So you discover your neighbor is a former super villain … do you turn him in, or do you blackmail him into teaching you his trade? Comic artist Ryan Cody is answering that question with writer Adam Cogan in the series they are doing for Viper, Villains. Ryan was kind enough to answer a few questions we had about the series.
B@N: Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us, Ryan. Can you tell us a little bit about your new book from Viper, Villains?
Ryan: No problem; thanks for mentioning us as your “Pick of the Week” a few weeks ago. Villains is about a typical everyman named Nick, who, when everything looks bad, is given an opportunity that he sees as the only positive happening in his life. He discovers that the super of his building is actually the former armor-clad villain that went by the name of The Hardliner. Nick decides to blackmail him into teaching him to master the powerful Hardliner armor. He sees a career as a super villain as the answer to all his problems. Like most who travel down this path, he never realizes or recognizes the consequences that will most likely come his way. The story also focuses on the former owner of the Hardliner suit, Charlie Cobb, who just wants to be left alone and retire in peace and quiet. More info can be found on our website – http://www.vipercomics.com/features/villains.asp
B@N: How did you hook up with the writer, Adam Cogan?
Ryan: Commonly enough, it was how most of these books come together, via the internet. It was a little over a year ago when I was pitching another project and posting samples that Adam Cogan (Villains and The Black Coat scribe), saw them and contacted me. I have no idea why, but he liked my work and pitched this idea to me. I dug it, thought it was something different in the superhero genre, and we went from there, never looking back. After the book was picked up, we were lucky enough to get Russ Lowery on colors, and we were all set.
B@N: Where did you guys come up with the idea for the series?
Ryan: Adam had the idea pretty much nailed down, I suggested a few simple ideas, but for the most part, what you see now is very close to his initial ideas. I think the spark came from Adam’s incessant need to put on a nuclear-powered battle suit and rob banks and such.
B@N: Any thoughts on a follow-up or sequel at this point?
Ryan: We have chatted about scenarios that would really take us into a potential third volume, but all of that is really left up to sales. Initial pre-orders weren’t what we hoped for, but the book has slowly garnered a small amount of buzz, and we have some great press coming up in the next couple months that I have faith will drive reorders of the initial floppies and preorders for a trade in the winter.
B@N: I’ve enjoyed just about everything that’s come out from Viper. What’s it like working with them?
Ryan: Jessie, Jim and all the guys at Viper have been great. They loved the book immediately at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con and really pushed for it. They put out a wide range of books, and I think they do it right; they don’t flood the market with several books at once, and they let the book build on itself. For a small publisher, I think they have the right game plan to stick around for the long haul. They also give us a great amount of freedom; we cram 27-28 pages of story into every issue along with pin-ups and other nonsense. They also let us include a wonderful back-up story that runs the length of the series and is penciled by my good buddy Charlie Clark with colors by Marlena Hall.
B@N: You’re teaching a cartooning/comic art class in Phoenix. How did that come about? What will your students learn in your class?
Ryan: The class came about for a couple reasons. For one , I thought there would be some interest, and I knew I would have loved something like this when I was a kid. And two, I needed some extra money. As the great poets TLC once said, “I aint too proud to beg.” Being an “indie” comics artist, the money just isn’t there, so I thought it would be a great way to teach some kids and make some extra money for con season. I’m trying to stress the fundamentals. Most of the age group I have now is kids, but they get the idea, and I hope they can build off what I teach them. Anyone in the Phoenix area can get details on my site (www.hurricanekids.com) or with Samurai Comics, who is the sponsor of the class.
B@N: What can you tell us about your other creator-owned project, Hurricane Kids? Do you have a publisher at this point?
Ryan:Hurricane Kids is scheduled for the first half of 2007. We do have a publisher, but it won’t be announced until after this year’s con. It’ll be four issues with a companion Web series as well. This book has already been 18 months in the making, so when it hits, it’ll blow up. It’s gotten a lot of attention for a black & white, self-produced comic and some web samples, so Grant Alter (writer and co-creator) and I have high hopes for it. It will be a fun throwback to the good, old-fashioned, action/adventure/superhero comics.
B@N: What other projects do you have in the works?
Ryan: Right now I’m just finishing Villains. San Diego Comic-Con will see the release of Javier and Les’s Middleman Vol. 2 trade (from Viper) which I have an 11-page “Legends of the Middleman” story in, then I jump into Hurricane Kids as well as another creator-owned book I’m working on. I’m busy, but always looking for paying work also.
B@N: What are your plans for convention season? Where can people meet you this summer?
Ryan: I’ll be pimping at the Viper booth for the duration of the San Diego Comic-Con, doing sketches and promoting Villains, as well as attending the Phoenix Cactus Comic-Con in September in Arizona.
B@N: On your blog, you talk about being a father (in addition to being an artist). What do your kids think about your comics? Are they old enough to read them?
Ryan: One is, and my middle boy is starting to learn to read, so that’s actually a subject of concern for me with my own kids and the kids I have in my class. Villains, while being the greatest book on the shelf that you should be reading, is classified as a mature-title book because Adam likes to drop the f-bomb in the script every three panels. Thus I cannot let my boys read the books. I keep telling them, “Wait until Hurricane Kids comes out.” But they know all of the characters in Villains, even my three-year-old. He likes to watch me do the pages, and he always asks me, “Daddy, that Cobb? That Nick?” So they love it, and it’s fun for me as well.
B@N: How are the kittens doing?
Ryan: Ha! If their goal is to drive me crazy, they are succeeding like gangbusters. Let this serve as a public service announcement, people, please spay and neuter your pets. Or else you wind up with two momma cats and 10 kittens and one unhappy wife.
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