Chuck Dixon to Write The Man With No Name

Dixon to Write The Man With No Name

We’ve been checking in on Dynamite’s The Man With No Name series over the past few days, speaking with current writer Christos Gage and the upcoming writing team of Matt Wolpert and Luke Lieberman . Gage’s opening arc on the series will wrap with issue #6, Wolpert and Lieberman will handle issues #7-#11, and after that?

Fan-favorite writer (and Western aficionado) Chuck Dixon will put on the iconic hat and serape.

“Right now, it seems like many of the writers we’ve spoken with have been wanting to write The Man With No Name since they’ve seen the movie, so we’re rotating at this point,” Dynamite President Nick Barrucci said of the approach the publisher is taking to the series’ creative team. “We’ve speaking with a few more potential writers, and we’re extremely happy with the writers we’ve been able to pair with The Man, from the current writer, Christos Gage; the upcoming writers, Matt and Luke; and the future writer, Chuck Dixon. Great writers all around, and each has their strengths, and I think the fans will appreciate each for what they bring to the stories.”

Barrucci added that they are giving the series’ writers as much latitude as they can, rather than keeping them chained to the three iconic Sergio Lenone/Clint Eastwood films, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.

“We’re giving them as much freedom as we can give,” Barrussi said. “Each creator has a story to tell. Christos wanted to tell the tale right after the ‘trilogy’ (stated loosely, since what tied in the movies was the characters, and not a strong storyline holding all 3 together), Luke has the ring tone on his phone, and Chuck’s face just dropped when we asked him if he was interested. So, these guys have known what they would write somewhere in their psyche, so my asking just opened the floodgates.”

Speaking of Dixon, Barrucci quickly ticked off the reasons why the writer is a good fit for The Man when asked.

“Easy – (a) Chuck loves Westerns, and (b) I’ve never seen Chuck take on a project as an independent contractor (not including when he was on staff at Crossgen), that he did not want to write. When he said yes at lunch, I knew it was because he wanted to write it. That’s the kind of writer we want on a project.”

That said, we spoke with Dixon about coming on to The Man With No Name starting with issue #12.

Newsarama: Chuck, your love of Westerns is well documented – you’ve even listed out the “essentials” on your website, so where do these three films fit in your continuum of both Western film and overall Western stories?

Chuck Dixon: The Leone/Eastwood films re-invigorated the whole genre by introducing an element of nihilism and cruelty to movie westerns that hadn’t really been there before. In the ‘50s westerns kind of grew up with John Ford, Bud Boetticher, Anthony Mann and others exploring mature themes whole providing solid shoot ‘em ups. Leone and Eastwood took these stories a step further and crated these kind of existentialist action westerns. The three Man With No Name movies (and the hundreds that followed) didn’t revive or re-invent the cowboy movie. They distilled them to their essence.

NRAMA: The Man himself - he's obviously an archetype, or, to be fair to critics, one step away from an archetype...how do you approach writing him? I mean, if you're looking at him with your writers' toolbox, it seems that there are vast swaths of the The Man that are fertile ground for stories with other characters that are closed off for him - his past, a broad part of his emotions... On could almost see that as a relatively narrow area to write in.

CD: Some things are so simple they elude those who aren’t wired right. Eastwood’s lightning fast stranger is endlessly fascinating because of what we don’t know, and can never know, about him. A character like this is a challenge for a writer because an archetype separates the men from the boys. To write this kind of guy you have to rely heavily on plotting. You can’t fall back on his past or relations. You can’t fake it. The only way to learn more about him is through what he does. Everyone else in the cast reacts to him.

The Man With No Name is the opposite of a film noir hero because of that factor; the events of the film are driven by what he does. The story moves forward based on his decisions. This makes him a rarity in popular fictional creations. He’s the guy who makes it all happen. In this, deeper sense, this character connects to earlier archetypes like those played by John Wayne or Gary Cooper.

If you read as much on this films as I have over the years you know that this was as much a creation of Clint Eastwood as it was of Sergio Leone. Clint gets it and Leone picked up on what he was laying down.

Archtypes? Bring ‘em on.

NRAMA: That said, what kind of stories do you put him into? Where does The Man work best?

CD: Basically, you put him in a situation that already stinks. Corruption, danger and oppression. The kind of place most of us would run away from. This is where The Man sees opportunity and he knows he can survive in that place. He doesn’t bring order out of the chaos unless you think of a landscape littered with bodies as orderly. What he does is take advantage of a crappy situation and sets events in motion so that he comes out on top. There’s an inferior Western called Stranger in Town that’s a knockoff of Fistful of Dollars. But its advertising slug line sums up the whole Italian Western genre; “He wouldn’t leave until he’d taken every woman, every life and every piece of gold in town.”

NRAMA: How much of the established continuity (which is being generous to the three films, suggesting that there is a firm continuity) are you looking to play with versus branching out on your own with The Man? Looking at the three films, are there certain spots that immediately catch your eye as places that can be explored?

CD: I’m approaching it more like placing the story in a historical context. The Good, The Bad and Ugly was set in latter part of the American Civil War as fought in the West. I’d like to move the action to just a year later when the War is over and many Confederates are moving south of the border into Mexico to involve themselves as mercenaries in the war between Emperor Maximilian and the Juaristas. Oppression by a European monarch, roaming bands of bandits and revolutionaries and money-hungry Americans with a chip on their shoulders. Sounds like the perfect environment for a man who’s a devil with a gun.

NRAMA: That said, we're still a ways away from your first issue, but can you just give us some broad stroke teases of what you're looking at in it?

CD: A vengeful French aristocrat. A sadistic bandit chief. A train loaded with Aztec gold. A man with a wooden hand. And lots and lots and lots of bullets.

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