SPOTLIGHT: Darren Koziol

Name: Darren Koziol
Town/State: Adelaide, South Australia
Facebook: DECAY horror comic
Title/Publisher: DARK OZ

What comics formats do you work in? I’ve mainly been producing (editing and writing) large anthology comics – 52-pages per issue at magazine size – 27 issues so far (23 of DECAY and 4 of Retro Sci-Fi Tales). But from 2018 I’ll be producing mostly US sized comics, and (hopefully) a lot more titles too (not only anthologies). So far everything has been released in print only, but from 2018 I’ll be considering digital comics too.

What is your skill area and role as a creator? I have an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design, which I attained specifically to help improve my skills designing the comics – I now do most of the design work, lettering, layout for print, etc. I also write many of the stories as well as being the editor (lots of other writers contribute scripts), director, publisher, distributor, promoter, etc (it’s exhausting). I now have over seven years experience behind me of consistently producing comics and working with hundreds of creators, and I’m still learning all the time.

What are your major comics publishing credits so far? Getting an email from Heavy Metal Magazine, a few years ago, saying that “Kevin Eastman wants to run your story in Heavy Metal” – WOW, that was amazing – and then meeting him in person, just awesome! Producing over 30 big comics in seven years while working with over 150 creators is something that I’m very proud of – I’ve been so lucky to have worked with so many incredibly talented creators and learnt so much from them (I could start dropping names but we’d be here forever). I was also the only Australian exhibitor at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) 2016 – that’s a massive milestone that I’ll never forget – and I published a new line of comics there, exclusive to SDCC (comics remastered (coloured, re-lettered, etc) and formatted to US size, collecting the ‘best of’ material from the Australian comics).

What is a favourite example of your own work? Every time I produce a new issue that moves to the top of the list, ha ha. My latest comic Retro Sci-Fi Tales #5 will be out in September 2017 and I’m absolutely loving how it’s looking so far, how it’s coming together! Also the Sisters comic, a 28-page one-shot – the longest story I’ve written so far (Vampires vs bush rangers), with stunning art by Michal Dutkiewicz (everyone’s like ‘how did you get Michal to draw 28 pages, it’s amazing!’), that is super cool – and I launched it at San Diego Comic Con.

Why is it your favourite and what does it mean to you as a creator? I’m starting to develop some ongoing characters and I’m loving that, such as the Vampire ‘Sisters’ who have been very popular. And I’m starting to include references to earlier stories and bring back characters. ‘The F**k-Ups’ are a group of seven psychopaths who try to help people but always make situations worse – most of the members are characters from previous stories in my comics, and I have a lot of new stories in development for them (the first story was a bit over the top, future stories will be more fun and absurd).

Why do you make comics? I’ve always loved comics as a story telling medium, they’re so unique and offer more variation and opportunities than other mediums – there’s almost no limitations, no big film budgets – you can add spaceships, alien worlds, anything! I love writing and telling stories and then seeing them come to life when so many different artists draw them. Getting to meet so many amazing people, working with professionals, giving new emerging creators a place to have their work published, traveling Australia attending conventions and meeting thousands of people – it’s all great fun and makes the hard work worth while.

What do you think is the one reason you create? I just love creating and telling stories. I have so many ideas, I can’t write them all down fast enough. I have note books of story ideas going back over 20 years! It’s such fun creating characters and places and telling their stories, then seeing them come to life and hearing positive feedback from fans. Mainly it’s just to tell stories, to know that it’s down on paper somewhere, regardless of how many people see it – it’s a small legacy you leave behind.

What other Australian comics have you recently enjoyed? At the moment Australia has a wealth of creators making comics. The Demon by Matt Kyme is great, anything by Dave Dye or Ben Sullivan (they both have some new comics coming out which I’ve been privileged with sneak peeks of). Crikey there’s just so much out there, so many creators doing amazing work – I have a large collection of Australian comics (I buy and support as many as I can while traveling to all the conventions).

What project/book are you working on at the moment? Right now I’m putting Retro Sci-Fi Tales #5 together and it is looking seriously amazing, with material rolling in from around 15 creators – this issue has a record eight short stories and nine pin-up/cover pages. I’m also creating a short story for the new Reverie re-launch comic, and a story for the Clive Barker tribute book Below the Stairs – Tales From the Cellar. On top of all of that I’m also planning projects for next year, with several stories already in the works (a couple big surprises too). But I want 2018 to be different, I’m hoping to launch a whole new line of comics from a wave of Australian talent… I think my head’s going to explode!

Photo credits from the top:
Darren Koziol at Melbourne Supanova, April 2017
Sisters #1: cover art by Frantz Kantor, released September 2016
DECAY #23 cover A: cover art by Ben Sullivan, released April 2017
Retro Sci-Fi Tales #4: cover art by Alister Lockhart, released April 2017

About GC

Gary Chaloner is the creator of Flash Damingo and The Jackaroo, The Undertaker Morton Stone & Red Kelso. He's also worked on Will Eisner's John Law, Robert E. Howard's Breckinridge Elkins, Astro City, Doc Wilde and Unmasked. He's the co-convenor of The Ledger Awards and the host/publisher of the

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