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To Better Know a Renegade: Mark Allard-Will

Sean Tonelli - Sunday, March 18, 2018

I am an avid gamer and I say that with pride.Unfortunately for the millions of us (and there are literally millions of us), we still feel ourselves on the fringe. “Oh you play Nintendo?” some will ask rhetorically. And we will cordially reply, sneering slightly at the generality of the question, “Yes. I play Nintendo.” But being a gamer is knowing full well that our time is spent far more than merely ‘playing’. We are challenging ourselves, both mentally and physically. We are connecting with friends, old and new, a world apart. We are becoming lost in ourselves and coming out the other end stronger and more resilient. But more than anything, we are making ourselves happy. This is something that Mark Allard-Will knows, and if you have any doubts, then one only needs to look at his love letter to gaming/Original Graphic Novel Årkade, our latest Voices feature.. I was fortunate enough to send a list of questions for Mark to answer, then manipulate those questions to simulate an IRL Dialogue Tree. That slight rambling must mean that it’s time for…   

To Better Know a Renegade! Featuring Mark Allard-Will. Mark is a British-born Canadian Writer, best known for his work on the Canadiana comedy Comic series of Saskatch-A-Man and SaskatchAvengers, alongside the metafiction Graphic Novel, Årkade. If you live in the Canadian Prairies, you may have seen Mark on regional TV and Radio from time to time; but, should you be looking to find Mark, you'll find him as a featured Comic Creator Guest at any number of Comic Book Conventions across the year.

Sean: How did you get started as an artist?

Mark: For me personally, my journey toward being the published Author/Writer I am today has been a long one. It all started as a young Child when I began reading and collecting the British licensed Sonic the Hedgehog Comics that were quite literally called Sonic the Comic, a fortnightly (bi-weekly) publication. I, as most kids do, fell out of reading for a while; but, as a pre-teen, I developed a love affair with British Noirs (largely Sherlock Holmes) and other Novels that we read in School. I was writing Prose as a little fun hobby at this same age too.
Fast-forward to University and I took Creative Writing (of the Theatre and Movie kind) for my minor. It was this immersion in learning the craft on the scriptwriting side of things that prepared me for writing for Comics, because, at their most skilled, a Comic Book script really should be just that: A script. Also, training in writing for a visual medium really helped too.
As for my first legitimately published work, it was the Canadiana comedy Comic Book, Saskatch-A-Man. It had an overnight success to it within the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, to which the Comic is a cultural nod and I'm really thankful to everyone whom bought a copy, enjoyed it and gave me that bump I needed to keep moving forward in the medium.

Sean: Who are some of your inspirations?

Mark: For me, this varies greatly from Prose to Movies to the Comic Book medium. At some level, although I've long since moved from Sherlock Holmes, I do have to acknowledge Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Noir is a really fantastic place to start if you need to learn plot devices and act-progression, by the way, because it's all so clearly defined). I also have to give a mighty nod to Yvengeny Zamyatin, We had a profound impact on me for days after I read it and it really changed the way I saw things relating to society at large. Michael Crichton, J.R.R. Tolkien and Margaret Atwood are among my favourite writers. As for Comic Books, my biggest inspiration as a Writer is Antony Johnston, whom I've had the pleasure of speaking with on numerous occasions and I can happily confirm that he's a really wonderful chap. In terms of scriptwriting for Movies, I have to say Alex Garland, man does that guy know how to write. One of my most cherished Writer friends, whom I'm happy to say is a close-friend of mine, is Arthur Slade; he writes such wonderful Young Adult Horror Novels.
One of my closest friends in the Comic Book world, Ryan Howe, is one of the best visual medium Writers I've ever seen. He just seems to have writing for the medium down to a science, everything he writes has the smoothest flow, no unnecessary exposition, everything happens at the right moment and it just feels entirely filmic.  There's so many more too, but too many to include here.

Sean: What are some secrets to your creative process?

Mark: Always, always (I can't stress this enough) figure out what your driving "why" (plot device) is first and then do a full beat-by-beat plot development before writing a single scene. This is what, for me at least, minimises re-writes and the need for them. Follow this technique and you can't go far wrong.

Sean: Any upcoming projects that you would like to tell readers about?

Mark: Absolutely! I'm working on several at the moment, the main current one is an already finished script that is currently in the hands of Ryan Howe for Artwork; it's a historical Horror Graphic Novel set in both Medieval and Tudor-era England called The Burning Black: Legend of Black Shuck. My current in-progress script is a Graphic Novel adaptation of The Saga of the Völsungs called Siegfried: Dragon Slayer, which will have its Artwork done by Jasmine Redford. I'm also researching for a Graphic Novel biography on Morris "Two-Gun" Cohen and his time in China.

Sean: What are some of your favourite tools? Pens, inks, programs?

Mark: For me it's Microsoft Word all the way.

Sean: Any advice for up and comers?

Mark: Don't be disheartened by hearsay and attend Cons, ask the creator guests for advice, tips, that kind of thing, most of them won't mind at all and it's a good way for you to get your first footholds on grasping the understanding of your next steps.

Mark’s book Årkade arrives on Voices April 04 2018. In the meantime you can check out more of his work HERE.