Recently CBR News caught up with writer John Ostrander to discuss his upcoming Marvel MAX book "Apache Skies," the follow-up to his acclaimed mini-series "Blaze Of Glory." Now that he's finished scripting the book, Ostrander took some time out to describe the book and fill us in on what to expect.
"'Apache Skies' takes place about a year following the events of 'Blaze Of Glory.' The artist is once again Leonardo Manco and this time he is doing the work in color pencil and watercolor. The art is unbelievably beautiful. It is also being done in the Marvel MAX line, which opens up possibilities as to content. It focuses on Rawhide Kid and on a new Apache Kid (the old one having been killed before the story opens). It also involves Geronimo and touches on the railroad wars in southwest United States."
For fans of Ostrander's Western books from Marvel they themselves can determine whether or not these series will be a regular occurrence or even ongoing.
"I would think that depends on how 'Apache Skies' does. I never expected we would do a follow up to 'Blaze Of Glory' but it actually sold well enough to warrant this. Who knows what might happen if this one sells well? And believe me, if people get a look at the art, they'll buy. I don't care if they're into Westerns or not, they'll buy this one for the art alone!"
Some might consider the Western a dead genre in comics, and if one were to list the number of Western comics published in the last five years they'd come up with a very short, albeit quality, list of titles ranging from Azzarello's "El Diablo" mini-series to Wildstorm's "Desperadoes."
Ostrander feels that the time for the Western genre to return is now. "I think there is MORE potential for the Western now but we have to re-define the form. You can't just do the formula stuff any more. Infusing it with a touch of real history, looking at how the West really was, re-defining the myth in light of what we know today can make it seem more immediate and real to the modern reader. The form demands more from the creators today but I think people will respond if you give them a chance."
In fact, Ostrander can personally identify with those who say they don't find Westerns typically appealing. "To be honest, I wasn't always a fan. My late wife, Kim Yale, was the one who opened my eyes to the Western as a genre, pointing out how much it influences modern American pop culture, and what made a good western."
Part of what has made Ostrander a champion of the Western comic genre is pure defiance. "Don't tell me I can't do that! One of the things that appeals to me is the fact that it HASN'T been done for so long and that people say that you can't and that it is a dead genre. (It) appeals to the perverse and stubborn side of me. That and it is open to re-interpretation and revision. It hasn't been done in so long that it can seem fresh and new! It HAS to be looked at differently; you can't expect to sell the old versions. That, to me, makes it interesting and a challenge."
In addition, Ostrander's got his hands full with a variety of other projects. "I'm doing 'Lady Death' over at Chaos!Comics. Seriously. People tend to go 'Say WHAT?' but the work is good and Brian Pullido is an interesting guy with a real vision of what he's about. I'm the regular scripter on the 'Star Wars' monthly book. I'm also doing a fill-in over at DC but I don't know as it's been announced yet so I don't know if I an talk about it."
"Apache Skies" is set for release in May under Marvel's MAX imprint.