The Lone Ranger has always enjoyed Tonto's company on the trail, and now he's sharing top billing with his trusted sidekick, as well. With "The Lone Ranger" #8 due in stores next Wednesday, CBR News asked Brett Matthews – the man behind the man behind the mask – about "The Lone Ranger and Tonto," the new project recently announced by Dynamite Entertainment for November, and how it will relate to Matthews' Eisner-nominated series.
Solicited as "the first" one-shot special, Matthews said plans are underway for "The Lone Ranger and Tonto" to run semi-regularly as a companion piece to the ongoing series and will feature "done-in-one" stories. "It's less a one-shot special than a series of one-shot specials," Bret Matthews told CBR News. "'The Lone Ranger and Tonto' is for people that want to walk into the comics shop and get a beginning, middle and end of a story in 32 pages.
"The monthly/main book is extremely character heavy – that's its purpose and what interests me about it – and these [one-shots] are more plot-centric. They're about the hook, dropping The Ranger and Tonto into situations we'd enjoy seeing them deal with, and not having to worry as much about how it colors their evolution and the over-arching plot and every other supporting character, which likely won't appear in these.
"This series is about The Lone Ranger and Tonto out on the range and the adventures they fall into along the way. That said it's my goal to make sure every story shines a light on one facet of The Ranger's character or developing moral code or mythology, so readers get a bit of insight into our version and if they're intrigued, can find a lot more of it in the monthly."
John Cassaday ("Astonishing X-Men," "The Escapists") will provide covers for "The Lone Ranger and Tonto," with Mario Guevara ("BloodRayne: Red Blood Run") riding alongside as penciller. The first-one shot is co-written by Jon Abrams.
Chronology-wise, the stories in "The Lone Ranger and Tonto" are a little further along then the ongoing series and won't directly affect the continuity of the main book, which is important as fans of the ongoing series will not want to miss a moment of the formative days and months in the relationship of Tonto and his friend.
Matthews, who is committed to another 12 issues of "Lone Ranger" after the original six-issue story arc finished to both critical and commercial acclaim, believes that friendship between the Ranger and Tonto remains compelling after 74 years because the pair is such an odd yet perfect couple. "It's always interesting when you see two people that don't make a lot of sense as friends being good friends," Matthews remarked. "Or even better, becoming good friends, which is where we're at right now. The other part to the equation is that they're both just really interesting characters in and of themselves. I think people always got that about The Ranger, but less so with Tonto, and seeing him be his own man and making his own decisions, not simply carrying The Ranger's decisions out, feels fresh and overdue. And maybe even a little obvious, now, but I can tell you that wasn't the case when this book started."
Matthews replies a definitive "no" about the prospect of a Tonto solo title, but hints at the slightest possibility of a solo miniseries somewhere down the line. "At the very least, not for a long while," said Matthews. "But similarly, I would also not be interested in writing a John Reid/Lone Ranger solo series. The thing with Tonto is there's demand because people like the character, but part of what makes him interesting is his mystery. I want to give peeks into his past throughout the book, but will not shine a light on it at this point. I just wouldn't do that.
"A miniseries down the line that explores his past or a series about the years he rode alone and drifted, completely outside his time with the Ranger, maybe. Just saying the latter, a lot of stories begin to form. But they're not something you'll see anytime soon. As with anything, when it can be good and done properly. And that time isn't now."
Making the iconic characters of Lone Ranger and Tonto – a dynamic duo originally created in the 1930s for radio – relevant for today's generation of readers is exactly what Matthews and Cassady set out to do. "But I also think John Cassaday and I were the only two people who did," stated Matthews. "It really felt that way. A lot of people thought you could do an accepted version, which would have been the classic, safe take, but relevant? I don't think nearly as much. I remember a lot of blank stares.
"It really is what we've always been going for. The Ranger, to us, is one of those rare characters who is both timeless and timely. But yeah, we certainly believed. This thing would have had no shot of working if we didn't."
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