A story that mixes a murder mystery with a classic Disney animated style comes to print for the first time in February, as Stephen Coughlin’s “Sanctuary” is released in a paperback format.
“The series is a murder mystery involving animals living in a wildlife sanctuary,” Coughlin said in an interview with The Oklahoman. “The sanctuary is a walled-in facility, and there are human scientists performing experiments on the animals. When the first issue begins, a rare animal is found murdered in its pen. The humans and animals become the suspects! I’d say it’s for ages 10 and up. There is no gore or extreme violence, no sex, but there are some adult themes.”
“Sanctuary” was first released as a series of digital issues.
“The digital response was really great for the first issue,” Coughlin said.
“This was just when Comixology was starting out a few years ago. Issue 1 was free and received a lot of downloads. It’s a slow process though, and selling people on the idea of reading digital-only stories is rough. When I try and explain what a digital comic is to people that don’t read comics, they kinda scratch their heads and look around the room or at their watch.”
Coughlin said he has always loved drawing, from the time he was growing up in Connecticut, where he was a fan of DC Comics.
“I grew up reading mostly DC comics,” Coughlin said. “I loved Green Lantern/Green Arrow with (Denny) O’Neil and (Neal) Adams. The Batman stories with (Alan) Grant and (Norm) Breyfogle really blew me away back then.”
Classic animation was also an influence on Coughlin.
“I was obsessed with Chuck Jones stuff at that age, too,” he said. “Anything having to do with Tex Avery or Disney’s ‘Nine Old Men.’ These guys were the masters.”
The artist, now based in California, is at work on the second volume of “Sanctuary.”
“‘Sanctuary’ Volume 1 is coming out in paperback at the end of February,” he said. “I’m currently working on Volume 2 with the same group of guys (Jordan Fong and Jef Bambas). Issue 8 should be out soon. I’m drawing issue 9 now.”
While making it in independent comics can be a challenge, Coughlin said he likes some current industry trends.
“The comic industry has changed so much in just the past five years,” Coughlin said. “I truly believe that anyone can become a star in today’s industry with the right gimmick and exposure. I never believed in a million years that I would get so much support from fans and positive critical response. The comic community has treated me very kindly.”
- By Matthew Price
From Friday’s The Oklahoman