Brandvold Brands "Bat Lash" in New Series

Wed, December 12th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

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"Bat Lash" #1 on sale now
DC Comics' long-awaited "Bat Lash" miniseries, by the wildly popular Western novelist Peter Brandvold, is due in stores this week,and Brandvold has a full posse of comic book legends along for the ride.

Brandvold co-wrote the project with Sergio Aragones ("Groo the Wanderer," "The Spirit") while John Severin ("Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos") is the artist. Walt Simonson ("Metal Men," "Thor") is the cover artist. 

While Brandvold shared much about the project with CBR News, Batman himself was keeping the writer from spilling the beans about any juicy plot points forthcoming in the pages of "Bat Lash."

"DC is holding my poor three-legged cur, Thorvald, hostage somewhere in the bowels of Bruce Wayne's mansion, I can't divulge a thing about storyline," quipped Brandvold. "Unless I don't want Thor back, that is. Since he's the only one who'll play poker with me anymore, let alone live with me, I have little choice. I hope you understand. It's a Draconian, stressful thing, but that's corporate America for you. Merciless bastards."

Brandvold did however tease who he'd love to drop by for a game of cards with Bartholomew Alouysius Lash if he had the chance. "No cameos, so far, but if the series keeps going I'd love to involve one my favorite Western stars of all time, Jonah Hex," confessed Brandvold. "I can imagine a wonderful combination, one in which the two are on equal footing while maintaining their own unique personas. There are some great dialogue possibilities there that haven't come anywhere close to being exploited."

Sergio Aragones, Joe Orlando, Carmine Infantino and Sheldon Mayer originally created Bat Lash in 1968, and this miniseries, which will be a re-telling of his origin tale, will mark Lash's biggest project in 40 years. The six-issue project is only two books short of the title's initial run in the 1960s, which lasted eight. Most recently, Lash has been featured twice in "Jonah Hex;" in issues #3 and #24.

"Bat Lash" #2
Brandvold said following a cold call to DC, it was actually an editor who hooked him on "Bat Lash." "I got involved in comics after I moved to Colorado and met the notorious, self-proclaimed comic book legend, Mike Baron (writer of "Nexus," "Badger") who got me interested in comics," explained Brandvold, who lists "Blueberry, " "Tex Willer," "Conan," "Batman," "Desperadoes," "The Goon," and "Jonah Hex" as his favorite titles.

"I read a ton of Westerns and, eager to get to work in the genre, I called DC editor Michael Wright and asked him if I could pitch something Western. He asked around and called back and said, 'Why don't you pitch Bat Lash?'  So I pitched an origin story. Later, Michael asked if I'd mind if they put one of the series' original creators, Sergio Aragones, in the same corral with me, and I said, 'Sure, why not? As long as he doesn't kick or bite.'  Since, I've found out he does neither.

"Working with Sergio, John, and Walter has been an absolute nightmare," said Brandvold. "They're a bunch of drunks who can't make their deadlines and when I make mine they send thugs to break my fingers and poison my dogs. 

"Actually, it's been wonderful," he admitted. "I mean imagine, landing a comic book gig with DC your first time out and also getting to work with talented legends like that, who are also right nice fellers. It's sort of like going out on your first date with Claudia Cardinale.  You have to take pains not to hyperventilate and screw it all up."

Brandvold and Aragones are truly co-writers on the series and the experience has been an incredible one for the novelist. "Together, we figure out the general plot, then I write the script and Sergio sort of tries it out by laying it all out in his singular style, which invariably shows the weaknesses in my panel design," explained Brandvold. "I then fix the pages before our editor sends the script on to Severin.

"I went into this thinking that since I write cinematic novels it would be easy as Lindsay Lohan to hammer out comic book scripts -- wrong!," exclaimed Brandvold. "The forms are very different, although you start from roughly the same place, a visual story inside your head. But breaking the story down into a series of snapshots is an art all its own, and I have nothing but respect for the masters of this craft, including the talented French dude who penned my favorite Western comics, 'Blueberry,' Jean-Michel Charlier, as well as fellows like Tim Truman doing 'Conan' and Jeff Mariotte, who did the wonderful 'Desperadoes,' which I greatly admire."

"Bat Lash" #2
Brandvold, who admits he'd love to be involved in an ongoing "Bat Lash" series, though none has been discussed so far, says he sees a lot of himself in good ol' Bartholomew. "My favorite aspect of Bat Lash is that damn flower in his hat," explained Brandvold. "I love that so much that I'm thinking of putting one in my camouflage hat. The striped pants, though, might be going a little too far.  Those might cost me some respect at my favorite watering hole. Seriously, though, it's Bat's poetic, romantic aspect that I love the most. Don't tell anyone, but he's a lot like me."

He's also lot like one of Brandvold's most popular characters too, the bounty hunter Lou Prophet, who has been featured in the books "The Devil and Lou Prophet" and "Dealt The Devil's Hand," as well as many others by Brandvold.

Explained the author, "Lou Prophet has sold his soul to the devil so he can have all the fun up here he can find for as long as he wants, though he has to shovel coal in hell for all eternity. Bat's much like that, a pleasure-seeking guy. Prophet doesn't have a flower, however. He has a buxom female sidekick named Louisa, a horse appropriately named Mean & Ugly, and a sawed-off ten-gauge shotgun or, as he calls it, a gut-shredder."

In fact, Brandvold thinks Lou Prophet would make a great comic, too. "I'd love to do more comics, though none are in the works as yet," he said. "I'd love to do my own character, Lou Prophet. I think he and his horse and buxom sidekick would make one hell of a long, involved comic book series."

Peter Brandvold
And while no comic projects are pending, Brandvold does have his pen in a number of fires. "I have several projects on the horizon, mostly, more Western novels under my own name and under my pen name, Frank Leslie," said Brandvold. "Currently, Dark Horse is considering a weird Western I've penned, called 'Canyon of a Thousand Eyes.' I'm really keeping my fingers crossed for that one.

"I'm slowly working on a hardboiled crime novel set in North Dakota in the 1960s, a young-adult western, and I'm working on a screenplay adaptation of my Tor/Forge western, 'The Romantics' too."

"Bat Lash" #1 is on sale now from DC Comics.

Related
BRANDVOLD TALKS WRITING "BAT LASH" WITH ARAGONES & SEVERIN
SERGIO ARAGONES UN-DESTROYS DC – PART 1

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