Wagner & Stelfreeze talk "The Ride: Die Valkyrie"

America's love affair with cars is a well known one, especially those classic American muscle cars. In recent years, that love affair has seemingly grown exponentially with fix 'em up shows like "Overhaulin'" allowing classic car owners to fully realize their dreams of taking that old junker and doing something special with it.

In the Image Comics/12 Gauge Comics series "The Ride," creators Doug Wagner and Brain Stelfreeze take that notion of automotive love to a new level as they follow one 1968 Chevy Camaro through the ages and the stories of its various owners. Thus June, the duo continue to explore that concept further in the new mini-series "The Ride: Die Valkyrie," with a new set of owners and the return of an old favorite. The series features covers by Jason Pearson, Cully Hamner and Stelfreeze and is part of 12 Gauge's "Shotgun Summer," featuring a number of new releases in addition to "The Ride" like Coheed & Cambria's "The Amory Wars." CBR News spoke with Wagner and Stelfreeze to see what their plans are for this latest chapter in "The Ride" series.

CBR News: Hey Guys, let's get right down to talking about this new series, "The Ride: Die Valkyrie." First off, why "Die Valkyrie" as a title?

Brian Stelfreeze: It's Doug's way of giving a 'heil' out to das Vaterland. We both share a little of that proud heritage, as I believe that my family was once owned by Germans. Come to think of it, I wonder if my family was once owned by Doug's family? He's going to have some explaining to do.

CBR: I would think so! So, what's "Die Valkyrie" all about? What's the story you've cooked up for our readers?

Stelfreeze: A simple plan gone horribly off-course. It's like what they say about chaos theory; if a butterfly flaps its wings in Africa, through a chain of events, that can cause Paris Hilton to spill out of her limo drunk and topless in Hollywood. It's very complicated, and you'll have to speak to a scientist like Jeff Goldblum to get a better explanation. The story also explores the theme of being true to one's self. I'd say it's all that wrapped in dark kinetic humor.

CBR: Doug, anything you'd like to add?

Doug Wagner: "Die Valkyrie!" is about 3 Southern girls who think they're real badasses -- and the road each one takes finding out the truth. Of course, we couldn't use the word "badass" without including Laci in the story. Oh, we threw in nuns for excitement.

CBR: Interesting. While you gave us Laci's origin in "Gun Candy," which was something of a flash-back story, the last time we saw her "in the present" she kind of, well, died in "The Ride" #1! Are you saying Laci's back or didn't quite die??

Stelfreeze: Actually that's a good question. I don't know if I should make this announcement now, but we plan to address that issue and many others in something we call "Civil Crisis". It's a company-wide event crossing over all of our titles. We will even publish part of the story only on T-shirts and keychains, so you'll have to buy those also. We don't guarantee that you'll understand the story when it's finished, but for greater clarity you can read "13". This series, based on the 260 day Mayan calendar, will explain the events of "Civil Crisis" in more detail. As part of the talking points I'm also required to say "A Hero Will Die", and I'd really appreciate it if you could put the little trademark symbol after that. We plan on doing all of that, or we could just say the whole thing is comedy.

CBR: Uhhh, Doug, how'd you like to step in here?

Wagner: Sorry, but you have to read Die Valkyrie to find that out. My lips are sealed!

CBR: Fair enough. So, tell us about the cast of characters we'll be introduced to in this latest series. Where is Vega this series? Who else do you introduce us to?

Stelfreeze: The new characters in this series are the Valkyries. These characters are fun to illustrate. I see them as freshman college girls. They are the types of girls that are arrogant and consider themselves worldly-wise, even though they have no life experiences whatsoever. They think they are bad girls, but they've never considered the risks that it entails. To contrast them you have Laci, and she desperately wants to be a good girl, but with goodness comes restrictions.

Wagner: During the time line of this story, Vega is in jail. You can't kill a bunch of people, even bad ones, and burn down half a city without some repercussions.

Within "Die Valkyrie," we are introduced to several new characters. The three Southern ladies are Becca, Cleo, and Ting. Of course, none of them are without personal issues, which is why they feel they need to prove themselves. Becca is the red-headed leader of this group of Valkyries. Tough, resilent, and quick on her feet. Cleo's her best friend and dying to prove she's a fearless badass. Ting is their silent cohort. As you already know, Laci's back. Oh, I almost forgot about Squeak! He's a ferret tagging along for fun.

CBR: As you've established quite the history of the Camaro in the previous series, how necessary is it to have read the previous series to enjoy what's going on in this latest series?

Stelfreeze: I'm not a fan of crippling levels of continuity. If you've read "The Ride" and "Gun Candy," you'll have greater insight towards Laci, but the series stands alone quite well.

Wagner: Right, this story totally stands on its own. Tell ya what. Give this one a try. If you like it, you'll love all "The Ride" books.

CBR: If I recall correctly, this series was originally solicited for release in July of 2006. Two issues were solicited, but then orders were cancelled and the series disappeared. But now, here we are talking about a new release. First, why the long delay? Secondly, how far ahead are you guys on this latest series and will it mean it's monthly publication schedule?

Stelfreeze: I'm about half way through the last issue and the first issue is just being solicited.

I've got a portfolio of valid excuses, including relatives dying and a dog eating my homework, but the fact is that I didn't produce pages fast enough to hit the original schedule. We decided to pull the entire thing from the schedule and give ourselves more time to fine tune and get ahead, also allowing us to help kick-off 12 Gauge's 2007 "Shotgun Summer" with a real bang. What we ended up with was almost a completely different story. Hmm, I wonder if not soliciting a book until it's 75% done would be a good publishing plan?

CBR: And you've also got a new "The Ride" TPB set for release around the same time as this new series launches. Share with us some details on the TPB -- what will it collect? Will there be any neat extras included?

Stelfreeze: As the art director at 12 Gauge, I wasn't completely satisfied with the original TPB. Content wise I was thrilled, but we wanted to keep the price down so that people would read the thing. Obviously this was successful, since it sold out, but I always wanted something a little more prestige, something you'd want to put on your bookshelf. We've definitely got some nice extras in this one, but the main thing you'll notice is the dramatic leap in quality of paper and printing.

Wagner: We were thrilled that the first printing of "The Ride Volume I" TPB sold out. We couldn't leave that be, so we put together another printing with some new extras. The second printing will have additional artwork from Cully Hamner and Chris Brunner as well as a full-color section containing all the covers from The Ride as well as a new pin-up from Brian Stelfreeze.

CBR: Bringing things to a close here, what's the long term goal or prognosis for "The Ride" look like right now?

Stelfreeze: There's always more "The Ride" on the horizon. Think of this book as an amusement park for comic creators. This is a place where you can cut loose and be a kid again. We don't tell the creators what "The Ride" is all about, they tell us. Keven Gardner [12 Gauge Comics publisher] has provided a great place for us to have fun, and as long as you're this tall, you can ride this ride.

Wagner: "The Ride" will continue to come out as long as the fans keep demanding more. There are already two more books coming down the pipe from two of the industries most talented creators. I'm not sure I'm allowed to say much more.

CBR: Thanks, guys. See you both in the fast lane.

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