Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for The Violent's ex-con Mason that means revisting the life of crime he left behind.
Created by Ed Brisson and Adam Gorham, this new Image series debuting December 9 takes the noir out of crime noir and instead puts it smack dab in ordinary life. Brisson tells Newsarama that The Violent is about "desperate people who do desperate things in an attempt to escape desperate situations."
Brisson calls The Violent a spiritual follow-up to his small-press series Murder Book that was recently collected by Dark Horse. Growing up as the son of a cop and a nurse, Brisson talks about his life-long interest in true crime and crime fiction.
Newsarama: Ed, what can you tell us about The Violent?
Ed Brisson: The Violent is an ongoing crime series created by Adam Gorham and I, with Michael Garland on colors and Tom Muller providing design. In a lot of ways, it's a sister series to Murder Book, which is a short story crime series that I self-published for years and that was eventually picked up and collected by Dark Horse.
It's not a crime series about dames and detectives or a typical noir book, rather it's a series about desperate people who do desperate things in an attempt to escape desperate situations. It's about real people pushed to the brink by everyday bullshit. It's a gritty series, for sure, but I think that when people read it, they're going to find that it has a lot of heart.
Our plan, as it stands now, is to tell a series of five issue long arcs about different people in Vancouver. While each arc can stand on its own, there'll also be a bit of connective tissue from one to the other -- whether it's events in one directly effecting the next or just characters who appear in multiple arcs.
Nrama: The solicits name the lead character as Mason. Who is he?
Brisson: Mason is an ex-con. He served a year in prison for break and enter, which is something that he was doing to feed his heroin addiction. Once out of prison, he goes straight and finally decides to become the father to Kaitlyn that she needs. But, work pressures, rising rent, and old habits make it hard for him. As the story progresses, his will is going to be tested and tested hard.
Nrama: His wife and child -- they're not named in the previews as of yet. Who are they, and will they be more than just set pieces for Mason's life?
Brisson: His wife (Becky) and daughter (Kaitlyn) will be the driving forces of the story. This story is about Becky as much as it is Mason. Just like Mason, Becky's dealing with addiction issues and is working hard to stay on the straight and narrow. She's got the added pressure of constantly having to course correct Mason. Neither of them have an easy road ahead of them in this first arc.
Nrama: You’ve said online that you plan for this to be an ongoing; your first, in fact. This would make it your longest work by far -- can you tell us about that thinking, and committing to longer-form storytelling?
Brisson: While I would love to go in and plan a 25 issue series from the get go, it's pretty hard to do give the climate in comics. Some series are lucky to make it 10 issues, while others fizzle out at five.
What's important to me is that readers are never left without a complete story, so I tend to plan things in five issue arcs that can wrap at after every fifth issue. That way, if sales (heaven forbid) ever get to the point that we can't continue, we can always wrap things up nicely for the reader.
Nrama: Artist Adam Gorham's been working for a few years now -- how'd you to connect, and connect for this specific project?
Brisson: Adam and I met back in 2011 through Michael Walsh. The two of them live close to one another and have been friends for years and we'd all usually end up hanging out when I was in Toronto or we were all at a con together.
I'd been keeping an eye on his work and when I wanted to start putting together The Violent, I thought that Adam would be perfect. I love the expressiveness of his work.
We started talking about this sometime in early 2014 and pitched it later that same year. Sometime between us pitching it and it getting picked up, Adam was offered Dead Drop at Valiant, so he took some time to do that before we hoped into this.
Nrama: Given this and Murder Book, are you a violent person in real life? When was the last time you got into a physical fight?
Brisson: Ha. No. Not at all. I was an angry kid and teenager and used to get into a lot of trouble back then because of it. I was easy to incite and was always ready to fight. I remember one day, I got into three different fights on my way home from school -- a 10-minute walk. I also used to box, which my parents hoped would help me work out my aggression. But, I gave that up when my Mom moved us cross-country when I was 14.
I mellowed out when I hit my late teens and twenties and now you'd really have to push just to get me to raise my voice. I consider myself a pacifist and really dislike real life violence. I can't even watch UFC.
Nrama: Speaking of your parents, your father was a cop and your mother a nurse on the frontlines there. How does that play into your interest in crime fiction?
Brisson: Hugely, I'm sure. When I was younger, I'd overhear my parents talking about cases and such all the time. It's just like any family, parents come home, gripe about their day. Only with my family, my father was dealing with criminals and victims and my mother was a counselor for victims of sexual assaults -- often being called out at 2 or 3am to meet victims as they were brought into the hospital. I'd hear all sorts of terrible shit and it would both terrify and fascinate me.
When I was a teenager, I also wanted to become a cop. Cop or comic artist, those were my career goals. Obviously, that didn't happen, but it's something I tried to learn a lot about when I was a teen.
When I was attending University for Fine Arts, I discovered Elmore Leonard and started skipping classes because I just wanted to stay at home and read as many of his books as I could get my hands on. From there, I discovered Richard Stark, Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, etc. Those authors fed heavily into my fascination with crime and the darker side of human nature. Elmore Leonard, to this day, is probably one of my biggest influences -- even if it doesn't show in my writing.