The Lone Ranger & Tonto, page 12In January, Dynamite lets the regular The Lone Ranger series rest for a month, and releases instead its second The Lone Ranger and Tonto special. For the 40 page issue, regular Lone Ranger writer Brett Matthews is joined by Neil Turitz, with pencils and inks provided by Vatche Mavlian.
As for the story? Entitled “Reston,” it sees the Lone Ranger and Tonto traveling to a city called Reston, a place populated by monsters and broken dreams, and things are not as they seem.
We spoke with Matthews and Turitz for more, and Dynamite has provided us with a first look inside the issue.
Newsarama: Brett, you've become quite the old hand at the Lone Ranger, but Neil - this is your first outing with the Ranger, Tonto and the rest. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up on The Lone Ranger and Tonto #2?
Brett Matthews: John Cassaday began using a cellphone recently. It has a camera. It takes compromising pictures. This is a warning. No one he works with is safe...
Neil Turitz: Well, Cassaday and I are old friends and have worked on a few things together, including the web series Kyle Piccolo: Comic Shop Therapist, and Nicky [Barucci, Dynamite President] was a big fan of my first film, Two Ninas. They both suggested me to Brett. But yeah, the incriminating pictures didn't hurt. The ones I took of Cassaday, I mean...
The Lone Ranger & Tonto, page 13BM: Yeah, John put us together. His suggestions tend to be spot-on. It was no different with Neil.
NRAMA: Brett - what's the rhyme and reason behind these specials, and what, if any, relation do they have to the ongoing series' storyline?
BM: The reason for them is it allows us to do stories that take place a little further into the future and The Ranger's development. The main series is very much an ongoing origin, the tale of how a boy grows into a man and ultimately an icon. It's very mood driven and sparse and nearly a tone poem at times, and for better and worse that is its intent and design. The Lone Ranger and Tonto is quite the opposite and meant to be very episodic by its very nature, quite dense in its storytelling. I think it's important that anyone can walk into the shop and get a complete beginning, middle, and end beneath one cover. It's a point of entry, a little more classically Western... and at the same time, allows us to do the wacky things an anthology allows for. We experiment with art and color. We don't even use the same font from the main series or from one issue to the next.
The Lone Ranger & Tonto #2, page 14Long story short, it's the same character and world, just further down the line. Therefore the stories in the anthology do not directly influence the ongoing, but it's all certainly canon to the mythology we're building. The LR&T is meant to bounce around in time, or better still, be timeless.
NRAMA: With bringing Neil along, are you bringing friends along, or is the Ranger writing pool being expanded?
BM: It's not about expanding the writing pool so much as it is about spinning more yarns, and Nick and John and I felt this was the best way to do that. I do know Jon Abrams and have come to know Neil, but as I'm sure either will tell you, I'm extremely involved in these. I simply wouldn't do them if I were not. And what's great about it and the book's anthology nature is that it allows me to develop a story over a longer period of time, while I'm writing the main book. In general, The Lone Ranger and Tonto is very concept driven while the ongoing is utterly character driven. And sometimes you have ideas and in one line, you know that they're a story, but maybe not right for the main book's arc or timeline. These are where those fit. Concept is key.
The Lone Ranger & Tonto #2, page 15NT: To say Brett is extremely involved is like saying the sky is a tad blue. At the same time, I can understand it because it's so much his baby and he very much wants to maintain something specific about the series and the characters, which is pretty much what any good writer will do.
BM: That's very true. To me, specificity is always kind of the point, but it makes a thing what it is and not just like everything else. And the more we go along, the more I find just how specific the book is.
NRAMA: So tell us a little bit about "Reston." What gets the ball rolling, and how does it come into the sphere of the Lone Ranger and Tonto?
BM: "Reston" is a little bit of a ghost story, which is why I wanted to do it. Again, not something for the main book, but a tone that was appropriate and intriguing. In the story Reston is the name of a mining town where men have sought their fortunes, only to never return. Of course, that doesn't stop The Lone Ranger and Tonto from following when someone's in danger, and they get the sense there's more to the story than that. Add in a dash of mercury poisoning, and cool stuff happens. With, it must be said and said loudly, stunning visuals provided by Vatche Mavlian, who is someone I've worked with a lot. And Simon Bowland's usual impeccable lettering, which really is the glue of both series and art in its own right. And of course, those hideous Cassaday covers...
The Lone Ranger & Tonto #2, page 16NRAMA: Brett, what's writing John [the Lone Ranger] like for you now? You've spent a long time in his head, but can he still surprise you?
BM: Just the fact that you call him John -- which has sort of ad hoc become The Ranger's first name, but I digress -- makes me extremely happy. That was the whole point of doing this, from day one. To humanize the character, the man beneath the mask. He's without question the easiest character I've ever written, only because I'm never at a loss for exactly what he'd say in any given situation. I could literally drop him and Tonto into scenarios and just allow them to bounce off each other and react... only that's not my process, I don't write that way. But it's nice to know it's there and something I've not really experienced on this level before. But it's just so important, and something I used to say a lot in the very beginning -- he's John whether he's got the mask on or not. I still remember when I first slugged the name THE LONE RANGER into the Final Draft character database, and it wasn't for awhile.
That said, I've learned from the anthology it's a very specific and tricky voice to get. I'm sure Neil could tell you some stories from his end that involve words you can't print...
NT: No, I’ll use printable words and focus on the positive, I promise. What was interesting20for me was writing someone else's creation, which is not something I've had a lot of experience with. All the stuff I've written in the past tends to come from me and my own twisted mind, so yeah, it was a bit tricky getting the hang of John's voice, the rhythms and such. At the same time, and somewhat strangely, I felt really comfortable writing for Tonto, which Brett did comment on while we were sending drafts back and forth.
BM: Yeah, and that's a credit to you. I don't know that Tonto is so much easier; you just did a nice job there. I think more than anything, it's fighting the stereotype, ironically enough more as pertains to John than Tonto. You have to remember he's still pretty damn young, and he doesn't at all have the answers, which very much goes against who people know The Ranger to be. And though the book is a Western, people don't necessarily talk that way. I spend a lot of time striking 'Y'alls' and 'Reckons' and so forth on a first draft...
NT: Just for the record, I have never once used the word "reckon." (Though I will plead the Fifth on "y'all.")
The Lone Ranger & Tonto #2, John Cassaday coverNRAMA: Neil - what it like to come on to a project like this with Brett? He's obviously been s setting the beat for John and Tonto for a long time...any intimidation?
BM: For my part, I can't imagine it. We're a team. And I'm super cuddly, not at all intimidating...
NT: Um, "super cuddly?" Really? You mean like a grizzly bear, right? No, no. I kid, I kid. The serious answer to that question is a firm "yes and no." Yes, because I've been such a Lone Ranger fan for so long, there's an automatic intimidation factor inherent in suddenly putting words in a beloved character's mouth. I think it would be the same if I was writing a Batman story, or Spider-Man, or the Green Hornet. The "No" comes from the fact, and this is the honest truth, that Brett set my mind at ease about the project right from the first time we chatted about what the story was going to be and how we were going to tell it.
BM: No, I meant super cuddly like the soft, downy underbelly of a unicorn. So now that that's clear...
NRAMA: Crystal. Finally – Brett, tease us a little as to what's coming up after the special...where's the series moving towards, and where is John on his journey?
BM: The main series, or The Lone Ranger and Tonto?
NRAMA: Let’s start with the latter first.
BM: I see it as a series unto itself much more than as a special. Ten extra pages in length, same great production values you expect from Dynamite, done-in-one stories. The next is already written, in fact, and so I can tell you very specifically it takes place amidst a dustbowl circus/sideshow.
NRAMA: How about in the main series?
BM: In the main series, issue #16 brings us "Ostinato", which is the origin of Butch Cavendish. The solicit should be 'Butch Cavendish finds God.' Take from that what you will, but hopefully people will get a window into where his pathos comes from, and maybe look at Butch as more of a character and not just a villain after.
Beyond that, things are really beginning to come to a head. Cavendish and The Ranger have been on a collision course for a long time, and there is a point in time the two are going to effing collide, and it won't at all be pretty. The Ranger and Tonto and Linda and Dan have been building this nice little life together... and in a lot of ways that's dangerous, because it gives them all something very precious to lose.
NT: Can I say here that I'm as anxious to read this as anyone? Oh, wait. I think I just did. Hey, thanks for letting me be a part of this.