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Anthony Mauro and Quan Chu on bringing us 'Salvation'

Comic Books

Anthony Mauro and Quan Chu on bringing us ‘Salvation’

Salvation, a mythical city at the end of the world…it’s a long ride to the end of the world.

An exciting and wholly inventive new graphic novel is out now, and it’s crafted by comics insider Anthony Mauro with art by Quan Chu. You may not know Mauro’s name, but he’s been behind much of the publicity you’ve seen at Dark Horse Comics and also BOOM! Studios in recent years, and now he’s getting his feet wet by self-publishing comics.

Titled Salvation, the fresh OGN is currently available on Amazon is set in a mythical city at the end of the world. It’s a story that Mauro calls “Mad Max meets The Dark Tower,” and speaking as someone who has read much of it, the visuals are as bold as that comparison.

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Self-publishing is no easy endeavor, so I sat down with Mauro and Chu to get the backstory on how Salvation got off the ground, among other topics and tidbits.

Anthony Mauro and Quan Chu on bringing us 'Salvation'

Courtesy of Anthony Mauro.

AIPT: Anthony, thanks for taking the time! What’s the elevator pitch for Salvation?

Anthony Mauro: Thanks for chatting with me! I’m gonna pull the logline straight from my pitch for this: An ancient robot gunslinger and a human survivalist travel across a wasteland looking for a mythical city at the end of the world.

In a way, it’s The Dark Tower meets Mad Max. The world ended a millennia ago, and in the intervening years, stories about a city called Salvation have made their way across the desolate landscape. A city both humans and machines are trying to get to because there’s something there that’s worth having. And, of course, between Salvation and our intrepid heroes, there are cults of cyborgs, ancient war machines, and various pockets of populace that seem to have gotten on alright despite the world ending.

AIPT: As someone who has worked on the publicity side of comics, did that help you in any way get this book off the ground and running?

AM: Oh man, are you kidding? It’s like a cheat code for knowing how to launch a comic. I’ve been doing publicity for the better part of six years for various publishers and the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met, and the experience of getting to be part of comics launches of all sizes has been invaluable for getting this off the ground.

That being said, it still doesn’t make the process of making, launching, and marketing an indie self-published book any easier in practice. I just know the people I need to talk to do it.

Anthony Mauro and Quan Chu talk bringing us 'Salvation'

Courtesy of Anthony Mauro.

AIPT: The art in Salvation is incredibly detailed and visceral. How did you and Quan Chu connect for this one?

AM: Instagram. I had written the first issue script back in 2017 — a solid two years before my first job in comics. I knew I wanted a specific vibe for the book, and just started looking through the art side of Instagram and I came upon Quan’s page (@oni_knight — everyone go follow him). I shot him an email and the script and he said yes.

The art makes the book. Full stop. I don’t know how people will respond to my writing, but at the very least I know that our book looks incredible. There really is nothing like it on shelves these days. It’s very Sergio Toppi, or Barron Storey, or those fine artists who drew for Vertigo back in the 90s. I feel incredibly lucky Quan wanted to work with me.

Quan Chu: I was contacted by Anthony at the beginning of March 2017 saying he had a story script that he wrote and wished to turn that into a comic book. He said he found my art on Instagram, mostly just doodles and sketches, and thought my style would be the perfect fit for his story. He was very respectful and understanding and didn’t offer me any exposure bullshit; the man offered payment and was ready to draft out the contract. And I liked that. I responded “Send me the script. I’m interested. So let’s talk.” And that’s the start.

Anthony Mauro and Quan Chu talk bringing us 'Salvation'

Courtesy of Anthony Mauro.

AIPT: Was there a particular panel or page that Chu blew you away with?

QC: I don’t know which page Anthony loves specifically, but for me, the page that gave me the most satisfaction in drawing is where the Pilgrim first showed up. My goal was to aim for a good shape design combined with good detail and value control. I think it’s the critical page that sets the style for the entire comic. Besides that, I like the page where Klay, the main character, shoots a robot in the face in chapter four.

AM: If you let me I could sit here and wax poetic about every single page of this book. If I had to pick just one it’d be the same Quan picked. It’s from the first few pages of the book–the robot character, The Pilgrim, is riding up through the desert past a tree that has picked up bones and machine parts in its roots. I remember getting that page and seeing The Pilgrim for the first time. My character lifted from a panel description into being. There is nothing in the world cooler than that. Naturally I bought the page. It’s framed on my wall, hung next to a page from Sweet Tooth. Up there in good company.

Anthony Mauro and Quan Chu talk bringing us 'Salvation'

Courtesy of Anthony Mauro.

AIPT: Can you talk a little about what tools Chu used? It looks like pen and ink maybe?

AM: I’ll let Quan get into detail on that, but it really is pen on paper. I don’t think there is a single page of this book that is 100% digital.

QC: In the beginning, it was all done by fountain pen for everything and then edited with Photoshop. Back then I had an obsession with fountain pens, both using and collecting, so whenever I had a chance, I had to use them. They give great organic and lively lines and are comfortable, portable, and convenient to use. Of course, it had some drawbacks: fountain pen ink is water-soluble, which makes the drawings prone to damage from sweat, smearing, etc; they’re quite limited in line width. So for later pages, they were all done in a combination of ink brush, fountain pen, pen and ink dip, watercolor, and pigment technical pens, then edited on Photoshop. I tried to keep them hand-drawn as much as possible.

AIPT: Where can folks find Salvation?

AM: Currently, you can find it as an ebook on Amazon. I’ll slowly be adding it to various online platforms as an e-book (like Gumroad) but for now it remains on Amazon.

The goal is to do a limited printing because Quan’s art deserves to be collected and bound in a physical book, but that’s still a ways off.

AIPT: If Salvation was a song, what would it be and why?

AM: That’s a great question. I think maybe the Nirvana cover of The Man Who Sold The World. It has that great driving acoustic guitar riff that feels like it’s moving ever forward. Plus the lyrics are malleable enough where I think you could attribute them to any of the characters in the book and get something a little more out of them (the characters).

That, or The Pantheon from the Bastion soundtrack. Great fantasy/western tune. Great game.

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