Interview with artist Cam Kennedy

The following interview with Cam Kennedy ran in Speakeasy Magazine, back when The Light and Darkness War was first published. Enjoy!

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CAM: Tom and I hit it off straight away and I told him I had this idea for a quite awhile about a time-warp story where modern military hard-ware winds up on an alternative time plane where the hardware hasn’t yet been developed. The intervention of this technology in this time plane throws the whole balance of power in a thousand year war out of synch, and would also allow me to draw terrific battle scenes. Tom actually had in his pocket a piece of paper with a few notes scribbled on it which outlined a story which was incredibly similar to mine.

Tom is much more technically and mechanically minded than I am, and he knows the proper terminology and history of a wide range of technological inventions, especially those of Nicholas Tesla, who, among other things, created the Tesla coil, a powerful electricity conductor. In fact Tom has created an imaginary Tesla grandson for the story who is keeping alive the old man’s legacy.

While we talking at that first meeting, Tom suggested that the Vietnam War would be a good war zone to base the start of the story in, and then we just talked around a lot of ideas into the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t really expect much to come of the conversation in the sober light of day, and we parted with the usual intentions to stay in touch. However, a couple of days after I got back to Scotland a synopsis turned up from Tom about the story we’d discussed, which got me very excited. So I started ‘phoning him and roughed out some initial drawings, and things just went on from there.

READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW (pdf)…

Classic Afterlife War Story Resonates Now More than Ever

by Jason Wilkins

In some ways, I guess I’ve been waiting to review this otherworldly war saga by Tom Veitch (Star Wars: Dark Empire, Animal Man) and Cam Kennedy (2000 AD, Star Wars: Dark Empire) ever since it first came out under the aegis of Marvel’s critically acclaimed Epic Comics imprint in 1988.

This is a work that’s stayed with me for over two decades. The list of books that have managed to have that kind of lasting impact on me is dreadfully short. At the time, there wasn’t really anything else like The Light and Darkness War on the shelves (in North America, at least), and I was immediately entranced by its lurid depiction of a brutal never-ending conflict at the edge of forever….

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Six Reviews…

Reviews of THE LIGHT AND DARKNESS WAR are popping up on the internet. I truly appreciate how some of them delve into the more esoteric side of the comics. Below is a list of links (with brief quotes) to the latest batch —

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Project Fandom

“Another plus for me are the strong female characters we see throughout, each with their own motivations and characteristics.”

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Geek Girl World

“It’s a classic that deserves respect and a place on every person’s bookshelf.”

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Cyberspace Comics

“Cam Kennedy’s art breathes life into this strange world filled with the spirits of Earth warriors and Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying stone ships (as well as other interesting inventions). Incorporating legendary inventors like Da Vinci and Tesla was a neat idea (one that Hickman has recently used in his ongoing S.H.I.E.L.D. series), as was the travel between Earth and Abraxas. And, even though Laz’s eventual return to Earth was expected, it played out nicely. His despair over losing his friends again and returning to the life he had loathed so much was quite palpable. By the end of the series, he seems to have everything all figured out – and you just can’t help but feel happy for the guy.”

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Nerdly

(same review:) IMBD.COM

Chock full of interesting concepts, I find the main theme of Vietnam the most interesting. For me, Tom Veitch wants to rehabilitate the reputation of Vietnam veterans, with Lazarus Jones a representation of the average vet. This war has no grey edges, it is a straightforward classic battle of good and evil, and the Vietnam vets are firmly on the side of good. We don’t feel guilty about cheering them on in this war. The use as well of Tesla and Da Vinci was a clever device, one copied many times since the original publication, but fresh at the time.

Cam Kennedy’s art is excellent throughout, capturing perfectly the fantastical world we are viewing, breathing life into every weapon, every vehicle, every character. There are some very nice full page splashes and double page spreads, all slightly reminiscent of Walt Simonson at his epic best.

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a great one, with extensive synopsis of the story:
Comics Review

“Fast paced, suspenseful, astonishingly imaginative and utterly beautiful to behold, the complex tale of Laz’s team and their struggle, how two generations of Tesla reshape a war that has been waged forever, and how in the end only love and devotion can battle overwhelming evil is a masterpiece of graphic endeavour and one no lover of fantasy fiction should miss.”

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and here’s one that was just posted:
Broken Frontier

“Each issue of the series opens with an excerpt from the Mentep holy book, serving to frame the narrative and add yet another layer of depth to an already richly textured fictional world. It is this level of thought and detail that sets The Light and Darkness War apart from the books of the day and still pushes it head and shoulders above much of its competition today.”

Interview with Tom Veitch

(This is an email interview that Owen Johnson, Titan Books’ Senior Marketing Officer, did with Tom Veitch.)

May 27th sees the release of The Light and Darkness War a truly classic saga created by the Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy, – the acclaimed team behind the legendary Star Wars spin-off series, Dark Empire. This riveting and wondrously illustrated tale has been fully restored and remastered, and is packed with stunning new arts and in-depth features! In this expansive interview, I discuss with writer Tom Veitch his the origins of the graphic novel, the reasons it was created, and what readers can expect from this brand-new edition.
~ Owen Johnson, Senior Marketing & Press Officer, Titan Books

WHY COMICS?

Tom: If you have ever watched a child pick up a comic book, you know how totally involving comics can be. They connect directly to the visual centers of the brain and to the parts of us where imagination comes from. Visual storytelling has existed since the stone age. The prose novel didn’t exist before the 18th century (although it descended from traditions as old as campfire storytelling). Stories told with images were painted on cave walls and had become a formalized method of record-keeping and communication by the time of the Egyptians. Modern comics are a continuation of that ancient artform.

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE LIGHT & DARKNESS WAR?

Tom: The Light and Darkness War came out of my anger and sadness over the Vietnam War and what it did to an entire generation of men. As Steve Bissette notes in his Afterword, The Light and Darkness War is an outgrowth of underground comix about the Vietnam War I did with artist Greg Irons, especially “The Story of Vince Shazam.” Most significantly, perhaps, the story also arose from my intense dream-life and my own belief in an afterlife.

WHAT CAN READERS EXPECT FROM THE COMIC?

Tom: Our central character, Lazarus Jones, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, suffers from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Basically he is eaten up inside by what the war did to him, and by the loss of his brothers-in-arms who died when their Huey helicopter gunship crashed and burned. Laz survived that crash with both his legs amputated, and is cared for by his loving wife Chris. As the story develops, Laz is drawn into a visionary connection to an afterlife universe where earth-side warriors go when they die in battle. He finds his friends, and they invite him to join them in fighting a 10,000 year war with the forces of darkness. Laz joins the fight, and the action spins out of that.

Our mythic hypothesis is that Heaven and Hell don’t exist. What exists beyond the wall of death are alternate universes that are actually created or imagined by the billions of people who have gone before us. After people die they join these collective visions of other worlds, good vs. evil, or perhaps realms of peace and pleasure. But warriors who die in battle on earth have dreamed up an entire galaxy at war — a war in which weapons from all the ages of mankind are still being used.

I’ve written a background briefing which is appended to this collected edition. That essay, together with Cam’s terrific sketchwork, will give you an idea of the detail we have gone into in imagining the context of this tale. It was fun to do, and I have to admit I thought of myself as Tolkien’s kid brother, smoking my clay pipe by the fire as I dreamed up an entire universe!

WHAT ARE YOUR KEY INFLUENCES?

Tom: The list is very long. Tolkien of course. And the great science fiction writers of the 1950s, including the EC sci-fi artists and writers. For visual storytelling, nobody can match the influence on me of Carl Barks and Jack Kirby. There’s also no doubt the Star Wars films were a big influence. But curiously enough, Star Wars was heavily influenced by the same sources I cited earlier — especially Kirby’s “Fourth World” stories.

WHAT DOES CREATING THIS COMIC BOOK MEAN TO YOU?

Tom: Writing it was a privilege, because of the freedom we had has creator-owners of the property. And getting to work with Cam was another privilege. He’s a wonderful man, high-spirited and with a great sense of humor. To top it off, he’s just about the best war artist going. And I was fortunate that he’s the kind of artist who prefers to work with a writer! We hit it off very well. After showing The Light and Darkness War to George Lucas, we went on to create Star Wars: Dark Empire together. The international phone bills for several years were just insane. Fortunately I also have a huge file of our written correspondence from the years before everybody switched to e-mail.

THE LIGHT AND DARKNESS WAR
STORY: Tom Veitch ART: Cam Kennedy
208 – FC – $24.99 On-sale in comic shops May 27th
Bookstore sales begin June 23

“In the spirit of some great books like Alien Legion and Cluster, The Light and Darkness War delivers on some gritty action.”
The Pullbox

“Pulls, pushes and shocks you backwards and forwards through states of reality and dream with words and visuals…Beautiful stuff indeed.”
Down The Tubes

[This interview is also available with preview images at comiccrusaders.com ]

The Galactic Library is Open!

We have now begun an archive of all kinds of Light and Darkness War stuff, including material from the development of the project, articles from magazines and newspapers, letters-to-the-editor, essays, poems, tracts, polemics, and miscellaneous screeds…you name it.

You can get to the library from the link bar atop this page. Or you can go directly to our first offering: A long article about The Light and Darkness War published in Amazing Heroes magazine. The article is by Dana Marie Andra writing as Mark Burbey:

The Light and Darkness War — the full story

L&DWAR REVIEWED…

Review by Anthony Esmond on Downthetubes.net ~

“This is the sort of story that I find I can’t look away from and ties my stomach in a knot waiting for the next panel. Ever since Dorothy finds herself in the Land of Oz or John Carter falls onto the planet Mars I have been shouting ‘STAY THERE!!! DON’T COME HOME!!!’ Places so different and exotic that the protagonist shouldn’t even consider returning home. Yet it is home they search for, over and over again.

“The Light and Darkness War uses these thoughts and spins them on you. They are used to counterpoint the horrors of war that are as relevant today as they were in the Atomic War fearing 1980s. We see the reality of PTSD on soldiers returning home. Lazarus himself is a bitter, tormented, short-tempered man. His spirit and heart are broken, his dignity taken from him. He dreams of his old friends, lost to him, to a place he wishes he had been taken….”

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Welcome to the Light and Darkness War…

You are looking at the new Light and Darkness War website!

Here you will find info and images, straight from the archives of the creators of The Light and Darkness War — writer Tom Veitch & artist Cam Kennedy.

Photos and bios of the artist and writer will also be featured, as well as bibliographies of their published work.

Once the site is constructed and operating to our satisfaction, there will be a regular stream of posts and comments, news and updates, and previews of forthcoming L&DWar projects.

Stay tuned, folks — this is going to be fun.

Tom Veitch