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He?s Expendable

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Music journalist and assistant publisher of Viper Comics is getting violent this month. The target of this violence? Twigs Dupree, star of the new 112-page graphic novel, The Expendable One;

“Twigs Dupree was just your average, everyday forgotten townie a few months ago, but things changed for the shaggy headed has-been when he accidentally injected himself with an experimental concoction that gave him the gift of immortality. Now along with his childhood friend Jerry, Twigs wages a war in the suburbs, playing part-time superhero with the help of a police scanner. Things take an unexpected turn however when the sexy Agent Armstrong recruits Twigs for the FBI and asks him to take down a serial killer known as The Animal, a madman who some believe to be a werewolf, but who in reality is the head of a cult that will make David Koresh and his Branch Davidians look like the cast of Sesame Street..”

In addition to talking about a man who can’t be killed (but may wish he were dead), Burns also touches on Viper Comics, the comic industry, music and…women’s panties?

Broken Frontier - Where did you get the original inspiration for The Expendable One from?

Jason M. Burns - I had wanted to write a story about a guy that couldn’t die for a long time… but I didn’t want it to be a vampire or zombie story. And then truth be told, the title The Expendable One just popped into my head one day and the story was sort of built around that. A lot of my projects come out of titles that I like. I guess it gives me the inspiration to take the idea out of my head and put them down on paper… or at least a computer screen anyway. Damn you technology… damn you!

BF - What character in the book did you most enjoy writing?

JMB - Twigs Dupree… the guy who can’t die. The reason I enjoyed writing him so much is because he is kind of sarcastic and prone to making nostalgic pop culture references. That makes him a fun character to write because you can really just pull anything out of your ass and somehow it fits with her personality. Also… he can’t die, so that’s fun too.

BF - What is it about Bryan Baugh's work that made you think he'd be a good fit
for The Expendable One?

JMB - The story is really gruesome and Bryan is Mr. Gruesome in my eyes. Honestly… if I didn’t know him… I’d probably call the cops and have them dig up his backyard just to see what they’d turn up. He is a twisted man… and it’s for that reason I feel a kinship with him.

BF - How did you pitch the idea of including a music interview in a horror/humour comic about a man that can't die?

JMB - Well, I had been working with Viper Comics for a while and actually stepped in as Assistant Publisher, so it wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be. HAHA They knew I was a journalist for almost a decade and they actually kind of liked the idea. For me, I just wanted to combine two mediums that I felt shared a similar fan base. That was part of the reason why I chose Scary Kids Scaring Kids… because their fans seem to fall into the same zone as The Expendable One, and the feel of their music mirrored the tone of the book in my opinion. Also, I recently interviewed the band for another publication and as it turned out, they were comic fans growing up. So, they were into doing an exclusive interview for the graphic novel and at the end of the day, it just seemed like a good fit.

BF - What attracted you to writing comics?

JMB - I grew up reading comics so I was always a fan and even as a kid I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I just never thought of putting those creative juices to use in comics. I always wanted to write for film and television and then when the door opened on comics, I sort of kicked it in and haven’t stopped writing in that medium since. Now it’s where I concentrate most of my efforts.

BF - Obviously, you must feel strongly that Viper Comics is a company that will be successful. What was it about Viper Comics that attracted you? What do you see as your role to help the company thrive?

JMB - While I think as a business they completely have their act together and know where they came from, where they are now and where they’re headed in the future… it was the people that drew me in. Company president Jessie Garza is what a professional should be… top to bottom. He is business savvy, he places a lot of trust in the talent he brings in, he’s all sorts of creative and at the end of the day, he’s a great guy and frankly, there’s just not a lot of that in the world these days. He is the Jerry Maguire of comics. He is my ambassador of comic book quan. HAHA

BF - You've talked elsewhere about the similarities between music and comic fans. What differences do you see?

JMB - Well, I think music fans get this immense feeling of gratification when they go to a club to see their favorite band perform live. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is anything like that for comic fans. I mean, walking around a comic convention and meeting your favorite creators is fun and all, but it doesn’t hold a candle to going to see your favorite band rock out with their BLEEPS out for a couple of hours. With music, you not only get that which you can bring home with you (the recorded music), but you can then go and see them perform the same material live that you’ve become so connected to. There’s an experience there that you can’t get from the comic world, but at the same time, there’s the unlocking of your imagination factor that you get with comic books that I think you can’t quite find with music. But truthfully, I just read that back and it completely sounds like I’m talking out of my ass. As a rule of thumb, you really shouldn’t listen to a word I say because I tend to just ramble nonsense.

BF - The general public seems to be recognizing a little more that comics aren't just guys in long underwear. Do you see the recent increased diversity of genres continuing? What else do you think the industry needs to do to attract new or different reader?

JMB - Yeah, I definitely think the diversity will continue. There will always be super hero books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little bit of everything out there as well. Going back to music… if there was just rock, or just hip hop… things would get boring real fast. Luckily for us, there are a thousand different styles of music out there that we may or may not connect with, and the same can be said for comics now. I think it’s a great thing and I think you’ll continue to see more and more diversity. Now in terms of bringing in new readers… that’s a tough nut to crack and I’m hoping that we can start to peak the interest of non comic readers because I don’t know about you guys, but I very rarely see young people in comic shops and if they are, they’re not buying comics… they’re buying cards or something else. That’s a scary thing because that means eventually we’ll run out of readers. We need to harvest the masses! MWAHAHAHA. (That was my evil genius laugh, by the way.)

BF - What way to "kill" Twigs was your favourite?

JMB - Well, I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. I’ve already put together the sequel and there’s a few ways that I’ve worked into that story that I’m pretty excited about, but the truth is, each new way I torture him is my new favorite. Although, there is a scene towards the end of The Expendable One where Twigs is blown up that I’m pretty fond of, but it’s more about how he was blown up than just the fact that he was blown up. It involves a pair of woman’s panties and gasoline. KABOOM!

BF - I know you've got some other comic projects upcoming from Viper. Would you mind giving a quick run down of what they are?

JMB - Sure. There’s a 4-issue mini series due out in July called A Dummy’s Guide To Danger and that’s the story of a private investigator and his ventriloquist dummy partner, who just so happens to be a paraplegic. And then there’s a horror anthology that is currently titled Dreadful Things Dwell Here, and that’s a 4-issue mini as well. I have a few other things due out that I can’t talk about yet, but once we have release dates set, we’ll make sure they’re announced.

Anyone interested in connecting with me can do so at www.myspace.com/jasonmburns

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