To celebrate Fred Van Lente Day, we had a chat with the man, the myth, the legend himself, Fred Van Lente. Here is the transcript of that chat.
Brian Cronin: Welcome to Fred Van Lente Day chat, everyone!
Fred Van Lente: Welcome, everybody!
TDSpidey616: Before working on BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA comic, were u a fan of the movie? Fave John Carpenter film?
FVL: I am a huge huge fan of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Boom! had asked me to do a couple other titles, but this was the one that really clicked for me.
BC: Existing titles?
FVL: Well, existing now, not at the time I was offered them.
FVL: As for Big Trouble, it is hands down my dad’s favorite movie, which is why I took the job. Crystal and I had tickets to go see John Carpenter speak at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) when his Lost Themes album came out. But he got sick and had to cancel. [sad face]
FVL: As for my all time favorite John Carpenter film, I just saw it at BAM during their John Carpenter retrospective and I was thrilled it was just as awesome as I remembered it: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, which also has Big Trouble’s Victor Wong and David Dun in it. Then BIG TROUBLE, HALLOWEEN and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK/L.A.
Keith K: No love for THEY LIVE? ‘Tis a fine Roddy Piper vehicle.
FVL: I have not seen THEY LIVE in forever. I’ve never seen STARMAN, to my wife’s on-going horror.
THE THING is tough more to watch because of the dog stuff. I’ve been a real sissy about animals-in-jeopardy in my old age. But that is a great movie. DARK STAR is kind of amazing.
TDSpidey616: You referenced THEY LIVE in Marvel Zombies 3 with the “chew bubblegum” line
FVL: Yes that’s right I did! Machine Man is a bigger fan of that movie than I am.
BC: I like watching They Live for the fight scene where they are all clearly padded up to the wazoo. So they’re wearing jeans but they look like the little kid from A Christmas Story heading out to school.
FVL: I saw a great interview with Keith David at the AV Club where he talked about how crazy shooting that scene was, “It took two weeks to choreograph and rehearse before we shot it.”
BC: Did you co-create Victor Alvarez or was he created by committee and you just wrote his first appearance?
FVL: Is Victor still the “new” Power Man?
TDSpidey616: Yup, in New Avengers.
BC: Yeah. Althought they’re launching a Power Man and Iron Fist comic with Luke as Power Man soon.
FVL: Right. Well, they wanted a new Power Man to come out of the Shadowland event, the one where Daredevil takes over The Hand. At the time Iron Fist had a dojo of inner-city kids and they wanted the new Power Man to be one of them. And they wanted him to be a kid, like 12 or 13. They just thought it was hilarious a kid that young would call himself Power MAN. Kind of the opposite of like Supergirl being in her mid-20s
BC: Right, sort of like Spider-man was a teen while he was Spider-MAN
FVL: So I kind of got them off that because I was a little worried that would come across of…well, offensive is not the right word, but writing that would make me uncomfortable. So I made him a bit older, made him Dominican, named him, gave him his powers and his origin. Then Mahmud Asrar got ahold of him and did that amazing character design and then it all kind of clicked for me. That was the character right there.
BC: Have you seen him at all on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon series? Do you get a kick out of seeing a creation pop up in other media like that?
FVL: Well, but that’s not Vic, right, that’s a young Luke Cage, I think.
BC: True, but I mean the design.
FVL: Yeah, it’s the exact same design. That was all Mahmud, really. I guess he was going off my paragraph description but still, he deserves 90% of the credit.
BC: Ha, fair enough.
FVL: It’s a strange thing seeing stuff you’ve created, or worked on, winding up on screen. Particularly if you haven’t participated in that translation. Like “Helen Cho” from Avengers 2, who is Amadeus’s mother.
BC: Oh right.
FVL: She’s dead before the series started and I just kind of picked a name out of a hat to name her. She appears in like three panels of the iHerc series.
FVL: Greg and I sat next to each other during the Marvel screening watching Avengers 2 and when we were done we were just kind of like “Well that was odd.”
FVL: And they shot this huge action set piece in Seoul and Greg’s wife was like, “You guys probably got all those people in South Korea those jobs!”
BC: Aww. Greg Pak, man of the people.
TDSpidey616: Speaking of Cho, great to finally see his sister Maddy at long last
FVL: Very cool that Maddy has appeared at last! Now people can stop asking about her.
Todd T: So Fred with Ivar about to wrap (fave book btw) you got anything lined up at valiant coming soon that we can get a sneak peek about?
FVL: Thanks! I have been enjoying checking out Brian’s reviews of them at CBSG this past week too!
BC: Yeah, after doing some time traveling and reading the final issue (which was very good), it definitely leaves itself open to new stuff. So I’d love to see it followed up!
FVL: Hey, cool they slipped you the final issue, that’s awesome.
BC: Gotta complete those 12 days of Van Lente Day.
FVL: Yeah, Todd, I have something new lined up at Valiant — we just had the first big meeting about it yesterday actually with an artist I love love love working with.
BC: IIvar follow-up or new?
FVL: It has absolutely nothing to do with Ivar.
Todd T: Any more hints than that? You know us Valiant people are nutty for you!
FVL: And I am nutty for Valiant folks!
FVL: The book is really special to me, and it, and Archer & Armstrong, and, to a lesser extent, Legends of the Geomancer form a kind of trilogy about the Anni-Padda family. But my entire time there was basically spent in this one corner, with the three immortal Anni-Padda brothers, and I am looking to branch out.
FVL: So I guess the only thing I can say about the new Valiant book is……it involved pre-existing Valiant characters.
BC: FINALLY PunX will be adapted into the new Valiant Universe! I will just assume it is going to be a new PunX series.
Todd T: YES PUNX!!
FVL: Hahaha yeah that was a good one
TDSpidey616: Favorite Star Wars film? Excited for Force Awakens?
FVL: Though I clung to the belief that Empire was the best one for a long time I have swung around to the belief that the first one is the best one — er, I guess you have to say “Episode 4” now because to the previous generation they actually start with Phantom Menace. I have a feeling that my family will make me go see Force Awakens on Christmas Day (if they get tickets) but no I’m not that particularly excited about it. The scuttlebutt is that if you liked the Star Trek reboot you will like the Star Wars reboo– er, continuation. I am kind of fascinated by the ongoing fangasm for all things Star Wars. I guess people really wanted to see Harrison Ford put on that black vest again and pal around with a guy in a fur suit. What I am genuinely looking forward to is the tidal wave of disappointment when the movie actually comes out.
FVL: I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the movie to be bad, and I don’t know whether it will be or not. But I lived through Phantom Menace, people. I remember how high expectations were then. And the bar has been set immeasurably higher.
Todd T: Which is your family more excited for: Civil War or Batman vs Superman?
FVL: My family can’t stand superhero movies. Except The Incredibles.
BC: Oh man, I remember the Phantom Menace build-up well. That’s why I’m not getting sucked into Force Awakens at all. I’ll watch it, of course, but I’m not getting sucked in again!
FVL: People get excited about Kasdan being involved this time.vAnd yeah, he did Empire, but he also did the relentlessly mediocre Return of Jedi
And my Industry Insiders (of which I know a few)…Well, they have led me to dampen my enthusiasm, that’s all I’ll say. But like I said, I hope it’s good.
I’m not a big believer in Fan Rage. Particularly from myself
FVL: Not that I’m much of a Star Wars fan.But I don’t feel the need to carry out a jihad against those whose tastes different from mine.
BC: Anything in the works for a King Kirby follow-up? Get that Van Lente/Skillman combo going?
FVL: Crystal and I working on a couple things. But nothing too near fruition.
FVL: King Kirby is going up in Seattle and in Calgary next year. In Seattle just next month in fact
BC: By the way, for those who are interested, Midtown Comics did a great podcast with a live reading of King Kirby, the play Fred and Crystal wrote about Jack Kirby.
BC: Very cool stuff.
FVL: Yeah, the Midtown podcast with the original cast is great.
TDSpidey616: Before King Kirby had you written for actors before? Is it ever surreal seeing your work being read/interpreted by someone else in live form?
FVL: I had written for actors before, but not for a while. I was a film major (briefly) so I wrote my own movies and wrote some other students’ films.
BC: When can we expect the first Action Presidents book to drop? And can you tell us a bit about the format? Multiple Presidents per book or extended stuff on each one?
FVL: ACTION PRESIDENTS will be out Summer of 2017. The reason it’s taking so long is two books will be released simultaneously, so Ryan needs to draw both (obviously). Each book is going to be a bit bigger than digest size (think NATHAN HALE’S HAZARDOUS TALES) and will have 110pp of comics. Each book will focus on a single president, Washington and Lincoln at first. We have a four-book deal, and there’s an on-going discussion as to who the next two (contracted) presidents will be.
BC: Or Andrew “Bloody Bloody” Jackson!
FVL: I saw They Might Be Giants in Williamsburg on Sunday and they did “James K. Polk” as their closer it was awesome
BC: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson closed a DAY before i had a chance to see it
a DAY! And now Hamilton is so big and I want to tell people, “Why didn’t you see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson?
FVL: You know I didn’t really care for it?
FVL: I’d kill my own grandmother to get Hamilton tickets though (Sadly she’s dead).
BC: We got tickets early enough to only pay an arm and a leg
FVL: Unfortunately I have to set my love of the ephemera and trivia of history aside, as HarperCollins wants to make money for some reason.
BC: So we’re only going to be the marquee presidents. The ones on money. Although I am fighting tooth and nail to get Teddy Roosevelt. Pray for my success.
BC: So Ulysses S. Grant?
FVL: And of course who can forget President Benjamin Franklin?
BC: Or President Alexander Hamilton
FVL: President Harriet Tubman
BC: President Sacagawea
BC: What can we expect from the final Big Trouble arc?
FVL: The final arc of Big Trouble is something of a spoiler but I discovered on the movie’s Wiki page that the originally idea was for it to be set in the Old West, in the 1880s or so. And I soaked that tidbit up like a sponge
BC: Say no more!
FVL: In speaking of history…I should plug my upcoming Assassins Creed series
which I’m doing with my pal the great artist Dennis Calero, with whom we are probably best known for doing X MEN NOIR and its sequel.
BC: Oh man, he’ll be amazing on something like that.
FVL: It’s TEMPLARS: BLACK CROSS and focuses on the ostensible villains of the series, the Templar Order. But of course the real story is much more complex than that.
FVL: And we tell a tale set in Shanghai on the eve of the Chinese Civil War in 1927. And introduce a very cool new character to the AC Universe, Black Cross, whom I predict to be a great fan favorite (if Ubisoft’s reaction is any indication). But it’s all very cool.
BC: Well, we know from your Valiant work that you write really compelling villains.
FVL: Yeah, villains who find themselves to act like heroes and heroes who are basically villains are my favorite.
BC: Anything planned for Dark Horse post-Conan?
FVL: For Dark Horse, I’m working hard on WEIRD DETECTIVE, my Lovecraft Mystery series I first did in Dark Horse Presents.
FVL: Guiu Vilanova is the artist on that, he did the “Xuthal of the Dusk” arc on Conan and is just spectacular.
BC: It really did look amazing
FVL: Yeah, he’s amazing, and the work he’s doing on the actual series is even better.
BC: I’m glad that Weird Detective is continuining. It was a pip
FVL: Thanks, man, yeah I’m really excited. Just turned in #3 script yesterday.
BC: Or continuing even.
FVL: That too!
BC: Okay, have we missed any new projects? TELL US!
Todd T: Other than the punx reboot
BC: Of course. Other than the punx reboot
FVL: Well, there’s Templars, Punx, Weird Detective… There are more but those are the ones I can talk about, I think. I will say you’ll be seeing a lot more prose from me in the future. I love comics, and they will always be a part of my life, but definitely branching out more. I was a writer on the Telltale Games’ Michonne series. That’s coming out early next year, I think. I worked on Episode Two.
BC: How much oversight is there on something like Michonne from Kirkman?
Is it a case where they just give you a quick story bible or what?
FVL: He gave a lot of overall notes to the team at the beginning. There was a fairly detailed outline. I enjoyed Tellatale a lot as a fan so it was very interesting to see their process firsthand from the inside. I had to fly out to California and work from their offices for a couple weeks.
BC: Oh really? That’s interesting. Have you had to do in-office work like that before? Like on other games you’ve written for?
FVL: Not really. We had a lot of meetings of the Marvel Games team, but they were more high-level affairs to talk about broad story beats. This was more of a traditional “writers room” type situation.
BC: Okay, i guess we should let you go. any last questions, folks?
FVL: “Were you a fan of PunX before you started writing the reboot?”
Todd T: Fred, as a valiant writer if you could write one of the gold key charecters which one would it be?
BC: Maybe Magnus? 😉
FVL: Todd, you need to check out the Magnus series I wrote for Dynamite. Let me know what you think…
FVL: Otherwise, Turok would have been cool too but I was kind of dinosaur-ed out at the time.
BC: Which Magnus series did you read before you did yours?
FVL: Honestly, all I read was the Russ Manning Gold Key stuff, which still holds up pretty well, you know, as adventure comics for 10 year olds. Originally I was going to go with a much more radically different and kind of darker Magnus where he thinks everyone is a robot and most people think he’s nuts.
FVL: But I really loved the Manning stuff and decided to something closer to that.
And my “Is he nuts or not” version would have clashed a tad with the other Dynamite Gold Key books, I think.
BC: I was just about to reiterate my adoration of Manning’s Magnus. That guy was a legend.
FVL: This has been another awesome FVL Day Chat, I think, Brian
BC: Well done everyone! Except for Fred dissing Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Besides that, everything was great!
FVL: That guy was a dick.
BC: The musical doesn’t say that he ISN’T a dick!
FVL: That is true. It doesn’t say much of anything else either. #Dis.
Todd T: Fred, anyone every tell you look like Fred Armistan?
FVL: Well the first four letters are dead ringers, that’s true.
FVL: I have to run guys thanks so much for coming out to this! And thanks Brian for organizing, as always!
BC: Thanks, Fred! Happy Van Lente Day!
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!