The following is an interview with novelist Sam Sattin (The Silent End), author of the Legend comic book series that was recently released in trade paperback by Z2 Comics. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Sattin about transitioning from writing novels to comic books, his creative process in working with artist Chris Koehler, future plans for working within the Legend world, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your creator-owned series, Legend, is now being collected into trade paperback form by Z2 Comics. In looking back at the series, how would you describe your experience in your first comic book venture?
Sam Sattin: Legend has changed my outlook on writing stories. The tale of a tribe of dogs facing down monsters in a post-apocalyptic world, coming together under dire circumstances to survive, and even teaming up with old enemies to do so, challenged me in ways I never expected.
I’m a novelist by trade, so my quest into comics was as enlightening and exciting as it was difficult. One of the first things I had to learn was that, while books can benefit from having a lot of words, comics can suffer for it. My tendency starting out was to fill each page with improbable amounts of text, until I realized that the visual language required to tell a story in comics involves trusting your artist, even if that artist is you. Lessons like that and others have made me better storyteller overall. I’ve had to learn how to work under strict deadlines; how to condense my words and ideas to fit 22 page issues; how to never lose track of the story arc, so that I didn’t veer into unknown territory; and how to work collaboratively to share the page. It’s been an extraordinary experience.
BD: Do you feel that you were able to stay true to the original story that you set out to tell, or did your creative process lead you in new directions with the story?
SS: I’d like to believe I was able to do both. We stayed true to the original story, while discovering strange and exciting material along the way. One example is Cat Technology, which became a factor only as I began writing the first issue. It could have been a curveball under different circumstances, but Chris [Koehler] adapted quickly, and soon enough, we were designing flame torches comprised of telescopes and propane tanks.
But while all of that is true, we mainly stayed the course. And it’s looking like we’ll end up where we thought we would, as well. If you think writing a story like an extended hiking venture in the woods, we strayed off the path to explore the flora and fauna, learning a thing or two about the lay of the land along the way, but we always kept the trail in sight.
BD: How did your collaboration with Chris Koehler impact your creative process in writing Legend, whether it be with the story itself or the development of the world and its characters?
SS: Chris is a brilliant artist, and he contributes a great deal to the way in which the story of LEGEND is told. I’m always amazed by the fact that, no matter what I imagine initially when I first begin writing a script, the finished pages will almost certainly turn out differently than I expected. Which I love! Two common visions are better than one in a vacuum, you might say. Chris also plants a lot of Easter Eggs throughout the book…you might not catch them unless you look closely, but it’s especially neat for me to see how he digs into the physical mechanisms of the world.
In terms of character, we’re able to have a lot of fun. We use animals belonging to friends for reference…and my two treasured house cats, as well. Chris is especially good at coming up with variations on cat armor, and complementary physical characteristics of the animals wearing them.
BD: Do you feel that readers of your previous novels transitioned with you to the sequential art medium, and what feedback have you received from readers?
SS: That’s a really great question. I’m not sure if I’ll know quite yet whether or not my readers followed me along. But I do plan to continue writing novels, so ideally I’d love for readers to jump back and forth as they prefer, from comics to books, and vice versa.
BD: Given the opportunity, would you be interested in further working within the world of Legend, through comic books, novels, or other storytelling mediums?
SS: The world of LEGEND absolutely has room to grow — I have so many ideas. Right now, I’m mainly focusing on the release of LEGEND. But I am interested in expanding the world, in whichever form that takes.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
SS: I’m always working on a few projects. I have a serialized novel coming up that’s strange, exciting, and scary. New ideas for novels and comics, as well. And I’d also say that readers should anticipate more from the world LEGEND.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Legend and your other work?
SS: You can always visit me on Twitter (@SamuelSattin), Facebook, or www.samuelsattin.com. I like hearing from people, so feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try my best to respond!