Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: This August will see the release of your new series, Briggs Land, from Dark Horse Comics. What inspired this creator-owned series, and how do you feel that your previous work has prepared you for this undertaking?
Brian Wood: I always talk about this progression of titles, projects of mine that fit into that socio-politically aware category, starting with Channel Zero and on to DMZ, Rebels, The Massive, and now Briggs Land. It’s no coincidence that these are always my longest, richest, most well-received projects. I’m always very inspired and engaged when dealing with these topical themes and ideas.
Briggs Land came from research I had done for DMZ and Rebels that I set aside for a rainy day. American militia groups, anti-government groups, lone wolves, domestic terrorists, religious extremists…. The Unabomber, Waco, Ruby Ridge, Timothy McVeigh – I find it all fascinating for what it says about this country, our culture, and who we are as a collective nation. When I wrote Rebels, it was about the brave and honorable militiamen that fought the British for independence. How did we get from there, to where we are now?
BD: Briggs Land encompasses a crime family drama, political ideologies and commentaries, and the examination of corporatization versus the preservation of the simpler aspects of life. Do you feel as though the inclusion of these varied topics occurred naturally throughout your creative process, or had you always set out to tackle these themes and ideas?
BW: Crime fiction is new to me, or relatively new, but everything else is material I’ve dealt with before, albeit in very different ways. So, in that sense, it's natural for me, it’s in my wheelhouse, it’s things I can write about with authority. But I’m deliberately applying those skills to something brand new for me – not just a crime drama, but a family drama with a large cast, and a very rural American setting.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with Mack Chater, Lee Loughridge, Tula Lotay, and Nate Piekos, and how do you feel as though their contributions expounded upon your vision for the series?
BW: I’m a solitary writer, I like to go off and shut the door and write the thing in quiet. So, that’s what I do, but once that draft is done, the collaboration kicks in in earnest. Mack brings this great, gritty realism and often prompts dialogue changes and other tweaks to make it seamless. Lee’s a veteran colorist, and what I love about how he works is he creates a book-wide palette that is both non-literal and non-representational but still feels real. He colors according to mood and emotion as much as anything else. It’s beautiful. Tula and Nate, with the cover and letters respectively, are similarly true professionals and even though they may not be aware, they inform how I write the stories. It’s a team.
BD: What do you hope that readers will most take away from the story?
BW: I’m writing this book because this extremist culture is in the news a lot these days and people talk about it like it’s some foreign thing, an outside element, but like I said, like it or not, this is part of America. For a lot of people, these types are neighbors and co-workers, and it’s worth not only discussing in the criminal sense of things, as the instigators and committers of crimes, but as a part of the American community. For whatever reason, our shared culture produced these communities, and I want people to recognize that and maybe see how that came to be.
BD: Given that you are also developing Briggs Land for television, do you feel as though the alternate medium will provide other opportunities to explore and develop the characters in ways that were not possible within the sequential art medium?
BW: It does. Comics and TV are not the same thing, not even close, and as I write both the pilot episode and the comic, that’s never been clearer to me. So, in doing a pretty aggressive adaptation, I’m ending up with two Briggs Lands that are at once both similar and very different. But together, it’s a richer, more fleshed out world they describe.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Briggs Land?
BW: A couple things: the tagline for the book is ‘An American Family Under Siege,’ and it’s the family drama at the center of the story that drives everything. Think The Sopranos in that respect. The second thing is that this is planned to be an ongoing in way that a lot of comics aren’t these days. I have years of material planned. In it for the long haul.