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From Dead@17 to Black Harvest to his art books, one thing stands out about Josh Howard: he loves to draw women and make them the star of his stories. Don’t expect the trend that started with Nara Kilday and continued with Zaya Vahn and Asia Black to come to a halt soon, as Howard adds yet another fine female to his plate in The Lost Book of Eve.

Coming early next month from Viper Comics—the publisher Howard’s name is almost synonymous with—the new ongoing series introduces us to Eve and the paradisaical Garden of Eden she calls home.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Who is the Eve in your book? Is she the biblical version, or a fictional creation that also happens to live in a beautiful garden?

JOSH HOWARD: She is based on the biblical version, but since there really isn't a whole lot written about her (in Genesis), I'm drawing from a few outside sources, such as Jewish lore and the Books of Eden, plus a little conjecture, to help flesh her out.

BF: Knowing that, what's your perception of Eve? Looking at how you're portraying her, do you consider her to be a good person at heart who simply got persuaded by a powerful force beyond her control? And what are some of her character traits you're introducing specifically to give her more substance?

JH: As you will learn from just the first couple of pages, Eve's biggest enemy is her own curiosity. In fact, it's her curiosity that ends up getting Adam into trouble in the first place. She has an almost insatiable desire for knowledge. Since this takes place before the fall, I see her as very good and pure in her motives. But she is also very naive, and that will be both a benefit and a hindrance in her journeys in the outside world. She's not very good at telling friends from enemies, which will bring her all sorts of trouble.

BF: What kind of role does Adam play in Eve's world?

JH: Adam is everything to Eve. She risks everything to go after him, so in that sense, he's kind of the driving force behind everything. But in the physical sense, Adam will be rarely seen, and plays no active role in the series. We will periodically see where he's at and what's going on with him, but there's a reason he won't be doing much.

BF: Will you be straying a whole lot from Eve's stories as told in the book of Genesis or stay very close to them?

JH: Well, she really doesn't have any stories in Genesis besides eating the fruit, so my story is largely going to be a "What if?" that leads up to that pivotal event. I'm trying to go as wild and crazy as I can without contradicting what's written in Genesis.

BF: You're a religious person, and it often shines through in your work—case in point the appearance of Jesus in the final issue of Dead@17: Revolution. Was the urge to express your beliefs in your work the main reason you started this project?

JH: First of all, I wouldn't say I have an "urge" to express my beliefs in my work. That sort of implies that I set out to implant a message my stories, and that's not really the case. My ideas always start with, "Wouldn't it be cool if…," not "How can I get this message across?" In the case of Dead@17, which dealt with larger issues such as good and evil and faith and destiny, I don't see how you can discuss those things without bringing God into the equation. No matter how a person defines oneself, whether it be Christian, atheist, or agnostic, a person's beliefs will always be reflected in their work. It's unavoidable.

With regards to Eve; the story is an adventure tale set against the backdrop of the beginning of the world. Religion had little to do with my interest in taking this on. It just seemed like such fertile ground to tell a good story. The biggest draw was that no one had tried this before. In my mind, the possibilities are limitless.

BF: Can you give an example of one such 'possibility'?

JH: Sure. Since humanity has yet to populate the world, I had to come up with other ways to inhabit the earth. There are a couple of passages in Genesis that imply that some fallen angels mixed with human women to produce giant and powerful offspring. It states that they were "men of renown, heroes of old." I remember the first thought I had when I read that years ago was "Hercules." There's a theory based around that that says they not only mixed with humans, but with animals. So I've kind of taken that and ran with it.

Zeus and all those guys (who are the fallen angels) have been running around masquerading as gods and creating havoc. So you have all these races—centaurs, satyrs, mermaids, minotaurs, etc.—who have come about thanks to this inbreeding. So that gives me a pretty big sandbox to play in, and that doesn't even take into account all the Jewish lore I'm throwing in, like the idea that Eve may not have been Adam's first companion... but now I've said too much.

BF: Now, why Eve in particular? What makes her so special to you, as your creation on the one hand, and as a biblical character on the other, seeing that there are hundreds to choose from?

JH: For one, I wasn't looking for a Bible character to do a story about. I don't really have an interest in doing stories about Bible characters. I just thought it was cool. That's it. It's a cool idea to me. Same reason I did Dead@17 and Black Harvest. Having said that, I think it's funny that it's making some people nervous. Why should Eve as a character be taboo or off limits just because she's in the Bible? That question goes for both Christians and Secularists.

BF: [Laughs] The story isn’t making me nervous, I guess I simply made too strong a link between the Jesus appearance in Dead@17 and this new project!

JH: I understand, and I'm actually really glad you asked. It's just my hope that people will see this as a fantasy-adventure story first and foremost, and not make any presumptions of it based on any preconceived notions.

BF: The Lost Book of Eve and your other series, Dead@17 and Black Harvest all star a female lead. Why do you prefer them over male ones?

JH: It can be more interesting, because almost every story has been told with a male lead. Plus, I like drawing girls. It doesn’t go much deeper than that.

BF: Something that you have to address in this book is how to treat nudity. You haven't shied away from that in your art books—and it was never tasteless in there—but the preview designs and images all depict Eve with hair over her breasts. Is that how it's always going to be, or only on covers?

JH: After the first book, nudity won't even be an issue. I found a way around it. It was actually pretty simple.

BF: What's your opinion on nudity in comics overall? Is it something that should be allowed, and if so, to what extent?

JH: Of course it should be allowed, as long as it's legal.

BF: Do you consider the flak Top Shelf got hit with earlier this year for publishing Lost Girls to be over the edge then?

JH: I don't think they got enough flak, to be honest. I think they got a pass. Most of the commentary I read was overwhelmingly positive. People couldn't heap praise upon them fast enough. I had a friend who showed me his copy, and I thought it was vile. Call me crazy, but I tend to like my entertainment free of bestiality, incest, and paedophilia. I guess I'm "old fashioned" like that.

BF: Let’s move overt to another topic: why did you want to break up the steady monthly beat of Dead@17 releases and put Eve in between? Not that your fans have any reason to complain...

JH: I broke it up so I wouldn't go crazy. I didn't know how long it would be before I got to do something new, so to me this seemed like the best solution.

BF: Like Dead@17, The Lost Book of Eve is also billed as an ongoing series. Is it finite? And how long do you seek to continue it?

JH: I don't know. It is finite in the sense that it does have a definite ending, but I can see it going on for a very long time, even longer than Dead@17. However, I may take a break every now and then to work on other projects, and then come right back and pick up where I left off. My goal is to have a big, Bone-sized epic when I'm done.

For a look at four pages from The Lost Book of Eve #1, check out the sneak peek here.

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