|BRIAN WOOD - PART ONE
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DF Interview, Part 1: American history unfolds in Brian Wood’s new series, Rebels
By Byron Brewer
The birth of a nation is a subject dear to the heart of writer Brian Wood. Recently, he decided it was time to do more than check out numerous books at the library. He is honoring past patriots with his new book from Dark Horse Comics, Rebels.
Dynamic Forces met the scribe at a little tavern outside Philadelphia to discuss America’s battle for independence and the people who were a part of that great fight.
DF: Brian, as a Revolutionary War buff myself, I was happy to hear about this unique series. Tell us how it came about.
Brian Wood: Well, I really enjoy reading historical fiction, and I enjoy writing it. I did a long running series a few years back called Northlanders about Vikings, and I always knew that I'd do something else like it, that I'd find some period in history or some event that would inspire me. That ended up being American colonial times, the Revolutionary War. I was born and raised in Vermont, and this history is my local history, my childhood history. So maybe in a way I always had this idea somewhere in the back of my head since I was a kid playing in the woods behind my house, pretending to be soldiers or looking for Indian arrowheads.
DF: Instead of concentrating on Jefferson, Adams or Franklin, I understand that the focus of this period series will be the everyman: the colonist, the soldier... What can you tell us about your protagonists?
Brian Wood: I figure we've heard all the famous stories enough -- they are practically folktales, and I didn't think I'd have a whole lot to add. So I went the other way and approached the history through the everyman, like you said, the average people, the anonymous people, the ground-level folks that really tamed the land and won the war. And we have all types, really, the militiaman, the army wife, the printing press operator, the British solider, the freed slave, and so on.
DF: Intriguing! While King George and his Red Coat minions are obvious big-bads, many English like many colonists had adverse feelings about the War for Independence. Any sympathetic Brits here? Any disloyal Benedicts?
Brian Wood: It’s funny, I have a cameo in the book with Benedict Arnold, but well before he switched sides.
Anyway, yeah, absolutely, there is some of that. Maybe not so much in the first story, but as we dig a little deeper into the history, sure.
DF: From its synopsis, Rebels sounds like a sweeping epic. Is there any particular locale you will be focusing on? Philadelphia, New York, battlefronts?
Brian Wood: The first ten issues, which is what I've planned out so far, we stay pretty close to New England. We show a bit of Bunker Hill and Fort Ticonderoga. Sarasota, later on. New York City, but we end with something taking place around King's Mountain, South Carolina, so it’s not all about New England. And yeah, the thing about a series like this is the longer it runs, the more epic it becomes, the better a picture it paints of the history. I have story plans for The Battle Of Brooklyn, and also something I'm calling Six Frigates, which refers to America's first naval force.
DF: A lot of people these days, unfortunately, think equality, not freedom, is the bedrock of America. Any effort here to show the real suffering of colonists under England's thumb and the rise of the Spirit of '76?
Brian Wood: I would like to think of both of those things as the bedrock of America, although people weren't quite practicing what they preached as far as equality goes at the time. And I think the whole point of the series is to show exactly what you described. The first big story is literally about homesteaders pushing back against Loyalist attempts to steal their land.
DF: What were some of the many challenges you faced in putting a book like this together for monthly publication?
Brian Wood: Honestly, it’s been pretty smooth. There's always some work in getting the history right, but I've found after the first issue that is pretty much taken care of, everyone's in the groove. Speaking for myself, the biggest trick is making history relevant, having it not come off like a lesson, but as something vital and important for the reader.
DF: Why is artist Andrea Mutti right for the series?
Brian Wood: Three things: talent, an insane amount of enthusiasm, and a pre-existing appreciation for the history. And let's not forget Jordie Bellaire and Tula Lotay.
DF: What's next for the typewriter of Brian Wood?
Brian Wood: Starve from Image Comics and later on this year Black Road, another historical comic, also from Image. Plus more to be announced!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Brian Wood for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Rebels #1 hits stores this Wednesday, April 8th! Be sure and look for Part 2 of our interview with Brian Wood on Friday, when he discusses Starve.
Grab your copy of X-Men #1 DF Exclusive Gold Signature Series Signed by Brian Wood right here!
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