Coming off BOOM! Studios cult favorites Six-Gun Gorilla and The Spire, writer Simon Spurrier has teamed up with artist Ryan Kelly (Saucer Country, Survivors’ Club) and a murderer’s row of colorists—Nick Filardi, Lee Loughridge and Matt Wilson—for Cry Havoc, a new Image ongoing that, in the creators’ own words, “is not about a lesbian werewolf going to war, except it kind of is.” Told concurrently in three time periods (all drawn by Kelly but each tackled by a different colorist), the series follows Lou, a blue-haired British violinist who finds herself afflicted with a shaggy form of lycanthropy, and is soon drafted into a military unit composed of other humans hiding beastly forms. Tasked with pursuing a rogue agent in the hills of Afghanistan, Lou and her squad mates quickly find themselves in over their furry, floating and feathered heads.
In advance of the first issue’s release on the 27th, Paste had a long, robust talk with Spurrier to discuss the waning state of modern mythology, the unusual decision to incorporate three colorists and the writer’s mermaid dreams.
Cry Havoc is about much more than a lesbian werewolf going to war, but it is still a werewolf story of sorts, and werewolves occupy a horror subgenre that is historically lacking standout media. How did Cry Havoc get started?
Simon Spurrier: It’s a subject I can wax poetic about forever. It’s funny, because I find myself going to great lengths to explain to people that it’s not really about werewolves, because I sort of assume that people will roll their eyes a bit, but actually I get really positive responses when I say to people, “Yeah, it’s werewolves!” So I should stop trying to be more complicated than I need to be. Everybody likes the notion [of werewolves], and this is probably one of the things that lies at the heart of Cry Havoc, which is a slightly more thoughtful take on mythology and monsters.
We’ve all got monsters that live in front of the camera. Hollywood has procreated them over and over again: vampires, werewolves, yada yada yada. As a result, they’ve been changed, and frankly they’ve been sanitized. You don’t have to look back very far in history to find much more interesting stories and much more interesting lore, and the more I looked into it, the more I realized there are so many local and localized breeds of big shaggy monsters, it’s kind of futile to say, “Oh, that’s a werewolf, that’s a barghest, that’s a shuck, that’s a shagfoal, yada yada yada.” Every county in the UK has its own breed of the big dog monstrosity, and this is true also all across Europe. The werewolf has sort of become a dominant species of that particular genus, but I think they’re all emanations of a much older prototypical myth, which is quite simply the fear of the thing which exists just beyond the campfire light. We in Europe, and this has obviously traveled to America with the settlers, like to imagine that as a wolf, as something black and shaggy with glowing eyes which is barely seen, but howls in the night.
I think that translates quite nicely to another related fear that infests folklore, which is the fear of the shapeshifter. In the same way humans are quite good at imagining what exists beyond the firelight, we’re also very good at imagining that there must be something suspicious and dangerous to legitimize our natural paranoia of what exists in the hearts of people around us. Every culture around the world has its own vision of the shapeshifting animal/spirit/monstrosity, whatever it is, and it’s usually a local predator: a hyena, a jackal, a werewolf, a coyote, a bear, whatever it may be—every culture has one. You quickly realize it’s really not much more than a realization of the exterior fear of the world around us, the environment around us, plus this natural paranoia we have toward other people—strangers—and what might be lurking in the hearts of men.
As soon as you start thinking in those terms, it’s quickly clear that you can use werewolves in particular, but frankly mythology in general, as a sort of pluripotent metaphor for all sorts of cool stuff. And that’s kind of the inception of Cry Havoc. You can pretty much play with any theme or parable or allegory that you care to pull from the ether by talking about myths and monsters and their position in the modern world.
Cry Havoc #1 Variant Covers by Cameron Stewart, Fiona Staples and Simon Gane
Paste: And as we find out pretty quickly, Cry Havoc isn’t only concerned with shapeshifters of the canine variety. How fully do you plan to explore the way that shapeshifting works in this universe? Is it just an accepted reality for the afflicted or is Lou going to press the issue to uncover the mechanics?
Spurrier: We’ll come to that, but I think any time you embark upon a story, especially with Image, it’s a given that you’re going to separate it out into “seasons.” Nobody is quite sure how many seasons you’re going to get, and I think it’s perfectly legit these days to be blunt about the fact that if there isn’t customer support, if readers aren’t buying it in droves, then we get fewer seasons out of it than we’d otherwise do.
I believe very firmly that you should never start a story that you don’t know how to end, and hence when you’re planning a season, which is just part of a larger ongoing, you have to start thinking about modular endings, and that’s something I do all the time. This first season, I’m more interested in stuff which relates to that controlling idea than I am in being too prescriptive about the exact hows and whys and wherefores. The controlling idea relates, and I won’t spell it out exactly because it spoils the story, to control and chaos, and how those two factors influence how we live as humans and the way our civilization was formed.
I quite like the idea that the reality of these monsters is not something that can be measured or quantified. And in fact, there are frequent mentions throughout that if you just ignore them, they probably won’t exist as far as you’re concerned. There’s this sort of refrain throughout that every time the main character, who by the way transforms into a bloody great dog monster, every time she complains to people about the fact that werewolves are really tacky, they say, “There’s no such thing as werewolves,” and she goes, “I know there is,” and they say, “Yeah, but if you just ignore it, it’ll probably go away.” I like the idea that these themes we’re talking about, the themes in the story, rely not just on people’s preconceptions, but the way they choose to see the world. There’s an element of agency when it comes to experiencing the supernatural, which is a very longwinded way to say no, I’m not going to go too far into detail about how the actual physical process takes place.
It’s a far more whimsical book than that. It’s far more invested in the shit that is happening right now on the ground, and the shit that might happen if you think about it hard enough. And that relates to what I was saying before about werewolves and folklore in general. It’s tempting for people who are interested in this stuff to start putting their fingers on particular names and particular words and saying, Ah, well this is that kind of monster, and this is a thing that happened in 1558, and this and that, and all of these things are very easy to do without much research, but I think that misses the point for me, which is to have myths and these incredible stories that bridge the gap between fact and fiction, and I don’t want to get too fussy about providing details when it’s just about living stories.
Paste: As of the second issue, some of the shit we have seen includes a shaggy black dog, a Malaysian intestine vampire and a horny Nordic were-boar. Do you care to tease any of the other beasts we might expect as the series goes forward?
Spurrier: Sure! The Malaysian intestine vampire—I’m being really bad, she sort of teases and talks about it, but we don’t get to see it until quite later on because I knew people would be excited about it. The Penanggalan, which is the name of that particular vampire, is one of my favorite myths, actually.
There’s also a kind of astral crow that is related to a character called Tengu, who is related to a Japanese myth called the Karasu-Tengu, which is, again, a huge subject and I hesitate to get too prescriptive about it. The Tengu is sort of a generic term for folklore-y spirits and goblins; you get into the continuum of “Is it a demon or is it not a demon?” and you start to go crazy and tie yourself in knots wondering. But “Tengu” basically means dog, and yet the Karasu-Tengu is a Japanese spirit who tends to manifest as an old man who has bird-like attributes and variously turns into a kite or crow or raven. As with all things Japanese, it’s got this wonderful history and it’s very rich with art, and you quickly find these glorious craftwork evolutions starting to creep into the myth. In fact, quite a lot of shrines and museums have masks with what looks like a bloody great penis instead of a nose. I had almost forgotten this, but the Tengu is something I’ve been excited about for so long, I wrote it into my run on X-Men Legacy. It’s clearly something my subconscious won’t let go of. We’ve got one of those. He’s very cool, a sort of creepy member of the team who doesn’t say much and seems to be very literal and very serious, but there are frequent hints of some vast bird-like form hovering above them that no one else seems to be able to see.
Who else? We’ve got Captain Adze. Anybody fancies Googling the term “Adze,” they’ll come across some very interesting African mythology about a particular type of vampire found in Western Africa about which I will say nothing more because it’s cool, but there are some great visuals coming down the pipe there.
And as we get toward the end of the season, without spoiling it too much, we find ourselves literally surrounded by beasts and monsters from all countries of the world who have formed a sort of refuge up in the hills. So yeah, lots and lots of cool visuals and hours of research for me and Ryan [Kelly]. I’ve actually yet to see some of those pages, so I’m itching to see how Ryan visualizes some of this stuff.
Cry Havoc #1 Interior Art by Ryan Kelly and Lee Loughridge
Paste: The first issue has hefty backmatter discussing both the story on the page and the research you put into the various monster myths. Is that level of study typical of the projects you work on, or is Cry Havoc requiring a deeper dive because you’re pulling from contemporary events and existing myths?
Spurrier: Probably the latter, to be honest. There are various considerations there. I get fed up with buying comics which take me three minutes to read. That’s a crass way of putting it, but I wanted there to be something for the reader to get to at the end of the comic, and have some more value for their money, and ideally it would make them want to go back and read the comic again.
I’m aware that Cry Havoc is not the simplest read in the world. I don’t think it’s a hard read, I don’t think it’s difficult, but I do think it’s more complex than an awful lot of right-down-the-middle mainstream stuff that’s on shelves at the moment. I frequently bemoan the idea that comics are heading down the road of decompression becoming more and more acceptable and trendy. I think there are many times when decompression is a very strong and useful thing to be able to do in pacing out your comics, but I think we’re getting to the point now where it’s becoming the norm. I quite like the idea of bucking that trend with a comic that has an awful lot of story and an awful lot of character and an awful lot of everything, basically, to give myself, when writing the comic, and hence my readers when buying the comic, as much value for the money as I possibly can.
But also I’m aware that a lot of the concepts in the actual comic part of the comic are not deeply explored. They’re kind of taken for granted because they’re there to serve the plot, they’re there to serve the theme. That’s one of the reasons it felt that this should be a relatively intimate story told from the point of view of a—to start with—relatively normal woman, who really has no fucking clue what’s going on with herself or with the things around her, as that’s the obvious way to lead your readers into something which feels very strange. And hence it would have felt disingenuous to the entire comic to stop and have these overblown nuggets of trivia dropped on the reader like a ton weight.
[The backmatter] just gave me an opportunity to throw some of the stuff I’m interested in into the back, talking about where these myths come from, the history, some of the research, how the comic is written, some of the visuals that Ryan has chosen to bring out, the way we’re mucking around with color, the way we’re screwing around with pace and panel structure. So yeah, it sounds like a perfect way of showing off, basically. It felt like a nice thing to be able to do to allow the reader a little peek behind the curtain which is hopefully entertaining and hopefully informative, and hopefully makes them feel as though it’s not just a story, but a package, a thing to whet the appetite and hopefully inspire people as well.
Paste: Earlier you mentioned the primal fear of shapeshifters and what people around you have inside. There’s a long history of horror, especially shapeshifters and vampires, as metaphor for repressed sexuality. At what point in developing Cry Havoc did you discover that your protagonist, Lou, was gay, and how prominently does her sexuality inform who she is on the page?
Spurrier: As to what point I decided that she was gay, I honestly can’t tell you. I think it was probably from the start, because I knew what I wanted to do, in thematic terms, long before I knew what I wanted to do with the plot. I was kind of relying on the characters just turning up on the first day of work and they did. I didn’t do what I normally do when I start writing, which is spend a lot of time thinking about how this character works and how they look and what they think like. Almost the opposite.
With Cry Havoc, and again I hesitate to spoil things, the starting point was this controlling idea which has to do with control and chaos, and it has to do with the idea that the world we live in is changing, and we are becoming less and less wondrous. We’re becoming more literal. We’re adhering slowly towards, in one direction, to scientific empiricism and the religion of fact, and in the other direction, we’re adhering in smaller and smaller pockets toward increasingly fundamentalized religion, and I think what both of those extremes do is breed a capacity in cultures for taking things literally. We’ve sort of started to forget what it is to respond to something which isn’t real as if it is real. I think that’s the root of almost all wondrous stories, anecdotes, ideas, mythologies, proto-religions, fully formed religions before they take themselves too seriously, and I think that’s something that is embedded very deeply in the human culture’s ability to transform itself and ability to experience wonder.
As soon as that particular controlling idea was built in, everything sort of grew organically from it. In the case of Lou, I found myself dealing with someone who has always, without realizing it, had a capacity for chaos. It manifests in her reality in that she’s a musician, she’s a bit of a flake, and she’s very messy, to the consternation of her lover, who is exactly the opposite, who’s very buttoned-up and tidy and perhaps neurotic about the world. [Laughs] And somewhere along the way, and I honestly don’t think I could tell you where it was, the sort of person I imagined Lou being, and the ingredients in her life that had therefore informed who she was, involved her being gay.
I struggle to explain that any further. It is something that is looked at in the series, and in fact it transpires that she perhaps isn’t as rigidly homosexual as she may have thought she was, which is giving some things away there. But it speaks to the history and mentality of somebody who is trying to be, for the sake of the world, something they may not be. I think historically that is something a lot of gay people have felt. A lot of people resist the idea of just being who they are because they’re worried about the implications of it, and that’s a continuum we still see with Lou at the beginning of the story, even though she’s out and she’s very comfortable with her sexuality—or she thinks she is—she’s trying to be something she’s not, which is that she’s desperately trying to control herself and get her shit together and be the good little consumer who will go through life without causing a fuss or getting in anybody’s way. That’s what the modern world wants her to be and she’s doing her very best, but she just can’t do it. The inciting element is this dose of horror, a supernatural attack, the quintessential werewolf’s bite—although of course it’s not really a werewolf, dot dot dot—that seems to be the sole agent for making her life spin out of control and digging up all this stuff, but actually I would argue that what it does is open a few doors in her soul so all these things that have always been there get the chance to come bubbling out.
You can see even while I’m waffling on about this, how useful a metaphor all of this [monster] stuff is for just about anything. Yes—sexuality, but also mental health. It’s talking about the way we’re expected to live in society, it’s talking about the way we respond to art, it’s talking about the way the state controls people because people are never more efficiently controllable than when they have no wonder in their lives. When they’re neat little literalists, people become very easy to control.
And somewhere in the midst of all that, by the way, is where, thematically speaking, where the idea of mythology—which is by definition something that is old and distantly remembered and slowly changing—smashes into a new mythology, something very modern, which is the idea of groups clashing, usually in the Middle East, because they’re all taking everything fucking literally and the world can’t allow both of them to exist at the same time. So there’s a whole bunch of Realpolitik in there, and it kind of grew like mold around the central idea and took in everything else.
If you said to me, “Does the central character have to be gay?” then the answer is no. If you said to me, “Is it a nice thing and is it thematically cogent that she is gay?” then the answer is yes, I think so. I hate that we are still, en masse, at the stage where it has to be a tactical decision to make a character gay. You’re never supposed to read the comments, but already there are comments, “Oh, another story about gayness.” It’s not about gayness, it’s about all sorts of stuff. Spurrier’s first rule, which I harp on at every opportunity, is that Factions Speak Louder Than Herds. It’s true, honestly. I guarantee that the louder the voice, the fewer people there are shouting.
Cry Havoc #1 Interior Art by Ryan Kelly and Nick Filardi
Paste: Well onto another controversial topic: politics.
Spurrier: [Laughs] Religion, sexuality, politics, this is like the worst pub conversation in the world.
Paste: Most of your recent projects have taken place in pretty out-there settings, to put it mildly, but Cry Havoc exists in a very grounded, modern war that most readers have never not known to exist. Have any works of military fiction or any real-world events particularly influenced the book, and was it at all intimidating to approach such a controversial real-world subject?
Spurrier: That’s a very good question. With regards to influences, it’s movies, really, not books. Jarhead really was the one with the greatest impact on me. The idea that you could make a war movie that isn’t just about things blowing up, but about the numbing psychology of being involved in war. Strangely enough, you start getting accidental influences. There’s a quote at the beginning of Cry Havoc that’s from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which is, I would argue, a reflection of an archetypal story form, but for the sake of argument, let’s say it really is something he pioneered. It’s the story form in which an element of civilization journeys toward an element of chaos, and in the process of that journey is changed by chaos and has to adjust their preconceptions. And of course this was very memorably adapted into Apocalypse Now, which was also a big influence, in the sense that it’s episodic and mucks with narrative and allows one to leap between different perspectives in a way that is schizophrenic, and even a little psychedelic, but at the same time feels legitimate as part of that narrative. So there’s part of that in there.
But otherwise it was just a case of doing the homework. I wouldn’t say I read a book and thought, Okay, I’m inspired to do this story. It was more a case of knowing I was telling a story about a woman who has to travel to the most modern Heart of Darkness imaginable, so therefore I’m going to need some research [Laughs]. I spent a lot of time looking into CIA black sites and the geography and industry. As you’ll see in one of the later episodes, we’ll get into some of the stuff that goes on in the hills of Afghanistan which isn’t just warlords and fighting. We built up a picture of the conflict, and weirdly enough, now that I think about it, almost deliberately reigned it back.
We’re telling the story from the point of view of a woman who wouldn’t have read any of these books and absolutely does feel out of water. So it’s good to know this stuff, and apropos to what we were saying before, it’s nice to be able to show off about it in the writer’s notes at the back of the issue, but I think the honest way of working our way through the story is for Lou to be startled and horrified at what she’s encountering.
Cry Havoc #1 Interior Art by Ryan Kelly and Nick Filardi
Paste: Ryan has a long history with horror comics from Lucifer to Survivors’ Club, which he’s doing right now at Vertigo. How did the two of you come together for Cry Havoc, and how collaborative is your storytelling process?
Spurrier: We came together because I had been sort of keeping an eye on Ryan for a little while. I had in mind for a while that I wanted to do a creator-owned book at Image, and had a few ideas nebulously swirling about, one of which was unrecognizably what would end up Cry Havoc. I very much enjoyed Ryan’s run on Northlanders, which I got into because a very dear friend of mine, Simon Gane, did a run on it. And actually, it’s worth saying that what struck me about his work on Northlanders, and later on Three, the book he did with Kieron Gillen, what always struck me about Ryan’s work was—yes, his style, his art, his visuals, all the things that are obvious, and I think he is as good as any of the big names in those facets of his skill—but I think he is one of the best intuitive storytellers that we have working in comics today.
It forever startles me that, for a medium that relies entirely on the craft of being able to use juxtaposition to make narrative happen, visual, sequential juxtaposition, we, as an industry, tend to give a huge amount of importance to signature style and illustration skills. I could name a few—I won’t, because I’m not a prick—but I could name a few really big artists at the top of their careers who can’t tell a story for toffee. But they’ve got very recognizable styles and are very trendy, and that’s what people respond to. I think Ryan’s the best of both worlds. He tells a story without even thinking about it.
I could break it down and get very boring, but the obvious stuff: positioning characters in the right direction so the dialogue doesn’t get in the way, dealing with shot choices so that the camera doesn’t seem to be bouncing backwards and forwards too much, stuff that any director of photography spends years and years learning, but a lot of comic artists just sort of make up on the fly because they’re busy drawing explosions and cool boobies and the rest of it. Ryan just does all that stuff without a second thought, and it’s always perfect and the eye never gets confused. He’s a master of pace and rhythm.
Again, I could get airy-fairy and wax on about this, but I believe that the art of storytelling is the art of pace. It’s disseminating story information at the speed that you choose. You are controlling the consumption of that information by the reader. Ryan does that without much thought, but I was also happily surprised that he can draw pretty much everything, whether it’s an armored vehicle cruising through a desert, or a bloody great rampaging boar with an erection. [Laughs] He can draw anything. He does really good monsters. He does amazing covers. He’s working really closely with our designer, Emma Price, who I think is going to be a really big deal in the next few years. Together, those two transform some beautiful splash images of monsters that Ryan has drawn into iconic images. She’s done all sorts of great work with the backmatter too. It’s been great to watch Ryan and Emma working together. I think we’re slowly seeing the rise of the designer as a creative force in comics, and why shouldn’t we? This is a collaborative medium so it’s lovely to see other aspects of that collaborative team coming to the fore.
But anyway, to get back on topic, when Ryan had finished Three with Kieron, I went to Kieron and said that I wanted to do a book, do you think Ryan would work with me? Kieron introduced us and there wasn’t really a bump in the road. Ryan liked the idea, he started doing sketches, I found the idea evolving in all sorts of strange ways and what was going to be a relatively simple story about a woman traveling to Afghanistan became a formalist experiment in three-way perspective because I’m a bit of an idiot like that. [Laughs]
Ryan and I were having great fun with the first episode, but we realized this formalist experiment we’d been playing with, in which Lou’s story is told in parallel, three stages of her story—the beginning in London, the middle in Afghanistan, and the end in a strange prison I won’t say much about yet—then playing them out consecutively would have meant the book kept changing its tone and its pace every couple episodes. I started playing with laying out these narratives side by side and I was pleased to discover that each of these three zones in her life had complementary peaks and troughs, or if they weren’t completely synchronized, they’d go the opposite way and there were exciting moments where the two stories went in very different directions. It started to feel like an orchestral symphony instead of pieces played one after the other.
But for all that, Ryan and I quickly discovered that this was going to get confusing to readers if we were just constantly jumping backwards and forwards in the time stream of the story. We didn’t want to cover every page with captions, “Now we’re in London, now we’re back in Afghanistan, sorry for the headache we’re giving you, readers!” So we had a need for differentiating between these three threads, and at the same time there was a dialogue going on in the wider comic industry about how colorists had thoroughly not been given the credit they deserve, and there are still quite a lot of comics on the shelves today that don’t credit colorists on the front. We realized the two could play quite nicely together. We had the need and therefore the means of showing off how much of an impact colorists could have on the art itself. So we ended up with one fabulous artist and three fabulous colorists working on different sections of the story.
Cry Havoc #1 Interior Art by Ryan Kelly and Nick Filardi
Paste: And as far as anyone can seem to tell, you’re the first book to do this intentionally.
Spurrier: As far as I know. We’ve got Matt Wilson, Nick Filardi and Lee Loughridge, and we didn’t know this until we started working together, but they all sort of know each other from old, and I might be wrong about this, but I think Matt and Nick were kind of apprentices or learned somehow at the knee of Lee Loughridge. They’re amazing and they’re all such different colorists in terms of style without being completely different. You can flip through the comic and always know where you are in terms of story, but it doesn’t change so much that it becomes jarring.
It’s really great to watch them together. Their e-mail chains are hilarious. They just spend all day taking the piss out of each other and loathing each other’s work and competing to see who can be the first one to get a page in on time. As far as we know, nobody has deliberately chosen to use multiple colorists specifically for this purpose. It’s an interesting experiment and I would have considered it a success even if it had failed, if you know what I mean, because I think it’s a nice thing to try and do, and I think it’s a nice way to say to the world, behold, colorists are able to dramatically change the tone and nuance of a story in ways that you may not have realized. But actually, and I am my own worst critic, I think it works amazing well and does exactly what it’s meant to do, which is take away one extra component that might have confused the reader.
We sort of cheat a little bit so the sequences in London all have a sort of blue-tone taint, the pages from the other end of the story often had a red tone and full red bleed around the panels, and the stuff in the middle tends to be acid tones and yellows and ochres, so you always know where you are when you land on a particular page. It’s something I’m hugely proud of and I’m glad we stumbled on it and gave it a crack.
Cry Havoc #1 Interior Art by Ryan Kelly and Matt Wilson
Paste: Assuming you don’t identify with the intestine vampire, which beastly form are you most likely to take in the world of Cry Havoc?
Spurrier: Wow…oh heavens, I don’t know. I’m a big fan of the water. I would probably choose to shapeshift into some sort of watery thing. This is modern mythmaking at its best actually, but I’m naturally inclined to spend as much time under the water as I can, I can hold my breath for a very long time, I like to go free-diving, but, because I watched bloody Jaws when I was about six, I can only go so far over open water before I start freaking myself out. You go back and watch Jaws and it’s not even that scary a film, the thing is clearly a fucking robot, but because it embedded myself so deeply in my subconscious as a child, I just can’t go over open water. If I can’t see the bottom, I’m in trouble. So I’d love to be able to shapeshift into some sort of marine thing.
There are plenty of options out there. I’m not saying, Hey, maybe I can turn into a mermaid, little seashells for a bra… There are a lot of dolphin myths, and I say this as someone who has gone on record as not liking dolphins very much because they are the rape-iest of God’s creatures and not to be trusted, but there’s a South American myth called the Encantado. This will sound very deep and dark, but it’s basically date rape in dolphin form. It’s a river creature that takes the form of a man and gatecrashes parties and puts everybody under such a glamour that they refuse to let this guy leave, and he always wears a wide-brimmed hate to cover his blowhole. He ends up leading women back to the river and they end up getting pregnant and give birth to strangely dolphin-y creatures. You can tell this is one of those myths that has grown up out of women having illegitimate children and wanting to explain it without involving someone from the village.
I’m not for a moment saying I’d like to become a date-rape dolphin monster, but there are plenty of deep-sea and freshwater creatures which I think I’d quite like to be. Just jump in the sea and go deep diving and not worry about bloody sharks.