On July 31st, writer Christos Gage will finally ride into the Sunset. His neo-noir about a very old guy bent on revenge was first announced as a mini-series, then got delayed for various reasons, until it finally gets released as a brand new original graphic novel this Summer. And it’s worth the wait: having read the book, we can confidently say Sunset is the perfect beach read for crime fans, and comic book fans alike.
Before the book hits stands – as well as a $1 preview issue – we chatted with Gage about what its like to finally see the book released, what the main character’s weakness is (hip replacement?) and more:
MTV Geek: Okay, this project has been a long time coming… What’s it like to finally have Sunset hit comic book stands? Did you forget what it was about?
Christos Gage: It feels really good. And I didn’t mind the delay…it’s not like it took a while because Jorge preferred playing video games or I was smoking too much weed. It took a while because Top Cow asked if I’d be willing to have SUNSET released as their first original graphic novel! I considered that a tremendous honor, and I also felt it would suit the story. My wife – who is much more representative of what we in the industry call a “wider audience” than I am – had seen the art coming in and said more than once that she wished they would print it in black and white, because it looked so good that way…and that’s what they suggested doing. So it all worked out wonderfully; I couldn’t be happier. And I do remember what it’s about…an old guy, like me. Who kicks ass…not like me. (Actually, Nick Bellamy is quite a bit older than me…I just feel eighty years old.)
Geek: It pretty clearly seems formatted for series, but having read it – also works as an OGN… Did you have to tweak anything for this new(ish) format?
CG: No, actually. SUNSET was originally meant to be a miniseries, so it always had a clear beginning, middle and end. And I always imagined people reading it in an eventual collected edition, so wrote with that in mind. The only big change was deciding not to color it, but as I mentioned before, it looks awesome that way, so no problems there. The issue breaks work well as chapter breaks.
Geek: Okay, let’s take a step back: for those interested in the free preview, what’s in store for them in the first twenty-two pages?
CG: Um…it’s actually not free. It’s a dollar. Sorry. But that’s still a pretty good deal, I think. What you get is the first chapter…essentially, the first 15 to 20 minutes of a movie.
Geek: Oops! Okay, what about the characters? Who are our protagonists?
CG: The main character is Nick Bellamy, a Korean War veteran who spent much of the sixties and seventies as legbreaker to a Vegas mob boss, Alfonse Gianelli. Realizing that there was no gold watch waiting at his retirement – more like hot lead – Nick and some friends pulled off one of those fabled “one last heists” to set you up for life…and it worked. They made off with millions in Gianelli’s money and got him sent to prison for life. But now, 30 years later, Gianelli has been paroled, and is out for revenge. His men come after Nick expecting a frail old man. Old, yes. Frail, no. Ultravolence ensues.
Geek: What were the challenges in having a septugenarian anti-hero at the center? He seems to be pretty unstoppable, but does he have a weakness? 4:30pm discount dinner buffet, maybe?
CG: We are living in an era of older people doing amazing things. The 86-year-old gymnast. An 80-year-old man competing in the Ironman World Championship. An 80 year old rodeo champion. This isn’t new, but it used to be one or two exceptions, like Jack LaLanne. Now you see it more and more. So I didn’t find it challenging to believe a man in his seventies can kick ass. If Nick has a weakness it’s that he has such contempt for you his sneer might crack his face.
Geek: Tell us about Jorge Lucas… What does he bring to the project?
CG: Awesomeness. His art has a grit to it, like a punch with brass knuckles, but never at the expense of storytelling. He really captured Nick…the craggy face and the expression. He was perfect for this story.
Geek: Not to get all commercial, but this really seems like it was almost conceived as a movie project in a way… Do you have dream casting for the charcters? I mean, Eastwood, right?
CG: Well, look, Clint Eastwood is perfect in pretty much anything. I’d watch him in FROM JUSTIN TO KELLY. For this? Definitely. It could also go a bit younger, if you made Nick a Vietnam veteran. But I’ve never seen a comic that was conceived as a pitch vehicle for a movie that was any good, have you? I didn’t want to get into that line of thinking while writing it, which is why most of the actors I cast in my head are dead. Now that it’s done, of course, it’s a fun game to play. I’d love to hear who people would cast. But my own personal dream casting? Not really. I’ve been in Hollywood since the mid 90s. My dreams were crushed long ago.
Geek: Anything else to tease about the book?
CG: Duane Swierczynski did an introduction, which I really appreciate. He’s a fan of “old man noir” too. I’m really proud of it… I hope people will give it a shot!
Sunset hits book stares everywhere on July 31st, preceded by the $1 First Look issue from Top Cow. Check out some preview pages below: