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Dream Gang: An Interview With Brendan McCarthy

Hello ladies and gents! This week I had the opportunity to talk to Brendan McCarthy, co-writer of Mad Max: Fury Road, about his latest comic creation, Dream Gang!


Dream Gang Cover


1) For those who may not know you, tell us about yourself.

I’m a comic book writer and artist — amongst other things.
I was a dominant force in the 80s ‘British Invasion’ for that decade, but decided to move on from comics and expand my creative horizons into pop videos, animation and Hollywood feature films. I like working in lots of different media, as it stops me getting too bored… I came back to comics when DC invited me to do the final episode of their acclaimed SOLO series.
Recently, a movie I co-wrote and designed, Mad Max Fury Road, stormed its way to a whole bunch of Oscars and ‘Best of the Year’ awards. That was very gratifying, as it took us nearly 20 years to get the darned thing made!


2) What got you into comics in the first place?

Comics are my first love and I always saw the creative possibilities of the art form, back when comics were a ‘cultural ghetto’ and very much disrespected and looked down on by the clueless.


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3) Who are your biggest influences in the industry?

When I was a kid, I grew up reading the 60s classics by Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Infantino, Steranko…the titans of that era. Robert Crumb was a huge influence, in that he would put on paper whatever craziness came into his mind. I loved that freedom. The European artists who became mainstream in the 80s were great too: Moebius, Pratt, Toppi and Liberatore were the creative giants of their age. I have a soft spot for Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey. I can always look at Mike Mignola’s art without hurting my eyes. Frank Quitely is still a modern master. There are lots of great new people coming up all the time, especially in the indy scene, from publishers like NoBrow.


4) Your style is very psychedelic, where does that influence come from?

Well, Yellow Submarine would have to be the single biggest influence on my style these days. I still watch that amazing movie and am stunned at its endless creativity. Pop videos, like David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’, can still be exciting. They are cut to music and operate on a different plane of storytelling. They’re jerky and jump around a lot — I like to put that energy into my comics.


5) What sparked the idea for Dream Gang?

I’ve had the idea in my head for about 30 years! I did originally pitch it to Vertigo back in the early 90s. We were going to do it, but couldn’t settle on a deal which satisfied me. It was called ‘Z-MEN’ back then. When the movie Inception came out, I was floored, as so many similar ideas were being explored and I was forced to rethink everything… I changed the storyline, the characters and the title! I was pushed into a massive rethink, which I now prefer to my original concept. It became less ‘filmic’ and more ‘comic strip’…


dream gang sample


6) For those who may be unfamiliar with the series, what is Dream Gang about exactly?

Dream Gang is a new concept. It was first serialised in the monthly anthology series Dark Horse Presents, and pretty much came out under the radar. I did a substantial rewrite and revamped the art for this new version, which is definitive.
Dream gang is about a group of people who project themselves into dreams at night, who assume dream personas — adopting new guises as ‘dream avatars’ if you like — and wandering about in the collective unconscious. They uncover a dark conspiracy to implant a ‘Dream Bomb’ into a young man’s memory, and set off a viral meme that will stupefy the world’s sleeping population and create a nightmare planet.
The story explores the shifting world of memories and dreams — the deep-buried thoughts that can keep us trapped in the prisons of the mind.


7) Can we expect to see more of Dream Gang in the future?

I feel there are an infinite amount of stories to be told in Dream Gang. But I always look for that ‘special’ story that hits a nerve with me. After all, writing and drawing a graphic novel is a big thing to take on, and so I need to feel that the story is worth the telling and by characters worth spending my time with.


8) Anything else you’re working on?

I’m currently drawing a one-off DR FATE story for DC Comics. That’s a character that I’ve always liked, but he’s never really connected with audiences, has he? The writer, Paul Levitz, has tailored the story to my psychedelic sensibilities. Maybe it’ll lead onto something new with Dr Fate. I have had a lot of good ideas for a new ‘take’ on the character. After all, ‘Fate’ is a very interesting theme…
I’m hankering to do a new team-up comic: Judge Dredd and My Little Pony. I think the possibilities are enormous in putting those two worlds together! Reality may not survive such a radical merging of dissonant universes.
The next creator-owned story I’ll do may well be the next Dream Gang — it depends on how the graphic novel sells, ultimately. So if you want to see another Dream Gang story, rush out and tell your friends all about this singular and psychedelic comic book.


Thanks for chatting with us Brendan! Be sure to pick up your copy of the Dream Gang TPB on July 27th! Order your copy HERE!

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