CCI: Ortega Deals with Warriors and Demons

Sat, July 28th, 2007 at 12:00am PDT | Updated: July 13th, 2008 at 7:48pm

Comic Books
Michael Patrick Sullivan, Contributing Writer

Novelist Joshua Ortega has worked on many of comics' top properties since his first published comics work in 2005, not the least of which is the 'Death Dealer' mini-series from Image Comics, based on the works of legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta. Now, Ortega is continuing that association as Image announces further Frazetta-inspired projects this weekend at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

"Long story short: Steve Niles was originally tapped to write 'Death Dealer,' when he realized his schedule was too packed, he suggested me to take over the writing reins. ... Luckily, I was Nat's first choice as well, and the rest is history in the making.

"As far as working on titles beyond 'Death Dealer,' from the start I knew if we nailed the first book we'd have a chance at doing an interconnected Frazetta Universe, so I started seeding some hints throughout the story that dealt with some larger events and other places and characters. Nat and Jay were also thinking along the same lines, and we were fortunate that the Frazettas loved what we were doing and gave us the green light for the idea."

While the "Silver Warrior" mini-series is still in development, Ortega spoke about why the painting was selected to be the basis for the centerpiece of the expansion of the Frazetta line.

"From the get-go, that was my first choice after 'Death Dealer.' 'Silver Warrior' was painted by Frazetta at the same time as 'Death Dealer,' and it has that same incredible energy, but with a very different feel to it. It's one of those paintings that really resonates with people and has a huge following. Heck, you can even buy Zippos of both of them!

"When it came time to pick the follow-up mini-series to 'Death Dealer', I think we all sensed that 'Silver Warrior' was the best image we could choose. I couldn't be happier to be working with that image, and we've got a killer story for him."

In addition to 'Silver Warrior,' Ortega will also be writing a one-shot based on another Frazetta work.

"'Frank Frazetta's Swamp Demon' is the one-shot that I'm writing, which will most likely be released before the 'Silver Warrior' mini-series. It's a dark fantasy tale in the vein of 'Death Dealer,' very different from 'Silver Warrior' -- which is more high fantasy -- and it even features some of the characters from 'Death Dealer,' albeit 500 years before the 'Death Dealer' story takes place.

"The same creative team from 'Death Dealer' will be featured on 'Silver Warrior' -- me, Nat Jones, and Jay Fotos -- though we aren't quite yet ready to announce who's on 'Swamp Demon' yet. Suffice to say, the artists on the book will not disappoint...after all, you've gotta bring your A-game to the table when you're working on a Frazetta book!

"'Death Dealer,' 'Silver Warrior,' and 'Swamp Demon' are all very interconnected through various characters and events, and all take place in the same world. These books are the foundation of the Frazetta Universe, and reading all three of these will allow you to get a good feel for this brand new world of fantasy fiction. Mark Kidwell's 'Dark Kingdom' will also tie into the Frazetta Universe, though the land of Vikavia is still somewhat isolated at the time that his story takes place...however, it's still essential reading for those who want to explore every corner of the Frazetta Universe."

Ortega's connection to the works of Frazetta goes back further than he can pinpoint.

"I can't even remember the first time. I just know that when I realized that the same man had painted so many of these great, inspiring images that I had seen, I was hooked. There's no other painter like Frazetta. Simply put, the man's a genius.

"They have been incredibly inspiring. ... I can go on at length, but that pretty much sums it up. Inspiration is a powerful thing, and all great art and great artists have the ability to inspire. Frazetta's work does just that."

While Ortega has not yet had the opportunity to meet the man who has inspired so much, he did mention a planned trip to Frazetta's home state of Pennsylvania in the near future.

Check out all the stories coming out of Comic-Con International 2007 about the expanded line of Frazetta comics:

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