This August marks the launch of the first issue of The Enfield Gang Massacre, the new book from That Texas Blood team, writer Christopher Condon and artist Jacob Phillips.

This book is something of a spinoff and a prelude, taking readers 150 years into the past of That Texas Blood’s setting, the fictional Ambrose County. In advance of the book’s FOC (which is rapidly approaching, so preorder now), Condon and Phillips took time to talk with The Beat about Ambrose County, the new book, and whether there will be more That Texas Blood.

Check out our conversation below!


ZACK QUAINTANCE: What interests both of you about continuing to explore Ambrose County, just 150 years in the past?
CHRISTOPHER CONDON: I’ve always been interested in Westerns – there’s a photo of me when I was a kid dressed up as a cowboy with two six-shooters firing into the ceiling. So in that regard, it was in my blood to tell a Western story at some point in my life – a real Old West Western. But to do it based in Ambrose County, spinning off of our series THAT TEXAS BLOOD has been an absolute treat because we’ve already invested ourselves, both us as creators and our readers, in the history of this place. The furthest we’ve gone back so far has been to the 1950s where we saw Buster Greer get his comeuppance. The really interesting thing for me is that we now get to go back to the beginning and really explore the origins of this place we’ve gotten to know over twenty issues. Was it always that way? Why does it have a penchant for violence? These are the sorts of questions readers might ask but it’s also what we think about as creators too, so it’s fun to actually get to travel back in time and play around in that sandbox to see just what happened in the creation of this West Texas County. 
JACOB PHILLIPS: I love the idea of this rich world that we are creating with Ambrose County. We are able to build up mythology and lore without forcing people to read everything we put out in order to keep up. Each arc of That Texas Blood can be read in isolation as can this new series but I think it rewards the people who read everything and experience the entire universe of this fictional Texas county.
Enfield Gang Massacre
ZQ: How does telling a story set in Texas 150 years ago change either of your approaches to comics storytelling?
CC: We approached this completely differently from anything else we’ve done. We sat down at the very start and hammered out our storytelling technique – this wouldn’t bounce back and forth between modern day and the Old West, for one thing, which is a device we’ve used before. We also set up guidelines for ourselves in terms of panels per page, what paper we’re printing on, all of the more technical stuff. Jake can speak more to this, but he was toying with different inking techniques and coloring techniques. It all stems from the mythology of Westerns, really. Wide angles, widescreen, technicolor – that sort of Vistavision/Cinerama look. We wanted it to feel as classically like a Western as we could without falling into cliché and that’s where we came up with doing (primarily) three panels per page and splash pages exclusively. We bend the rules where we have to, but that’s our baseline that we stick to. It’s been a challenge but it’s also been an extremely rewarding exercise in comic book storytelling.
JP: Yeah, when I suggested the idea of the three panel pages to Chris I just thought it’d be a really cool “widescreen” way of drawing the comic, I didn’t think about how tough it would make it for Chris to fit the whole story into significantly less panels but he really pulled it off. Each time I start a new arc of That Texas Blood  have to decide how I’m going to approach the artwork, each volume has different inking techniques which I try to adapt to suit the story we’re telling. I love all this kind of stuff, I want to make the experience of reading the book as rich as possible and for each aspect to be part of the story-telling wherever possible. For example for the volume two of That Texas Blood I decided to step away from the digital inking I had been doing for the first arc and ink traditionally for all the scenes set in 1981. It just made sense to me to have a clear visual distinction between the modern day and the period pieces. This helps the reader see exactly where they are in a story that bounces back and forth, it keeps it visually fresh and it fits with the idea of this story being told in the 80s. And so this is an idea I brought forward to Enfield, I played around with a couple different styles before settling on the traditional inks. I had originally planned to use a digital pencil style of inking (clearly I’d been looking at too much Greg Smallwood art, if that’s possible) but it just wasn’t sitting right with me. I needed to go back to basics and crack out the brush pens, this felt like a story that had to be drawn traditionally. 
ZQ: How often at this point do you all talk about Ambrose County, and how much of its history have you hashed out between you?
CC: We don’t talk about it all that much but we definitely have ideas, sometimes together, sometimes independently. One thing that Jake has done is he’ll come up with an idea for merch, like our fake baseball team, the Rattlers, and then we’ll run with that and include it in the comic as an additional piece of history to mine. Personally, I have Ambrose County’s history roughly mapped out since before it had a name. We’re getting to the edges of that here in ENFIELD, but the history of the place and its dark tendencies goes way, way back. We’ll get into that more in a later arc of TTB, I think, unless we change our minds! 
JP: Way, way back?! Well, this is the first I’m hearing of this. Sounds a little research heavy to me, Chris. 
ZQ: Why do you think working in western or western-style settings makes for interesting stories in 2023?
CC: It’s not controversial to say that Westerns are, to a large extent, American mythology. If you were to listen to the mythology as written, you’ve got heroes and villains, good and bad people – it’s all fairly black and white. But when you start pulling back at the edges, you start to see something else underneath – a grey layer. Things weren’t so clear cut as all that. The good guys may not have been so good after all. Texas Rangers, though applauded and given a museum in Waco, Texas, also massacred people. I think that’s a big reason why it’s timely nearly two centuries later. It’s part of our heritage but sometimes that heritage isn’t pretty to look at, or to digest. Our series plays with these ideas while still capitalizing on what makes those old stories so rich and prime for mythologizing. There’s action, there’s adventure, but the one thing we’re trying to do is to show that the people in those fights were real people with real lives at stake, not just background players.
JP: The fun of genre stories for me is telling real human stories within whatever genre you happen to be working with. And Chris is great at telling human stories. No matter what we’re working on it’s always about the characters for me, the action is all fun and games but it’s those human moments that I really love about making comics.
ZQ: Finally, I realize this six-issue miniseries hasn’t even started releasing yet, but what’s the future of That Texas Blood? Is there more in store for us after this series?
CC: Zack, thank you for asking as we often get asked if there will be another arc of TTB and I can tell you that, yes, there will be. The next arc doesn’t yet have a name but I’ve got the idea ready to go. This is just a brief stint in the Old West so don’t worry, Joe Bob will return!
JP: And don’t worry, there’s plenty of sweet sweet moustache action to keep you going in The Enfield Gang Massacre.


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