Apocalyptic Fun: Cosby & Stokes talk "The Savage Brothers"

Thu, August 10th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
David Moran, Guest Contributor

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Art From "Savage Brothers"

Well, the Good News about the Apocalypse, or at least the form it takes in the Boom! Studios mini series "The Savage Brothers" by co-writers Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes and artist Rafael Albuquerque, is that afterwards there'll still be Schlitz.

Yup, "The beer that made Milwaukee famous" makes it through the End of Days A-OK (so crusty, surly blue collar workers everywhere can breath a little bit easier).

The Bad News – after the Apocalypse, the world will be plunged into a heretofore undreamt of age of strife, misery and excruciating suffering, lakes of fire will mushroom up all over the land, plagues of frogs will rain down from the heavens, gas prices will rise even higher, and there'll be a guy who keeps his head in a jar…and the rest of his body, god only knows where!

Oh, and Zombies. There will be lots and lots and lots of zombies around after the Apocalypse as well (hey, it is a Boom! book).

Into this strange new world are thrust Dale and Otis Savage - just two dreadnek brothers trying to make a living during the Apocalypse, and what that living usually amounts to is conning survivors of the cataclysm out of what little money they still have left by convincing them that their now-zombiefied loved ones would be far better off put out of their misery – which Dale and Otis would be more than happy to do for a modest fee.

Sounds kinda wild, huh?

Well, "The Savage Brothers" is supposed to be. Because when Cosby, creator of the Sci-Fi Channel's new original TV series "Eureka," first conceived of the idea, he was looking to do a comic with a similar tone as some of his current favorites and let his imagination run wild.

"'The Savage Brothers' came about primarily because I thought it might be fun to do a series in the same funny-but-at-the-same-time-sorta-scary vein as a series like 'The Goon' or 'Hellboy,' two of my absolute favorite comics on the stands at the moment," Cosby told CBR News. "Plus, I also wanted to try something a little different with the zombie genre – since I've pretty much told just about every other kind of zombie tale that I can during my time at Boom!"

But, due to a busy daytime schedule as "Eureka's" show runner and as a sought after Hollywood screenwriter, and in equal parts his wanting to add another slightly different "voice" to the series, Cosby decided to bring in fellow "Eureka" staff writer and former CBR Columnist Johanna Stokes to help with scripting and dialogue chores on the series.

"Johanna's got a great voice for dialogue, and she's from the South, which is where our two title characters, Dale and Otis, also just so happen to hail from," Cosby said. "So, when I was looking to bring in another writer to help out with the series, Johanna was pretty much a no-brainer. Plus, I'm from the South, too – not that I'm saying that that influenced my decision in any way..."

And Stokes, when asked, was more than happy to help Cosby out on the book. "The Savage Brothers' is really Andy's concept, but when he started telling me about all the stuff he had planned for the book I got really excited myself," Stokes said. "Then he said he was looking for somebody to help him write the thing, so I volunteered!"

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Art From "Savage Brothers"

So how does Cosby and Stokes relationship as co-writers on the series actually work? Who's responsible for doing what, when, and why?

"Basically," Cosby said. "I've got it kinda easy. I come up with the story, send it off to Johanna, and she does all the hard work like breaking it down into scenes and writing all the dialogue and all that other tedious, writerly sort of stuff. Which is good, because Johanna pays a whole lot more attention to things like panel breakdowns, the flow of the pictures and how they can work to effect in a comic book – probably something I should pay a little bit more attention to myself."

Both Stokes and Cosby also praised their artistic collaborator on the book, Rafael Albuquerque, as further helping to elevate and broaden Dale and Otis' story.

"Rafael is just incredible!" Stokes said.

"Yeah, he really raised the bar on the book," Cosby continued. "When we got Rafael's pencils back for the first issue, they just completely knocked us out. They were so dark, moody and stylized that it actually changed the way that Johanna and I started to look at the story from there on out, made things a little more serious, but, definitely, for the better!"

Both Cosby and Stokes would love to return to the characters of Dale and Otis Savage after the initial mini wraps, and they already have several ideas for a follow-up adventure or two in mind.

"I kind of feel like we could put those two guys into any type of a situation and have a blast," said Cosby. "If sales are good on the first mini and we can do a follow-up, then we'd definitely want to do some other aspect of the horror genre from zombies, something like ghosts or vampires or whatever creepy thing we can manage to scare up. Because, remember, it's a full-out Apocalypse, not just a Zombie Apocalypse."

"That's right," Stokes added. "It's not something like '28 Days' later or 'Dawn of the Dead,' where the only thing that's screwed up is that there's zombies everywhere. It's the Apocalypse, the real one. I don't know if I can even say this - but, heck, I'll say it anyway: the shit the fan all over! Everything's totally screwed up with the world that Dale and Otis' are living in. So there's certainly lots more trouble out there for them to get into."

And if Cosby and Stokes haven't gotten tired of working together just yet (which, by all indications, they haven't), then there's still their "day job" to keep them both extremely busy.

"Johanna and I are both writers on 'Eureka' at the moment, and that's been going really great thus far," Cosby said. 'Eureka' is a dramedy about a small town buried away somewhere in the Pacific Northwest where the government's been stockpiling geniuses for the past 50 years. It's sort of like 'Northern Exposure' or 'Picket Fences' meets 'The X-Files.' But, at the same time, we try and walk that same fine line as a show like 'Buffy' did: a nice blend of smart, pop-centric comedy and intelligent drama. Except for the two-hour pilot, all the episodes in the first season are setup as stand alone stories, but it's all leading to something big at the end of the season, believe me."

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"Ninja Tales"

"Yes, so far working on 'Eureka's' been great," Stokes said. "The pilot debuted earlier this summer on Sci-Fi to record breaking numbers, and since then all the episodes that have aired have done really well also. Yes, it's a science fiction show, but, at the same time, it's still very accessible to non-SF fans."

"That's right," Cosby added. "'I think the reason that 'Eureka's' been as well received as its has thus far is because, although it is a sci-fi show, it's science fiction for people that don't know they normally like science fiction."

And Cosby and Stokes will also both be penning a story (separate ones) for Boom!'s upcoming "Ninja Tales," a follow-up to the publisher's very popular Tales line of anthology books.

"My story [in "Ninja Tales"] is based on the idea that ninjas weren't these hardcore-fold-into-the-wind assassins," Stokes said. "They were spies dealing in information: Simple, vulnerable men risking their lives to change the world one secret at a time. And then I created a character built to protect them. And the story revolves around her love of her keeper and his sacrifice for her. I haven't settled on a title for the story yet."

"The Savage Brothers" #1 hits comic stands everywhere Wednesday, August 16, new episodes of "Eureka" air Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on the Sci-Fi Channel throughout the summer, and "Ninja Tales" is slated for a late fall or early winter release.

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