Andrew MacLean is a Salem, MA, based illustrator and graphic designer. You may have first heard of him with his 2015 releases Bat Karma or Apocalyptgirl, both of which were critically acclaimed upon their release. However, he made a bigger splash last year when he debuted his first ongoing series through Image Comics- the Conan-meets-Hellboy style fantasy epic Head Lopper. With the second arc of the quarterly series out this week, we sat down with Andrew to talk about the concept, his inspirations, and what we can expect within the Crimson Tower!
Andrew, thanks for sitting down with us! I always like to start with a pretty basic question- what is Head Lopper and why would we be interested in it?
Head Lopper is a fantasy/adventure comic. It’s about a big guy (Norgal) traveling about with a big sword and a snarky severed head of a witch (Agatha). The two bicker and fight, and kill monsters and sorcerers and save the day. Everyone laughs a little. Everyone cheers a little. And that’s why we like it.
What specifically is happening in this second miniseries?
Norgal and Agatha have teamed up with Zhaania Kota Ka, who we met in #3. She saved Norgal’s life back there so now he feels in her debt and so has decided to aid her in her own quest – which brings them to the Crimson Tower. Here she hopes to save her mother and sisters from Ulrich the Twice Damned, Master of the Crimson Tower.
What were some of your inspirations for the concept?
In the second series I wanted to bring in some elements of Zelda, Miyazaki, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, etc. and just step up my game all around. I really want us to learn about our main characters more by seeing how they interact with others.
Where did the name/title come from?
I just thought “HEAD LOPPER” was bold and funny. I really didn’t toss around any other ideas.
Are you a fan of the epic fantasy genre?
What is your favorite epic fantasy setting?
I could never choose a favorite.
Can you tell us a little bit about your lead characters? In the first arc, it was mostly just Norgal the Head Lopper and Agatha the Blue Witch. Who are they and what’s their deal?
Well a big part of their deal is we don’t know why they bother hanging out when they hate each other so much – but answering that would be a major spoiler.
And from #5 it looks like they’re being joined by some cool new characters. Can you tell us about them?
In the “Crimson Tower” we hang out with the Fongas, which is a race of creature that lives nearby. We particularly focus on three brothers, each with a very different personality. They really don’t belong in a big adventure and that’s a big part of their story. We see Zhaania again, who we met in HL3, and she is now joined by Xho, who is one of the girls she saved in the epilogue of HL Vol1. Xho, like Norgal, is in debt to Zhaania for saving her life and has now begun to train in the art of battle under Zhaania’s tutelage.
I love the design work that goes into the characters and this world. What are your goals when you design characters? Do you have a specific end result in mind, or does the design work come before the character?
For the side characters, I usually have a character in mind before setting pencil to paper, but once I start working it out it could end up anywhere. But my goal in all of it is to just make something cool. When I think a design is cool, I stop tinkering with it.
Who’s been your favorite character to design so far?
Berserkr was probably the most fun. Berserkr is a new bad guy who is just all spikes and weird shapes.
Head Lopper #5 is on sale in stores and your favorite digital platform this Wednesday, 3/15/2017
EJ contributed to this interview.