Escape From Jesus Island Cover Not so long ago the noted horror-writer, Clive Barker, posted a message on facebook that said, 'May I recommend a comic by writer Shawn French and artist Mortimer Glum. It's called "Escape From Jesus Island", and it has been created with immense love, commitment and vision. It's almost like seeing a hyper-intense Italian movie for the first time: your mind will be blown'. Now do you want to know more, folks? Then please, by all means, check out this interview I did with Shawn only the other day, whilst thanking the big guy upstairs. Thanks Clive.

Forbidden planet

1) What are your own origins, Shawn? Plus what path did you take in life before you got to where you are today?   I was a mild-mannered writer until I was hit by lightning at the not so tender age 25. A lifetime of reading comics taught me that this would clearly be the turning point in my life and that great adventures awaited. But alas, the only ability I developed was being in lots of pain, which is a pretty lame super power. Even Aquaman called me up to mock me. Dick.

With my dreams of being a superhero crushed, I returned to my writer roots. I've done a little of everything writing-wise. I was a newspaper editor and film critic; I tried my hand at comedy (stand-up, sketch and radio) and I wrote/directed my first feature film in 2009, a horror flick called 'The Wrong House'.

Escape From Jesus Island Art
2) In your own words how would you describe this story?   'Escape From Jesus Island' is about an attempt to clone Jesus by genetic engineering powerhouse, 'ReGen Corporation', on a remote island research facility. Due to the degradation of the DNA recovered from a petrified portion of The Cross, Christ's DNA is spliced with sample from dozens of people. The facility starts cranking out clones by the score. Most are horrifically mutated, but it's a numbers game to ReGen. They know if they make enough, they'll eventually get one right.

After years of failed attempts, they finally succeed in creating a set of twins: Jesus and his homicidal mutant brother, Yeshua (aka Damien). Both have all of Christ's abilities and memories, but they disagree as to whether humans should be allowed to exist. Although enslaved by ReGen Corp, Yeshua begins rescuing and secreting away failed mutant test subjects in the tunnels beneath the testing facilities. Building his army of mutant Apostles.

The Vatican hears of Christ's return and sends in extraction team, setting off a chain of events that could mean the end for humanity.

'Escape From Jesus Island' has a 40-issue main story arc, broken up into five 'standalone acts' of eight issues each. Act One begins with the launch of our first issue this Halloween.

Escape From Jesus Island Art3) How did ‘Escape From Jesus Island’ come about? Its ‘secret origin’ as it were.   I initially wrote this as a short film script in 1993, fresh out of seeing the first Jurassic Park film. It was an extremely silly parody, with mutant Jesus clones taking the place of dinosaurs. I thought it would be a funny fake movie trailer.

Over the years, no matter what else I was working on, Escape From Jesus Island was always stuck in my head. Beneath the goofiness of that first script was a story that fascinated me.

'EFJI' evolved in waves over the course of 20 years, growing darker with each telling until it became an Apocalyptic horror story about Christ and Antichrist as twin brothers on an island swarming with cannibalistic mutants. One of the perks of obsessing on a tale for so long is you have plenty of time to explore all the 'What Ifs'.

4) How did you find the amazing artist on your project, Mortimer Glum? Plus what did he do different than what you originally envisioned?   Mortimer is part of an artist collaborative called 'The Shoggoth Assembly', which was heavily involved with my movie. One day, I told him about the Jesus Island story, and how I had always dreamed of making a comic book out of it. Morty had done some comic book work in his teens and had been looking for an opportunity to give it another go. 

It was a perfect match. His perverse and twisted style is such a wonderful thematic fit for our story. There's tons of stuff that has turned out differently than I initially envisioned, all for the better. 

Mortimer has a real gift for designing nightmarish creatures and every step of the way, he's been cranking up the intensity of my script to the absolute limit. He's constantly designing bigger, crazier and more freakish mutants for the story, always pushing things to the next level.

5) What theme tune taken from pop culture would you assign to your comic?   It would have to be 'Freak On A Leash' by Korn.

Funny Jesus
6) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your wares, who would you choose, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   I'd have to go with Jesus, and since I have the option, I'll pick the living version. Dead Jesus is swell and all, but he gives a terrible interview.

7) What have you learnt about yourself through this endeavour?   I've learned that when I go a month without sleep I get cranky. Ha!

8) What were the main obstacles you had to contend with?   Two months ago, I broke my back in two places, along with a couple ribs, while working on the film 'Amish Devil'. That took me thoroughly out of commission for a couple weeks. Fortunately, the first few issues scripts were already finished, so I had a bit of a buffer. When our Kickstarter campaign ends on September the 1st, I'm retreating to my Fortress of Solitude to hammer out the rest of Act One (Issues 1-8). I always want to stay a half-dozen issues ahead, just so I have that cushion when problems arise, as they inevitably do.

Escape From Jesus Island ArtIn terms of production, though, figuring out our workflow was something that took a lot of tinkering to get right. Early on, you end up doing a lot of things twice. Mortimer, editor: Shawn Greenleaf, and letterist: Peeter Parkker, are turning out stunning pages. To see a story I've worked on so long unfolding in front of me every day is an unbelievable experience.

Another fun logistical puzzle for an organization freak like myself was due to our decision to include so many of our fans into the story as characters. Some of our earliest and most rabid Facebook supporters will appear in the comics as Damien's mutant Apostles, and 21 fans have earned a role in our story through their Kickstarter pledge.

9) If ‘Jesus Island’ had a motto, what do you think it would be?   'ReGen Labs: Resurrecting Christ. A lot'.

So there you have it, folks, my mate Shawn and his great comic book, 'Escape from Jesus Island'. When you have the chance please check it out on facebook, twitter, and of course, their main website. Go on. Give it a click or ten. Remember, if Clive Baker thinks it's good, it must be really-really good.

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