Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: This April will see the release of your new series, Rebels, from Dark Horse Comics, depicting a personal and poignant account of the first militia formed during the American Revolution and the individuals that it impacted. What inspired you to use this historical time period as the setting for the series?
Brian Wood: 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 another series, 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 New England, in Vermont, and this history is my local history, what I grew up with. So, I think I probably always had this idea somewhere in the back of my head since I was a kid, running around in the woods pretending I was a soldier.
BD: With a heavy focus on character and relationship building, Rebels humanizes the American Revolution and the rationale behind its evolution. Why do you feel that readers will most connect with the protagonist, Seth, and do you anticipate that readers will question their own beliefs as Seth’s sense of right and wrong is challenged?
BW: The Seth Abbott character is part me, in that he's a kid raised in the woods of Vermont, taught to hunt and hike and do chores by a gruff, but ultimately understanding, father. He's also something of an everyman, standing in for the average citizen who suffered under British rule and got swept up in larger events and things bigger than he is. It's war, and, as they say, war is hell, but his story is also a grand adventure, one that opens up his eyes just as much as it does the reader. Or so I hope. That's the goal!
And, I'm not sure if a reader's beliefs will be changed by Rebels. I guess I should say it might, it's impossible to know who brings what to the table when they read this book. Seth's sense of right and wrong is pretty dead on the money with the changing times, and that's why he works so well as an everyman.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with artist Andrea Mutti, and how does his artwork further expound upon your vision for the series?
BW: Well, he’s talented. I mean, that’s it right there, isn’t it? He brings a terrific eye for detail to the project, and a lot of passion. And, like the most successful partnerships I’ve had, we pretty much stay out of each other’s way. He leaves me to do my thing with the story, and vice versa with the art. The results have been amazing, I think.
BD: Do you feel that today’s political climate provides greater resonance for Rebels, and what do you hope that readers will most take away from the story?
BW: Well, here we go into another major election cycle and already politicians are taking about the 2nd Amendment, the glory of the Constitution, what the Founding Fathers had in mind for us, and so on. It’s everywhere. The New Releases shelf at the bookstores regularly feature books on the subject, and both AMC and the History Channel have their shows. And, talking specifically about the Green Mountain Boys (featured heavily in the first story arc), what a fantastic opportunity to play on that language and that history, since the meaning and perception of 'militia' has changed so much over the last couple hundred years.
That's the aspect of this that's most important to me, the fact that this history is being co-opted for political gain in recent times, or its just seen as this glossy, idealized folktale history, Washington crossing the Delaware, and so on. I wanted to show this history in an honest way, from the POV of normal people, of common people.
BD: Will Rebels release as a limited mini-series or an ongoing story?
BW: Right now, we have a commitment for a ten-issue first “season.” If there’s interest, we’ll do more.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Rebels?
BW: Honestly, I think the first issue speaks for itself, certainly better than anything I can say here. Pick up an issue, buy it digitally, look at the previews online. I stand behind the work; I really think it's something special.