Four Letter Nerd

Category - Interviews

4LN Interview with Fred Van Lente, author of Ten Dead Comedians: A Murder Mystery

Fred Van Lente is one of those writers that has me hooked.  Up till now, Mr. Van Lente has been churning out top-notch comics with Marvel, Valiant, Dark Horse, and IDW.  You might remember that we interviewed him awhile back about his work with Valiant. Now Mr. Van Lente is switching gears with his upcoming debut novel Ten Dead Comedians: A Murder Mystery. After reading a review copy, I reached out to Fred (editor: did you ask if you could call him Fred?) to see if he’d be willing to spend some of his increasingly rare spare time chatting with us about his new book.  Spoiler: he agreed.

4LN: Some of our readers may remember that we had a chance to speak with you in February 2015, what have you been up to between now and then?

FVL: Well, quite a lot. Many, many comics, like Deadpool vs the Punisher, Weird Detective and Comic Book History of Comics, and a few other projects, but I have to admit what I’ve been most excited about is my first novel coming out, Ten Dead Comedians, which I stated around November 2015, not so long after we last spoke, and is at long last coming out July 11th!

Digging into your new book, what is it about And Then There Were None that drew you in? Is there something special about that particular story, or the golden era of mystery for you?

Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None is a classic of the genre — it’s not just one of the bestselling mysteries, it’s one of the bestselling books, period, of all times. There’s something so elemental about the concept — a bunch of people trapped in a place, being knocked off one by one, with one of the potential victims themselves the likely killer. I had read that Christie thought of the idea years before she wrote the book because she couldn’t believe she was the first person to try it. She was, and justly reaped the rewards of her originality.

What made you decide to tell a classic mystery story using Comedians of all makes and models? (Genre mashup)

I’ve made genre mashup something of a specialty in my career, from Cowboys & Aliens (Western/sci-fi) to Incredible Hercules (Greek mythology/superhero) and more recently in books like Weird Detective, which combines the Cthulhu Mythos with a police procedural. So even though this is in the prose format it something that comes very naturally to me.
But you know combining comedy and mystery seems so simple, because so much of the language of comedy is about violence — you “die” on stage or you “slaughter” audience, if you did great you “killed,” if you do badly you “bombed.” So the idea of combining Last Comic Standing with basic set-up of And Then There Were None almost seems like a no-brainer.

Comedy obviously plays a big part of the novel, as you even go so far as to include a comedy routine for every comedian, each with their own style. What kind of work goes into ten unique routines, each in a different voice?

It was not easy, to be honest with you. When I first started writing the book I resisted doing the monologues because I knew doing ten of them in such distinctive voices would be a bitch. But then I a) realized how I could slip clues to the mystery into each and every one and b) uh, I would probably not hit my contractually-mandated word count if I didn’t add them, so, my choice was clear! It was very hard, although I am such a huge comedy nerd I had voices for all of them in my head kind of to begin with, but it was hugely satisfying and it’s one of the things folks say they like the most about the book, so clearly it was the right decision.

When I first started reading Ten Dead Comedians, I thought I could pick out specific real life comedians that inspired your characters, but as the story developed I realized that none of them quite fit. How did you go about developing your ten comedians that might or might not be dead soon?

I mean, there are certainly various archetypes the comics represent — Las Vegas lounge comic, late-night host, “blue collar” comic and so on — but, you know, I am killing (most of? All? Read and find out) these characters in spectacularly gory ways, and I’m not a monster. I don’t want any real people dead. Also, it’s not very interesting to me as a writer to just try and copy somebody else’s schtick completely. So everyone is a gumbo, a mixture of various actual comics. So the insult comic is really a blend of Joan Rivers and Don Rickles. There’s bits and pieces of Amy Schumer and Sarah Silverman and various other “observational” comics in Zoe Schwartz. My wife nearly worked for Blue Man Group at one point so our “Orange Baby Man” is sort of a combo of their philosophy with a prop comic like Gallagher or Carrottop, and so on.

Is it difficult to make the jump from comics to novels? Are there any big differences between the two writing styles.

Sure. I mean, in comics scripting you’re creating a blueprint for another person to follow. But in prose you’re the whole show. There’s no other collaborators to lean on. I’ve been writing prose on and off since I was a high schooler, though, so it’s not like I was a complete neophyte. I’m one of those cliche writers who has a bunch of novels collecting dust in drawer. So to have the first one be published is indescribably exciting.

Was there anything from the comic world that possibly helped you with the writing process?

The comics world is a monthly grind, which translates to a daily, weekly grind on the creative team. The constant deadlines really builds discipline, which is helpful when you’re writing a 70- or 80,000 word novel spread out over many months. It lets you pace yourself properly.

Whenever you’re in a writing slump, do you have a method you use to motivate yourself to get back at it?

Yes: Write. It is the only method. Allow yourself to be in a slump and write shittily. You can always redraft it later. But the only way to get past writer’s block is to write around it.

Lastly, do you have any other big plans on the horizon that we should be on the lookout for?

I am excited to beginning my second novel, The Con Artist, a mystery novel set during the San Diego Comic Con, out next year. And I’m also co-writing a thing with my old pal Greg Pak, can’t wait to see that announced. For the summer I’m doing a lot of promotions for Ten Dead so maybe I’ll take a break afterwards? Ah, who am I kidding, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself…

Summary from Quirk Books:

Fred Van Lente’s brilliant debut is both an homage to the Golden Age of Mystery and a thoroughly contemporary show-business satire. As the story opens, nine comedians of various acclaim are summoned to the island retreat of legendary Hollywood funnyman Dustin Walker. The group includes a former late-night TV host, a washed-up improv instructor, a ridiculously wealthy “blue collar” comic, and a past-her-prime Vegas icon. All nine arrive via boat to find that every building on the island is completely deserted. Marooned without cell phone service or wifi signals, they soon find themselves being murdered one by one. But who is doing the killing, and why?

A darkly clever take on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and other classics of the genre, Ten Dead Comedians is a marvel of literary ventriloquism, with hilarious comic monologues in the voice of every suspect. It’s also an ingeniously plotted puzzler with a twist you’ll never see coming!

Bat for Brains: A 4LN Interview with Scott Snyder!

I really got into comics right around the time that New 52 started, and I was pulling every Batman & Bat-Family book that there was. Unfortunately, slowly but surely, I lost interest in those books. All but one… the Batman proper book by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It easily became my favorite comic that was being published, and not long after that, it became my all time favorite comic. I have every issue except a #1 first print, I picked up the second print not realizing it. Soon, I started to explore Scott Snyder’s work before Batman. I picked up The Black Mirror, a story from his Detective Comics run. This was seriously one of the darkest Batman stories I had read since Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, I couldn’t believe the things that were happening in this book.

Not longer after I became a Scott Snyder fan boy, we started FourLetterNerd and I set a goal for myself; I somehow wanted to interview my favorite writer. I even wrote an early article talking about how Snyder was the Stephen King of Comics. I wanted to talk comics with someone I admire, someone I aspire to be like, and one of the people that has made me want to become a comic book writer, or a writer in general.

This week Scott Snyder released his new ongoing Batman series, All Star Batman, and I was able to sit down and talk about this book with him. I was beyond excited. I had achieved my main goal with FourLetterNerd, and I couldn’t be more excited and stoked to share this with you. Guess my unabashedly biased reviews got me somewhere Stephen Andrew.

Below you will find my interview with Scott Snyder!

Scott, after having written Batman for so long, do you feel like you understand who Bruce Wayne is at this point, or do you find that you’re still exploring his psyche?

Scott Snyder: I have so many questions about him, he’s so deeply fun to explore. I write each arc like it’s going to be my last one and I would always say to Greg [Capullo,] or whoever I was working with, “You know, this might be the last one…” [laughs] And try to make it something that would make me feel good leaving it on each time, making it personal and about things that you feel passionately about. With that said, with this one I felt like it was almost a new beginning are sort of deciding not to do just one story that was different, but instead do an entire series of stories that approach Batman’s mythologies, and villains, and Bruce and all of it from a completely different angle. Where it wasn’t necessary a big epic storyline. I wanted to be able to break it down into separate prisms of series where I could say I want to do this villain with this artist, and this villain with that artist. So in doing so, we will have this whole new perspective on Bruce as well. Where all of these things are sort of looking at him as a character that I didn’t expect, like his relationship with Alfred, the whole Robin mantel. All of the stuff that wasn’t really in the outline for the book has been emerging. And I really feel like, really hope, it’s some of my best work. So, I’m really excited to see what you think.


Will this version/depiction of Batman/ Bruce differ from one we saw in you New 52 run, or will he be inherently the same?

Scott Snyder: I always see him as the same character, New, Non, Pre52. I mean for me I think it’s more you just have a version of the character in your head and it’s almost like your own creator owned version in your head. I was talking to Tom King (Writer of Batman) about this and you know, it’s almost like if you’re doing rebirth, or New 52, or anything, it’s sort of your vessel. The thing with Grant [Morrison], whatever he was doing on Batman, it was always his Bruce. So, I see him as one long consistent conversation almost between me and the mythology of the character that way it differs from the 52 version. But, this series I’ve made a really big effort to be a shock to the system for the readers given what I have been doing with Greg [Capullo] because I tried to do that every arc with Greg. The last thing I wanted to do was for it to seem like I was playing it safe given all the risks we took doing Batman proper.


Are there any artist that you are excited to work with?

Scott Snyder: Oh yeah! So many great artist. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to Danny and Dean for just doing incredible work on the feature, but also Declan Shelvey and Jordie Bellaire who are doing the backups and the Robin History with me. Paul Pope has become a good friend and I can’t wait to work with. Sean Murphy who is one of my dearest friends in the world, you know, he and I have worked together before and I can’t wait to bring him over in the Batman world. We always joke around about it, but in his creator owned works there is normally a character that is like me, who is like “Draw Batman! Draw Batman!” It’s a joy being able to bring artist in that haven’t had the spotlight from a major book and you can help them, and feel very inspired by them both as people and as talents. So for me, it’s the opposite as what I was doing on Batman, in some ways, and in others it has very similar DNA. The similarities are, I like big bombastic over the top high stakes stuff. I always have. I try to make each story very personal to me, where every villain is sort of re-examined in away that hopefully positions them in a modern and scary but true to core, and slightly tweeked. But maybe something more contemporary. And being outside of Gotham for the story allows me to do wilder takes and experiment a bit more and not be so concerned about what’s happening to the city constantly, and it’s in very good hands with Tom. So, it gives me room to breath and think bigger and write crazier.


Dean White is doing the colors on this book, and I personally think he is one of the best colorists in the industry. How do the two or you play off each other? Do you mention what colors things should be, or does White just take the ball and run with it?

Scott Snyder: Danny I have worked with for a long time, because he was on Batman with me and Greg, but Dean who is new to me at least, and who I have admired for a long time, I just made it a point to talk and we wound up having similar sensibilities and  taste in music and so we really got along. What I always try to do isn’t so much tell them specifically what I want but to tell them what the book is about and say Listen, I want this story to really feel like, say, this is the end of times, the end of society, and the end of all these kinds of restrictions we put on ourselves that we use to hide who we really are, those are going to fall away. I want it to feel like this quante beautiful landscape we have never been in before, but also kinda threatening and oddly scary like Halloween on a farm but with bright blue skies, and you never know what’s in the cornfield. That kinda stuff, and I’ll say that and they will come up with something that is incredibly vibrant and enhances those ideas tremendously. There really aren’t words that describe what these guys have done on this book, so I would just encourage people if you pick it [All Star Batman #1] up, and you like what they are doing, just tweet them both, or on Instagram, because colorist and inkers are often total unsung heroes and are letterers of the books, and editors I suppose. [Laughs] Go find them and tell them what a great job they are doing.

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I think a lot of people would define your writing style as horror, so I’m curious, do you identify as a “horror” writer?

Scott Snyder: I’m really proud to be known as a horror writer. I wear it really proudly, horror is my favorite genre if I had to pick one, by far. I grew up on horror movies and I don’t know if it was wanting to see the cool kids get attacked [laughs] or it it was something deeper at first when I was little but they always spoke to me. Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorites, Frankenstein is my favorite book, so yeah I think at horrors core, it’s about a very pure form of conflict. It’s you up against something like a monster, or something that is a reflection or extension of your fears about yourself or the world around you, when it’s done right or well. It’s almost like a burned down, turned up to 11 volume form of the best kind of conflict and drama, so yeah!

Any plans for Scarecrow?

Scott Snyder: I do. I do have plans for him. I actually had Scarecrow in this arc. But then I realized I didn’t think I was doing him justice because he came and went pretty quickly. I just feel like he deserves a bigger role if I’m going to do something with him. So I do have an idea for something down the line. This series is truly ongoing where you know I start with John for five issue and then I have some one shots and two shots with Jock, Paul Pope… and then I have Sean Murphy and this big story and then I would really like to do this one with Lee Bermejo. So I have plans to stretch for almost two years, at least a year and a half. Which is as much as I ever had on Batman Proper. So my hope is to keep it going and do stuff about all the villains. You know, all of them big and small. I would love to do something with Scarecrow, I had an idea for fear gas in issue three but just thought it wasn’t right to knock him out of the story that quick.  


Just real quick, Batman with a chainsaw is one of the greatest things I have ever seen.

Scott Snyder:[Laughs]  Thank you! They tried to cut that at one point. My editor Mark, who is one of my best friends, was like “Listen to me, there might be like one thing that might be a little bit too dark for people, and that might be the chainsaw.” I was like “We are not moving or getting rid of the chainsaw, no matter what.” I really fought him on it and he was like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, OK alright.”


It’s fun, and it’s silly, and it’s grindhouse; but, it’s the spirit of the series, which I think is that Batman is going further than he’s gone before with Two-Face, and you never know what’s coming form the corners of the page. You don’t know what villain is going to pop up, which hero will pop up, even completely certain of an unfamiliar situation that ultimately is landscaped by a psychological projection of what’s going on between these characters. So, having a chainsaw is almost like Batman is willing to sort of shock you and be even more aggressive and badass than you expected, but what comes back at him a few pages later, is even worse, and it’s raising the steaks in the bet that Two-Face is making with him every few pages.


Final question, in the show “Gotham” they introduced The Court of Owls last season and it appears as if they’ll have an ominous presence on the story this season. How does it feel to have created something in the Bat-verse that’s impact is so significant it’s being adapted to live-action?

Scott Snyder: I can’t even begin to tell you.. When Geoff Johns told me they were doing that, I was out in Burbank [California] and he was like “I have something to show you.” And he showed me clips from the promos from the season two introduction of them and I almost teared up because I was so excited. So, it’s a huge thrill honestly, and DC has been incredibly kind to us about it. But Greg and I had one stipulation, we wanted to be Owls in the back, giving the thumbs up wearing the masking and everything, no, no, we are very grateful. When I started Batman, or even Detective Comics, six or seven years ago, I never thought in a million years I would be doing it this long or have been able to be so embedded in the mythology and able to create characters and anything that would stick. It’s hugely rewarding, and cant thank the fans enough for all their years of support and letting us do everything we’ve done in the books.


Thank you so much to DC Comics, and Scott Snyder. Be sure to head to your local comic shop and pick up All Star Batman #1 which is on shelves now, and if you are in the Middle Tennessee area, head over to Game Cave 2 and pick up this book! You don’t want to sleep on this series.

All-Star Batman (2016-) #1

4LN Interview with “Hot Damn” Writer Ryan Ferrier

I picked up Hot Damn on a whim, because I thought the cover looked cool. It was a guy covered in tattoos falling into hell. I’m covered in tattoos, and practically on my way to hell, so how could I not love this? Hot Damn is seriously one of the funniest comics I’ve read in a long time. (You can read our review of issue #1 here.) The main character Teddy is a great party animal, his hell sponsor Costello is diabolical and looking out for his own best interest, and his group counselor, Abaddon, is how you would imagine every youth pastor at church camp, he’s trying way to hard to be cool. (Heads up, this interview is potentially NSFW so read on at your own risk…)

4LN – This comic has a lot of interesting takes on theology. Were you raised in a religious family, and if so, does this impact your views on Heaven and Hell?

Ryan Ferrier – I wasn’t raised in a religious family at all, no. My Scottish parents grew up with the church (my father catholic, my mother protestant) but they didn’t stick with it. I went to public school, etc, and my exposure to anything religion-based was minimal and discovered on my own as I got older. As for how this has impacted my views on Heaven and Hell, I think as a whole, Hot Damn approaches these things from the aspect of how we as a culture and an ingrained part of our day-to-day see it. We absolutely don’t want to mock, ridicule, or make these things the butt of any jokes. We simply want to take the collective idea and popular representation of these things and deconstruct/reconstruct them. Given all the pieces of life we’re playing with, how can we have some fun with them in harmony, and explore some common areas, is kind of the question that has driven Valentin and I through the course of the story. The human-emotional things we’re tackling in the story are really applicable to everyone, whether religious or not.

But, surely, everything in my life and upbringing influences and impacts my views on the subject matter, whether it’s conscious or not. It would be tough to say otherwise. With Hot Damn though, I think we’ve tried to remain as thoughtful of “the other side” as best we can. Even though some of the scenes say quite the opposite!


4LN – I honestly haven’t laughed this hard while reading a comic in a really long time, and I know that you and Valentin Ramon have worked together before on D4VE & D4VE2, so how do you guys play off of each other as a creative team?

RF – The collaborative sync that Valentin and I share is truly remarkable. It’s a very, very natural similarity to the point where it’s almost creepy. It’s as if our brains are linked, unknowingly. There’s a very organic (barf, why did I use that buzzword?) workflow in place between he and I, and there isn’t a lot of back and forth, honestly. We both know how each other works, and what each other likes, and it just fits perfectly. We obviously think very alike and share very close thought processes, interests, and views, so it makes things very simple to work with. Valentin is a genius and I will forever work with him, if he allows it.


4LN – Abaddon might be one of my favorite characters in this series, mostly because he reminds me of almost every Youth Pastor I’ve ever met. He’s just trying so hard to be cool, where did the inspiration for this character come from?


RF – I love Abaddon! All of the demons in Hot Damn are named after actual demons, and Abaddon is often considered one of the worst. With that in mind, we made our Abaddon one of the best. The point of Hell being this therapy session you can never leave, and the actual act of these sessions being worse than any physical torture, yet the actual process is very calm and friendly, so we made Abaddon–the leader of these sessions–this very inviting, supportive character. I think we approached Abaddon as a personality to be very sinister in that he looks like a Baphomet, but is so kind and inviting; he basically coaxes you into confessing and realizing your sins. It’s awful when you think about it. But, like Satan, Abaddon’s heart and relative well-meaning is pretty genuine. He’s a nice dude.



4LN – Can you elaborate on the meaning of Abaddon, and why the counselor from hell is given this name?

RF – Our version of Abaddon, though a small part, is an important one, so we wanted to make sure his name had some weight. Abaddon is a real demon (well, as “real” as you believe demons are), and depending on what you read, he is a pretty damn gnarly sonofagun. It only felt fitting to re-imagine him in our story as a very kind soul, albeit one responsible for your worst undoing.


4LN – I think one of the most entertaining parts of this comic are the background images; testical strippers, suicide bombers, catholic priests… where do you get the ideas for the citizens of hell?

RF – With the exception of only a few notes from my mind, that is very much Valentin’s work. That’s his twisted mind conjuring up such atrocities. He loves conceptualizing and bringing to life the most ridiculous stuff. I love seeing the bizarre stuff he cooks up splatter onto the page. I aspire to reach his level of absurdity and brilliance.



4LN – Teddy doesn’t seem like that terrible of a person, he actually seems pretty smart. In issue two when he meets Maria, we find he is pretty self aware. He knows people are just at his party for drugs and self gratification. Where did you get the inspiration for teddy’s character?

RF – I think the most dangerous kind of person is the kind that doesn’t seem terrible, that seems smart and confident, but their records indicate the exact opposite. Teddy is a terrible person and he knows it, which is why he’s now in Hell and trying, desperately, to reverse all that. For him in particular it may be a delayed “oh crap” moment, but from the get go we wanted to make Teddy the worst, most unlikable character we’ve ever dealt with, and turn him completely around. We wanted to go further with the theme of redemption. Teddy isn’t being mistreated, or treated unfairly, in Hell. Everything he’s going through is very well earned and deserved. As for inspiration, there’s a little bit of me in there, and a little bit of people I’ve known in there, albeit amped up to 1,000. Teddy is the product of a lifetime of focusing on life’s negativity, to a fault. He’s a lot of flaws in our personalities personified. He’s certainly a walking, talking cautionary tale.


Lightning Round (a series of quick and random questions)

4LN – So, I follow you on twitter and have noticed that you are really into metal music, which we seriously love here at 4LN. So, I gotta ask, is the name a reference to the Every Time I Die album, Hot Damn?

RF – Every Time I Die is one of my most favorite all-time bands, current or otherwise, hands down. I’m a die hard ETID guy. Oddly enough, the title of Hot Damn, which was not the original title, came more from the expression and the imagery it conjures, mixed with a little Hell-ish double meaning. That came first, for me internally, and it wasn’t at all a reference to the (incredible) album. Though the coincidence is not at all lost on me. There’s actually an ETID reference in the first issue during the possession scene; we talk about Keith Buckley and one of his lyrics in particular.




4LN – What show have you been binge-watching on Netflix lately?

RF – I actually haven’t been binge-watching much lately, to be honest! The last thing I really marathoned was Daredevil Season 2. I don’t watch much TV (I don’t have any cable at all) and only stream stuff here and there. I’ve been making good use of my WWE Network subscription though, which is a damn time vacuum if you’re not careful.


4LN – Which character from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia do you think you relate to the most?

RF – Rickety Cricket, easily. I’m not confident enough to come close to the original/main cast.


4LN – Best concert you have been to this year?

RF – I haven’t seen any live music this year, sadly, though I’m seeing Charles Bradley and Ghost in a couple months (separately, of course, though imagine the crowd at that show if it existed). The last great concert I saw was Morrissey in Salt Lake City last year.


4LN – What’s your all time favorite metal album?

RF – All time? That is near impossible for the genre. I could make a top 10 list and it still wouldn’t come close to being succinct. Like…what kind of metal are we talking here? Thrash? Hardcore? It seems unfair to put, for example, Converge and Metallica in the same eligible field. Or Dillinger Escape Plan and Faith No More. It’s just too broad a category, and there’s too much to choose from, you monsters. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.

Wow. Geeze. Okay. Ummm…this is insanely difficult. And it changes daily, I’m certain. I think…if I were to be somewhat objective about it, for me personally, and for where I’m at now in life with my interests, Deftones’ Around the Fur was a huge influence for me. But then their subsequent White Pony record pretty much redefined metal at that time and moving forward. But there’s other metal records I love more. I could listen to QOTSA’s Songs For the Deaf literally any time. God, this is difficult. Mastodon’s Crack the Skye is one of the finest metal records ever made. But how do you say that and not acknowledge any Pantera record or …And Justice For All? Or immediately think about DEP’s Option Paralysis, or Miss Machine, for chrissake?! I can’t do this. Don’t ask me to do this. It’s too hard for me.

Okay fine, Deftones’ White Pony for all time. This question is killing me.


My HUGE thanks to Ryan for chatting with me, and make sure you guys head down to your local comic shop and pick the first 4 issues of Hot Damn! #4 just released yesterday (08/03) so make sure you get caught up before the finale drops!




4LN Interview with Writer of Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps, Robert Venditti

We got the chance to sit down and talk with comic book writer Robert Venditti (for the third time) about his upcoming DC project, Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps, which hits shelves tomorrow! Be sure to grab Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1 because we promise, this won’t be a series you will want to miss. So, without further ado, our interview with Robert Venditti!


Are you excited to be working with former comic collaborator Rafa Sandoval?

Robert Venditti: Absolutely! I have worked with Rafa before for about 5 issues during X-O Manowar for Valiant. It was a great collaborative relationship, and he does so much so well. Especially when it comes to cosmic/sci-fi/space-oriented books. He does a lot of alien races, and a lot of ships. He’s fantastic when it comes to design, and those kinds of things. When DC told me about Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps, I asked if I could have Rafa Sandoval on this book. I just love working with the guy, and DC went and got him.

How does working with Ethan Van Sciver compare to Rafa Sandoval?

Robert Venditti: Ethan is somebody that I’ve worked with in a very limited capacity. We did one issue of Green Lantern together, during my run, but he’s somebody that brings so much weight and experience to the title. He’s an artist whose synonymous with not just Green Lantern mythology, but with the concept of Rebirth. And so to be able to work with him, who literally co-created a lot of the stuff that we are going to be dealing with, he has such an enthusiasm and a love for the characters. He’s very knowledgable and easy to talk concepts with, and if you are writing a book as part of the Rebirth initiative which embraces the long legacy of the DCU. I can’t think of a better artist to have on that for Green Lantern than Ethan, because in a lot of ways he represents that legacy. Him and Rafa together are just a great 1-2 punch… I couldn’t be happier.  

How does Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps work with the theme of Rebirth? (Are you bringing back classic elements/characters while moving forward)

Robert Venditti: Absolutely! Yeah, I mean, that is Rebirth in a nutshell. It’s to embrace the long legacy of these characters, and embrace everything that has come before, but push forward and look towards the future and new directions as well. That’s exactly what we are doing. When you look at our opening arc, it’s going to be Hal and the Green Lantern Corps vs Sinestro and the Sinestro Corps. It’s green versus yellow. It’s will versus fear. These are concepts that go back to the earliest beginnings of the Green Lantern mythology. We are embracing that, but we are also doing some new things with that. If you read a lot of the books of the Rebirth books that are already on the stands, you’ll see that that is what the incentive is pretty much about. It’s a concept that I feel I am really suited for and it’s something I’m really excited about, and I hope people are excited for the stories when they see them.


Will Hal continue being a rogue lantern and using his  power gauntlet, or will we see the return of the iconic leader that we have been so used to?

Robert Venditti: When we open the Rebirth issue, Hal is in the possession of Krona’s gauntlet, and it has an affect on him where it’s changing him into a being of will. So what that’s beginning to do will have a profound affect on the series going forward. But what he does aside from that is he makes a decision with the Green Lantern Corps absent, he is going to reclaim his mantle as Green Lantern and be the last green lantern in the universe. He’s going to try to go find the corps, find out what happened to them, save them, and bring them back. Hal doesn’t know what the situation is yet, but he’s going to go searching for the corps and trying to protect the universe while he does it, all while being the standard bearer of the Green Lantern Corps. Coming into that at the same time, with the void of the Green Lantern Corps being absent, Sinestro parking War World in Sector Zero and becoming an established police force in the universe. So now you have Hal and Sinestro sorta on this collision and that’s where our story is going to begin.  

Are you excited to write different members of the corps besides Hal?

Robert Venditti: It’s such a diverse cast, you know? So many different lanterns who have been introduced over the years and one of the things that I’m doing is really trying to embrace that wider taprecy of DCU, with all the various planets, cultures and civilizations. And the lanterns who often times come from those cultures and civilizations. And with each of those civilizations comes different lanterns and with different character point of views. The diversity of that is what can really separate the Green Lantern mythology from a lot of other mythologies.  

With all the different characters in the Green Lantern series, will we see the return of B’dg?

Robert Venditti: [Laughs] I get a lot of B’dg and Ch’p questions. Yeah, B’dg is still there and he’s on the table, but I’m not doing a B’dg centered story anytime in the near future. But yes, B’dg is definitely still around.   

4LN: My personal favorite Lantern is Kyle Rayner, do you have any special plans for him?

Robert Venditti: Yup! Yes we do, it’s interesting. I don’t mention Kyle a lot in interviews, and we haven’t shown him in a lot of promo art, because what we are doing with him is really secretive. So when he does get introduced, it’s going to be for a very significant reason. To do something that only Kyle can do. And where the story then goes from there, it’s going to take a turn in a different direction. Kyle is definitely going to be there, but I have to be more secretive about him and other things because of what we are doing.    

4LN: What has been your favorite part about writing Green Lantern so far?

Robert Venditti: I would say just being able to work with these characters in the cosmic nature of the DCU, which is really the Green Lantern’s domain. There are so many worlds, so many different space race villains, and space race heroes, and alien cultures, and all these types of things. It’s such a rich history, and so much imagination, all these elements being introduced by different writers over the decades, so to be able to have all of that to play with and to mine for stories… It’s just a huge honor, and I feel very fortunate to be able to do it. It’s always enjoyable.


We’d like to thank Robert for taking the time to chat with us! Below we have some previews of Hal Jordan & The Green Lanterns Rebirth and Issue #1!





EXCLUSIVE Interview with Chance Butler, Valiant Cover Artist

If you haven’t been reading Valiant’s 4001 A.D. event, you really need to. It has been spectacular thus far, and the hits just keep on coming.  Each main issue has a plethora of fantastic covers, and one in particular has been gaining some attention.  I am speaking, of course, about the 4001 A.D. Action Figure variants designed by our good pal Chance Butler from  We were lucky enough to sit down with Chance to talk about where he gets his love of comics, what it’s like to have his cover art published by Valiant Comics, and what goes into creating the fantastic Action Figure variants.  Enjoy!


4LN – When did you first get into comics?

Chance Butler – Well, my dad has always been a collector so it was pretty much decided for me at birth! Before I could read I would flip through his Amazing Spider-Man collection and look at the pictures. I always thought it was interesting. As I got older I started reading and started collecting my own comics. I really liked to collect Ben Reilly when I was young… I think it was that sweet costume.


4001 A.D. #1 CCL Variant


4LN – Do you recall any specific moment that you realized you had a talent for art?

CB – I do actually! I remember grabbing a Star Wars coloring book and a blank sheet of paper and trying to draw Yoda just like the coloring book had him printed. I finished my (somewhat crude but good for a 6 year old) Yoda drawing and proudly presented it to my parents who then hung it up on the fridge for everyone to admire (pretend to like).

4LN – Was comic book art something you were always interested in doing?

CB – Well, as I got older comics stuck with me. I would spend my time in school doodling superheroes and working on anatomy instead of paying attention. That didn’t really help my game in high school much. Turns out girls don’t like drawings of Spider-Man… but now I’m just rambling.

I certainly loved drawing comic characters. I never really anticipated being able to draw for an actual publisher, it was just something I did in my free time. I always wanted to be a graphic designer so it was really cool to get to do these action figure variants. I got to kind of merge my graphic design and art skills.


4001 A.D. #2 CCL Variant


4LN – The covers you’ve designed for the Comic Collector Live variants of Valiant Comics’ “4001 A.D.” are the first time you’ve worked with a major publisher. What has that experience been like for you?

CB – It’s definitely been a positive experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity that Comic Collector Live gave me. Working with Valiant is awesome, they’re a bunch of geeks and you can tell they really care about their fans and the content they produce. Discussing ideas with them is very akin to a bunch of guys sitting in a living room eating pizza and talking about how awesome it would be for X-O Manowar to be a deluxe giant sized figure in a big box. And then someone’s mom walks in and asks us to please put our drinks on coasters for like, the fourth time. And she just stands there while we remain silent because we don’t want her to call us lame for talking about action figures. At least that’s how I imagined it in my head when we were emailing back and forth.

4LN – What kind of effort has gone into designing the covers? Have you had to re-familiarize yourself with any of the Valiant characters for inspiration?

CB – The covers are a two-step process really. Half of it is trying to create a realistic looking action figure box, and the other half is producing the art to go in/on that box. The most effort goes into the portraits. I learned something new with each one, and this fourth one sure is puuurty!

You know, I’ve been a big Rai fan for a while now so I was pretty confident with him as the first cover, but X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, and Eternal Warrior are new to me! I enjoyed researching the characters and learning their quirks. I have to say, since doing these covers I have become a pretty big Bloodshot fan!


4001 A.D. #3 CCL Variant


4LN – Two of your “4001 A.D.” covers are officially out, the third one will drop in July, and the final cover will hit comic shop stands in August. Do you have other work on the horizon we should be on the lookout for?

At the moment, no. But I don’t think you’ll be seeing the last of me just yet! Do keep an eye out for my ad for Comic Collector Live. It’s in every DC title for the month of June!


Lightning Round:

4LN – What is your favorite single issue of a comic?

CB – Uncanny X-Force 35. That whole run was great but that one issue gets me.

4LN – What is your dream mode of transportation?

CB -Flight! But not the lame plane kind, the cool “I have wings” kind!

4LN – What’s your favorite way to kill time?

CB -PC gaming!

4LN – Star Wars or Star Trek?

CB -Star Trek. The Holodeck is way too cool for this world.

4LN – Finally, if you could own any movie prop, what would it be?

CB – Gotta go with the Deadpool movie mask. Animated eyes and all.


4001 A.D. #4 CCL Variant


I’d like to personally thank Chance for taking the time to chat with us.  You can find his Action Figure variants here!

Wrath of the Eternal Writer – An Interview with Robert Venditti

Since its relaunch in in 2012, Valiant Entertainment has built one hell of a bullpen.  Robert Venditti was one of the small handful of writers tasked with relaunching the Valiant universe after Dinesh Shamdasani brought it back from the void.  As of this writing, Venditti has written 46 issues of X-O Manowar (plus several other issues centered on the X-Overse), which is coming to a close with the 50th issue. He also wrote last years incredibly popular BOOK OF DEATH crossover event, and has recently taken the reins of my personal favorite character with WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a Robert Venditti fanboy. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Mr. Venditti about life, the universe, and everything – or at least about his work with Valiant. Enjoy!

picture courtesy of USA Today



4LN – Now that X-O MANOWAR is coming to an end, what’s it like reflecting back on the series that broke ground for the relaunch of Valiant Entertainment and became its flagship title?

Robert Venditti – It was the first title when Valiant launched, but there were really four books that were in the first Summer of Valiant. I don’t want to say that this one book launched the Valiant Universe, because the Summer of Valiant was much bigger than that. Looking back on it, I’m really happy with it. I feel fortunate to have been able to stay with one character for this long; that’s not a common thing in any case, but even less so in the modern comics market. The opportunity to do one long-form arc of development that spans over four years is something I’m really happy with.

4LN – Looking back, are there any particular moments writing X-O that stand out in your mind as being particularly special (example: favorite kill, favorite panel, favorite issue, etc.)?

RV – There’s a variety of those things. If you’re talking favorite kill, the one that certainly became well known with Valiant fans was in issue #5 when Aric punches a grenade into a mercenary’s chest and blows him apart from the inside. I remember writing it and laughing about how crazy it was to be typing things like that into a panel description. People still come up and talk to me about to this day. But the stuff that I enjoy the most, as a writer, are the quieter moments. I really like what we were able to do with the flashback scenes of Aric, showing him as a child with his family. I’m very proud of issue #0, which I think put a different spin on his background than readers were probably expecting. There are others things I’m proud of as well.


4LN – You are also currently writing WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR – what are some major differences and/or similarities between Gilad and Aric?

RV – I think people commonly correlate Aric to Gilad. They’re both characters that are sort of men out of time, if you want to put it that way. But I see them as exact opposites. Aric is a character who was abducted by aliens in the 5th Century and transported to the modern day, so he didn’t have the benefit of living all the days and years between. Gilad, however, is somebody who has lived every single one of those days and years. It informs them very differently in terms of worldview.

If you look the “Homeland” storyline in X-O Manowar, when Aric first comes back to Earth with the freed Visigoths and tries to conquer Romania. I think that’s a classic case of how different these two individuals are, and the difference in way in which they approach things. Gilad would have understood the modern geo-political landscape and that you can’t just plop down in a country and take it over, especially not when it’s on Russia’s doorstep. But Aric has no knowledge of those things, because he just leapt over all of that and found himself in the modern day.

4LN – In the first arc of WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR, Gilad fights through some sort of afterlife to return to the present. Is there a difference between this place and the Deadside?

RV – To be revealed! I think we’ve seen various aspects of the afterlife—or the Deadside, or whatever you want to call it—in the Valiant Universe. Whether it was in Shadowman, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, Dr. Mirage, or various other places, there is a larger plan in place linking these things together. But it isn’t anything that I’m able to talk about.


4LN – We just finished the “Prelude to the Labyrinth” where you worked with Juan José Ryp, and next you jump in the Labyrinth story and are back with your regular Wrath partner Raul Allen. What’s in been like working with these two incredible talented artists?

RV – It has been a real highlight of my career. They’re both phenomenally talented, but very different stylistically. Juan is more detailed and use larger images. Raul is more into paneling, page breakdowns, and has a different kind of approach to the way the story gets told. Both are extremely talented guys, and I really tried to write for them specifically with the storylines that they were going to be on. To have #5 and #6 be a really huge, widescreen action set of issues that dealt with Gilad storming an entire city by himself, it seemed uniquely suited for what Juan does. On the other side of the coin, to do a story like we are doing now, where the whole thing is set in a labyrinth, seems uniquely suited to Raul’s style. I couldn’t be happier than working with those two guys, and I certainly hope I get to cross paths with them again.

4LN – Lastly, can you give us any clues about what we can expect to see in the upcoming “Labyrinth” story?

RV – We’re going to put a new spin on a classic Valiant antagonist, somebody who was key to Gilad’s history in the original Valiant Universe. Not just update it and modernize it, but put some twists in there that the readers won’t necessarily expect. At the same time, we’re going to have some big reveals for Gilad in terms of his estranged relationship with his first-born son Kalam. What he learns in the labyrinth is going to propel us into the series’ next arc. These fourteen issues are meant to be a long-form arc about a father and a son, how they became estranged, and whether or not they can reconcile. Gilad is about to take a big step in that journey.


I would like to thank Robert for taking time out of his day to chat comics with us.  WRATH OF THE ETERNAL WARRIOR #7, which kicks off a brand new story-arc, and X-O MANOWAR ANNUAL #1 are out this coming Wednesday so plan to head out to your local comic shops to get them, and make sure you check out the finale to X-O Manowar this fall!

4LN Interview – Going “In the Bag” with A&A Writer Rafer Roberts

Next month, Valiant Comics will debut a brand new series featuring their odd-couple, superhero duo Archer and Armstrong, titled “A&A: the Adventures of Archer and Armstrong.”  Archer and Armstrong are two of my favorite Valiant heroes so when this series was announced last year, I was beyond excited.  The previous run lasted 25 issues, and I have been eagerly awaiting the return of this comedic tag team ever since it ended.  Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Rafer Roberts, the writer of the new upcoming series, and ask him a few questions about what it’s like writing a drunken immortal, a teenage ninja, and all the hilariously bizarre misadventures they get dropped into. Please enjoy!


4LN – To help our readers get better acquainted with you, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got started in the comic industry, and, more specifically, how you got started with Valiant?

Rafer Roberts – Sure! I’ve been writing and drawing and publishing my own comics for over twenty years, pretty much staying in the underground and DIY worlds with comics such as PLASTIC FARM and NIGHTMARE THE RAT. A few years ago, I drew the bootleg comic THANOS AND DARKSEID: CARPOOL BUDDIES OF DOOM with writer Justin Jordan which got a lot of attention and got us hired to do similar backup stories for all the Valiant anniversary issues. I discovered that I really enjoyed working for Valiant and asked if I could try my hand at writing something.

Getting the chance to write A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG is a dream. I mean, just the basic concept is amazing. Armstrong is a ten thousand year old drunken, immortal, warrior-poet and Archer is an ex-fundamentalist super-human teenage martial arts expert. They fight against all the weird and strange forces that secretly control humanity and bicker like an old married couple the entire time. That level of weirdness mixed in with a great deal of heart and the human condition falls right into my sweet spot as a writer. It’s a lot of fun!


When working on a series like A&A, how do you balance the material from the previous run with where you want to go with the new series?

The previous series was amazing and, honestly, it is a bit intimidating coming in after that run. The thing that makes my life easier is how Fred Van Lente resolved pretty much all of the previous plotlines and left the duo in a very good place for a new creative team (and new readers) to come in.

Archer and Armstrong have had these crazy adventures, come out more or less victorious, and are better friends because of it. I look at that and how that informs their motivations moving forward. While we’ll be building upon the themes introduced in the first series, and while I look forward to playing with all of the wonderful toys, I’m much more interested in creating new adventures rather than try to do cover versions of stories that people have already read and loved.

That said, there are MANY characters I am looking forward to playing with. Mary-Maria, Archer’s ninja-nun sister, is just a fantastic character. The 1% and a few other surviving factions from The Sect, the conglomeration of organizations that secretly ruled the world, are gloriously bizarre. But, and this is important, these are characters that people have come to know and love, and I plan to treat them with respect.


A&A seems to have almost free rein as far as story possibilities, having everything from dinosaurs to Ninja Nuns. What’s it like writing a story with so many possibilities, and what can we expect to see in the future?

You’re right! There isn’t much that I can think of that couldn’t be an Archer and Armstrong adventure, but that seeming lack of limitations can actually be harmful if not properly harnessed. What gives me focus as the writer is to remember that this comic is about something. This is a comic about two very unlikely friends who know their differences are what makes them stronger, and who have each others’ backs despite constant bickering. A&A isn’t a book about strange stuff and the two men who deal with it; it’s a book about two friends who happen to fight weird stuff. Under all the humor and surrealness, there is a great deal of heart.

I admit, when coming up with future storylines I do think of the fun part first. “What if they go to the circus?” “What if they fight a giant baby that shoots lasers from its eyes?” That sort of thing. But if I can’t figure out a way to make that fun part enhance the emotional aspect, then the fun part gets cut and I think of something better. (Sorry, Laser Baby.)

Working with this creative team is also very freeing in what I’ve been able to get away with. Artist David Lafuente has been kicking ass on pencils, and every page he’s turned in looks even better than what I had imagined. There’s nothing I can write that David isn’t going to be able to draw and improve upon. Ryan Winn on inks and Brian Reber on colors are also doing amazing work and helping to make A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG one of the prettiest books on the shelves.


Without giving too much away, what kind of shenanigans can we expect once the heroes enter Armstrong’s infamous bottomless satchel/man-purse?

Inside the satchel is a Home Depot designed by M.C. Escher. It’s an entire world with an infinite, multi-planed warehouse at its heart, filled with thousands of years’ worth of Armstrong’s trash and treasure. Archer and Armstrong will be visiting a few of the subsections including a booze cellar, a desert wasteland made up of ten thousand years of Armstrong’s garbage, and the living quarters where the strange creatures who inhabit and work in the satchel go for coffee breaks. Armstrong goes inside in order to find something very valuable that has gone missing, something that he needs in order to make amends with an old friend who he did wrong by in the past, and Archer follows him after things almost immediately go awry. In order to retrieve the item and escape the bag alive, they’ll have to fight their way through an old enemy who has been trapped inside the satchel for three thousand years and now commands an army of lizard men, goblins, fish monsters, and trash golems.

That old enemy is Bacchus, or at least someone claiming to be the Greek God of wine and revelry. Bacchus and Armstrong were friends back in the day and he considers his imprisonment to be the ultimate betrayal. He’s a large goat-like man who has gone slightly mad, having been trapped inside the satchel for so long. He looks like Baphomet but acts like a manic-depressive Paul Lynde.



What kind of research goes into writing a 6,000+ year-old rabble-rouser and a character who’s super power is essentially anyone else’s super power?

I’m pretty lazy, so a lot of my research is done on the fly! The Internet and Wikipedia are wonderful tools when trying to figure out, for example, which eastern front WWII battle Armstrong would have most likely drunkenly stumbled into. I’ve been making a concerted effort to watch more historical documentaries for potential story ideas. For Archer, his powers derive from the Akashic Records. I actually did do quite a bit of research on that, including listening to a few audiobooks about Edgar Cayce and a new-age how-to guide about accessing the Records oneself. I don’t know how much of that will make it into the comic, but it was interesting and did give me some ideas about how to explore Archer’s abilities.



If Archer & Armstrong ever got adapted for television or film, what medium do you think would work best and what actors would you like to see play the heroes?

I personally think that adapting the serialized art form of comics works best when adapted by the serialized entertainment structure of television. I mean, what Marvel is doing by serializing their movies works pretty well and Valiant’s plans for HARBINGER and BLOODSHOT looks pretty awesome, but you don’t get to do the smaller adventures on the big screen. Everything in movies has to be a big event. On TV, you’d have the big events, but you’d also get to spend more time with the characters and see them in their down time. How many scenes in the X-Men movies are them just playing softball? I guess you could say that’s what the comics are for!

Anyway, I used Bobby Moynihan as reference when I drew the backup story for ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #25. I think he’d be great. He looks the part and can pull off the emotional range. Archer is trickier, and I think you’d want to go with an unknown for his role. I was thinking maybe Dominic Monaghan for a while, until I realized he was as old as me. Maybe build a time machine and get him at FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING age?


Finally, can you give us a little back-story on the hilarious A&A bootleg that’s been floating around?


Ha ha ha! I have to walk a very fine line when discussing the Bootleg in public. For the record, the folks at Valiant are cool with me having done it and I’m not in any sort of trouble. As I mentioned before, I come from a section of comics where being ignored by the general comic reading populace is the norm and I understand the need to do whatever you can to get people to notice you. In this case, that was creating a 12-page bootleg comic parodying the characters that a major comic company has hired you to write for real and mailing it out anonymously to random comic stores.

The Bootleg was a lot of fun to make, but the best part about it is the way the fans took it and made it their own. They took the Bootleg and bootlegged it, creating a bunch of variant editions (such as a Gold Version printed on yellow paper) and mailing them out to other fans who couldn’t find one otherwise. That sort of community and overwhelming positivity is pretty rare nowadays, and I’m glad I get to be a part of it.

I want to thank Rafer for taking the time to chat with us today.  A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG will hit the stands on March 16, 2016, so be sure to head down to your local comic shop and pick up a copy!  We hope you’re as excited as we are, but if you still need some convincing, check out a preview of the first issue below!

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4LN Interview: Matt Hawkins, Creator of The Tithe

4LN – For our readers who aren’t familiar, can you give us little background on Top Cow and how you got to where you are in comic publishing?

Matt Hawkins – Top Cow is a 23 year old company that was created by Marc Silvestri as part of the original Image Comics launch. I started in 1993 working at Extreme Studios which was part of Image back then. In 1998 I self-published my Lady Pendragon title through Image as well and have been at Top Cow since 1999.

4LN – Having been in the comic book industry for over 2 decades now, what major differences do you see between the way things function now and they way they did when you first got in?

MH – Things are very much writer-driven now. When I started everything was about the artist…so that’s a pretty massive shift. I go back and look at some of those early books and there isn’t much story to them, but it had lots of explosions and cool shots. Kind of the Michael Bay approach. That doesn’t work in comics anymore…at all. People follow creators and they follow characters. Art is still seismically important, but everyone talks about writers.

4LN – I’d like to talk a little bit about the new series you write and created, The Tithe. Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

MH – I’ve always wanted to do a heist story, but didn’t want to do yet another bank, armored car or museum/art one. I started thinking of where there were large sums of cash and I stumbled across megachurches. I started working on that and came up with the Robin Hood angle. I also wanted to NOT come across as anti-religion so set the character dynamic up that way.


4LN – It feels like a bold statement to write a down-to-earth, Robin Hood-esque, heist story about corrupt megachurches during a time when the market is dominated by fantasy series’. Was there ever any hesitation on your part about putting this out, or did you just jump in head first?

MH – Doing what everyone else is doing is a sure-fire way to get ignored or sidelined. Top Cow has always tried to counter-program. I have no interest in super-heroes and have the luxury of being able to tell the stories I want to.

4LN – The fantastic artwork for the series is done by Rahsan Ekedal, who you also worked with on Think Tank. Was he always your first choice as artist for The Tithe?

MH – Yes. His command of character expressions and good storytelling is essential to a story like this. We knew we wanted to start working on Think Tank in color so we chose to do this first arc of The Tithe in color to test that process, refine it before we jumped back into Think Tank.

4LN – You also recently put out a book called ADR1FT. What can you tell us about that project?

Adr1ft was a one shot book that was done as a promotional comic for the video game of the same name. We printed up 15,000 copies and gave them away at ComiCon and other conventions following. It’s a terrific game and Adam Orth (creator) wanted to flesh out the characters in the game and a comic is a nice way to do that.


4LN – Lastly, You guys at Top Cow have recently launched your annual Talent Hunt. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

MH – It’s an annual event where we’re looking for some unpublished writers and artists to get a shot at publishing in the comic industry. There’s not a lot of ways for a comic writer to break in, so we thought we’d help out and make a start available for some people that deserve a voice. All the details, the documents and the rules are here: TOP COW TALENT HUNT


4LN – This next set of questions is our Lightening Round. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind. What non-comic book should everyone read?

MH – Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

4LN – Favorite beer…

MH – Newcastle

4LN – Are you more of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, or a Black Sabbath kind of guy?

MH – Rush would be my preference, but of those three I’ll take Zeppelin.

4LN – Best movie you’ve seen in the last 5 years…

MH – Predestination, loved it.

4LN – Finally, what is your favorite thing from the new lines of Star Wars merch that just released?

MH – I saw a Millennium Falcon drone, that looked cool.


Issue #6 of The Tithe just hit comic shops this past Wednesday so make sure to pick up the volume 1 collection along with issues 5 and 6 today!

The Tithe #6

Nerds in Bands: Aub Driver from JAHAI

Do you love metal?! Do you love comics?! If you answered “yes” to both of those questions then you’re awesome, and you’re also in the right place right now! Check out our interview with Aub Driver, lead vocalist for Portland metal band JAHAI!


4LN – Do you remember when you first got into comics?
AD – Totally.  It was 1992 and I was 8 years old. There was this little corner grocery called Calise’s down the street from where I grew up in Connecticut.  I used to go there with my Dad and beg him to buy me the “Death of Superman” issues.  Then I got hooked on the Ghost Rider “Spirits of Vengeance” story, and shortly thereafter the Spider-Man “Maximum Carnage” storyline.  Terribly convoluted crossovers really seemed to resonate with my young mind. I can hardly read them now.  I was always more a fan of the art.  In fact, I used to trade the collectible Marvel Masterpiece cards with friends on the playground and eventually got all comics/cards banned in school. Too many bad trades, man.  Then along came Pogs…and Yo-Yo’s with brains…and Tamagotchis and whatever other pop culture flavors of the week happened in the 90’s and I just went straight into music.
4LN – If you had to pick an all-time favorite comic series or graphic novel, what would it/they be?
AD – My all time favorite comics character is Ghost Rider (The Dan Ketch/Howard Mackie years). I liked the origin story well enough, but his character design was just metal to the extreme.  A close second would be Deadpool. And when I say Deadpool, I don’t mean the wildly popular shit that everyone is jumping on now (though I have hopes for the film…we shall see).  I mean Deadpool circa 1993 Circle Chase.  My mom hand-sewed me a Deadpool Halloween costume in 1993 — so I feel safe in saying that I was cosplaying way before it was cool.  I was the coolest 3rd grader, or so I thought.
4LN – Let’s chat for a minute about the band you’re in, JAHAI. How did you guys first get started?
AD – I actually joined the 3rd generation of the band.  I’d met lead guitarist (Nikk) at a pop punk show.  He was playing bass in another band and we got to talking – he needed a vocalist that could deliver, and I told him I could.  That was in 2012. Here we are in 2015, just released our first EP called “Death and Entrances.”
We’re a 5-piece melodic groove metal band from Rose City.  Nikk, Jon (Drummer), Loyd (Bass) and Jake (Guitars) had all been jamming for a year before I got in the picture.  Nikk & Jon have been playing together since 2002.
And of course, you want to know about the name… Word on the street is Nikk & Jon were working late one night at the steel mill (yea, they made bomb proof steel plating and shit) and they were trying to come up with a band name – so they asked the asian cleaning lady and she said “JAHAI!”
That’s one version.
The other version is that the Jahai are a native tribe of nomadic shaman hunters in Malaysia. I think in a way all the dudes in this band are some version of nomads, shamans or hunters.  A few are all three.
4LN – Growing up, what bands would you say had the biggest impact on shaping your love of metal?
AD – My love of metal is a weird story. In fact, I think most metalheads have weird origin stories of how they eventually go from nursery rhymes to loving, say Cannibal Corpse (which incidentally, I began listening to because of their appearance in Ace Ventura)
In 1994, My mom worked for Time Warner and used to bring home boxes of CDs (Compact Discs, if you remember) and she would let me go through them and take what I wanted.  Well, I swiped the entire 27-volume Guitar Rock Time Life set (the one you could order on late night) and listened to every CD from the 60’s up to the late 80’s and was totally loving all the variations of music. I really developed a respect for generational rock.
In 1997, I was on a YMCA swim team. I was in the locker room and there were all these extra refrigerators and freezers that weren’t in use – like the sliding kind you get ice cream from. I looked inside one fridge and pulled out a frozen Metallica Black Album on cassette tape.  It was King Arthur finding Excalibur. I brought it home and played it immediately.  Life was never the same (talk about trapped under ice!)
The “metal switch” came about in 2000.  I had a friend tell me about Meshuggah’s Destroy Erase Improve, which I went and ordered from Sam Goody (R.I.P.) immediately.  Changed my life forever. I also was working in the stockroom at Barnes and Noble and met a couple dudes who introduced me to In Flames Clayman. Boom. Life changed forever – again. Now that I understood that Sweden was the answer to every musical question, I couldn’t turn back.  I had a radio show in college where practically all I would play was Swedish Death Metal.
4LN – In addition to being the vocalist for JAHAI, you also do PR for Dark Horse Comics. What Dark Horse books we should be reading right now?
AD – There are so many great books out on comic store shelves now, it’s kind of unreal… At Dark Horse I’m personally a fan of Cullen Bunn’s Harrow County (super creepy southern horror) and Ryan K Lindsay’s Negative Space (Suicide suspense story with some Lovecraft).  Paul Tobin’s Colder has been one of the best cerebral horror books I’ve read – and the last series begins in September.  And I should call out Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal’s The Paybacks – because it is damn funny and superhero’s getting their gadgets REPO’d is a hilarious premise. That one also begins September.
4LN – Finally, anything we should be on the lookout for from JAHAI in the next year or so?
AD – We’re headed to Seattle Hempfest this weekend to play in front of a couple thousand stoned metalheads – I think that will be pretty beneficial for us. There’s a a few local shows that are coming up with some national acts.  Following that we’re looking at a couple mini west coast tours.  And then we’re back in the studio to record our next EP…which hopefully will be released early next year.  And new EP means new tour…Good things come to those who wait.  Stay metal.

Album cover for JAHAI’s EP, “Death and Entrances”.


My thanks to Aub for chatting with us! Make sure to check out the band’s website,, and watch their video for the song Pandora’s Box below!

Building Broken Worlds: An Interview with Frank J. Barbiere

A few weeks ago we ran a pre-review of a new BOOM! Studios book called “Broken World”, written and created by Frank J. Barbiere. I was familiar with Frank, as I think most people are, from his series Five Ghosts, and I was really excited to see what this new series would be. You can read that review here:

4LN Comic Pre-Review: Broken World #1

Frank was nice enough to sit down and chat with us about Broken World, as well as his career and which movie monster he’d align himself with during an alien invasion! Check it out!

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4LN – How did you initially get started in the comic book business?
Frank Barbiere – I broke in by self-publishing a few books, doing some shorts for Dark Horse, and then after self-publishing Five Ghosts #1 managing to find a home for it at Image Comics. Really, Five Ghosts was the thing that led to all my current projects, so I’ll always be thankful we got an opportunity to do it, especially during the creator-owned explosion.

4LN – Are there any specific writers or artists who you would credit with having a significant influence on you and your creative style?
FB – I read pretty constantly, but in terms of comics it was Bendis who made me want to be a comic book writer.  I don’t think I write anything like him, haha, but reading his work showed me that comics could be so much more than just simpler books I read as a child.  Also, seeing someone who can do such great creator owned work as well as work with Marvel characters was always inspiring.

4LN – Let’s talk a little bit about your new series with Boom! Studios, Broken World. Where did the inspiration for this series come from?
FB – I’ve always been a fan of “survival” and “post-apocalyptic” stories, so I’ve been trying to find a unique way to do one for a long time.  I had been thinking about what could make mine special (and what could I say with it), and thankfully got very inspired and it all led to Broken World.

4LN – How would you say Broken World is different from any of your previous series?
FB – People love to throw this term around, but it’s a lot more character driven.  Yes, there’s a sci-fi/apocalyptic situation, but the book is about characters, their view points, and how their moral arguments in the face of the end of the world come into conflict.  I’m very proud of it in the sense that it’s much more a drama than action piece, and I’ve felt a lot of personal growth working on it.  My editors Eric Harburn and Chris Rosa have been tremendously helpful in pushing me to make it some of my best work.

The art team on the book, co-creator Chris Peterson and colorist Marissa Louise, are both amazing as well.  They are wonderful collaborators and created work that is very easy to read, beautiful, and has great storytelling—things that are vital when doing a book like this.  I’ve really been lucky with my artistic collaborators so far in my career, and Broken World is no exception.

4LN – Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who’s interested in pursuing a career in the comic industry?
FB – Make comics.  You have to get out there and start producing your own work; no matter how expensive or time consuming it is, that’s the only way.  People expect to be hired because they have “great ideas”—that’s not how it goes.  You have to make your own comics, it’s the only way.  Be fearless and get out there—worry about doing great work and improving, and the rest will eventually sort itself out!


4LN – This next set of questions is our Lightning Round. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind.

You’re stranded on a desert island for the rest of your life, and you only have one book. What book would you pick?
FB – His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.  So good!

4LN – What was the last concert you went to?
FB – I saw my roommate’s awesome band GATES.

4LN – Lately, BOOM! Studios has been cranking out some great comics based on awesome 80’s movies (Big Trouble in Little China, Escape from New York, Bill & Ted…). If given the opportunity, what 80’s movie would love to write a comic book sequel to?
FB – I wish I could write CRITTERS comics.  I love those silly movies.

4LN – Final Question: A full-fledged alien invasion of Earth begins and you have the opportunity to stop it by choosing one of the Universal Monster’s (Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, etc.) to partner with and battle the aliens. Which monster do you choose, and why? (side note: you don’t have to choose from just those three, Frank. Pick whichever one you want form those old classic films.)
FB – I’m going with Frankenstein—he’s got no weakness like the other two, and he’s already dead.  What’s the worst that can happen?


You can follow Frank on Twitter here: @atlasincognita; and make sure to pick up Broken World #1, on comic shelves today!