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DF Interview: Kevin Maurer discusses his adventurous life and Skull One-Six
By Byron Brewer
Next year will see the release of Skull One-Six from 12-Gauge Comics, a realistic look at the modern day Green Berets fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The series is being written by New York Times best-selling author Kevin Maurer (No Easy Day) with art by Tony Shasteen.
You think the comic sounds exciting? Listen to the details of its writer’s life. Here is what Dynamic Forces learned from Kevin Maurer.
Dynamic Forces: Kevin, how did you get attached to this latest project from 12-Gauge Comics?
Kevin Maurer: I pitched the project to Keven. We’d been talking about doing something together and I was reading about "Tales of the Green Berets," a comic strip created by Joe Kubert and Robin Moore that they did in the ‘60s. I thought the current Special Forces would be a great topic for a comic as well.
DF: I know that you and the rest of the creative team behind Skull One-Six are aiming to bring authenticity to the deadly scenarios in this war comic? Why the determination for such realism in a comic?
Kevin Maurer: The story is based on missions that I’ve covered or been told about. I tried hard to write a story that captured what it was like to be around Special Forces soldiers. These guys are some of the best and smartest soldiers on the battlefield. I just tried to do them justice in the story.
DF: For the uninitiated, tell us what Skull One-Six is all about.
Kevin Maurer: The first six pages are based on a mission I talked about with Special Forces soldiers while embedded with a team in 2010 in Afghanistan. Taliban fighters were setting up checkpoints and shaking down locals and we were talking about ambushing one of the checkpoints. It was a perfect jumping-off point. From there, the story follows a team on a rescue mission after a CH-47 is shot down.
DF: Who are your main characters in the book, and on whom are they based?
Kevin Maurer: The team is based on guys I’ve met since I started covering Special Forces. I took some stereotypes and married them up with some actual guys.
DF: As a longtime journalist myself, I have a high admiration for the nine years you spent embedded with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and Africa. Tell us what you can of that experience and how it may relate on the comic book page to Skull One-Six.
Kevin Maurer: My embeds with SF over the past decade led to this comic series. I’ve written several books about Special Forces, but this gave me a chance to get their story out to a different audience. I don’t think I would be comfortable writing this series if I didn’t witness some of it. I think one of the problems with other military books is authors don’t have a good handle on how guys talk, especially on the radio. That is a big deal and adds a lot to the realism of a story.
DF: Tell us about co-writing No Easy Day, the New York Times best-selling novel. Great piece of writing, by the way!
Kevin Maurer: Thanks for the kind words about No Easy Day. It was a great project. Mark Owen is a good dude, so that made it easy. From day one I knew I was lucky to get the chance to tell that story. I kind of knew the story going in, but the more I reported it out the better the story got. It is an amazing operation and a testament to the professionalism of the SEALs, Army helicopter pilots and the intelligence community.
DF: War these days on the global theatre usually means a political statement of some kind? Is there any political statement you are personally trying to make in the book?
Kevin Maurer: I don’t really have a political statement. Politics is left to the guys in Washington. From my experience, soldiers only care about the guy to the left and right of them, and they're going to do their job to the best of their ability to protect the team.
DF: So, Kevin, in this realistic world of your comic, how do you go about portraying the necessary violence of modern warfare without actually glorifying those horrors?
Kevin Maurer: My hope is the violence serves the story. We don’t pull punches, but we also don’t showcase violence for the shock value.
DF: Thoughts on the work of artist Tony Shasteen?
Kevin Maurer: Tony is great. His work jumps off the page and really elevates the book. This is really my first project and he has been really good about helping me write better scripts. Getting pages from Tony is a treat because what he gets on the page is always better than what I had in my head.
DF: In a bit of a jump before we wrap, Kevin, what was it like writing Marvel’s Punisher?
Kevin Maurer: I loved writing Punisher. The story was really about the last page of issue 8. I wanted to try and explain why special operations guys wear Punisher skull patches. I think I accomplished my goal. I got some good feedback from some Special Forces guys as well as readers. Nathan Edmondson is doing a great job on that series and he really let me run with the story. He was good about getting me feedback and helping me write a better script. I think Carmen’s art was amazing and Mitch’s covers were great. It was a great experience and I hope to do more work for Marvel in the future.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Kevin Maurer for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Skull One-Six arrives in stores next year!
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