Nicholas Gillespie was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1988. Nick attended Stirling University where he attained a degree in English/Politics. After leaving Stirling, he pursued a career as a comic book writer and eventually founded eNiGmatic Publications as a platform for his stories, such as his newly released graphic novel “Celestial”.
Q: So, Nick, for those who have not had the chance to read your graphic novel, tell us a little about the story of “Celestial”.
A: When people ask me what it’s about I always say “an eccentric aristocrat” or “wealthy socialite”, which never seems to entice many people. The story outline is that Jean Emmanuel is a man who seems to have everything yet is never satisfied by anything. He has a terrible attention span and wastes much of his time and money on whatever takes his fancy, much to the annoyance of his wife, Bernice. The only sort of stable joy he gets out of life is dueling with his social rival, Douglas Fairbanks, in the auction house, often buying things just to spite him. But one day an item is put up for sale that Jean believes can truly give him what he’s been searching for all this time and fill that void in his life, but the only question is whether he’s ready to accept the cost of it?
In essence it’s the story of a spoiled man who has everything but nothing as well. Some people can have everything available to them at their fingertips but still want something that’s impossible and out of reach, they’re made greedy partially by the fact that they’ve been so blessed for choice.
Q: Was there some specific event in your own life that inspired you to write the script? And do you actually know anyone like Jean, Bernice or Douglas?
A: There were 3 specific things that gave me the idea of the story. The first was actually a moment in “One Piece” (a long running manga/anime) during a scene in an auction house that takes place in the “Sabaody Archipelago” arc. I don’t want to say too much more as it would spoil certain elements of the story, but suffice to say it was that exact moment that a light went off in my head and I thought “that’s a novel idea”. I didn’t start work on the story at that point, I just made a note in my idea book of that basic single image/idea. When I did go to work on the story a few months later two more things came to mind: “The Artist” and “The Great Gatsby”. “The Artist” had been released here about 2 months prior to my writing of the book and when it came to defining the main character I thought somewhat of the character played by Jean Dujardin in that film (the decision to name him Jean was also a slight nod to this). In regards to that film I thought of how, despite being very charming, the character was actually extremely selfish and cruel to those closest to him. I decided to make my Jean an amplified version of those negative aspects, but without any of the charm. As I progressed to planning out the story I was reminded somewhat of “The Great Gatsby”; a wealthy man who seems to have everything but has a questionable/dark side to him. It’s strange because when I read the book in high school I never cared for it, but my work was putting me in mind of it somehow. (And as a side note, despite hating the book I’m actually really looking forward to new film version). I thought of the story much like a play too: just a few characters in one or two settings and the dramatic genre of it all. I briefly considered writing it as a play but opted to go with the graphic novel format instead. I would still like to see it adapted for the stage one day if it became popular enough to warrant a production.
In terms of the characters being like real people they’re all very much extensions of different parts of myself. I often find a lot of myself in the characters I create; perhaps that’s why they can be so thoroughly unlikeable.
Q: If you had all of the money and power of the main character Jean Emmanuel, what are the top three things you would most likely get with it?
A: I’d probably do very much what Jean does; buy a lot of rubbish. I’m never quite content with what I’ve got; I’m always needing more, particularly in terms of things like DVDs, books, comics, manga. If I had his money I’d walk into an HMV and just buy everything there, whether I liked it or not, just so I could say I had it.
If I were to do something useful with his money it’d be what I’m doing now but on a larger scale. I’d be pushing for eNiGmatic Publications to be the biggest game in town, including expanding into eNiGmatic Productions and making movies and TV shows, the kind I want to see.
I think it would be cool to own an island, to have my own country. I like the idea of getting to decide on a flag and a national anthem, all the fun stuff and none of the bureaucratic nonsense.
Q: If someone held you captive as a prized possession for your talents, how would you cope with being alone and what would you give up for your freedom?
A: I eagerly await the day a crazed fan kidnaps me because I’m too talented.
I don’t think being alone would bother me that much, at least at first. I enjoy my own company, I think it’s important to be able to do so. Obviously after it, while it probably would be nice to see other people and I am the type of person who wouldn’t be above compromising almost anything to ensure my survival.
Q: I don’t want to give anything away, but should we expect a Part Two for Celestial or maybe a tie-in?
A: It’s my understanding that you didn’t quite grasp the ending at first, but I can assure you that there will be no follow ups of any kind. There’s a real finality to the ending when you think about it. Some people might see it and think of it as a “non-ending”, though it’s anything but. When you consider the consequences of the actions of certain characters there’s only one set outcome and there’s nothing more that can be said after that, and if there is then I don’t want to say it. I think because I chose not to show the exact outcome and left it for the reader to think about could cause this reaction, but I think it’s important the audience sees beyond what’s right in front of them. I always think a good ending is one that leaves you thinking about it after it’s finished and that’s one of the aims of eNiGmatic Publications, to be thought provoking.
Q: What were some of your biggest challenges in launching your publication and completing the graphic novel “Celestial”, from conception to the final product?
A: This was probably the easiest thing I’ve written, everything just came to it so naturally. There was a couple of months between that initial light bulb moment and deciding to create the story, but once I did it was honestly the quickest turn around I’ve ever had for any of my full length works. It took me all of about 6-7 weeks from planning to final draft.
The only real time consuming aspect and challenge was putting the art team together and getting that side of things done, but even then I was working with a great bunch of guys (quick mentions and thanks to Ulises Carpintero [pencils/inks], Gonzalo Duarte [colours/letters] and Ryan Vogler [cover]). And their output of the work was very fast and very efficient, they were all very easy to work with.
Q: How did you come to creating eNiGmatic Publications and what is the focus of the organization?
A: eNiGmatic came about because I personally felt there were no real opportunities for writers trying to break into the comic book industry. It’s an extremely hard industry to get into, but to me, it seems just a bit harder for writers. There are always opportunities for artists, but I think that often the attitude towards writers is that almost anyone can do it or they already have one guy so if they want anything else done they’ll just use him. So eNiGmatic was created as an opportunity for myself, as a chance for me to get my work out there. A large part of what I want is just to be able to share my work with people, to share my art, what is a part of me. My works are an extension of myself and I’m putting them out there to connect and communicate with people, to hopefully reach their lives and touch them in one way or another.
The specific focus of the output of the company can be summed up 3 ways: mature, thought provoking, entertaining.
Q: Are you looking to expand with eNiGmatic with other creators or are you specifically launching your own titles with your publication?
A: At the moment it’s just for my own work, but if the company is successful enough then opening ourselves up to other creators is something I’d definitely want to do. I’d like to help create opportunities for the other people out there like myself and would certainly be interested in taking on the role of an editor.
Q: Are there other works that you already have out or that you are working on that we should keep an eye out for?
A: “Celestial” is my first book out there, but there are a number of projects I have already written that will hopefully be joining it soon. I’m actually already in the process of my next release which is going to be an anthology of 9 short comics (tentatively titled “Broken Pieces”). The initial artists have just about all been put in place and artwork is already completed on 2 of the stories. I hope to have it out in Q1 of 2014. And if all goes well with that then I plan for the next release to be another graphic novel, entitled “Technoir”.
I’ve just finished writing a 10 issue series that I’ve been working on and off of for a couple years called “Lake of Tears” and am starting work on another series inspired by the Norse tribes believed to have discovered Russia (“The Rus”).
Q: Outside of creating comics, what are some of your hobbies and aspirations?
A: I’m an avid film fan, I see about 2 films a week. A huge anime fan, I practically devour the stuff, and I read a lot of manga, books and comics too. I’m really an enthusiast of media in general and like to consume as much as I can.
Aspirations outside of writing? To get a better job, but no such luck in this economy, guess I should just be glad to have one.
Q: Is there any advice you would like to impart on others who have a passion for comic creation or publishing?
A: It’s cliché, but work hard. Find something that you really want to share with the world, that you believe needs to be heard and go with it. Have a passion for what you’re doing.
A big thanks to Nick and to get a copy of Celestial check out http://graphicly.com/enigmatic-publications/celestial/gn!