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Ivan Brandon‘s stories may initially appear to be one thing, but when you read them you discover they’re actually something else entirely. The writer’s 2009 series Viking was a crime drama, and his new series Drifter is a story of frontier expansion in the 1800s — despite being set in the far-flung future. Many of Brandon’s stories have a technological bent, however; from his 2003 debut writing Terminator to his indie series NYC Mech to Machine Man in Marvel Comics Presents.
Drifter, with artist Nic Klein, debuted this week, and Brandon is in the middle of a four-city signing tour that finds him at Leed’s Thought Bubble this weekend and London’s Orbital Comics on Wednesday. It’s a familiar territory, launching a series, but he views the landscape of creator-owned comics differently today that he did when he started more than a decade ago.
Like with the pulp space pitch the other day, Tony Lee has shared several other failed pitches on his Twitter feed (#ForgottenPitch). I’ll leave most of them for you to discover yourself (there are lots of wonderful ideas on show), but Shieldmaiden caught my eye for a couple of reasons: First, it would have been drawn by Dan Boultwood, creator of the current series It Came! that I’m enjoying so very much. And second, Vikings.
Sadly, it was the Vikings that killed the comic before it began. Lee pitched the idea in 2011, the year that Vertigo canceled Brian Wood’s Northlanders. Ivan Brandon’s Image series Viking had ended prematurely the year before after only one story arc. So, when Lee was told that no one wanted new Viking comics, publishers had some evidence to back that up.
Still, Lee and Boultwood had a different take from the realistic comics by Wood and Brandon. Shieldmaiden would have included a mythological element as a young woman led her clan in battle against the gods during Ragnarok. That, plus Boultwood’s art, makes me wish it could have found a home.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.
It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.
One of things I love most about creator-owned books are the range of subjects and genres that creators can explore. Within the creator-owned world you can find your superhero books as well as horror, sci-fi, slice-of-life, humor, westerns, historical drama and all the sub-genres in between.
I’m a huge fan of historical-based action and drama stories. I usually find them in books and films, but even those can be hard to come by. Especially when it comes to stories about Vikings, movies often fall short. They just seem to miss the point, oftentimes trying to make these plunderers a likable lot, when in truth they could be pretty nasty and that’s kinda what was great about them. Well, stories about them.
December will be a good month for writer Ivan Brandon–what with the December 22 softcover edition release of Viking: The Long Cold Fire (Image) and more immediately, this week, the release of Doc Savage 9, the DC Comics/First Wave universe series that he is co-writing with Brian Azzarello. Brandon and I discuss both works, as well as the potential advantages of the digital platform, his recent involvement with Weird War Tales and the particulars of collaborating with a writer such as Azzarello. While we were not able to delve too much into his plans for 2011, it definitely sounds like his intentions for the new year are quite ambitious.
Tim O’Shea: How intrigued are you by the prospect of increased exposure via different platforms, such as the iPad for your work–how much of a priority is it for you to make your creative-owned work available for the digital platform?
Ivan Brandon: Well, of course it’s important to me to add millions of new outlets where people might find my work. The idea that I can link a new book and some of the people who follow me on Twitter, say, who don’t read comics at all might be able to just click and start down that road… that’s to me an incredible new market that needs to be taken very seriously.
But creatively moreso I’m very interested to see what new voices the digital world might bring to storytelling. What’s the new equivalent of a Jack Kirby when there are no longer any print world parameters to adhere to? Comics have for a long time toed a weird invisible line that I think this removes. I’m excited to see what kind of stories come from anyone who notices.
Script: Ivan Brandon
Art and cover: Nic Klein
Publisher: Image Comics
Release date: April 1, 2009
“Do you see Finn? What your obsession brings?”
Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein’s Viking is about men possessed with ruthless ambition who wield their obsessions like giant swords across the world around them. And as the first issue makes clear, the price these swaggering badasses pay for their obsessions is unpleasant — and violent as hell.
The first issue of Viking explodes right out of the gate, and wastes no time in establishing its own obsessive ambition. Billed as “a crime book for the 9th Century,” this comic features the brothers Finn and Egil, “hungry men” who maraud across the Nordic landscape with reckless abandon, grabbing hard and fast at wealth wherever they can find it, and perhaps something more intangible. Also present is the savage King Bram, who has achieved everything, it seems, but the means by which to satisfy his own heart.
The first thing to mention is all the grim viking action. (These guys aren’t infamous for their slumber parties, after all.) The blood doth run freely in this book, over panels, into the gutters, and practically onto your own fingers. Fools and innocents alike meet grisly ends on swords, spears, or bare hands. The creators do not shy away from the lurid nature of the world they have chosen, but it is never gratuitous. There is a sort of bloodthirsty balance between the violence and the constant threat of violence that keeps the reading experience taut without being oppressive.
MySpace Comic Books has a five-page preview of Viking #1, the upcoming ninth-century crime series by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein. I’m a history buff and a fan of crime stories, so I’m really looking forward to this comic, which debuts in April from Image.