Despite his first comics project, "Young Ancient One," having been all but scuttled when Marvel abruptly shut down the Epic imprint in 2003, Comics2Film founder Rob Worley has found himself increasingly busy as an author. After Epic, Worley worked on the "Advent Rising" comics, based on the video game of the same name; several anthologies for Narwain publishing; and as the author of several books for younger readers, including the "Actionopolis" novel series.
Worley's latest effort is a collaboration with Shannon Denton ("Zapt!") and artist Mateus Santolouco, a pulp-styled adventure called "The Revenant," created by Denton and Keith Giffen ("52," "Hero Squared"). Worley and Denton sat down with CBR News to discuss the new Shadowline miniseries, which ships in March from Image Comics.
As "The Revenant" begins, readers discover the twin cities of Sapphire City and Jade Harbor are firmly in the grip of evil men; five gangsters who have been part of a shifting and volatile alliance for 15 years. "Our story starts when our skull-faced title character rolls into town he disrupts their operations," Rob Worley told CBR News. "Soon he's brutally picking off the five kings of the city and these bad guys realize that The Revenant is someone from their past, who has unfinished business and scores to settle; someone who aims to visit his revenge on them in as sadistic and cruel a manner as possible.
"The main story of this series is about unraveling the past events that have brought this horror back to Sapphire City after so long," Worley added. "Suffice it to say that The Revenant is out for revenge and the gangsters that run the town definitely have it coming.
"Because The Revenant is so mysterious, the focus of the story falls on Danny Risk, a small-timer and club owner who has a loose alliance with the opposing mobs. But like everyone else in the story, Risk has secrets of his own. No one in the story is to be trusted and everyone has an agenda, all of which collide in our story.
"'The Revenant' definitely pays homage to the great pulp crime-fighters like The Shadow and The Spider," Worley said of the series' feel. "We wanted to create a world that evokes those pulp worlds, but is still very much in the 21st century, and a character that was as tough on the bad guys as The Spider but still has his own unique twist.
"We very much wanted to evoke the style of the pulp crime fighters. The world of 'The Revenant' is a mix of various time periods and locales and the entire team strove to make sure that nothing in the world of 'The Revenant' seemed ordinary. There are modern conveniences like cell phones and computers, but even those will appear as if a 1930s futurist might have envisioned them. With the dialogue I didn't strive for realism at all, but more the kind of muscular, colorful banter you'd find in a crime novel or an old movie.
"One other thing Shannon and I talked about early on was Dick Tracy and his amazing rogue's gallery. So I had a lot of fun coming up with names and modus operandi for our gangsters...who are guys like Rocco Scissor, 'Wrong' Wei Hong, Hiroshima Jr. and so on.
"And the city has a large Latino population, and is in the midst of its Days of the Dead celebration, which becomes and important backdrop for the story."
Shannon Denton revealed that as much as The Revenant pays homage to pulp fiction of the past, the characteralso has some decidedly modern elements in his conception. "I spent a couple of summers as a kid in a very small town in Missouri, so when I wasn't shooting cans or fishing, I was at the library checking out books," Denton told CBR News. "The library had awesome collections of 'Doc Savage,' 'The Shadow,' 'The Spider,' 'Tom Swift,' 'Hardy Boys,' 'Tarzan,' & 'John Carter.' I didn't realize it at the time how uncommon this was. I read 'em all and that's the stuff that really sunk in and made a huge impression on me creatively."
Years later, Denton continued, "I'm at a Social Distortion concert at the Palladium in Los Angeles. The guy next to me has this awesome tattoo of a skeleton in a fedora, minutes after I got home The Revenant was in my sketchbook wearing a trench coat and firing some 38-calibers, and here we are now. It was a good night. That one visual inspiration led to me coming up with an entire story to go with it. Hopefully the audience is excited about it as I am and it leads them to go check out the pulp classics that inspired me originally."
While the character of The Revenant may be new to most readers, his origins go back to 2001, when he was created by Shannon Eric Denton and Keith Giffen. Said Denton, "I originally created the project as a short story and it appeared in an anthology book I did for Antarctic Press. Keith Giffen and I were already collaborating on numerous other projects at the time and we decided to add one more to the mix. Keith and I were working on 'The Revenant' more from the film side of things than as a comic."
"Coincidentally, I was writing a screenplay for a different Shannon/Keith concept," added Worley. "So, when Shannon and Keith decided to get 'The Revenant' going as a print comic, I was at the top of their list and already had ideas about what to do with the character."
"We became acquainted with [artist] Mateus Santolouco through Rafael Albuquerque," Worley continued. "Rafael, as I'm sure you know, is an amazing artist and he has put together a terrific studio called Pop Art Productions. Mat is part of Pop Art and recently drew '2 Guns' for Boom! Studios and when Rafael recommended him we agreed he was a great fit for the project. He's been a pleasure to work with.
"The book is being colored by a guy named Chris Wood," added the scribe. "He's a video game guy and assisted the colors on another Shadowline book, 'Graveslinger.' This is his first full-on comic. Everything he's turned in looks really good."
It was Denton's experiences with "Graveslinger" that brought "The Revenant" to the Shadowline imprint. My recent collaborations with Jim [Valentino] and Kris [Simon] over at Shadowline on 'Graveslinger' and 'Gutwrencher' have been so much fun so I decided Shadowline would also be the perfect place for 'The Revenant' as a comic," Denton gushed.
"I couldn't be happier about working with Shadowline," agreed Worley. "They've assembled such a diverse line of top-quality comics; it's an honor to be a part of that. Jim and Kris are great to work with. The Image model is much different from previous comics I've worked on, so I'm learning a lot from them."
The Revenant is scheduled as a three-issue miniseries, but that doesn't mean the door isn't open to more adventures of the character. "There are certainly plans to do more Revenant stories," Worley said. "This series tells a complete story that comes to a definite resolution. However, the Revenant is a very mysterious character and for every question that's answered, another one arises."
"The Revenant" #1 goes on sale March 26, 2008.
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