|FRED VAN LENTE
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DF Interview: Fred Van Lente bringing Conan the Avenger to a close
By Byron Brewer
Fan-favorite writer Fred Van Lente and talented artist Brian Ching are in the midst of wrapping up things on Dark Horse’s Conan the Avenger with a most powerful arc.
Dynamic Forces wanted to know about this final saga as well as what might be on the horizon, for FVL and the Cimmerian, so we sat down with the scribe to do just that.
Dynamic Forces: Fred, I was sad to read that we are now in the midst of Conan the Avenger’s final arc. Will this iconic character, presented so nobly and well by Dark Horse, be returning in another iteration?
Fred Van Lente: Yup, it will, just as my run followed Brian Wood’s Conan the Barbarian run before me, which followed the Tim Truman and Roy Thomas and Kurt Busiek runs before him.
DF: Were you first attracted to the character via Roy Thomas’ Marvel comic or are you a fan of the Robert E. Howard originals?
Fred Van Lente: Neither, actually. I hadn’t really read any Conan before Dark Horse approached me to do the mini with Ariel Olivetti that adapted “People of the Black Circle.” But I quickly became a fan doing the research for this book, reading the Howard tales and the Marvel comics. I could certainly see why the character has endured for this long.
DF: As a character, tell us your perceptions of your Conan and how he may have changed as a character while you have been writing him.
Fred Van Lente: I get the impression from Howard that Conan is the embodiment of sort of a classic American ideal -- individual willpower conquers all, and those who live on the frontiers of society have the greatest form of will, because they have to survive. I wouldn’t say I necessarily agree with that as an ideal it is a simple ideal to hang a character on. That’s why a couple of characters in my run -- Abit in The Damned Horde in particular -- describes Conan as a force of nature. You can either get on board with his program, or you can get out of the way before he plows through you. That has its good and its bad aspects, like everything else.
DF: What did you think of the two Conan/Red Sonja crossovers recently published by Dark Horse and Dynamite? Is Sonja a favorite of yours?
Fred Van Lente: Jim Zub was kind enough to show me his and Gail’s book in its early stages and I thought it was terrific. I’ve talked about doing Red Sonja stuff but it didn’t come together, alas.
DF: In March’s issue #24, what of Valerius and his hunt for his queen? Can you give us any non-spoilery hints?
Fred Van Lente: Everything that we’ve been building to in A Witch Shall Be Born comes to a head in this issue -- Valerius’s attempts to free the imprisoned Taramis inside the city while Conan leads his Lawrence of Arabia-esuqe army on an attack outside the city. And there’s a terrific twist I don’t want to spoil!
DF: Is it hard to inject the ol’ FVL humor in a title such as Conan the Avenger?
Fred Van Lente: I’m such a natural wiseass, it’d be harder to not inject something with it, honestly.
DF: How is it working with artist Brian Ching?
Fred Van Lente: Amazing! Brian’s style is perfect for the gritty sun-drenched world of Conan and I think he’s really outdone himself with this arc. We are going out with a bang!
DF: Fred, any current or near-future projects you can talk about?
Fred Van Lente: As one door closes, another opens -- if folks dug Conan, I think they’ll also dig Assassins Creed: Templars, a series Dennis Calero and I are doing for Titan Books. Another kind of pulp noir book based on the video games, it’s set in the 1920s -- the same era in which the Conan stories were written!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Fred Van Lente for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Conan the Avenger #24 arrives in stores March 30th!
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