Fred Van Lente Comes Over To Play

GameStop, Inc.

by Whitney Grace
Contributing Writer

Fred Van LenteTo the general public, he might not be a big name, but his projects are bigger than what most writers have worked on in their entire career. Fred Van Lente has played with cowboys, aliens, superheroes, philosophers, cats, dogs, robots, and now he can add barbarians to his playgroup. Who knew geeks could have so much fun? I scheduled a play date with Fred to discuss his old friends…er…comic projects and what activities he has planned for his new titles.

WG: You are a big comic guy, not just as a name in the industry but also as a fan and historian.  How do you use your geek knowledge to shape your comics writing?

FVL: Oh, I always like dropping in little Easter Eggs those in the “Know” can enjoy but won’t confuse who don’t. A lot of it is named. I’m not sure Magnus Robot Fighter, for example, ever had a first name until I came along but I gave him the name Russell after his creator, Russ Manning. There’s a big movie star character in my Brain Boy series called Castle Kane, and the writer Herb Castle and the artist Gil Kane created BB. It’s always nice to acknowledge whose shoulders you stand on.

WG: Having read your work, a lot of it is atypical of average comic storytelling.  I mean that as a compliment.  Do you notice story patterns in comics and then plan your stories so they are different?

FVL: Thanks, but no, I really don’t. Recently I’ve wondered if my style comes a lot from the fact that as a kid, my parents got me reprints of the original 60s Marvels and Golden Age comics so my initial reading material was really 15, 20, 40 years older than what was coming out at the time. So I wonder if that’s where that comes from, is that my reading always seems to be a decade or more behind everyone else.

WG: While this is an older work, I have to know what inspired Cowboys and Aliens.  Also did you pick the name based on Hollywood’s current trend for direct, singular titles?

FVL: Cowboys and Aliens was “created,” at least as a concept, by the movie company that hired me to write it, Platinum Studios. Platinum’s first big thing was Men in Black, and if I had to guess I’d say they were fishing for different projects to shove aliens into.

WG: Was it planned from the beginning to make Cowboys and Aliens a movie?

FVL: Yeah, Platinum had a whole line of comics that were basically movie pitches. They gave me my first published work. I wrote eight or nine books for them (maybe more) other than C&A and only a few, like The Weapon with current Deadpool artist Scott Koblish, ever came out a fews later via Top Cow.

WG: You obviously subscribe to Will Eisner’s belief that every topic can be transformed into a graphic novel.  In that regard, why did you decide to write Action Philosophers?

FVL: My buddy, artist Ryan Dunlavey, and I were trying to get into an anthology for the SPX convention near Washington DC that had a biography theme, and we thought doing a funny Nietzsche biography would be the way to do it. The gag was that it was supposed to be one of those little comics you get sometimes with action figures? Hence, “Action Philosophers.” So, we got rejected from the anthology, but were encouraged to do more, people liked them, and now we have over 300 pages of philosophy comics! No one is more shocked by our success than us.

WG: Eisner still inspires to this day. Another comic you wrote for is Brain Boy, a golden age superhero that was rebooted.  How difficult was it to breakaway from the campiness of that age, but what also are you trying to preserve as a tribute?

FVL: Technically silver age.

WG: No, it’s not.

FVL: Yes, it is.

WG: Thankfully we have the Internet to solve these arguments. And Wikipedia says…silver age. I admit defeat. Please carry on.

FVL: If you read the Wikipedia page it probably says it came out in the early 60s, when James Bond was really hitting big, and Matt Price, Brain Boy, was an agent for the “Secret Service” — but that was just lazy writing, he was a generic spy type. I thought it’d be interesting to make him literally a Secret Service agent in modern times, as that agency would want to protect the president from psychic spies and assassins, and it really seemed to work.

WG: Congratulations on being the new head on the Conan the Barbarian series.  What about this series makes you the most excited about writing for this classic series?

FVL: I just love the world itself, I love the sword and sorcery genre, and what’s cool about it is that Howard’s Hyborian Age is still very much steeped in history. This is the most excited I’ve been taking over a property since I did Amazing Spider-Man, honestly.

WG: Even though you are paying close attention to Robert E. Howard’s work, do you want to add your own spin?  Create new characters, test out new enemies, add unheard of scenarios?  What do you plan to do to make Conan go beyond the sword and sorcery genre?

FVL: My first arc is based on an unfinished fragment by Howard commonly called “The Snout in the Dark.” There’s really only a page and a half outline and a few chapters he completed, the rest is me, so I do have a lot of leeway. At its heart, the story is about a witch-hunt, and the terror that grips a city that can be manipulated for political purposes, so really it’s a universal theme that goes beyond the sword and sorcery genre.

WG: Enough about your exciting career for the moment, what are your favorite comic books that the general public might not know about?

FVL: Probably my favorite comic I read recently is Daryl Cummingham’s How to Fake a Moon Landing, a great debunking of common science denial myths.

WG: Who is your favorite comic book character and it can be anyone or anything?

FVL: Does Jesus count?

WG: Which comic incarnation are we talking about?

FVL: Ha ha, no I’m kidding, it’s not Jesus. It’s Zombie Jesus.

WG: Most writers have an idea of the ideal project where they are either writing or creating.  Do you have one in the works?

FVL: I do! I just got the word it was green lit last night, in fact. I’m really looking forward to sharing it with the world.

WG: Anything you wish to add or admit?

FVL: Contrary to what you may have heard, I am not Zombie Jesus.

WG: And there goes my belief system. Thanks Fred, pleasure speaking with you.

FVL: Your welcome.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Insidious: The Red Door’ is Available on Blu-ray Today

‘Insidious: The Red Door‘ Dips in Quality where, ‘The Conjuring‘ Left...

‘Mr Jimmy’ Director Peter Michael Dowd – Interview

‘Mr Jimmy‘ Producer, Director and Editor, Peter Michael Dowd talks about...

Michael Jai White Talks About His Latest Flick, ‘Outlaw Johnny Black’ – Interview

Martial Arts and Action Legend Michael Jai White Talks About His...

Event News Event Reviews
ScareScape Announces To-Die-For Specialty Haunted Treats

Experience To-Die-For Specialty Lattes, Signature Cocktails, Sinister Sweets, and More at...

AGBO Announces Third Annual ‘No Sleep ’til Film Fest’

AGBO Announces Third Annual Global Filmmaking Competition for Emerging Creators, “No...

‘A Black and White Cookie’ Brings Color to Old Racial Tensions

‘A Black and White Cookie‘ Brings Color to Old Racial Tensions...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre – Interview

Ultimate Women of Wrestling Comes to the Globe Theatre on Sunday,...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Saga (sooner or later)

Oi, roboscabs; you're fired!

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pharump Apocalypse!

Like how you'll all be watching reality shows and 2 Broke...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the final interruption.

Sorry, was expecting another interruption.

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Shira Elias Talks About Her New Single ‘Earth Sun’ and EP ‘Services’

Shira Elias talks about her new single ‘Earth Sun‘ out now...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

Steve Niles and David Dastmalchian Team Up for a Criminal Macabre/Count Crowley Crossover at SDCC

Steve Niles and David Dastmalchian Team Up for a Criminal Macabre/Count...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...