ComicBuzz Chats With I.N.J. Culbard

With the release of the Salamandre graphic novel from Berger Books and Dark Horse Comics, we are delighted to be joined by writer and artist I.N.J. Culbard (Everything, Tales from the Umbrella Academy: You Look Like Death) for a chat.


Hi I.N.J. Culbard; it’s so wonderful to have you here with us.


Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m I. N. J. Culbard. I write and draw comics. 


How would you describe the Salamandre graphic novel?

Salamandre is the story of a young boy who loses his father and in turn loses himself in his grief and is sent to stay with his grandfather in a country that has lost its freedom of expression to a totalitarian regime.


Can you tell us about the origins of Salamandre?

The story draws on my experiences growing up on both sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War of the 1970’s right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980’s. I took a dramatic event from my own childhood and used that as my finale and worked my way backwards from that to make sense of what was going on at the time.  Although it draws heavily on that experience, the world of Salamandre is a sort of misremembered version of our own. 


Who is Kaspar Salamandre?

He’s a young boy who draws comics and bears more than a passing resemblance to me at the same age. 


How long have you been working on Salamandre?

I started work on the script in the summer of 2021 and finished drawing the book in the summer of 2022. 


The story is very emotional; it has lots of ups and downs. From when you started to write the story and when you finished writing the story. Did your writing follow the initial idea for the story, or did the path change for the story as you wrote it?

I wrote the pitch in one sitting and gave it to my editor (Karen Berger) the following day having not slept all night. I’d worked out a pretty solid breakdown for the entire thing that was initially about 11 pages long. Working with Karen I managed to tighten up the story (it had a lot more dinner party scenes in it beforehand and there were some logic leaps that needed addressing) and then I wrote the script from that outline. There were tiny changes from there, mostly dialogue though. 


You are creating all of the art for the graphic novel. What part of that process do you enjoy the most, pencils, inking or colouring?

Every part of the process is different and I enjoy every part for very different reasons.  Every step of the process is a step closer to the finish. I guess it’s the satisfaction of a completed page where everything is working together. 


Artistically has it been a challenge creating the world that Kaspar inhabits?

I was drawing on a lot of memories, but also very idealistic notions of the ways I wished things had been, so I wasn’t really restricted by things like “Oh, it looked like this” or “they dressed like this.” This was a misremembered past after all. I could do what I wanted since it was an off kilter version of our own world. It was more liberating than challenging. 


What has it been like working with Berger Books and Dark Horse Comics?

Dark Horse Comics are fantastic. Always brilliant to work with — I’ve done a few things for them now including an Umbrella Academy spin off, but the team I worked with directly on Salamandre was Berger Books and I absolutely love working with them. Every time I work with them I learn so much. It changes the way I work on other things. Looking forward to doing it again. 


A big thank you to I.N.J. Culbard for chatting with us. We would like to wish I.N.J. Culbard the best of luck with the Salamandre graphic novel.


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