Over the last five seasons, Jax Teller, Clay Morrow and the rest of the Charming, California-based Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club have brought explosive violence and characterization to television. Time will tell how much damage SAMCRO's volatile personalities will reap when they ride into comic book stores this fall.
Last week, BOOM! Studios announced a six-issue miniseries tie-in to the FX crime drama. Debuting in September, the series is written by novelist and comic book writer Christopher Golden, drawn by Damian Couceiro and features cover art by RM Guerra. The solicitation teased that the reappearance of a past-SAMCRO member's daughter would make life interesting for the SoA, including their most violent member, Sergeant-at-Arms Tig Trager -- who saw his own daughter go up in flames last season.
On the heels of the announcement, CBR News spoke with Golden about how the notorious biker outlaws will make the jump to the printed page and the trouble that's barreling down the road, headlong into Charming, California.
CBR News: There's excitement and curiosity to see how SAMCRO is going to make the leap into comics. Beyond from the solicitation -- which teases the appearance of a SAMCRO member's daughter -- what can you tell us about this "Sons of Anarchy" story and how it connects to the show?
Christopher Golden: Obviously, there are strict parameters on what I can and can't say, but I'll do what I can. This may not be an official title, but I call this six-issue arc "The Whistle Blower." It revolves around what happens when honor -- not just the club's, but honor of a personal nature -- comes into conflict with business. SAMCRO looks after its own, but certain people involved with the club, like Gemma, bend those rules to suit themselves. Throughout the series, we're constantly seeing adjustments and negotiations -- side deals made to protect club interests. This mini is set during Season Five. Jax has the gavel. Clay is sidelined. Tig watched his daughter burn alive in front of him. Now, into the midst of that, comes Kendra, and all I can tell you about her is that she is not Tig's daughter, but if you're a Tig fan, you're going to get plenty of Tig to keep that crazy grin on your face.
How much of SAMCRO's legacy and Charming's history are you hoping to explore?
The story is firmly set during Season Five, and has its origins in one particular relationship that I always found interesting and entertaining -- in a grim sort of way. We're not going to see much of Charming's past, but we will see at least one other SoA charter involved in the story, and will get to see a small sliver of club history. I asked Kurt Sutter early on (before this project even came up) if I could tell the story of the club's formation, but if he ever tells that story, it'll be on screen. Still, if this first miniseries does well and the folks at BOOM! are happy with it, I'd love to do more, explore further. It's way too early to say.
How involved is Kurt Sutter in this story?
In addition to writing novels and comics, I also put together fiction anthologies. In that role, I persuaded Kurt to write his first ever published short story, "TIC BOOM: A Slice of Love," which appeared in my zombie anthology "21st Century Dead." Sometime later, I'd asked him about "Sons of Anarchy" in other mediums and we emailed a bit about that. Later still, I heard from a friend at Fox Licensing that he'd put in a good word for me -- and when BOOM! closed their deal for the comics, they got in touch. Needless to say, I'm thrilled to be working on this project.
As for Kurt's present involvement, I did email him at the time I got the gig and asked him a couple of questions about parameters; what he'd like to see and what he wanted us to steer clear of. Beyond that, I have no idea if he's going to be taking an interest in what we're up to. I figure he's got plenty of other things to focus on, like bringing us Season Six of SoA as soon as possible!
I think a lot of people associate you with fantasy and horror, thanks in large part to your work with Hellboy. What interested you most about taking on SAMCRO's pulpy, gritty world?
It's funny -- I often feel like I'm the elephant in the story about the five blind men. Different people associate me with different things because I've had a very varied career. I've written horror, fantasy, mystery, thrillers. My current novel in progress -- which was just optioned by Warner Bros. for feature film -- is a near-future military SF thriller called "Tin Men." I wrote a pilot a few years back for the CW that was a weird-science medical thriller series, based on my "Body Of Evidence" novels. So the nutshell version is that I write what I love.
Back in the days when "The Shield" was on, I pushed hard for someone to pick up the novel rights because I wanted to write a novel set in that world. Same thing with "Sons of Anarchy," which is the best show on TV. It's Shakespearean drama, gritty pulp, ass-kicking characterization, and it's full of genuine pain, most of which stems from people who feel so trapped that they make choices that seem to them like their only choice, and then they have to suffer the consequences. And horror? There's plenty of that here, too. I grew up wearing scuffed boots and wandering the woods behind my neighborhood with my brother and our friends, getting into trouble. Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Outlaws and The Allman Brothers were the soundtrack to my youth. Let's be clear, I'm not trying to paint myself as some kind of hardass outlaw. Seriously, that's just silly. It was nothing like that. Just a bunch of teenagers drinking beers and wreaking a little neighborhood havoc. But that cowboy-drifter mindset? That was where we lived in our heads. If you saw my reading shelf, you'd understand. Yes, I read horror, but I probably read more crime and thriller and mystery novels than horror, and the western stuff creeps in there, too. Larry McMurtry is one of my favorites. Hell, SAMCRO isn't too far away from Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall gang, are they?
When did the show first pop up on your radar, and what was your experience with SoA?
I'd love to say I watched it right off, but somehow it snuck past me until season one had finished. I picked up the DVD set the week it came out, watched it and was instantly on board. I don't have to tell you how brilliant the show is or how amazing the cast is. Ron Perlman is always great, so that was no surprise, but I'd never heard of Charlie Hunnam before SoA and he hooked me right off. And Katey Sagal? Honestly -- who knew? The first time I saw her in character as Gemma, she erased my memories of all of her previous performances. She is Gemma -- and she scares the crap out of me. I love the plots, of course, but for me the real draw of the show is the characters. I love 'em all, even the ones I love to hate.
Which characters are you most looking forward to writing? Are there any other specific aspects of the show you're looking to explore that the show hasn't covered?
Man, all of them. Seriously. I've already admitted that this story is fairly Tig-centric, but you'll see all the main characters at one point or another. (All the living ones, of course, and maybe a dead one.) I'm a huge Chibs fan as well, so that's fun. I dig the way his relationship with Jax has evolved by season five. As for the future, I have ideas, but it's too early to know where any of this will lead. For now, all I'll say is, keep your eyes out for the Ghost Brothers. They are not your friends.