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Dead@17 Marches On

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Seven years after coming up with the idea for Dead@17 and three years since Dead@17 #1 became the first-ever Viper Comics publication, Josh Howard is bringing back Dead@17 as an ongoing series!

Yes, we know it’s not really creative to mention Dead@17 three times in one sentence, but when news broke that come August, Viper’s prima ballerinas will star in a monthly book—unless that’s not the proper way to refer to a couple of teenage chicks with a murderous look on their faces and an axe heaved over their shoulders.

Let’s quickly jump to our interview with Josh before one of those sharp attributes swings this way… EEP!

Click to enlargeBROKEN FRONTIER: Last month, it was announced that August will see the release of a Dead@17 ongoing series. The time was finally right to fulfil several years' worth of wishes of your fanbase, then?

JOSH HOWARD: Yeah, it felt like the right time to finally make it happen. Even though the original concept was meant to be like a trilogy with a definite end, I couldn't help feeling there was more story to tell. I had gotten to know this world really well and knew that there was more potential there. I think it was shortly after Revolution ended that I made the decision to go through with it, I was wanted to take a little break and figure out what I wanted to do with it, you know, recharge my batteries.

BF: So, you had always planned to return to Viper Comics once you'd finished Black Harvest at Devil's Due?

JH: Definitely. I consider Viper my home, and probably always will. There's a feeling and a freedom there that can't be matched anywhere else. They also understood the need for me to take on some different projects and reach a larger fan base. Devil's Due was a really crucial step for me. They allowed me to tackle something new and reach a bigger audience. I'll always be grateful to Josh and crew for the experience and hopefully the new fans will follow me back to Dead@17 (and hopefully one day, more Black Harvest).

BF: While the series is still set in Darlington Hills, the same town where the adventures of the three mini series took place, the star will no longer be Nara Kilday. Does that mean that the location is the only element that ties into the previous stories?

JH: No, not at all. There will be a really important character who has some pretty major ties to someone from the first series. Other elements will be creeping in, too, and eventually, some familiar faces. But I want to make sure the new series develops its own identity first.

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BF: How is the ongoing made up? Is it a succession of multi-part story arcs, stand-alone stories, a mix of both, or even one long continuing storyline?

JH: Hopefully, a bit of all those. But it will mostly be one long storyline. I want this to live and breathe and grow. I haven't had that freedom yet, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it works out.

BF: It may be a bit early, but can you already reveal something about the new characters that will be showing up in the book?

JH: The main character will be Asia Black. She is being raised alone by her mother and their relationship is one of the backbones of the series. Asia's life, death, and eventual resurrection will be dramatically different than Nara's. The other main character, that I mentioned earlier, is male and his arrival to Darlington Hills sets into motion some major events.There's also a new group calling themselves the Undying who are being hunted by the authorities.

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BF: Let's take a moment to reflect on your—still young—career at Viper Comics. How do you look back at each of the previous Dead@17 stories? What makes the original, Blood of Saints and Revolution all special?

JH: The first series will always be my favorite, just because it was first. There was a great feeling of the unknown, of not knowing really what I was doing or how the book would do. There's just a feeling associated with it that I don't think I'll ever be able to recapture.

I have mixed feelings on Blood of Saints. There are some things I like about it, but there's a lot I hate about it; mostly my artwork. I was trying to push my art to be a little cartoonier, and I think it suffered for it. If I could go back and redraw any of them, it would be that one.

Revolution is interesting because it's pretty close the original ending I had in mind 7 years ago when I came up the idea. In fact, it's probably the only thing that remained unchanged for the most part. However, I feel parts of it are rushed, and of all the books, I think it needed a couple more issues to fully flesh things out. But what's done is done, and I'm just glad I got to end the story the way I wanted to.

BF: If you had to pick one moment from Dead@17 continuity, which one is your favorite?

JH: When Jesus shows up in Revolution, simply because I don't think anything's ever been done like that before. The use of Jesus in comics and entertainment is almost always blasphemous. I wanted to counter that.

Click to enlargeClick to enlargeBF: On May 6th, fans can already cherish some new 'undead' material in the Viper Comics Presents anthology created for Free Comic Book Day. Does this story serve as a direct lead-in to the Dead@17 ongoing?

JH: Yes and no. It kind of poetically recaps the previous series and leaves you with a couple of teasers for the ongoing. It's the comic book equivalent of a movie trailer.

BF: And after that, we'll just have to wait till August for new Josh Howard material?

JH: Of course not! Look for The Art of Josh Howard Vol. 2 in June.

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