the press release not long after the Kapow Con I lost my job and decided to use my redundancy money to get No More Heroes made, topping up the cash by selling off my collection of Playstation games. So it did hit me on a personal level that a comic I’d invested so much in, and the artist Caio had spent so much time drawing, was being illegally passed around for free. We don’t have a publisher behind us so there’s no wages or any other sort of support to balance out all those lost sales. We do or die by them!
However, the exposure has helped us out with a lot of extra publicity and sales have come in from wonderful comic fans who want to help out and show the good side of fandom – I can’t thank them enough for that! A few people who downloaded it has also emailed me to say they liked the book enough to want give over some cash for it, which was an unexpected surprise too.
AL: Where can prospective readers get their hands on a copy of No More Heroes?
GM: All the details are available on our website: http://nomoreheroescomic.wordpress.com. You can also read the first ten pages of issue 1 for free there, as well as check out behind the scenes sketches, fan art and other bits and pieces.
AL: Last words are to you, Gordon, any final message you’d like to pass on to Comicosity’s readers?
GM: If you’re looking for a comic with a difference then please give No More Heroes a try! The story twists and turns all over the place to keep readers guessing right up until the final issue where they’ll find out the truth behind the text message and a twist I don’t think anyone will see coming.
Equally important is that Caio’s artwork is simply stunning – it’s hard to believe this is his first full-length comic and this is a chance to be there right at the beginning of what’s gonna be one hell of a career in the industry. Throw in action, dark humour and lots of swearing and it all makes for a big, fun story!