Riding into the Wasteland

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Debuting tomorrow from Arcana Studios is American Wasteland: Blood and Diesel, a new four-issue mini series by the creative team of RD Hall and Mark Kidwell. The ‘blood’ and ‘diesel’ in the title give away part of the premise: a truck driver wants to save his mama from the vampire apocalypse threatening the United States.

American Wasteland is the story of a Truck Driver named Cletus McCoy,” says Hall, writer of the series. “He drives a beer truck cross country and winds up in the middle of a nationwide plague of monsters.  The monsters are a bit of an enigma.  In some ways they are reminesent of Richard Matheson's style of vampires, yet they don't really fit the traditional vampire mold.  They are something unique. 

“So Cletus winds up in a world, on the cusp of this new apocalypse, and an emerging ‘blood brother’ nation.  We tried to blend the hardcore gore with a lot of tongue in cheek, high octane action.  If you like stuff like Evil Dead, Big Trouble in Little China, or From Dusk 'til Dawn, you'll love American Wasteland.”

While he’s driving his truck, Cletus encounters not only monsters, but meets a few interesting folks along the way. “Chief of these [people], is a young boy we only know as Sumbitch,” Hall discloses.  Cletus is a bit of a Mama's boy, that's the reason he needs to make it back home—to save his Mama.  Sumbitch gives him a chance to take care of someone else for a change, but really they take care of each other.  The heavy of the story is a guy named Johnny Copperhead, and we'll let readers check him out in the book.” 

The idea for American Wasteland sprung up due to Hall feeling zombified by the current state of horror comics. “It came out of a disappointment of sorts, when it came to horror in comics.  Everything was zombies, and we wanted to go in a different direction. Not that we don't love zombies, we just wanted to stand out in a sea of zombies.

“Apart from that, it mainly came about because Mark and I wanted to work together on a project.  Mark loves to draw monsters, so I wanted to set up a project that would show off his affinity for the grotesque.”

When it came to finding a publisher for the book, Hall and Kidwell went to somewhat of a surreal experience, especially considering the degree of difficulty many creators have finding an independent home. It definitely was surreal,” the writer adds. “Mark and I decided to pitch at Wizard World Chicago in 2005.  We talked to a few tables and felt them out, planning on pitching them later that day.  When we made it to Arcana's booth, Sean already knew who we were and wanted to hear the pitch right then. Mark and I pitched it and Sean okayed it, on the spot.  We still can't believe our good fortune. Sean's been really great to work with; he's very open to trying new things and pushing the envelope.”

With the 2007 con season now in full swing, convention-goers are likely to run into Hall and Kidwell as they pull out all the stops to promote their new book, along with their upcoming work. “I was at New York Comic Con signing copies of American Wasteland in February and I'm going to try to hit as many shows as possible this year to support the book,” Hall says of his American Wasteland promo tour. “Mark didn't make it to New York this year, but he'll be at most of the other cons supporting the book and his new projects at Fangoria Comics, including Bump, for which he is producing both the art and story.  Bump is currently in development as a film by Robert Kurtzman. 

“Myself, I have a few projects in the works, a slasher story involving videogames called Killplay and a different take on the Little Red Riding Hood Mythos called Red, with newcomer artist Eric Jimenez.  He's producing some exceptional work—I can't wait for everyone to see it.”

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American Wasteland: Blood and Diesel #1 hits comic book stores tomorrow. Find out more about the project at the Arcana Studio website.

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