Get On Your DARK HORSE & Go Metal With DETHKLOK Comics

Dethklok.  The most metal band ever.  If you’ve heard either of their Dethalbums or watched on Adult Swim, then you know the raw power of such tracks as “Murmaider,” “Go Into the Water,” “Bloodrocuted,” “Thunderhorse” and more.  In fact, by reading this opening paragraph, you’ve officially acknowledged the “Pain Waiver” that absolves us of any legal responsibility for violent injury, disfigurement or death you may experience from reading the following interview.

Having made everything metal from coffee to comedy to Christmas, Dethklok is poised to conquer comics with their new three-issue miniseries from Dark Horse, Dethklock Metalocalypse.  Co-written by the team of creator Brendon Small, director/designer Jon Schnepp and Dark Horse’s Jeremy Barlow, this promises to be the single most brutal miniseries of the year, Siege and Cry for Justice be damned.

Jon Schnepp, who’s also doing covers for the book with The Goon’s Eric Powell, stopped by Newsarama to tell us about this new series, and to talk about the most metal comics of all time.  You have been warned.

Newsarama: Jon, how did the comic come together?

Jon Schnepp: We did a crossover with Dark Horse and Eric Powell called Dethklok versus The Goon which Eric wrote and illustrated, with Brendon contributing some plot and lines, and I did a variant cover for it, after begging Scott Allie. It came out, and we were all happy and moved forward with a miniseries.

Nrama: What's been the process of writing each issue like, and how is the style of storytelling different from the cartoon?

Schnepp: The cartoon is scripted, then storyboarded with a radioplay, and then goes through a heavy rewriting process, by both improv voiceover and expanding or shortening scenes in the edit room. Titmouse Inc. is a great place to work and to exist creatively.

With the comic, Brendon and I talked story, and then he gave me a lot of freedom to plot the comic, since he knows I'm such a comic geek and have been reading them for over thirty years. He would add his plot points, and we then sent that to the writer.

Each issue has invisible chapters that the writer Jeremy seamlessly wove into the script. The big difference with the comic and the show is that the comic can jump around quite a bit, showcase little character moments and then get really big really quickly.

Nrama:  Tell us about some of the stories we'll see -- these spin out of such episodes as “Dethtroll.”   Can you give us an idea of what we might experience in these stories, and will we learn any new parts of the band or its mythology that we haven't seen yet in the show?

Schnepp: These first three comics take place “inbetween” episodes from the various seasons. There is a clue in the comic to let fans know where they fall in line. These are stories that we want to tell that feel great in comic form, and help to expand the universe of Dethklok and their supporting characters.

 I hope this first series hits it right with the fans, because there are so many more cool stories to tell, and characters to showcase.

Nrama: And your artist, Lucas Marangon -- how did you find him, and what does he bring to the book?

Schnepp: Chris Warner, the DH editor and all around super freak, suggested Lucas after working with him on Star Wars, and on Lucas very own series called Hellcyon.

Lucas has a great artistic style of bringing depth and space within the frames, and laying out the pages so they smoothly tell the story. His character reactions are highlights on every page, his compositional decisions and angles are crisp, and he does amazingly detailed backgrounds as well.

Nrama: What's the challenge in writing dialogue for Dethklok when you don't have the inflection of voice actors or music available?

Schnepp: Honestly, after three seasons with these goofballs, the characters are the easiest part, especially if you know the show. We got lucky with the scripter Jeremy, since he is a huge fan of , and he nailed it.

When I first met with him, he knew character quotes and side stories from all of the episodes. He's got a great dark sense of humor as well, which is really important when it comes to this comic series.

Nrama: Will this feature any original songs, and if so, might they show up on future Dethalbums?

Schnepp: This will feature original songs made specifically for the comic. Who knows the future of future Dethalbums? Dethklok, and they are not talking right now!

Nrama: What are some of your favorite comics, and who are your favorite comic creators?  What, in your opinion, are some of the most metal comics of all time

Schnepp: My favorite comic characters are Fantastic Four, Batman, The New Gods, Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange.  My favorite recent comics have been 100 Bullets, The Goon, the Hellboy Universe, Criminal, The Sword<b?, and lots and lots of one-shot single issues or hardcover collections.

My favorite comic creators are Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. They are followed by Volan, Totleben, Frazetta, Mignola, Quitely, Hitch, Windsor Smith, Gulacy, Powell, Cho, Bendis, Brubaker, Risso, Timm, Ennis, Cooke, Clowes, Golden, Vaughan, Cassaday, Millar, Morrison, Moench, Azzerello, Lunas, Johnson, Hernandez, Gaiman, Rude, Bolland,  Byrne, Lee, Ross, Simonson, Romita(s), Sienkiewicz, Miller, Milligan, Mazzuchelli, Pope, Allred, and a few more.

The most metal comics of all time, besides Metalocalypse Dethklok? Well, you've got Batman:Year One, All the Moore/Totleben Swamp Things and Miraclemans, Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, The Sword, Hellboy, The Ultimates, Preacher, and the topper is of course Heavy Metal the comic magazine.

Nrama: Are there plans for more Dethklok comics after this run, or would you like to work on any other comic characters?

Schnepp: Hopefully we will be doing a bunch more, after seeing how these three are received by the comics community. I've been a comics fan forever, and excited to be able to bring these characters to comics. It's a dream come true for me, and with much more to come.

There are so many avenues to explore in graphic form, and I've got quite a few ideas myself. I've got a good story I'd like to tell for Doctor Strange, and another for Batman. A bunch of other original ideas, scifi and others. Publishers, drop me some texts.

Nrama: What's coming up in the show when it returns?

Schnepp: Well, after these final five episodes air from season three, fans will have some new things to think about. Brendon has some pretty amazing ideas for season four, so brace yourselves for 2011. The Metalocalypse has just begun!

Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?

Schnepp: Sure, lots of stuff. I want to see more original movies, and less sequels. That goes for comics as well. I'd like to see the return to dynamic storytelling that is not crossover related with the big companies.

I'd like to see more chances taken by big companies with characters that are stagnating and I'd like to see different graphic art styles make the jump to big publishing. The world of digital animation is mixing with the comic more than ever, and I think that all of us who love comics need to start to think about retaining the purity of the graphic form, while translating it to the new masses of the digital world.

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