SECRET PROJECT launches JAN 11th! Get to know the creators behind our first story

It has been a long time coming. More than 2 years ago the Jinxworld.com based Michael Avon Oeming's message board (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/forumdisplay.php?f=9) decided collectively to produce a comic book anthology. I was nominated as the editor of what we began to call "SECRET PROJECT" and gladly took on the task of organizing and putting together the comic. We ran into some hurdles, some missed deadlines, but in the end I couldn't be happier with the finished product. And I'm especially excited to say that come next Monday, JANUARY 11th, WWW.SECRETPROJECTCOMIC.COM will be available to all of the interwebz ! Be sure to check back every 2 weeks for a new story...and check back here for a new interview with the creator(s) ! Up first is NOT THIS TIME, a story by Jeffrey C Burandt and Ronald Salas (with letters by Ben). This is not your typical super-hero story and these aren't your typical creators. Let's talk more with Jeffrey "JEF UK" Burandt and Ron Salas. ==========================================

MEB - How long has AMERICANS UK been around?

Jeffrey Burandt: The first AMERICANS UK show was on midnight, 1/1/02, Austin, TX. We played a back yard New Year's Party at our friends' place. The girls who lived there would throw these huge parties with us in their giant two story house. We'd burn through a 20 minute set, finished by the time the cops came to make us stop playing.

MEB- Conversely, how long have you been a comic book fan?

JB: I've been reading comics for as long as I've been reading.

MEB - Which makes sense, because your band borrows from the comic book genre a bit in your stage presence, i.e., costumes. Was that around from the band's inception? How did it come about?

JB: We had been working the sci-fi and horror themes into the songs since the beginning, but no, the costumes are relatively recent--they debuted July, 2007. We hadn't played in a while, and for our first show back our guitarist at the time, Bryan Bruchman, suggested we dress as super heroes. I loved the idea (and we had already begun work on the comic) and it stuck. I think we're ready to move beyond to bigger and wilder costumes and stage shows, and play up broader science fiction themes in our presence, but everybody looks hot in a domino mask, and capes work great on stage.

MEB: What about you Ron? When did you get into comic books?

Ronald Salas: I pretty much learned how to read from comic books. Comics were pretty cheap and pretty popular in the Philippines so I always had a huge supply growing up.

MEB – And when did you know you wanted to be an artist?

RLS: I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. I can't remember a time when I was holding a pencil or crayon and wasn't drawing on something: paper, the table, the walls.

MEB - What provoked you to take your band to the comic book from?

JB: Well, I found out my drummer JTR3 was a robot from the future, and the material was just there. Write what you know, Mary. It seemed to me that comics was the best medium by which to represent all the crazy shit we've been through.

MEB - Issue # 2 takes an almost "Anthology" turn; why did you decide to take that direction?

JB: There's no real impetus for me to write AM/UK in 22 page installments. I write the story in chapters as I would write a prose novel, and the page counts of those chapters fall where they may. So, the immensely talented Paul Ciaravino and I got together and figured out how many pages of comics we could make in 2009. I knew that Chapter 2 of our story was 6 pages, but I wanted to have full issues of content to sell as merch at our shows and also use to promote what we're doing in general. I wanted those issues to hit at at least 20 pages, and I wanted to publish 40 pages of AMERICANS UK comics in a 9 month period. I met cartoonist Zees as we were finishing issue 1, and we decided to make "I, Ape-Man," together, using the AM/UK song as the inspiration. "I, Ape-Man" hit at 13 pages, so I thought publishing the short story version of "The Better Head"--which also has a song equivalent--was thematically appropriate, and would knock us over the 20 page count, hurrah! Meanwhile, Paul and I could get ahead of the game on issue 3. We're doing the same thing again now, where we'll be releasing an AMERICANS UK: Mixtape issue (40 pages of AM/UK comics, with a free, previously unreleased song titled, "John Loves Wayne," as represented in comics form by Donal Delay), while Paul and I chug along on issues 4 & 5.

I'm infatuated with the idea of prose and comics and rock posters and songs sharing the same textual space. I hope we're providing unique narrative experiences by tying these several storytelling modes together. For me, there are few things better in life than sitting around and reading comics while listening to rock and roll. So, by producing content that is both comics and rock and roll, I think AMERICANS UK is providing some robust fictions with which readers can interact. It's not often you get to dance to your comic books.

MEB - So how did NOT THIS TIME (from the SECRET PROJECT anthology) come about?

JB: I had had the story's turn in my head for a bit, but I wasn't sure what narrative mode or what length would work best. Several years ago, I decided to write some 4 page comic scripts, and "Not This Time," emerged. When I was presented with the opportunity to pitch for Secret Project, I sent Ron Salas some of my short scripts, predicting that "Not This Time" was the best fit for his talents, and it's the one he wanted to do!

MEB - How did you get in touch with Ronald Salas for NOT THIS TIME?

JB: Ron was always posting amazing pinups on the Oeming message board over at jinxworld.com. His art is brilliant, and I knew his style would fit what I was trying to achieve with "Not This Time." The very moment I heard about Secret Project, I messaged him asking if he wanted to work on something with me, and then we followed up via email. It thrills me to this day that I got the opportunity to tell this story with him. I'm a huge fan of Salas' work. I love how he rendered "Not This Time" with his high-contrast style. It's a different look than in his Image work. It's so cool to be able to walk into a comic shop and pick up Existence 3.0 and see him really let loose with a different style in that book.

MEB: So Ron, what made you decide on NOT THIS TIME?

RLS: I think it was the shortest one. I also liked his take on an archetypical character and I thought it fit what I could do pretty well.

MEB- Well your art really lended itself well to this project! Thank you both for contribution. So Jef, what's up next for AM/UK?

JB: Paul Ciaravino and I are hard at work on issue #4 of the comic book. Our 40 page anthology, Rocktronic Mixtape #1, should be out any week now, and in conjunction with that, we're releasing the single, "John Loves Wayne." Meanwhile, JTR3 and I are about to finish an EP titled Luxuria, which features some crazy ass smooth jazz renditions of some of our favorite AM/UK songs, and we're starting to demo our next LP titled, Where Giants Walk. And we'll be playing around NYC throughout 2010!

MEB- What are some links where I can check out more of your work?

JB: Please visit americans-uk.com! We have an EP titled, I, Ape-man available there for free download, as well as links to the first 3 issues of the comic, also for free. And, be sure to look up AMERICANS UK on iTunes, where you can buy our full-length album titled Rocktronic for under $9! Also, artist Dennis Culver and I are starting work on our graphic novel Odd Schnozz and the Odd Squad for Oni Press, so I hope we'll see that completed in 2010. There should be some more announcements about that project soon enough.

Thanks, Mary!

MEB: No problem Jef - thank you! What about you Ron? What else are you working on currently? Anything we can check out on the web?

RLS: I'm currently working on Existence 3.0, which is the sequel to my series, Existence 2.0 that came out in the summer.


There you have it ! Be sure to check out WWW.SECRETPROJECTCOMIC.COM Monday January 11th for NOT THIS TIME!


~Till Next Time Kittlings!

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