The following is an interview with writer Monty Nero (Vertigo Cyan, The Amazing X-Men Annual #1) regarding the collection of his hit comic book series, Death Sentence, which is being released by Titan Books in comic book shops on June 25. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Nero about his initial inspiration for the series that turns the superhero genre on its head, his collaboration with artist Mike Dowling, and the comparisons between his experiences as both a writer and an artist!
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: The Fanboy Comics Staff and I are very excited about the upcoming release of the Death Sentence trade paperback next month. What initially inspired you to create this story?
Monty Nero: Real life. My wife was three months pregnant, and all the parents we knew were issuing dark warnings that life as we knew it would end in an explosion of nappies and baby milk. So, it felt like I only had six months left to do something creative before settling down to all this responsible Dad stuff. Which wasn’t true, as it turned out – because new life is hugely creative and inspiring. But, that powerful feeling of time running out is at the heart of the book: ‘6 months to live – what’re you gonna do?’ In my case, I wanted to make a great comic
BD: Death Sentence is a dramatic and gripping departure from traditional superhero stories. What do you hope that readers will take away from the collection?
MN: I just hope they enjoy it. It’s funny and thought provoking and action packed, You can read it as a vibrant satire of 21st century society, a rumination on the nature of man, or an irreverent super-powered romp. It’s entirely up to you.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with artist Mike Dowling on the book?
MN: Meticulous. Mike’s a really intelligent guy who thinks deeply about his work. I put a lot of layers and resonances into my scripts, so we complemented each other really well. We both spent a lot of time tweaking pages to make sure every panel did everything it could. If you enjoy eloquent sequentials, there’s lots to enjoy here.
BD: Is there a possibility that this will be a continuing series, or is the entire story collected within this volume?
MN: It’s been successful, so we’re releasing a new, five-issue series every year continuing the Death Sentence story. We’re about half way through making the next chapters. But, this first volume is a complete book with a very satisfying end that makes a lot of interesting points about the world.
BD: Given that you have worked as both a writer and an artist, do you find that one aspect of the creative process is more challenging (or more rewarding) than the other?
MN: I find writing more satisfying than art. The joy in both is making ideas tangible, but writing is quicker and more fluid, so the buzz is more immediate. The pleasure of art for me is more contemplative and meditative, and that doesn’t sit quite so well with deadlines in terms of enjoying your day.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Death Sentence and your body of work?
MN: There’s more info at www.montynero.com and @montynero on Twitter. Vertigo Cyan and The Amazing X-Men Annual #1 are out now, too. But, Death Sentence is at the root of all the kind notices and work I’ve been getting from other companies. It does what only comics can, and offers something subversive and exciting that melds words and pictures into something far greater than both. My co-creator Mike Dowling has an air of Jock and Sean Phillips about him, but he’s an innovator and a brilliant colourist, too. I’d check out Death Sentence just for his beautiful storytelling to be honest. He’s a real talent to watch.