Kiss My Axe
By Crom! Vault Comics welcomes you to Barbaric’s Year of the Axe!
WITH ITS BOMBASTIC ACTION and irreverent humour, writer Michael Moreci and artist Nathan Gooden’s Barbaric has blazed its own endearing path through the fantasy genre since it was first published by Vault Comics in 2021.
Now Owen the Barbarian, his drunk, talking Axe and their witch ally Soren are set to scale even greater heights in 2023, in what has been proclaimed “The Year of the Axe”. “The fans are hungry for more, so we really wanted to deliver in a big way with an entire year of Barbaric,” Gooden tells Red Alert. “The world is expanding a great deal, with more characters and even another artist to help it grow.”
While Owen’s acerbic attitude echoes 2000 AD’S Celtic rogue Slaine, Barbaric is actually more influenced by Robert E Howard’s Cimmerian warrior. “We were very inspired by Conan, and read a bunch before starting,” says Gooden. “Funnily, I didn’t find Slaine until we had almost finished the first arc, ‘Murderable Offences’, but I put a little homage, with the eye paint, on the last page.”
“With Barbaric, we both wanted to do something that lets us play and have fun and serve our natural tendencies, which is to be big and loud and go for the jugular in every possible way,” adds Moreci. “There’s never a time where either of us says, ‘Maybe we should tone this down a bit.’”
The Year of Barbaric begins with third series “Hell To Pay” and is bookended by follow-up “Born In Blood”. “They’re both continuations of Owen, Axe and Soren’s adventures together,” explains Gooden. “And with that, we really get to see the characters’ pasts.”
“As much fun as Nate and I have in making this book as crazy, unpredictable and exciting as we can, there is a plan in terms of the narrative,” continues Moreci. “We know where we’re going and what we want to do, but we also like to get distracted by side quests. If we get an idea for a story and we think it’s good enough, we’ll run with it, and ‘Born In Blood’ will be a good example of that.”
Those side quests include May’s first one-shot, Queen Of Swords #1: A Barbaric Story, which will be illustrated by guest artist Corin Howell, and September’s self-contained The Wrong Type Of Righteous, co-written by fantasy author Nicholas Earnes. “Corin really understands the tone and style of Barbaric,” says Gooden. “We talk daily, and work together on designs and ideas, which is important as a lot of these characters and storylines overlap.”
“It’s fitting that Nick came on to join us, because his novel Kings Of The Wyld played a huge role in inspiring Barbaric in the first place,” adds Moreci. “I’ve found Nick to be one of those daring, bold and hilarious voices that doesn’t care about genre convention as much as he cares about telling a good story filled with heart and humour.”
“The goal has always been 100 issues, which means lots of new characters and landscapes,” adds Gooden. “It goes way beyond Owen and Soren. Their stories might end, but the world will continue to grow.” SJ
Barbaric: Hell To Pay is out on 18 January.