McCool and Cosby Infiltrate a 'Cuban Sleeper Cell' in PIGS

Cosby and McCool Team Up for PIGS

Pigs #1 cover by Jock.

Nate Cosby worked as an editor at Marvel Comics for nearly six years, and in that time became known as a champion of all-ages fare like Thor: The Mighty Avenger and Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s Oz comics.

He left that job in October, and has since kept a relatively low-profile in the comic industry before WonderCon in San Francisco last weekend, where Cosby announced his involvement in three new projects: co-writing the decidedly not kid-friendly Image Comics ongoing series Pigs with Ben McCool (Choker, Memoir), and editing Jim Henson’s Storyteller and Immortals anthology graphic novels for Archaia.

Pigs was sparked by a suggestion from Cosby and McCool’s mutual friend, artist Becky Cloonan, and represents not just Cosby’s writing debut (along with a segment in the Storyteller graphic novel, both out in September), but also McCool’s first ongoing series and first time working with a co-writer.

Newsarama caught up with Cosby and McCool on the floor of WonderCon this past Sunday afternoon to find out a lot more about Pigs, the benefits of in-person collaboration, and the undeniable creative potential of Cuban terrorist sleeper cells.

Newsarama: So, Nate, Ben — Pigs is coming in September. What can you tell us about it?

Nate Cosby: It’s a very simple idea. Basically a KGB Cuban sleeper cell, second generation, is activated, and assigned to overthrow the American government. The book is about the practical application of how a terrorist cell would actually destroy the American government.

Ben McCool: Indeed. It’s been an absolute abundance of fun, in thinking logistically, “How exactly would this happen?” We’ve put a lot of thought, and twisted logic, into exactly how something like this would go down.

But the same time, from different characters’ perspectives — some members of the group are more willing participants than others, shall we say, without trying to give too much away. Some of them see this as an absolute dream come true — “this is all I’ve ever been raised to do” — they’re going to fully [embrace] this opportunity to f*ck something as huge as America up. Other members of the group are like, “Oh my god, this is a living nightmare, this can’t be happening.” There’s going to be some interesting conflicts amongst the group as they head into this crazy series of missions.  

Cosby: It really shows the idea of, “What does it mean to be a terrorist?” “What kind of person is capable of being a terrorist?” When you’re raised your entire life to do nothing but hate something, can you bring yourself to truly destroy it when asked to? You’ve been told that you’re supposed to, and you’ve said you will, but can you really do it?

It’s basically taking five weapons that have personalities, and figuring out if they are each going to pull their own trigger.

Nrama: So how did the partnership between the two of you come about?

Cosby: Drinking. Heavy, heavy drinking.

I was at Marvel for almost six years…

Nrama: You were the original editor on his Captain America & The Korvac Saga series, right?

Cosby: That was one of the last things we got greenlit before I took off, so I got to read through a couple of his first scripts, and we had a lot of story meetings, with beer. It kind of became a fun, organic, experience of us batting ideas off of each other. When I ended up leaving Marvel recently, we just kind of thought, “Why don’t we try to write something together?”

Pigs #2 cover by

Francesco Francavilla.

The idea actually came about one night when we were out with a friend of ours, Becky Cloonan, artist on Demo

McCool: …American Virgin. She recently did the cover for the latest My Chemical Romance album. She’s stupendously talented and awesome. We were just hanging out, and we got talking about sleeper cells in general.

Cosby: As a casual toss-out, we were just talking about sleeper cells, and she just all of a sudden said, “Cuban sleeper cell.” We went home, and I couldn’t get the thought of a Cuban sleeper cell out of my head. So the next time I saw Ben, I was like, “I can’t get this out of my head. Let’s start thinking about it.” From that, we just came up with kind of the most ridiculous ideas.

McCool: Absolutely. Very, very, ridiculous, but very awesome at the same time. We just thought, it’s just such an incredibly fresh idea, I genuinely cannot think of anything else out there at the moment like that. It just evolved at an incredibly rapid rate. Every time we got together and started talking about it, we had these new, crazy ideas, new ideas for the character development, the development of the story. It just flowed very organically and very naturally. So here we are now, announcing it, which is awesome.

Cosby: Miss Cloonan will always get a very special “thanks” from us, and she’s going to be doing the cover for the last issue of the first arc. The first cover is going to be by Jock, followed by Francesco Francavilla, then Amanda Conner with Paul Mounts, Ben Templesmith, Humberto Ramos and Edgar Delgado, and then ending with Becky Cloonan.

Nrama: Pretty good lineup.

McCool: A very good lineup, indeed, and one of the best parts about it is they’ve all got their own very unique style, and they’re all very much brought that to the table. Each of the covers incorporates elements from Cuba, Russia, and the United States, in a very unique way. They look fabulous.

Cosby: The interior art is going to be by a new guy that we found, Breno Tamura. It’s awesome stuff, really gritty and visceral. Chris Sotomayor on colors, and the best letterer in the world, Rus Wooton, is going to be handling production.

Nrama: Obviously the fact that you guys live close together and can work together in person is fairly unique, since so often collaborators aren’t even on the same continent.

Cosby: It’s fun. Ben will stop by my house for three or four hours, and put all these sticky notes up on the wall, of all these characters and events and  everything. “This happened in 1962, this happened in 2010, and this happened in 2015.”  “OK, now let’s take all these, and move them all…”

McCool: It makes shirking work a little bit different, because if something hasn’t been done, he can walk five minutes down the street and start banging on my door.

Keep reading Newsarama for more with Ben McCool and Nate Cosby on Jim Henson’s Storyteller and Immortals!

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