Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Have you ever had something you wanted to do all your life but never have been able to do it? You know, dreams? Montreal artist Salgood Sam has had something gnawing at him for his entire adult life, and something that’s been on his drawing board for the past eight years: Dream Life.
It’s a webcomic/graphic novel the artist has been working on him for nearly a decade, serializing it online as his work schedule permits. And now, the comic is complete, but one step away from its final goal of a print edition. As a longtime self-publisher, Salgood Sam is reaching out for help.
For a dead guy, Dracula sure gets around a lot.
All jokes aside (for now), a comics gem recently popped up on Kickstarter with the official launch of writer Mark Sable and artist Salgood Sam‘s long-hinted-at graphic novel Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Set in the 15th century, it’s one part historical and one part horror, and while it might be shelved next to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, this story isn’t a pop culture mash-up. It’s s an origin story that ties together the historical Vlad the Impaler with the fictional Dracula, beginning with Vlad’s childhood and how he was inducted into the dark arts.
In progress for more than a year now, Sable and Sam are using Kickstarter to raise funds to finance the production of Dracula: Son of the Dragon ‘s 60-page first volume, both in a standard edition and a series of limited edition versions. In addition to various editions offered to people who pledge for the fundraising campaign, the duo are offering original artwork, appearances in the book, and even a script review by Sable himself.
Artist Salgood Sam isn’t your traditional comics artist. His idea of career advancement isn’t securing a regular gig on a Big Two title, it’s about telling his own story and telling it on his own terms.
In the ’90s, under his real name Max Douglas, he was an up-and-coming artist on Marvel’s Clive Barker and 2099 lines, but he left to refocus, and what he found is a second life — and a second name in “Salgood Sam.” In the past couple years he’s drawn the first arc of Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer’s Sea of Red, co-created a well-received graphic novel called Therefore Repent, and endeavored on his own full-length book with DreamLife, serialized online.
And now he’s returning to some unfinished business: his short-lived one-man anthology series Revolver, bringing the long out-of-print first two volumes back into availability, with plans for a third installment next year. Here’s a video Sam created showing off the first issue:
Cartoonist Salgood Sam (aka Max Douglas) is only 30 pages away from completing his first graphic novel, Dream Life: A Late Coming of Age. After health problems delayed his progress through over 115 pages, he’s turning to the support of fans to help fund a three-month marathon to complete Book One in time for next May’s Toronto Comics Art Festival
His IndieGoGo drive went up over the weekend and already he’s passed 33 percent of the way to his goal of $3,800. That total will allow him to dedicate the rest of the year to finishing Dream Life and producing 100 black & white preview copies for TCAF.
The first act of Dream Life was released as a webcomic in 2010, earning him a Joe Shuster Award nomination. Act Two and much of Act Three followed last year and this year, making it his longest solo project to date. As he explains it, “This story is a labour of love. A work of fiction with fantastic and adventure elements. It borrows from my own life — as close to autobiography as I’ve dared in many ways.”
Salgood Sam might best be known to modern readers for illustrating Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer’s vampire pirates miniseries Sea of Red from Image Comics, but he’s been illustrating for a variety of publishers, from Marvel to IDW Publishing to Top Shelf, as well as putting out his own material for 20 years.
Early last year, he received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to complete Dream Life, but he was hit with a number of medical struggles that halted his progress. He discussed that difficult period and much more in July with our own Chris Arrant. At that point, he mentioned planning on pitching Dream Life to Image Comics and some other publishers to get it in print, but apparently they didn’t bite or he decided to stick with going it alone. In the meantime, he’s focused on freelance work to keep the lights on and bills paid, but now he’s ready to go full tilt to finish it up.
Here’s a trailer he produced, although some of the perks mentioned in it have changed so be sure to stop by the IndieGoGo page for full details if you’re interested in helping.
When I first discovered Salgood Sam‘s work, he wasn’t Salgood Sam. Back in the 1990s, he went by his real name, Max Douglas. I found his work in the pages of Clive Barker’s Marvel series Saint Sinner in 1993, when Douglas was one of a select few rising art stars at the publisher in the post-Image exodus. Douglas drew Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme, Midnight Sons Unlimited, Morbius: The Living Vampire and a few 2099 issues before disappearing off the face of the earth. It was only years later that I discovered he had taken a self-imposed sabbatical from comics, unhappy with the situations presented.
After a couple years away, Douglas returned under the new moniker of Salgood Sam and began his second life in comics on the independent scene, doing a mixture of more racy books like Sea of Red and Terminator 3 while creating personal projects like the one-man anthology RevolveЯ. Salgood Sam went on to push his craft with the excellent graphic novel Therefore Repent! and his own long-running webcomic Dream Life. From time to time he steps back to do work-for-hire like an issue of Ghostbusters for IDW Publishing, but the Canadian artist is doing it on his own terms while continuing to established a career with his own work.
Salgood Sam is one of the most fascinating creators working in comics today — at times too mainstream to be indie, and yet too indie to be mainstream. He carries an independent streak that would make most Big Two creators blush, and through grants, government funding and the occasional work-for-hire gig he’s been able to do some mentally explorative comics like Dream Lifeand his RevolveЯ series that gives me a renewed enthusiasm for comics. Enough gushing. Salgood Sam and I have been conducting this interview by email for the past two months, and I’m glad to be able to bring it to you today.
Beneath the superhero surface of American comics lives a teeming underground of talented artists who make their way without donning cape or cowls. And while they may not immediately come to the attention of Wednesday comic shoppers or casual fans, they’re all there waiting to be found.
One of the most talented artists who doesn’t (yet) have the popularity to match is Max Douglas, AKA Salgood Sam. His current project is the webcomic series Dream Life at Transmission X, and his biggest print work is arguably the first issues of Sea of Red for Image, or the graphic novel Therefore! Repent with writer Jim Monroe for IDW Publishing. He’s drawn stories in numerous anthologies, and even did an issue of Ghostbusters last year. It’s quite different from the early ’90s, when he worked on Clive Barker’s Razorline imprint at Marvel, and even drew an unpublished issue of Ghost Rider 2099 with a young Warren Ellis.
Flashing forward to the current day, and the artist recently began work on Dream Life’s second act; here’s a great segment from last month’s pages to get a taste of what he’s doing: