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Interview: A.J. Lieberman, Writer Cowboy Ninja Viking
by Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero on
Hear what the creator of this great comic has to say.
It's no secret that I've been blown away with Cowboy Ninja Viking since I first heard about it. Recently I got the chance to talk to both A.J. Lieberman and Riley Rossmo. This is definitely a book everyone should check out. Issues one and two are out and issue #3 comes out next Wednesday, December 16. I will post a review for that issue early next week.
I jumped at the chance to get a little more insight as to where this great character came from.
Comic Vine: Let's start out with the obvious question, where did the idea of Cowboy Ninja Viking come from?
Andy Lieberman: Riley and I have known each other for a bit now. While I was at DC and he was doing Proof we tried a few things that never got passed the concept pitch stage…
Initially Riley wanted to do something with a Dystopian near-future setting. And while I first started circling the character I tried shoe horning him into these very “cool” locales. In fact I wrote two other pitch scripts based on this. This was before he was the CNV we know. He was more like a cousin twice removed. Maybe these will be seen in a trade???
Anyway, none felt right. Just forced. They took themselves too seriously which wasn't what I really wanted to do coming off of my Batman stuff. So I stepped back and realized the character was the concept – I literally said that out loud to myself. Once I had that – I relaxed and the humorous side of the concept started to come out. Oddly enough even though Duncan (Cowboy Ninja Viking) is our hero, in terms of the development of the series he was not the most important. That honor goes to Yashitiko Ammo (Pirate Gladiator Oceanographer).
Comic Vine: How were the three personalities chosen?
Andy Lieberman: I wanted really cool archetypes that would allow for a a maximum amount of internal conflict. When I was first starting to think of the character I wanted each to be this upstanding white hat hero type -
Comic Vine: About how many more Triplets can we see in action?
Andy Lieberman: There are about 12 planned for now which doesn’t sound like a lot but then again that’s 36 distinct personalities I have to keep juggling.
Comic Vine: Where did the decision to go with a "Golden Age" oversized format come from?
Andy Lieberman: Whether you like or dislike it, in the case of CNV it happens to be a necessary evil since we’d never be able to fit all the various personality word balloons (which add to a far higher panel count per page than a “normal” sized book).
Most books DO NOT have 10 panel pages. That’s routine for us. If you have a panel with 3 characters in it – which means the potential to have 12 people talking – we need as much room as possible.
I don’t think an average page of ours would fit or look good in a standard sized book.
Comic Vine: Did it take a lot to convince Image to go with this size?
Andy Lieberman: To his credit Jimmy V [ Jim Valentino] suggested it.
Comic Vine: Will the series continue in the same format? How far ahead is the mapped out?
Andy Lieberman: Well there are 5 books in the first arc. Which sets up the rest of the series and ends in a way that will just knock readers out - it's funny and action packed and is quintessentially CNV in tone (if there is such a thing) Fans of the book and fans of comics will both enjoy it. Well, maybe fans of one comic specifically might actually HATE it.
As far as how far ahead is the series mapped out? I think I had 2 books outlined which I sent with the pitch and about 30% of which actually made it into the books once I started writing. I like to outline but once I start writing, what often happens is I write a line of dialogue or think of something and which takes me by surprise and makes the story take an unexpected turn. It happened with Book#1. Hell, it happened with the pitch we sold the series with.
In fact we’re going to include the pitch we sent out in any trade we do – none of which ever made it into Book #1. This totally pissed Riley off since he thought he had about 6 pages already done.
So, short answer, I wish it was mapped out a hell of a lot further than it is but I seem not to write that way.
Comic Vine: What about the look of the different personas?
Andy Lieberman: They start with the various personalities I’ve come up with and Riley brings his magic in making them look cool and yet different from one another.
Comic Vine: Where did the idea of the coloring come from? Are you going with CMYK? So issue #3 will have yellow and the fourth black?
Andy Lieberman: You want the absolutely real story about this..? You probably do but it would take way too long to get through it.
Comic Vine: Will we get to see any flashback tales/missions?
Andy Lieberman: Flashbacks are coming. Sooner than you think, actually. #4 has a flashback to what readers what the series has been hinting at since #1: Just what happened in small town called San Cristobal. It’s not pretty. And by “not pretty” I mean really bloody.
Comic Vine: More information about Sara Nix?
Andy Lieberman: Nix is going to come into her own in 6 – 10. Will she and Duncan hook up? Will one of Duncan’s old flames get there first? Let’s just say sex scenes with Triplets are pretty friggin’ awesome. And by “awesome” I mean bizarre.