At the end of the world, crime remains a thriving industry. Which of course means there will always be a need for runners; men and women charged with making deliveries and disposing of compromising material.
"Dead Run" is a post-Apocalyptic four-issue miniseries debuting in June from BOOM! Studios, and follows the adventures of Nick Masters, a driver whose single delivery failure catapults him into dangerous territory.
CBR News spoke with the writing team of Andrew Cosby ("Eureka") and Michael Alan Nelson ("Fall of Cthulhu") about the Francesco Biagini-illustrated project, which the team describes as a love letter to their favorite post-apocalyptic fiction.
Additionally, BOOM! Studios was kind enough to provide us with an exclusive five-page preview of "Dead Run."
CBR: You're both BOOM! mainstays, with Andrew of course being a co-founder and Michael writing many of the major series. What is it like working together on a book for the first time?
Michael Alan Nelson: It's been an absolute blast for me. What's great about working with Andy is that he has such a quick and creative mind that it really pushes me to bring my "A" game. I mean, we're talking about the guy who wrote "Damn Nation" and created "Eureka." So the bar is set pretty high.
Andrew Cosby: I couldn't have said it better myself. Working with me is a real party. I wish I could say the same about Mike, but honestly he's a huge pain in the ass. There are rules in this business, you know? You can be really fast, or really good. You're not allowed to be both. It's just not (place expletive here) fair. I mean, the guy is a machine. He just keeps churning out great material at Warp speed, and his first drafts all read like my third - if I'm lucky. I think I'm gonna go back to just giving him story ideas. At least then I don't have to sit there and bear witness to my own demise.
What can you tell us about the setting of this "Dead Run?" The solicitation blurb says "America is a wasteland," but that can mean a few things--what sort of post-apocalyptic landscape are we looking at?
AC: Before we dive into that, let me just state for the record that this book was really just supposed to be fun. We weren't trying to do anything important or overtly literary, we just wanted to have a good time. Mike's a musician. I'm not. So this is as close to a jam session as I'm ever likely to get. Just two writers putting words on paper and having a blast writing their love letter to everything from to "Death Race 2000" and "Judge Dredd" to "Strontium Dog" and "The A-Team" - letting that six-year-old inside go a little crazy. Okay, now onto the setting...
MAN: We're looking at a world where the surviving metropolises have become these gigantic, walled-in cities that keep civilization safe inside and the feral wastelands outside. Something horrible happened to the world and the only place that's (relatively) safe is the place that is inside those massive walls. Outside is a landscape of barren destruction where surviving means a harsh and brutal existence.
AC: I've loved the concept of megacities ever since I read my first Dredd book. And this was a way to tell a story of what might happen between big fortress cities, from one safe zone to another, where anything can happen.
What can you tell us about the main character, Nick Masters? Who is he, and why does he do what he does?
MAN: Nick's a courier. It's his job to get things from point A to point B. The problem is that the line connecting those points runs through the wastelands outside the safety of city walls. But he's good at it. One of the best. He knows how to protect himself against the harsh environment and the dangerous people that live out in the "Zone."
AC: And he's a bit of a tool, which seems somehow appropriate in a story dealing with auto mechanics. We didn't want to tell the story of a nice guy who saves the day. I mean, who gives a crap, right? Where's the fun? Bad boys and cool rides go together, so this is a bad boy story. It's about a bad guy who does a good deed - and it costs, it costs a lot.
What other colorful characters will we meet in the series?
MAN: Plenty. First and foremost is Nick's traveling companion, a woman named Becki who forces her way into Nick's life.
AC: She's the grease monkey - the daughter of the only other driver who ever made the Dead Run and lived to tell about it. She's got her own story and her own agenda, and it's definitely a textbook case of oil and water with her and our hero.
MAN: The two of them don't exactly get along, so it will be interesting to see how they cope with each other while simultaneously trying to stay alive out in the Zone.
AC: The villain is sort of a post-modern Mafioso. Jabba the Hut meets Tony Soprano. He's got it in for Nick, but he also needs him to do a job than only Nick can do, which leaves him torn. I mean, do you kill Han Solo, or do you keep hiring him to make the Kessel Run? Decisions, decisions...
MAN: We'll also meet some Zone Drones, people who live in the wasteland and survive by some extremely brutal methods.
AC: Did you ever play "Gamma World?" Probably not, because you're either not that geeky or not that freaking old. But I played it, and I loved it. It was this role playing game by the same folks who invented "Dungeons and Dragons," and it was about surviving in a post apocalyptic landscape populated by crazies and mutants. The zone drones are both.
The artist on the series, Francesco Biagini, has illustrated comics for Soleil and short webcomics for Zuda. How did you choose him for "Dead Run?"
AC: We didn't. That was all Matty G, God bless his little 4-color saturated heart.
MAN: He's talking about Matt Gagnon, our editor on the series and the Managing Editor at BOOM! Matt has an amazing ability of finding the perfect artist for the project (he's the one that found Emma Rios for my series "Hexed"). When it comes to matters of art, I trust his judgment completely. Matt knows his stuff and he knows what works best for the story.
AC: Ultimately, I think this is what makes the BOOM! books special - that ability to match the right artists and writers with the right material. Let's hope it worked again this time. That'll be up to the readers to decide. Meanwhile, I'm gonna crawl back into my cave and try to figure out a way to steal Nelson's talent.
That's right, Mike. You better run!
"Dead Run" #1 goes on sale in June from BOOM! Studios.