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Fanbase Press Interviews Monty Nero on the Upcoming Release of the Cyberpunk Comic Book Series, ‘Chrome Roses,’ and the Return of ‘Death Sentence’

The following is an interview with writer/artist Monty Nero on the upcoming release of the cyberpunk comic book series, Chrome Roses. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Nero about his creative process in bringing the story and characters to life on the page, the return of his fan-favorite series, Death Sentence, in hardcover, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: This February, you will be launching Chrome Roses. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you share with us about the book’s premise?

Monty Nero: It’s set in The Tract, a future city built on the ashes of a world destroyed by a pandemic emergency.  It mixes cyberpunk, film noir, and murder mystery into an atmospheric epic simply described as “Blade Runner meets Hellboy.”

It’s been a labour of love, following a high-speed motorway crash I was in. I found drawing this a cathartic escape from the aftermath. A visceral, healing response, rather than a conscious choice, a kind of deep emotional need to make art – art I could touch and feel with paper, brush, pen, ink, and acrylic – putting all the knowledge and spirit I could muster into each page. Drawing each panel calmed my mind and soul.

I think on some level all good cyberpunk and film noir is about retaining your humanity in an uncaring world, so it fed into the artwork very powerfully.

BD: This series will bring an expansive, new sci-fi world to life.  How would you describe your creative process in bringing the futuristic world and characters to life on the page?

MN: I started with hundreds of notes I’d made over the years about the future, ideas that are a bit different than what you normally see in cyberpunk: stories, plots, dialogue, ideas for how society and technology could develop.

For instance, it’s illegal to speak to anyone you don’t know in the future without first making an online business appointment (as relationships have been monetised, it’s often the same thing).

Democracy is instant and interactive, via social media, leading to sudden, brutal, or mischievous changes in rules and conventions. And everyone’s freelance, including the cops.

Future sex is always enhanced digitally through apps and Husks. “Skinfreaks” – people trying to touch each or fall in love naturally – are hunted down like dangerous virus-spreading vermin.

Next, I spent a long time drawing and designing my characters to capture the look and feel of the story. Characters are like ambassadors, they need to express what’s cool, original, and interesting about the comic every time you see them.

Then, inspired by all this, I devised some thrilling plots that all interrelate around the same mystery. So, each story is a chapter. They’re complete stories with an ending, but they all form part of a larger conspiracy. So, you get the satisfaction of finishing something with each book, while seeing there’s a lot more.

Then, the long task of drawing it all, which is where the car crash came in.

Chrome Roses Covers

BD: Do you have a certain number of issues planned for the series’ first story arc?

MN: There’ll be three books in all.

BD: In addition to your work with Chrome Roses, next year will see a return to your critically acclaimed series, Death Sentence, for a brand-new hardback collection from Titan. In light of the series’ upcoming 10th anniversary, what is your experience in revisiting the world and characters once again?

MN: It’s satisfying to see people still reading and buying it ten years later. It won Dreamcage “comic of the decade” which was a mix of nominations and public votes, which was exciting. I was lucky to work with two genius artists in Mike Dowling who now works for Marvel, and Martin Simmonds who does The Dept of Truth for Image. There’s about four hundred pages of their art in Death Sentence, and about 80 pages of mine, and their stuff is just stunning – it blows me away every time I see it.

BD: Are there any special features with this new collection that you are excited to share with readers?

MN: Yes, it’s a definitive collection, so there’s concept art, all the rare covers, a new piece by me about all the underlying themes, some additional material fleshing out the world, and some lovely new cover artwork from Martin Simmonds.

BD: As you look ahead to the combined volume of your years of hard work alongside artists Mike Dowling and Martin Simmonds, what is your experience as creators in seeing the vast world that you have created and the undeniable impact that it has had on readers?

MN: It was a very happy time, hanging out together, and we still talk to the same readers who bought the first issue. We were so excited to explore what the medium could do storytelling wise. I really pushed myself with the script and they went the extra mile with the art. That’s something I always look for in a comic – is this everything the creators have got? Have they put their heart and soul into each page? If not, don’t buy it.

Of course, the world’s changed a lot, I was largely just entertaining myself back then, self-publishing, then Titan picked it up. But because it’s an inspiring story about the world, about what to do with your life in a world of horrors and incompetence, it’s still very relevant. The fact it predicted so many things like the pandemic emergency, lock down, the Capitol riots, and Boris Johnson’s ludicrous reign and fall from power is very unsettling. It was well researched, but still eerily prescient.

BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with readers?

MN: If you follow me on Substack, I’ll be debuting a comic novel I’m writing. It’s really very funny. Everyone who’s read it so far has doubled up laughing. How can I describe it…if Douglas Adams wrote James Bond? It’s unusual.

BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Chrome Roses, the Death Sentence hardcover, and your other work?

MN: Chrome Roses is all systems go right here.

And you can get in touch with me at any of the places below. I’m an artist and writer so I tend to be creating, but I do post new work I’m making or inspired by, writing or art tips, and artwork videos.

Mailing list
My agent: James Wills at Watson Little Ltd

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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