It’s not everyday that we get to enjoy seeing writer Fred Van Lente chime in on GENERATION ZERO, and all things indie comics, so let’s do this, with relish.
Q: GENERATION ZERO drops in August. We’re stoked! You must be having so much fun with this. What do you suppose Valiant readers will enjoy most about the tale’s protagonists?
FVL: It’s a different take on the teen superhero genre. These guys are more juvenile delinquents than anything else, trained to be human weapons by a shady government contractor, but now let loose on the world. I like to call it Archie meets The Authority.
Q: What can you tell our Multiverse readers about some of the antagonists in GENERATION ZERO, without giving too much away?
FVL: There’s something evil and mysterious in the town of Rook, Michigan and a girl at the high school there, Keisha Sherman, has summoned the self-described “paramilitary teen rescue organization” Generation Zero to find out what’s what. There, they meet all sorts of weird enemies, like the Cornermen, the Keys Club, and an insidious dream-eating force known as Rasa that threatens to destroy them all…
Q: What can you tell our Multiverse readers about Rook, Michigan, without giving too much away?
FVL: Rook is one of those towns that has been taken over by an “emergency manager” once their tax base started to deteriorate. So all of a sudden, under the auspices of Jason Poole, this manager, Rook is suddenly reborn overnight as the most technologically advanced city in America. Poole and the town’s fathers — including Keisha’s dad, the local sheriff — all swear this is totally on the up-and-up. But, Keisha’s boyfriend has his suspicions. When he is murdered, she’s inspired to bring in Generation Zero to crack the case.
Q: Indie comics seem to be as visible as mainstream comics today, if not almost as popular. How did it come to this?
FVL: I think people are always looking for something new, and frankly, I think they’re getting quite a lot of the Marvel and DC superhero universes from movies and television. When they come to comics, perhaps their eyes are peeled for something different.
Q: What is it about the character of Keisha Sherman that you hope will resonate with Valiant readers? What can you tell our Multiverse readers about her more redeeming qualities?
FVL: She’s like the normal girl on the Munsters, in that she doesn’t have any powers. But, she’s kind of the group’s moral center. The members of Generation Zero can destroy things with their bare hands, leap forward into the future, and transform into cartoon animals (don’t ask), but they’re human weapons. They see everything in terms of what they can beat up and blow up. They’re beautiful and dangerous superhuman juvies, and they need someone like Keisha to keep them honest and in line.
Q: Of the current crop of indie comics, there must be at least three (3) which you are really curious to read. Which are they, and why?
FVL: Top of my list of need-to-get-to-reading-them would be Southern Bastards, Four Kids Walk into a Bank, and Patience by Daniel Clowes.
Q: Which of the more iconic indie comics, of the last twenty years or so, do you feel are most deserving of their iconic status, and why?
FVL: It’s hard not to argue with the accomplishment of Cerebus by Dave Sim. Whatever you think of his politics, doing 300-ish issues all by his lonesome, with Gerhard’s help, is a stunning accomplishment. At its best it’s an amazing, funny satire.
Q: What’s your all-time favorite film adaptation of an indie comic, and why?
FVL: I’d have to say Ghost World, such a sweet and funny little movie.
Q: What’s still on your bucket list, as a writer?
FVL: I’d really love to do a really scary independent, low-budget horror movie. I am a huge fan of those, and whenever I see one they really get my creative juices flowing. Writing one of my own would be rad.
Q: Five dinner guests. Which five living writers (of indie comics or otherwise) would you invite to a dinner party?
FVL: I’m very lucky because I am already good friends with so many. I’d love to have my pals Greg Pak, Charles Soule, Joshua Dysart, Dave Wellington and Nicholas Kaufman over for a dinner that I’d cook myself. It’s one of my personal hobbies.
Q: [Role play] You’re on a ship at sea. It’s a dark and stormy night. The captain is nowhere to be found. What do you do?
FVL: Raid his liquor cabinet! I’m not drowning sober!