Who Are the 13 Marshals? Mink on 12 Gauge's 13 Chambers
by Chris Arrant
Date: 03 October 2008 Time: 11:03 AM ET
Mink on 13 Chambers
Have you ever heard of the 13 Marshals?The 13 Marshals were a group of secret lawmen operating under President Abraham Lincoln during the 1860s. But after Lincoln's death, new President Jackson ordered the group disbanded and sent the 13th Marshall to do it. His mission isn't a simple A-To-B; the last gun – save his own – has been stolen and the original holder killed. Holding it now is an insane mining baron named York who wants the pistol for all the wrong reasons. That's the story of 13 Chambers graphic novel coming out October 8th from Image and 12 Gauge Comics. The book is written by Dust author Christopher "Mink" Morrison, with interior illustrations by Denis Medri and covers by Paolo Parenta. The writer has nicknamed his own style 'Twistory' as seen in Dust and now 13 Chambers for the inclusion of various elements through time into one cohesive drama. For more on this book, we talked to the writer.
Newsarama: Mink, what is 13 Chambers all about? Christopher "Mink" Morrison: 13 Chambers is about the adventures of the 13 Marshals and their Presidential issued 13 chambered peace keeper pistols; all set in a ‘Twistory’ style fantasy 1800’s (a universe filled with sand monsters, electricity, volcanoes, crack shot ladies, rogue architecture, specter trains, conquistador zombies, mammoth sized vultures, and much much more). NRAMA: One of the key ideas to this is the idea of a 1800s group of secret US lawmen called the 13 Marshals. What's their job? MINK: In my story the 13 Marshals is a group created by President Lincoln to execute his most important legal and secret executive orders, as well as to settle any disputes or state uprisings that might occur from a growing economy and the proliferation of new firearms across America. Each Marshal was personally chosen by President Lincoln from each of the 13 territories across America, and given a number 1 through 13. These men were chosen for loyalty to their country, high moral character and flawless skill with all firearms. The 13 men never knew the other Marshal's names (they were addressed by their numbers), locations and never met each other in order to keep their identities safe and free from reprisal. They were each issued the greatest weapon ever created; the 13 chambered peace keeper pistol. Commissioned and built by 13 different gunsmiths, the gun has six normal rounds and seven long range sniper rounds (in the same weapon) that can be activated through a series of secret combination pressure plates on the pistol grip and five triggers. It also has an internal power-gyroscope inside the handle and connected to the barrel of the gun that stabilizes the weapon for use on horseback, running, or on a moving train. The gun parts were built in three different regions of the country and then assembled and hand engraved by the 13th Marshal, who was an artist and gunsmith in his own right. NRAMA: Central to this is the 13th Marshall and his job to force the other twelve Marshals to give up their badge. Who is he? MINK: This book introduces the main characters of the series and establishes the tone. In this issue I chose to drop the audience roughly into the middle of the story. That may sound strange but it will help explain the principle players far better to approach it this way. So this books story takes place years after Lincoln's death. The new President of the United States looses a bet in a card game, causing the Marshal program to be dismantled. He orders the 13th Marshal to travel the country in 13 months and collect all the pistols and return them to Washington to be vaulted forever; never to return to service. In future series I intend to work both before and after this portion of the story to open the world up even more. NRAMA: He's well on his way to complete his mission when he founds out the 12th Marshall was killed and his pistol stolen by a mining baron named York. What's York set-up like, and why does he want the pistol? MINK: York is a false prophet con man turned mining baron. He literally just decided to be in the mining business and then used his ability to talk, a secret murder, some hired muscle and his made up spiritual guidance to turn a small shanty town into Yorkville, the center of his precious metals mining operation. He ran the old mining family out of business, took over their ranch and convinced the townspeople, through spiritual guidance, that God had sent him to save them and in order for them to be saved they must build a set of stairs to Heaven (and his new town Yorkville, complete with buildings for York’s casino and brothel). The mine he took over was mostly marble with the precious metals underneath, so he uses the townspeople to remove the marble and has them build the giant marble set of stairs to God, with a matching weird art deco town in his honor. After the first year he was mining so much silver the US government started buying his silver directly for US dollars and this made him a very powerful man very quickly. Once his legend grew, word got out that perhaps he had arrived to his powerful position through unjust means. The 12th Marshal (who was stationed near Yorkville) was sent to make sure that this wasn't going to become a rogue territory that would succeed the union. This 12th Marshal, supposedly disillusioned by the country since Lincoln's death, sold his pistol to York and then disappeared after that meeting just months before 13th Marshal arrived to disarm him. So in this story York wants the ultimate weapon to go along with the ultimate power of precious metals. The actual shooting range for most sidearms in the 1800s was minimal, so you can imagine what a sniper weapon with gyro stability and 13 shots could do in both damage and intimidation. NRAMA: There's more to this than testosterone – I see our lead with a woman on the cover? Who's she, and how does she fit into the story? MINK: Belle is the heroine of the story and she is a big part of this and the stories to come. She is the daughter of one of York's employees and a close friend of the former mining family that was run out of town. They rescued her from poverty and a terrible life and she has never been ok with what York has done to them, or her father's willingness to go along with it. York also wanted all the attractive women of the area to work in his Casino or Brothel but spared her because of her father’s wishes. She is a crack-shot with any firearm and knows the true story of what happened to the 12th Marshal. She knows how badly York wants to learn how to use the 12th Marshal’s pistol and is determined to make sure that does not happen. She is equally as beautiful and she is capable of handling any situation. She will steal both the Marshal’s and the reader's heart. NRAMA: This isn't your first time in comics — you previously wrote Dust. What inspired you to come up with this idea? MINK: Dust was my first official step into published comics. This process and partnership with 12 Gauge, Image and Paolo Parente has enriched my creative passions profoundly. Dust then led me to create and write a graphic novel called Shinjuku, based on my time in Japan, which will be out from Dark Horse in 2009, featuring art by the legendary Yoshitaka Amano. So between Paolo and Amano I have been very blessed so far to be working with some extraordinary art talents and publishing talents of 12 Gauge/Image and Dark Horse. In order to live up to that creative forces potential, I have developed the "Twistory" style to carry in all my work. Twistory is a technique that breaks down the art & science of story. I use Twistory to take actual historical, social, cultural, current and past moments that interest me and Twist them against a wide open, no rules imagination approach to the writing, into something I think is exciting, fresh and fun. So after our success with Dust, both in book and toy form, I wanted to add another member to the family. This particular story is something I have been fooling with based on my love of the tech and landscapes of America in the 1800's. NRAMA: What kind of research did you do for this book? MINK: My research is really based on the things I love and interest me. That ranges from fine art to Nascar racing and back again. Creative writing, or my style, Twistory, allows me take things that inspire me and then add them to my own stories and create something that is new. After all, nothing new in art is really ‘new’ and only a percentage of your audience will really like your art or get it anyway. So as an artist I want to keep pushing, risk-taking and trying new ways of making Twistory better for me. In turn I think it makes the work better. Even though I am a working artist I still continue to have so much to learn and explore from so many, including the fans. I suppose all this fancy coffee house chit chat is an over complicated way of describing research or influences, but so far on my artistic journey Twistory has only just begun to get going, and damn is it fun.