Exclusive Interview: Alex de Campi & Tony Parker Take Us To Red Alert With Image Comics’ MAYDAY!

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The year is 1971. The Cold War is in full swing. A KGB General is attempting to defect in exchange for information vital to the United States’ efforts. Soviet spies, Codename: Felix and Codename: Rose, must stop the transfer of information, if they won’t let sex, drugs, and rock & roll get in the way. Oh, and the CIA and FBI are already after them. Alex de Campi (No Mercy) and Tony Parker (This Damned Band) create an action-packed spy thriller for the ages in Mayday!

Comics Nexus (CN): Alex – In another interview, I read about your family’s history with espionage and I imagine that played a big role for inspiration and research; was there any other inspiration for this series?

My interest in the Cold War wasn’t as much from my mom’s time at the CIA or my dad’s brief time at the NSA (he had worked out pretty quick that Vietnam was a land war, so he joined the Navy, then got assigned to the Pentagon). It grew more from what my dad did afterwards: business joint-ventures for a large American chemicals manufacturer with Warsaw Pact countries. He had to have his hand operated on in Moscow in the early 1980s when our cat clawed him just before a business trip. He spent a good few years of my childhood commuting to Romania. As you do. So, for an American kid that grew up in a fairly average suburban Philadelphia town, I had a much greater consciousness of other cultures and countries as something cool. I mean, my dad was slightly to the right of Attila the Hun when it came to politics, but he was also the sort of chummy Midwesterner who could and would get along with anyone. He never met a stranger. And that’s one thing he passed on to me: he liked people. And so that curiosity about how people behave in difficult situations has always been a big part of my interest in writing.

My other inspirations for the series were my abiding interest in late 1960s/early 1970s films, and the fun of taking what is a really worn-out genre — espionage / spy — and trying to shift it a bit so it felt interesting and relevant again.

CN: Tony – Your art captures that look of a 70’s spy action thriller film very well, I also appreciated the drugged out pages of issue #1. Was there any particular source material you used to create a certain look for this series?

Thank you! I tried to keep it as honest to both the source era and Alex’s script as possible. I love era movies like Get Carter and Dirty Harry, but felt that if I emulated them too much, it would have pulled from the heart of Alex’s script. It was important to be reminiscent of the era, but not a single source; otherwise readers would have split focus between the original story and the source reference.

I tried to keep the trip sequence as it’s own, with no references for the same reason. Thankfully, Blond colored it (and the whole series) BEAUTIFULLY, and really made it work.

CN: I was amazed to see the series not only feature John Cage’s 4’33” but to start off with it, from that point I knew whatever followed would be a killer soundtrack. Did Alex do the song compiling, or was it a group effort?

Alex: Songs were all me. Unfortunately my musicology, notes and explanations for the soundtrack is not in the trade — those essays as well as the extra story panels were a singles-only bonus. The songs are a mix of soundtrack, provocation, commentary, and diegetic music. I’ve always made playlists and mixtapes, so it was a fun extra dimension for me to have a soundtrack too. It’s on Spotify, if you want to listen along: https://open.spotify.com/user/alexdecampi/playlist/6zjyf4MTWDIZBnRLHNH26Y

Tony: That was all Alex. She has a great feel for music, and I’d just get in the way.

CN: We’ve already seen a preview for the second volume, and you’ve mentioned a third. Is there anything you can tell us yet?

Alex: Just that I need to get around to writing it. I’m having a popular moment, and while actually making a middle-class living out of writing comics is an unexpected surprise, it also means that I don’t quite have as much time for my passion projects as I’d wish.

Tony: Nothing I can say, beyond me being ecstatic to leave the early 70’s. I’ve been drawing that era for the last few years. I learned long ago not to leak anything.

CN: Given the use of music in Mayday and Tony’s art in This Damned Band, can we expect a music series from the two of you soon?

Alex:  No, but we will be continuing to have soundtracks in the sequels to Mayday.

Tony: It all depends on finding that right merging of ideas at the right time, but I’d love to collaborate with Alex again. :)

Mayday is set for release in comic shops on May 24th, and in bookstores everywhere on May 30th. You can follow Alex de Campi on her Twitter and Tumblr, and follow Tony Parker on Twitter.

Phil started reading comics in 2008, and it has been his passion since. Enjoying titles ranging from Batman to Sex Criminals, Y: The Last Man to Samurai Jack, and The Wicked + The Divine to 100 Bullets, Phil will read just about anything. Have a recommendation? Looking for one? You can reach him on Twitter @4ColorPhil