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Fanbase Press Interviews Ben Wan on the Release of the Comic Book Series, ‘Alter Ego’

The following is an interview with Ben Wan regarding the recent release of the comic book series, Alter Ego. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Wan about the shared creative process of bringing the story to life on the page, what he hopes that readers may take away from the story, and more!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of Alter Ego! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of this story?

Ben Wan: Thank you! Alter Ego is a comic series set in a cutthroat Game of Thrones-style world, where five families of supervillains rule over a post apocalyptic Detroit while the last remnants of a police force attempt to take back control of their home. At the center is Jace, a vengeful outsider who agrees to go undercover for the cops as a henchman in order to take the families down from the inside. Will he help save the humans in taking back the city? Or is he clearing the board to rule the Five Families himself?

BD: How would you describe your shared creative process in bringing this story (set in a post-apocalyptic Detroit) and its characters to life on the page?

BW: The creative process for this was definitely different from anything I’ve experienced before. I have a background in screenwriting where you usually leave a fair amount of room for the costume designer or production designer or director to take charge of their part of it. Along the same lines, my only other published fiction is prose writing, where you can leave a fair amount to the reader’s imagination.

Comics are different. There’s very little left to the imagination, because it has to be on the page. And while it’s still a collaborative process like in film, your collaborators are looking to you for direction, because it’s your vision.

In the case of Alter Ego, the story originally began as a spec TV pilot, but given the genre and desire to tell the full story, I decided to turn it into a comic so that all the characters and settings would look and feel the way I would want them to look. But the trick was being able to communicate those well to the artist.

Writing for this medium was definitely an adjustment. It really tested how well I knew what the world and the characters, as well as describing everything clearly for my artist in the script. It feels very much like being a director, where you have to be decisive on how you want everything to look, right down to the eye and hair colors or the specific angle of how we’d see a character in the panel.

Thankfully, a friend of mine, Danielle Moses, did the character concept art for me for Jace and the heads of the Five Families beforehand so that there’d be some initial reference point for the comic artist, Abudii. The rest required either very descriptive details in the script or reference pictures I used for the different characters, costumes, and buildings.

BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Jace’s story may impact readers, and are there any conversations that you hope that it might inspire?

BW: As a comic book fan myself, I hope it inspires other writers to do their own comics and create their spins on different stories and superpowers.

With Alter Ego, I wanted to put my own stamp on the common tropes. Here, it’s a world that seems primed for a superhero…but it has someone who operates much differently. I essentially wanted to play around with someone whose alter ego wasn’t a clear-cut mask or cape, like in superhero stories, and where the stakes were much higher if his secrets were found out. In a lot of the classic Silver Age comics, Superman would try to prevent Lois Lane from discovering his true identity as Clark Kent. They were fun stories, but, at the end of the day, if Lois found out his secret (which she did later anyway), he’d just need to trust her to keep it to herself. In Alter Ego, if anyone in the Five Families discovers Jace’s true agenda, he’s a dead man. Especially when everyone has more dangerous powers than he does.

Another aspect was that I wanted to play around in a world where you didn’t know how the characters would evolve. In any superhero reboot, you know who’s going to be a hero or villain, and if you don’t, you’re just a quick Google search away from finding out what happened to them in the comics and what their future superhero or supervillain alias is going to be.

But in Alter Ego, these are all original characters and I’m the only one who knows where it’s going. The question of whether Jace is going to become a hero or a villain or some form of both is going to be much more ambiguous than any classic superhero story. At the same time, Jace isn’t the only wild card. There are characters who seem like good guys who are secretly villains and other characters who seem like villains who are secretly not all that bad. So, a lot of this project came about from wanting to play with the audience’s expectations of the tropes of the superhero genre and provide a different experience that was much more unpredictable.

BD: Do you foresee expanding the story into subsequent story arcs, if given the opportunity?

BW: For sure! This is the first out of four issues that form Chapter 1 of the story. Subsequent arcs will expand on Jace’s story, as well as flesh out the Five Families as he gets deeper and deeper into their inner circle. Issue #2 itself is currently in the works and should be released by the end of the year.

BD: In addition to the comic series, you also host the podcast, Superhero Stuff You Should Know. What can you tell us about the podcast and its focus, and how can readers find new and previously released episodes?

BW: Superhero Stuff You Should Know is a podcast I co-run with a friend of mine, Andrew Bush. We center on lost media on superhero films and TV shows, such as unmade scripts, unused concept art, and actors who were nearly cast in the roles. We’ve recently shifted focus towards making our podcast episodes about interviewing the creatives behind the movies and TV shows we grew up with. Our guests have included Sam Hamm, who wrote the 1989 Batman film, as well as the current Batman ’89 comic series; Daniel Waters, who wrote Batman Returns; Batman ’89 comic editor Andy Khouri, whose advice helped in the formation of this comic; Oley Sassone, who directed the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four film produced by Roger Corman; and Michael Uslan, the executive producer of the Batman movies and essentially the godfather of the modern superhero film. Readers can find us on YouTube at, as well as our audio versions on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible, or whatever platform they use for podcasts.

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

BW: Outside of the next three issues of Alter Ego, I have a short story that was released last year that will be republished in three different anthologies coming up: Metaphorosis 2023: The Complete Stories, Ignition!, and Inner Workings. It’s called “Shortcut to Happily Ever After” and is very different from Alter Ego.

It centers on Daniel, who’s a hopeless romantic who uses time travel to find love. Whenever he meets someone new, he jumps to the future to see if their relationship lasts and if it doesn’t, he returns to the present to cancel the first date before anyone gets hurt. But when his dating strategy starts ruining the fabric of time, Daniel has to go back and live through every relationship he skipped, discovering what he missed the first time around.

You can currently read it on the Metaphorosis Magazine website, as well as listen to the audio podcast version of it here.

I also write for the YouTube channel/podcast Neuverse Creative, which produces superhero audio dramas based on unmade scripts. I’ve done a few adaptations for them, as well as voice acted in a couple. The ones that we’ve announced are Batman 3 which adapts the original script of Batman Forever and The Batman: Year One which adapts the unmade Year One screenplay by Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller, but sets it in the world of The Batman from Matt Reeves, as a prequel to the 2022 film. To check out more, you can go to @NeuverseCreative on YouTube.

My friend and fellow podcaster Alex Ramsey who hosts shows like Night of the Batmen and Flashbacks: A Flash Rewatch podcast just did a variant cover for me of issue #1, which is available here. It’s his take on The Saint, who’s the head of the Fifth Family in the supervillains. His version is unofficially based on his own casting for the role if it were ever made into a movie or TV show. I’ll let people take their guess on who it is…

BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Alter Ego

BW: Expect to learn more about Jace himself, as well as his enemies – The Kaiser, The Judge, and the remaining members of the First Family – in Issues #2-4. You’ll get to know the other families much better, especially The Host, The Collective, and The Gatekeeper, in the subsequent volumes as Jace becomes more embedded into the organization. You can follow my website at www.benw, or my podcast, Superhero Stuff You Should Know, for updates on when Issue #2 is released.

Thanks for your support in reading this interview and/or getting the comic. Please leave a review in Amazon and, as we like to say on Superhero Stuff You Should Know (to paraphrase Keaton’s Batman), “I want you to tell all your friends about it.”

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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