Recently I had the chance to talk to comic book writer Robert Venditti about his newly released series Freedom Fighters. After speaking to him I soon discovered this series was something that was incredibly well-timed for Venditti, who had just finished an upcoming biographical WWII graphic novel. He told me Freedom Fighters allowed him to continue to grapple with the real-life story he had just written in Six Days about his uncle who fought in the Battle of Graignes and is a key character in the tale. Venditti said most of the war stories he’d heard were from the survivor’s perspective, but with Six Days it was a way to explore a real story about those who didn’t survive.
Timed to the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Robert Venditti’s Six Days will be released May 14th, 2019 and is co-written by Kevin Maurer with art by Andrea Mutti. This is a portion of our interview discussing Six Days specifically.
AiPT!: Since it is a true story, did it have to be fact-checked by historians and what not?
Robert Venditti: The co-writer on the book is Kevin Maurer, and Kevin Maurer is somebody who has covered the 82nd Airborne extensively as a reporter. He’s been embedded with them overseas. He co-wrote the book No Easy Day which is the book about the Bin Laden raid. So he’s really well versed in the 82nd Airborne and we do have a historian who we were in touch with who is sort of the authority on this battle. You know so much of it is based on a true story because some of it is unknown. My uncle’s a prime example. There’s really nothing I can know about my uncle except a couple of sentences that I’ve been told by the few family members who were 3 and 4 years old when he went off to war and remember things about him.
There’s so much about the story that is unknowable and can’t be fact-checked. But in terms of certain things like the dates and the locations…some of the events that happened we do have a historical record of, so we did do some research. As much as we could, but a lot of it comes down to trying to use the information you have at hand and assume I guess what could have happened in those gaps.
AiPT!: Right. It’s a lot like filmmaking. I used to make short films and you kind of look at what your resources are and what you know and then you try to sort of fold the whole thing together.
RV: Very much so, yeah. We know that these paratroopers were miss-dropped way behind enemy lines. We know they ended up in a town called Graignes. They spent about six days there before the battle started. Our story is really about the war as much as it’s about what happened in those six days and how these soldiers lived in this town.
They were fed by the people there and they got to know them and they became a part of the community. Two types of people from different cultures who don’t even share a language becoming one community in such a short amount of time and working together against such an insurmountable foe: the Nazi war machine. It just turned out to be a very inspiring story and kind of a different look at what war stories are as we know them. You know, again, this is all the headspace that I was in when Freedom Fighters came along.
AiPT!: Do have a taste for any more biographical comics?
RV: I have some other ideas. It’s one of the things, there are so many of other things that you want to write and there’s only so many hours in a day. It depends on how, working on something and you think you know your next thing is going to be and somebody comes up to you with Freedom Fighters, you’ve never thought about in your life, and you’re like that’s exactly a project for me to do because of where I am at with my writing at this particular moment in time. Se you end up following that. That’s kind of the way it goes.
AiPT!: You’re certainly scratching multiple itches — you have Hawkman which is like this uber god thing going on, and then you’ve got this biographical war story and an American horror story in Freedom Fighters. Balancing all of these is kind of fascinating.
Robert Venditti: I’m trying to do that consciously and I try to make my projects different. I don’t want to do the same thing over and over and over. Certainly, a school of thought is that if you’re a mystery writer brand yourself as a mystery writer and stick to it. I like to challenge myself with different kinds of material. I’m not always going to succeed and I’m definitely gonna fail but at least I’m hopefully learning and growing as a writer and getting myself up out of a comfort zone. So I could be doing different things and sort of widening my experience and my abilities.
Six Days hits comic shops and bookstores May 14th, 2019.