The following is an interview with Dave Dwonch, Rob Ruddell, and Justin Greenwood, the creative team behind Action Lab: Danger Zone’s new comic book series, Ghost Town. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Dwonch, Ruddell, and Greenwood about the inspiration for the new genre-bending series, the additional projects on top for the creators, and why Action Lab makes a great home for the creator-owned series.
This interview was conducted on March 26, 2013.
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Your new series, Ghost Town, recently released its first issue through Action Lab: Danger Zone, the mature reader line of comics from Action Lab Entertainment. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the series, how would you describe its premise?
Dave Dwonch: We’re trying something a little different here. Initially, the story is about terrorists stealing a time machine who send nuclear devices into major U.S. cities, but we’re really building a kind of “mid-apocalypse,” a place that the U.S. uprooted from, leaving its citizens to fend for themselves. It’s a very human story.
Rob Ruddell: I like to describe this story as ‘mid-apocalyptic,’ because the destructive elements have been set in motion. The terrorists have achieved their desired effect of driving fear into the country, but the actual landscape of D.C. hasn’t been reduced to rubble . . . yet. I agree with Dave about the essence of humanity that is expressed through the story, what has happened should remind us of how devastating natural disasters bring out the best and worst of humanity. Now imagine if a political body had the power to level cities whenever they wanted.
Justin Greenwood: Yeah, the book is pretty aptly named – D.C. literally becomes a Ghost Town, a place where only the bravest and most desperate will choose to live. It’s a landscape that is rife with danger and double crossing.
BD: Rob and Dave, what were your inspirations for the story?
RR: I have always adored time travel stories; this is a story that had been rattling around in my head for several years. It’s a time travel story with a twist, because typically you see the story from the perspective of the traveler, but I wanted to turn the time travel tropes on their head and show how sending something forward (such as a bomb) could create a permanent state of fear. It would be impossible to recover from this event, because you know that someone had the power to do it again and again, but it would be impossible to see it coming.
DD: For me Ghost Town: Ground Zero is the action movie I always wanted to see. It’s a bit Tom Clancy, a bit Michael Bay, and a bit John Woo. As the series progresses with writer Ryan Lindsay and artist Daniel Logan, it will involve a sizeable cast and move into much deeper storytelling akin to stuff like The Wire.
BD: How did the creative team form on this series, and how would you describe the creative process?
DD: Like all great things. In a bar.
JG: Strangely, I happened to be at the bar the very night these guys started really mulling this idea over. Initially, it was just a seed, but by the end of the conversation, it was a complete picture, and a dark one at that.
RR: I brought this to the table (literally) one night during WonderCon. I was terrified when I brought it up since I had never shared this idea with anyone, but was thrilled when the conversation continued for a long time and it seemed to strike people as interesting. This has been an extremely exciting project for me to be involved with.
BD: Justin, did you have an idea in mind for the art style when you first read the script, or has the style developed as you worked with the material?
JG: My first thought when reading this script was that I wanted it to feel stark. My biggest challenge was that this issue sets up a larger story, and it’s pretty dense with new ideas. My goal was to find a balance of giving the story its due without slowing down the action too much, and I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.
BD: Ghost Town successfully combines sci-fi with action adventure and political thriller, which is certainly no easy feat. With the series encompassing several different genres, which audiences do you feel will be most enticed to read Ghost Town?
DD: With Action Lab: Danger Zone, we fully intend to tackle all genres with no limit storytelling. I think we’ll have a pretty wide audience, and I think fans of Vertigo’s DMZ, Northlanders, and Hellblazer will be drawn to Ghost Town.
BD: With the first issue now available, what can readers expect from future issues of Ghost Town, and when should they anticipate the arrival of Issue #2?
DD: We’re scheduled out bi-monthly for the first five issues and hope to relaunch with a new first issue shortly after Volume One wraps.
JG: The work that Ryan and Daniel have done with the continuing story is great, and if folks like the Ground Zero issue, then they will definitely enjoy where it goes next.
BD: As independent creators, can you describe the process of working with Action Lab Entertainment as a publisher, given their support of creator-owned works?
DD: Well, as the Creative Director at Action Lab, I can honestly say, that working with their Creative Director is amaze balls. 😉
JG: Dave and I worked together on something years ago, so getting a chance to collaborate again has been a lot of fun. As far as the rest of the Action Lab crew, everybody has been really supportive and more than willing to listen to my crazy ideas.
BD: Besides Ghost Town, are there any other projects on which you are currently working?
DD: It’s been done for a while, but the collected edition of Double Jumpers will be available for pre-order next month. Currently, I’m writing a great all-ages series called Vamplets, co-writing a blaxplotation/sci-fi book called Odin Jones (with Shawn Gabborin), lettering Fracture and Princeless, and working on a couple of pitches. I hope to wrap up my webcomic, Space-Time Condominium, sometime this year, and I have a couple of top secret projects in the hopper. Oh, and I’m writing a bit for the NFL: Rush Zone project, along with my duties at ALE.
JG: I’m returning to draw another arc of Wasteland for Oni Press, but I don’t think my part of that story will be coming out for at least a few months; however, you can find my art on the covers of future Ghost Town issues in the coming months.
BD: This being Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your own favorite comic books?
DD: Saga. Holy crap, that’s a great book!
JG: Ooh yeah, Saga is a really good one, and I really enjoyed BKV’s other new book, The Private Eye. The one I keep waiting for to return, though, is Loose Ends. Definitely my favorite new book to come along in a while.
RR: Saga is truly an incredibly original read. Daredevil also is pretty darned amazing.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell Fanboy Comics’ readers who would like to learn more about Ghost Town?
DD: Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or at a Comic-Con. You will not find a friendlier batch of creators than the people at Action Lab and Action Lab: Danger Zone. We love our craft and love talking shop with fellow creators and fans!