On June 18th, Titan Comics is releasing a deluxe hardcover collection of the first 6 issues of DEATH SENTENCE. Writer Monty Nero answered a few of our questions about the series and what folks can expect from the collection being released next Wednesday, as well as some story specifics.
COMIC VINE: What is DEATH SENTENCE about?
MONTY NERO: It's about a virus passed through sexual activity which enhances your abilities but kills you in six months. What incredible things could you do in that time?
CV: Where did you come up with the idea for DEATH SENTENCE?
MN: I'd been talking to people at a comic con about how the comics I was reading didn't seem to reflect the world around us: the language; the tone - the real interests we all share. On the drive home I realised that I had to put my money where my mouth was. My wife was three months pregnant at the time and all the parents we knew were issuing dark warnings that life as we knew it would end in an explosion of nappies and baby milk. So it felt like I only had six months left to do something creative - to realise my artistic dreams - before settling down to all this responsible Dad stuff. Which wasn't true, as it turned out - because new life is hugely creative and inspiring. But that powerful feeling is at the heart of the book: ‘6 months to live – what’re you gonna do?’ In my case I wanted to make a great comic.
CV: How did you and artist Mike Dowling get hooked up with Titan Comics?
MN: After making about eight pages we took a preview comic of Death Sentence down to a couple of cons and handed them out to publishers. Titan were one of the companies interested and after some lengthy discussions we eventually decided to go with them rather than self publish. They've been great to work with so far, I thoroughly recommend them.
CV: This book deals with 3 very distinct characters, Monty who is manipulative, and a pretty terrible guy, Weasel, who more than anything seems to be caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, and Verity, who spends a lot of her time lost in her own head. Where did these very distinct characters come from?
MN: All the characters in the story want to validate themselves in some way, to make their mark in the world: In Verity’s case she wants to create great art but she's stuck with temp jobs and it seems life's passing her by. She's the beating heart of the story. Weasel wants to record a timeless album before he dies, and reconcile with his family. He brings more chaos and comedy to the story. And Monty just wants to do more, better, bigger, So it's about life, creativity, happiness, and what the point of it all is. The STD aspect throws up obstacles, conflicts – and some interesting dramatic choices: ‘What would you give up to be successful and talented? What kind of things really matter when it comes down to it’ There's a lot to explore. The Death Sentence in the title isn't so much the virus as the short life span we all share - and the crazy ways we all deal with it. You just need to look at the behaviour around you. The virus brings it all into sharp focus.
CV: Do you see this series continuing with Weasel and Verity, would you like to explore others within this world, or is this it?
MN: We set up the world and told a complete story in Volume 1, which makes some intriguing points about the world by the time you close the last page. But you'll have to buy the second series to find out who's still alive and what happens next.
CV: How did you and Mike Dowling come together for this project?
MN: We met at the Bristol comic con and started corresponding. I sent him the scripts, character paintings and a little website I'd made about the virus. Eventually he found a window in his schedule to draw it - thank god. He did a wonderful job.
CV: What can folks expect from the DEATH SENTENCE collection?
MN: It's a beautiful deluxe hardback, 192 pages in all, with the complete story set in a new context with a few subtle tweaks from the single issues, It's got all the covers and variant covers and a fascinating commentary from Mike and I on the making of each page. If you've got any interest in great sequentials or how comics are made it's an absolute must buy. I worked very closely with Mike on this, but as a student of comic art I was still transfixed by some of the things he revealed about creating this.
Thanks to Monty Nero for answering our questions and make sure to check out the DEATH SENTENCE hardcover, which contains almost 200 pages for $22.99, available from Titan Comics on June 18th!