Frank Bill has been published in Granta, Playboy, Oxford American, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, PANK, FSG Work in Progress, New Haven Review, Talking River Review, Plots With Guns, Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp and many other outlets. His first book, Crimes in Southern Indiana was released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in September 2011 and his first novel, Donnybrook, hit March of 2013. He is currently at work on the follow up, The Salvaged & The Savage and his reboot of James O‘Barr’s The Crow: Pestilence hits comic book stores in March 2014.
Drew Moss is a comic book artist who has drawn for Image, Dark Horse, IDW, and Oni Press. He is best known for his work on The Colonized with Chris Ryall for IDW and future projects include The Crow: Prisoner of Freedom for IDW, Terrible Lizard with Cullen Bunn for Oni Press and City for Darby Pop/IDW . He lives in Hampton, VA with his wife, 2 sons and Shar pei Mowgli.
I had the pleasure of interviewing both men via email about their careers working on the latest version of the Crow in The Crow: Pestilence.
Michael Garone: Hi Guys! First job as a comic book writer-artist?
Frank Bill: The Crow.
Drew Moss: My first Comic gig was for Viper Comics in 2007. I did a creator owned book called "Sidekickin' Hero" with my bud Courtney Huddleston. It was about a superhero that lost his memory every day ala the movie "Memento." It was told from his sidekick's perspective and the trials and tribulations of having to remind his partner who he is and that he had super powers. Definitely a book filled with humor.
MG: Who or what inspired you to become a writer? An artist?
FB: I began trying to write novels and short stories way back in 1999 or 2000 after reading Chuck Palahniuk and Larry Brown. Each of those authors had profound influence on me.
DM: My grandfather inspired me to become a comic book artist. When I was 2 my father was stationed in Germany and my mother and I went to go live with my grandparents in Charleston, WV. I don’t remember much before I was 4 or 5 but, this I do remember, the 1969 Spider-Man cartoon. It would come on every day at 4pm and I would watch it religiously. A new episode every day, Well, new to me.
I would watch these episodes and they were more than entertainment they were a way for me to hang out with my grandpa. Since I didn't know my dad as he was my father figure. I didn’t meet my father until I was 6. Every day after dinner I would sit on the front porch with my grandpa and he would tell me the makes and models of cars driving by and I would tell him what happened on Spider-Man. I would spin a tale that far exceeded the episode. The reason for this is I would usually forget the middle parts but would remember the beginning and ends. Needless to say the talks would last a long time.
I didn’t appreciate it then but my grandpa must have been a saint to listen to the ramblings of a 5 year old every day. He didn’t half listen; I always had his full attention. He would ask questions and interact with the tales I would weave. When I talked myself into a corner he would help me out. The most amazing thing was everyday he would say, "Don't forget to watch tomorrow, I have to find out what happens next" and each day I would watch. These are my fondest memories of my childhood and I cherish them dearly.
In 1990, my grandpa died. It hurt really bad. It felt like I lost my father and I was flooded with memories of my times with him but none stood out more than those days talking spidey with him. So, that is when I made a promise to him and myself. "I would draw Spider-Man professionally at least once" It is really the biggest reason I never gave up on drawing comics. Because of him comics became a huge part of my life and continue to be to this day.
I miss him and I will never give up on my promise to him.
MG: Do you relate any character development based on your own life experiences?
FB: Damn near everything I write comes from family, friends, life experiences and the other comes from paying attention to what’s going on in my area and just common interests.
DM: I do have a character I have created that I relate to and is kind of based on my life experiences. I have been working on a Graphic novel called "Peter the indestructible boy." It’s about a nine year old that never ages and of loss innocence at an early age. It is really a work in progress just for myself at the moment.
MG: Who is the one character you have written-drawn stories about that you connected with the most?
FB: Probably Van Dorn, who is a character from The Salvaged and The Savage, my follow up to DONNYBROOK, he’s a young man who relies not on technology but on the land and all of the skills he was taught by his father and in a sense all that others have forgotten in the modern age of push buttons.
DM: I really think the character I drew that I connected with most was Bemis. He is an alien in the book I did with Chris Ryall called "The Colonized.” He is thrown into a situation and really is just trying to make the best of it. Trying to come up with solutions sometimes they work sometimes they don’t but he never gives up. I admire his tenacity.
MG: Who of all the characters you have ever written-drawn is your favorite? Why?
FB: Chainsaw Angus. Mainly because he doesn’t give a shit, when he wants something, he goes after it. And if you get in his way, he’ll treat you like a piece of the road.
DM: You really don’t make this easy. HA! The aliens from "The Colonized" are my favorite right now. I loved designing them. The old school spaceman, Wally Wood, sci-fi zaniness. They were fun to create and fun to draw.
MG: What can you reveal about this new Crow series? What’s Salvador’s story?
FB: He is a boxer who is paid to throw a fight but he has other plans that don’t pan out.
DM: The one thing I love about Salvador is his crow make up. When I first drew him it was something I really thought about. I thought about the smile Eric Draven had with his Crow makeup. I believe it was a play on the two masks associated with drama, comedy and tragedy. So, I took that and thought about Sal's story and I remember Chris Ryall telling me that this crow wouldn't be smiling much and that sparked the idea to me. Tragedy. Give Sal a frown to contrast Eric's “smile.” It just fit and I am glad Frank liked it!
MG: What can you talk about on what’s coming up in future issues?
FB: You get more and more of Salvador’s backstory and a bit of Midwestern craziness and a lot of violence.
DM: Blood, lots of blood!
MG: Does this series take place in its own universe or will we see any other incarnations of Crows make an appearance?
FB: The story begins in Juarez, travels to Illinois, Kentucky and ends in Indiana.
MG: Which Crow film is your favorite?
FB: The original film with the late Brandon Lee.
DM: The first crow film was my favorite but I liked the second one as well.
MG: Which Crow from the comics did you enjoy reading about?
FB: Eric Draven.
DM: Eric Draven was my favorite. When I first read the comic in the early 90s it was just so visceral.
MG: Will James O‘Barr be doing more cover art and any other contributions to future stories?
FB: James is doing all four covers of the series and let’s just say each cover gets better and better. James is a bad ass!
DM: Yes, he is doing covers for the whole series and helped design the tattoos with our colorist Oliver Lee Arce.
MG: It’s the 25th Anniversary of The Crow. Will IDW be doing anything else special for The Crow to celebrate this year?
FB: No idea. This is my only project with IDW.
MG: Do you have any current or future projects you can talk about?
FB: I have a follow up to my novel DONNYBROOK, which I mentioned above, I’m busy writing it at the moment, then I have another book to write after that and I have a few other things I’m trying to get off the ground but can’t really discuss.
DM: None that I can talk about yet and maybe new ones from IDW when I finish this last issue.
Here is the synopsis from IDW:
Suarez, Mexico. A young boxer, Salvador, refuses to take a fall, but has no problem taking a vicious drug gang's pay-off. When they take their lethal revenge on the Salvador and his family, he returns as THE CROW, in search of vengeance...and forgiveness. The Crow: Pestilence hits stands March 12!