Dark Horse Comics introduces the next chapter in Briggs Land with Briggs Land: Lone Wolves – the first issue of which dropped June 14. We quite liked the issue, in part because it captures the pulse of how a lot of people feel in America today. It also deals with some intense character drama that hits close to the bone. We recently had the opportunity to interview writer Brian Wood and artist Mack Chater on the book and they relayed their thoughts on the story, the comic-creating process, and more!
AiPT!: Thank you for taking the time, Brian and Mack. First off, congratulations on the continued success of this series. What made you fall in love with comics?
Mack Chater: Thanks! I think the escaping into other worlds was one of the first things that drew me to comics, but initially, it was (and has always remained) the art.
Brian Wood: My introduction to comics came in college when I was in art school. It was a technical introduction more than an emotional one – I saw the potential for a blending of elements I liked… design, illustration, and storytelling. My first comics were assignments for school, where I’d bend the rules of the assignments and make comics instead of whatever else I was supposed to be doing. I was also reading comics for pleasure during this time and spent a few years playing catch-up by reading all the classics and experimenting on my own interpretation. My graphic novel Channel Zero was my senior thesis project.
AiPT!: It seems like this series is more pertinent than ever given the climate in the U.S. these days. This series focuses in on extremism and militia groups, what kind of research goes into making this series and how close to reality can readers expect it to go?
Wood: Yes and this is a tricky situation to navigate because I don’t want to write stories “ripped from the headlines.” Stories based on headlines become dated fairly quickly and can appear preachy or divisive. Finding ways to discuss topical themes in a manner that can stand the test of time is a great creative exercise. I really worked on this with DMZ and The Massive, and those books stayed relevant over the years.
AiPT!: How new reader friendly will this series be? Can readers jump in, or should they pick up the last volume?
Wood: I think Briggs Land: Lone Wolves is new reader friendly. Briggs Land: Lone Wolves is a deep narrative with a large cast of characters, and I think that the start of each ‘season’ of the comic is new reader friendly. I’d say to start with the first volume if you can because it’s not a totally clean entry point. I think the story will make sense, and maybe, at some point, you can fill in the gaps by going back and reading the first volume.
AiPT!: Are you familiar with the recent Hulu show and novel The Handmaid’s Tale? With Briggs Land focusing on an anti-government secessionist movement, it feels more relevant than ever. How do you approach this work without it going too far out into fantasy?
Wood: Briggs Land, if you boil it down, is a crime book about a family on the edges of morality. It never really gets that far into fantasy or speculative fiction. I really enjoy The Handmaid’s Tale, but I’d say Briggs is closer to The Sopranos, or maybe Bloodline – the complex family dynamics mixing with the crime/thriller genre. The anti-government aspects are the context and the location. This isn’t to minimize the secessionist stuff – Briggs is inspired by contemporary events like the two Bundy sieges, as well as slightly older events like Oklahoma City, Ruby Ridge, and the Unabomber – but it doesn’t project into the future in a speculative way. It’s taking place in the here and now.
AiPT!: Can you give us an update on the Briggs Land TV show?
Wood: Unfortunately, I don’t have any updates right now. The pilot is written, and AMC purchased the series. We’re all very hopeful for its success!
AiPT!: Is there a part of the comic-creating process you love the best? And a part you don’t like?
Chater: For me, I love almost all of the comic-creating process. I love reading through a new script and starting to build up visuals that tell the story. I enjoy trying to get those ideas onto the page and actually working on the board with ink/pens/pencils. The part I least enjoy? Scanning! It’s so time-consuming!!
Wood: I like the excitement of coming up with something new, and I like the feeling of puzzle-solving, figuring out a tricky plot, re-writing to make something work better or read more elegantly. I love the satisfaction of going back over a script once it’s done to pare down dialogue to the essentials. It’s amazing how much paring a writer can do and how unnecessarily verbose a first draft can be. I don’t like anything that gets in the way of the things I love. I’ve been making comics for 20 years. That’s a long time with thousands of pages. I keep coming back for more because the good always outweighs the bad.
AiPT!: Mack, when drawing this series, is the “a hundred square miles of rural wilderness” a benefit or a curse? I imagine there’s a lot of environments and panels with not a lot of characters in them!
Chater: I love creating the environments. The environment is just as important as any other character in the story. I love trying to make the scenes as believable and realistic as possible. That’s part of the fun!
AiPT!: What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?
Chater: I know I’ve said this before, but control over time would be my superpower. I’d use it to draw more!