Are you a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre?
Not as a genre, but I am a fan of a great story. I tried to keep the epic scope and heroic arc of stories like Lord Of The Rings, but really infuse it with some political street violence, all wrapped up in our unlikely heroine.
I wanted to do a thing where I would be able to have the underpinnings of the story [as] my hardcore politics, but there’s a lot of cool-ass monsters in this. There are desperate escapes and epic battles, and the heroes are caught in the crossfire of revenge and betrayal and the fate of the world hinges on this group of people—whether they’re heroes or terrorists, you’ve got to make up you own mind. But they’re trying to reclaim the world.
How did you choose Dark Horse?
I became introduced to them by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, who’s a friend of mine, who, of course, is the creator of [award-winning comics mini-series] The Umbrella Academy. I sent him my script for the story, and he was very complimentary. And he passed it along to his people at Dark Horse, who were eager to be a part of it.
Was he part of your inspiration to create a comic?
He helped point the way. My friend Adam Jones, the guitar player in Tool, we grew up together—he’s been involved in comics, and there are some other rockers in comics. But Gerard certainly trailblazed the idea of being in an international band and also caring enough about a story and the medium of comics to take it seriously. And I take this deadly seriously.
Did you choose Scott Hepburn yourself, or was he a Dark Horse artist they matched you with?
The search took about a year to find the right illustrator. We went through some really big names who were interested. But the one thing I’ve brought to this project from the world of bands: In order to be creatively successful, you have to have the right chemistry. Scott and I clicked almost immediately. He wanted to make this world come to life, and he had a lot of great ideas to do so. He sent me sketches of the characters, and I was just blown away.
The plan is to produce new music for every issue?Each issue will have a musical score. The first issue, I believe, will have a track that overlaps with the Nightwatchman record [Worldwide Rebel Songs]. It may have two songs. But the musical score will be instrumental. I love scoring. I’ve done some scoring with the Iron Man movies. I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from Peter Gabriel’s score from The Last Temptation Of Christ and Ashes in Snow, a phenomenal art show that has a musical score. The idea of scoring a non-traditional medium appealed to me, as well.
Will the score be guitar-based?
It will be what I do: I will use the guitar, it will sound like guitar, but I will use the guitar to approximate orchestral instruments, Middle Eastern instruments, South American instruments, African instruments, so it becomes like something you haven’t heard before.
Nothing chafes fans more than a monthly comic that starts arriving every three, maybe six months. Will you be able to deliver it every month?
Fortunately, even with my busy schedule, we’re a bit ahead of a game right now. It’s a project I’m very dedicated to, and it’s a brand-new world of creative expression, musically, artistically, and politically.
What are the similarities between music fans and comic fans?
I think there’s a huge overlap. As someone who grew up as a music fan and comic book fan, they were almost indistinguishable to me. Though when I was a comic fan, my taste in music and my taste in comics were similar in that they were escapist. I sort of turned away when I started becoming a fan of the Clash and Public Enemy, more reality-based.
Now, comics have very much caught up. And any of the adult themes of courage, heroism, love, betrayal, who’s a freedom fighter/who’s a terrorist—those are themes you can discuss in comic books now, in an adult way, with a rocking soundtrack.
What are the prospects for a new Rage album?If and when there is one, it will not be kept secret. We’ll let you know. ALT