IMAGE COMICS: How do you describe HEAD LOPPER to people?
ANDREW MACLEAN: I wanted to make a comic that was really metal and yet had nothing to do with music. And it's kind of an attempt to make something that feels the way I felt as a kid watching Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan and Ray Harrhausen's monsters of the 1981 Clash of the Titans. I remember watching that stuff with my brother over and over again and just loving how scary and epic it was.
IC: You write and draw HEAD LOPPER, while Mike Spicer does the colors. Can you tell us about working with Mike? You colored early HEAD LOPPER stories—how did you two come to settle on this particular palette for the tale?
AM: I first worked with Mike Spicer on an 8-page story for an anthology back in maybe 2012 or so. I had worked with a handful of colorists at that point but Mike really had a knack for understanding what I was trying to do with my lines. So he was the obvious choice when I started making HEAD LOPPER in 2013, which was self-published—and then collected in the over-large issue #1 for Image.
I colored only one 14-page story that was printed at the back of HEAD LOPPER #1. I had just come off of finishing my graphic novel, ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times, which I had colored myself and was just curious how I would color HEAD LOPPER. It was just for fun and curiosity. I had always planned on bringing Mike back on to continue the series with me.
As for the palette, Mike is great and figures much of that out himself. Sometimes I have an idea in my head but what he brings to the table is better so I just let him do his thing. In the early days we talked about it more and I think I just told him the Island of Barra—where this story takes place—is based on Scotland (actually Barra is a real Scottish Isle, though I make no attempt to be accurate about it). I told him make it a bit muted because the skies are pretty much always cloudy in my version. Otherwise, other than telling him the colors on character designs, he's mostly on his own. The only time I jump in is when I have a weird idea he couldn't have possibly known about without reading my mind.
IC: This fight scene is from the second issue. How do you go about planning a scene like this? Does it flow out of you as-is, or do you tend to go back and forth over the specifics?
AM: I don't go back and forth too much, luckily. I basically have a few "bits" I want to hit, either because I think it'd be badass or comical, and I put them in a semi-logical chronological order. So when I sit down and script it out I just know what order to write them all in. But it's a book built heavily on the action. It can't be floating figures punching each other while they crack wise. That doesn't excite me. I really try to bring the environments into play—almost like how Pirates of the Caribbean action scenes ALWAYS included environments. It makes you laugh and marvel at the same time. Beyond all that, I try to just come up with new ways to cut off heads—I've kind of named myself into a corner there. I've got to have decapitation, but no one wants to see the same exact one over and over again.