The following is an interview with Joe R. Khachadourian on the comic book series, Identity Stunt. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Khachadourian about the inspiration behind the series, his creative process in bringing the story to life, what readers can anticipate from the story, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book series, Identity Stunt! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Joe R. Khachadourian: Thank you! It’s been a four-year-plus labor-of-love, and I am incredibly proud of our final product.
The premise is fairly straight-forward: In a world of viral media and “fake news,” what happens when a, well, somewhat-average guy (who also happens to be a stuntman and national guardsman) is falsely accused of being a local — and un-liked — vigilante? It’s a high-octane odyssey involving complex characters, a touch of romance, and a fistful of masked lunatics! Think Lethal Weapon meets Unbreakable, with a few costumed sociopaths thrown in for good measure. Many, many more details can be found at www.IdentityStunt.com!
I’ve always enjoyed mistaken identity thrillers, from goofy takes like If Looks Could Kill, to the slightly more grounded North by Northwest. The characters that I tend to be most drawn to are the “ordinary person in an extraordinary situation” trope, whether they’re reluctant or decisive. I was raised on ‘80s and ‘90s cinema, pulled in by films like Die Hard, 48 Hours, and Tango & Cash.
I also really wanted to see more action tales featuring leads of Middle Eastern heritage, so our lead, Sami Nasser, is Jordanian-American. And, despite being advised otherwise, I had a strong desire to write something featuring a suited-up character, but not the primary protagonist. Mix all that up, toss in some Kevin Smith-like dialogue, and you’ve got the Identity Stunt “inspiration cocktail.”
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in writing the series, and what have been some of your creative influences? Likewise, what can you tell us about your process in working with the creative team?
JRK: Between a day job and my amazing family, I’ve fostered a “guerrilla” approach to writing, meaning I write in short bursts whenever time allows. The process is mainly to commit the idea to paper, and once that’s all done, go back and refine. From time to time, I get good chunk of the day to write, which I never take for granted. I also enjoy listening to anthemic music as I write, especially cinema scores.
I’m turned on by art, music, and writing, so my creative influences are rather varied and eclectic. The biggest influences on my writing are (arguably) Kevin Smith, Shane Black, and Elmore Leonard, but even as I say that, I’m already thinking of more names like Brian Azzarello, Warren Ellis, and Chuck Palinhiuk…depends on the day, I guess.
Oh, what a creative team I had to work with! The dynamic duo of Ruairi Coleman and Timothy Brown kicked us off, before having to bow out due to other commitments. But, when one door closes another certainly opens, and thus came the all-new, all-different art team of J. Briscoe Allison and Juancho Velez! The stuff they were able to produce once they came on is mind-blowing! Both these guys deserve so much more attention than they’re currently getting. Their eye for detail, their work ethic…they never forgot the element of fun that fueled Identity Stunt. A.J. Scherkenbach’s lettering work is a cut above, folks! I’ve received as much praise for the lettering as I have the artwork and the writing on the series! We all worked together primarily via email and cloud storage, given that we were a global team. J. Briscoe and I texted each other at about the same frequency as two teenaged girls. J. Briscoe and Juancho are both graduates of the illustrious Kubert School of Art, adding more amazing icing to this killer cake. And all these names are tied together beautifully by the LEGEND-ary Tone Rodriguez! I’ve been a fan of Tone’s for almost twenty years, and am still in disbelief that he drew the covers for Identity Stunt! I’m very lucky to have been able to work with all of them, and to be partnered with Markosia Enterprises, the largest independent comic book publisher in the U.K.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
JRK: Identity Stunt is a fast-paced adventure, and I’m hoping that my readers not only jump on the freight train and brace for impact, but also try to catch their breath again during those softer, tenderer moments. There’s a lot of subtext that we’re trying to explore; a lot to unpack: fatherly love, rediscovering yourself, grieving, paranoia, racism, overcoming internal fears…and growing up (who wants that?!). Come for the action…stay for the psychological explorations and laughs! I also hope that y’all catch all the tubular ‘80s and ‘90s Easter eggs that the team and I threw in for you to collect!
BD: How many issues of Identity Stunt do you have planned for the first story arc?
JRK: Identity Stunt is 100 pages across four issues. All four issues are available currently digitally and in print, with the trade paperback coming to comic shops, book stores, and digital platforms the first week of February! For more details about purchasing, head over to www.IdentityStuntStore.com!
I’m already working on volume two…stay tuned, kids!
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
JRK: Identity Stunt was written as a comic, but heavily inspired by action cinema, so a movie would be the best way to go, complete with tracking lines and a faded VHS cardboard cover! You guys get that reference, right..?
I also see the story working as a TV or streaming mini-series…hey look, folks, I ain’t picky. If anyone in Hollywood is staring up at the ceiling, trying to figure out what their next big hit will be…holla atcha boy!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JRK: I recently began plotting out Identity Stunt Volume 2. I’m really excited to tell this story. We’re picking up a few months after volume 1 ends. We’re also sticking to the tone of the original, but I want to give my readers something a little different. Think A Rumble in the Bronx meets Super…
I’m also working on a new Sci-Fi project unrelated to Identity Stunt. I can hopefully discuss that more in a few months.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Identity Stunt?
JRK: Please visit www.IdentityStunt.com for all your Identity Stunt needs, questions, and curiosities! Outside of that, check out our Facebook page at fb.me/identitystunt for all the most up-to-date and pertinent information, and also sign up for our mailing list via www.IdentityStunt.com! And, if you’re up to the madness, follow me on Twitter (@Joe_Kach) for even more seeeeeekrits…
If you’re not sold on checking out Identity Stunt, please reach out to us via email at identity.stunt (at) gmail (dot) com, and we’ll send you a free, extended preview!