Writer Ashley Eric Peschel‘s and artist Peter Magro‘s latest graphic novel, S.T.E.A.M., takes us on a darkly pictorial adventure. The combination of an arresting plot line and salient noir imagery correlates beautifully with their chosen concept. The artists have intertwined a 1940s backdrop with a staple gothic hallmark, something that will surely pique the curiosity of a wide audience.
S.T.E.A.M. will be officially published on the 5th December at Comic Con, Magazino Hall at the Valletta Waterfront at 11am. We’ve caught up with Peschel and Magro for a further insight into their latest project.
Ashley: S.T.EA.M. is my first attempt at a graphic novel. It focuses on a secret team who specialise in the supernatural. The team is made up of an English knight, a German priest and an American cowboy. As the investigation deepens, they’re joined by a local woman, who has secrets of her own. The team soon finds out that what they are investigating is something they’ve never faced before. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also have to face off against a Nazi force led by the mysterious Count Wolf.
What’s the inspiration behind this graphic novel’s concept?
Ashley: When I started writing the story, my main goal was to write a fun adventure, in the vain of Indiana Jones or The Mummy. I didn’t want to create a large scale fantasy. I just wanted to write an adventure that was thrilling and funny. When I was plotting the story out, I started with one concept: With all those bombs falling on Malta during the war, what if one of them had to hit something that was hidden and trapped, thus unleashing it upon the island… And that’s how the story started.
How did the project get started?
Peter: A mutual friend of ours, Christopher Muscat, who so happens to organise Comic Con every year, recommended me to Ashley who came up with this fantastic story. I thank them both for the trust and confidence they had in me throughout these three long years.
How did you discover your passions?
Ashley: As far as stories go, I’ve been creating them ever since I was child. I used to make them up for my toys to play out, even going as far as drawing posters for the story. When I finally learned to write, I started creating bigger, wackier adventures… one of which turned out to be S.T.E.A.M.
Peter: My mother discovered it actually, and for that I owe her a lot. However, I remember quite clearly drawing comics in Form 2, sometimes during lessons, where I used to draw a life where my friends and I had these amazing adventures – going back in time, duelling knights, getting sucked into computer games, or hunt for hidden treasure. You name it, I probably drew it! Unfortunately, life’s more boring in reality, so we had to settle for studying and exams.
What primary media did you use for S.T.E.A.M’s artwork?
Mainly ink and pen, except for the front cover, which is done in acrylic paint. However, before ever inking a page, I always pencil the art first, which makes this a very long painstaking process, but I don’t regret the time used, as I love the fact that the drawings have a raw sketchy look to them, which gives them a more personal touch. The original pages are drawn in A3 size, but were scanned down and cleaned up using Photoshop.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Ashley: For now I’m just going to relax and enjoy the whole process of seeing the book released, and gathering as much feedback as possible. I really want to know what the readers think of the book. After that, I’ll either work on a sequel or think of a new adventure, as I feel that graphic novel writing is something I really want to pursue. However, I would prefer a second adventure with S.T.E.A.M., as I have so many ideas about where to take them next, and how they’ll continue to grow as characters.
Peter: I’m currently starting a new short comic with GNLM (Graphic Novels Library Malta), which will be directed towards children, as we are adapting classic Maltese literature and folklore. We’ll be using the content to tackle Maltese stories with a twist. I’d love to work with Ashley again in the future for possible S.T.E.A.M. sequels, as well as hopefully publish a book with my own story one day.
For more information, check out the official S.T.E.A.M. page.