AMBER LOVE 28-JAN-2014 It took many months of scheduling conflicts but I was thrilled to finally connect with the creator of my favorite new comic of 2013. MONTY NERO and his collaborative partner MIKE DOWLING are the brains and talent behind DEATH SENTENCE. I found the story compelling and Titan Comics’ viral marketing to be just the right amount of gimmick without being overbearing driving potential fans into boredom before giving the book a chance. Monty took time from his busy life in Scotland to talk all about how they developed the main characters and about the publicity for DEATH SENTENCE.
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“They don’t publish anything unless they’re massively enthusiastic about it.” ~Monty about TITAN COMICS UK
Monty was able to visit the US for the first time at the 2013 New York Comic Con where he had scheduled signings at the Titan Comics booth. Monty and I had a similar fangasm experience meeting Jim Steranko at the con.
The three main characters of DEATH SENTENCE have contracted a new sexually transmitted disease acquired by the “G virus.” This virus acts quickly killing people in only a matter of months; however during the time that the virus is active people develop some unique supernatural abilities. Monty is also an artist and as such has lived a life outside the 9-5 rat race in cubicles. He doesn’t see the characters Verity, Monty, and Weasel as peculiar or unusual because each of them are in some form of arts and entertainment. The most non-creative job Nero had was as a healthcare assistant but now he gets to dedicate a quieter lifestyle as a writer and artist while being settled down comfortably with this wife and daughter.
In the course of the podcast, we get really into the traits of Verity (the artist), Monty (the comedian) and Weasel (the rockstar). Verity is the most down-to-earth one and Nero considers the real heart of the story and the character with most people will connect. Weasel is a terrible fuck up but readers will see the one area of his life that makes him vulnerable and endearing. Monty is by far a commanding character with tremendous presence. He has a masterful way of working an audience and interviewers. We see Monty as a real planner and mastermind.
“I think everybody on some level is creative. And I think it’s a natural kind of human characteristic. I think it’s a big part of why humans have kind of developed into being a dominant species. It’s ‘cause we can create and we do have imagination. We can imagine things beyond what is actually kind of our reality at this moment and then go and create it.” ~MN
Nero believes if people’s inherent ability to create are not allowed to flourish that it sucks some life out all humans.
The premise of the G virus being fatal while having a desirable side effect is the equivalent to our real world celebrity worship and ambition. How far would you go to gain power or celebrity? In this case, it’s a death sentence but for someone like Weasel the rockstar, it might be a path chosen rather than accidentally acquired. The side effect powers here are extensions of each character’s personality in a metaphoric way. For example, Weasel is a flakey type of person who is not really present or aware of the real world around him so he develops abilities to faze through solid objects.
We get a little heady talking about science vs. faith or the concept of having faith in science. In this portion it’s clear I’m a scientist. I presented the hypothesis that Jack Daniels is quality stress reliever; a catalyst (power outage) caused stress and subject consumed said Jack Daniels (Honey); stress was relieved therefore Jack Daniels is a quality stress reliever and I’m a scientist.
Nero’s plan was to self publish DEATH SENTENCE. He did show it around to publishers at a con. Ultimately the publishing plan was pretty cool. The comic was serialized first in Mark Millar’s CLiNT magazine, a product of Titan Magazines and then published as individual issues by Titan Comics. CLiNT was available through Diamond distribution with a large circulation so it was a solid choice to get it into as many plans as possible.
The tailend of the show we focus on Nero’s background with comics and storytelling.