Triple Threat: Cowboy Ninja Viking

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AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo have wanted to work together for quite a bit. They finally made it happen with Cowboy Ninja Viking, a comic book so over the top you don’t even know where the ‘top’ is in the first place.

It’s a really schizophrenic premise that Lieberman and Rossmo have concocted, as no one in their right mind would try meshing a cowboy, a ninja and a vikng all into one, but they do. The result of their creative get-together hits stores in October through Image Comics and Shadowline… for now, a Q&A will have to do.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Hold the phone! Cowboys, ninjas and vikings all merged into one?! What's the deal?

Ah, that’s just it- they’re actually not merged.  Rather they’re three distinct personalities living within what’s known as a “Host”.  
BF: What exactly are Triplets?

Triplets are the result of a covert psychological study headed by Dr. Sebastian Ghislain: rogue psychotherapist / covert op / semi-pro jai alai player. Tasked with creating a counter-intelligence unit, he turned to those long thought useless to society: Patients with Multiple Personalities.  These “agents” all had three personalities and thus became known as Triplets.  Was it misguided?  Yeah.  Impractical?  Sure.  But did it work?  Absolutely not.   

BF: Yipes! So, who or what are the doctor and his triplets up against? 

The Doctor only has 1 triplet, CNV, working with him.  The rest are the test subjects from that failed covert program and by the end of #2 we’ll learn where they are.
BF: And who is Cowboy Ninja Viking, the character? Is that his actual name?

His actual name is Duncan.  His three personalities however, make up the title of the book.

BF: How do you play around with the multiple personalities? Do the switches happen at random or can the switches be caused when pushing the right buttons?  

The whole purpose of the Doctor Ghislain’s program was to see if he could give the Host power of his/her plurality.   Duncan was the closest he came to having a success… and all three personalities are always “present”.  It’s not like when the Viking is talking the other two have to take a back seat.  All three are always “on”.   They talk to each other, they talk to people, they argue amongst themselves, they argue with people they come into contact with. 

For example, in issue #2, during a flight to Japan, an overweight woman sitting next to Duncan wants to keep the arm rest up to give herself more room.  You do not want to know what Viking says to her.  Or rather you do want to know but have to wait till CNV #2 hits the stands.  It might be my favorite scene yet.


BF: You’ve already brought up Duncan and Dr. Ghislain. Are there any other characters integral to this story?

Let’s see… we have the previously mentioned Dr. Ghislain, who is a cross between Robert Evans (a famous Hollywood producer in the 60/70’s) and Sigmund Freud (a famous therapist from the 1820’s).   The thing that’s great about Ghislain is that half the time he’s more insane than Duncan.   We also have Sara Nix, who works for the good Doctor and is CNV’s partner and babysitter.  Not to get too analytical but together Duncan/Nix/Ghisalin are kind of the Id/Ego/Super Ego of one person.  

There’s also Sasha, runway model and Ghislain’s personal pilot.  Of course, there’s also a killer bad guy, but I don’t want to ruin anything about him, or her, just yet… And then of course we have all the other Triplets.

BF: So, we don’t really get to see any other triplets besides Duncan that are ‘good guys’?

No, you’ll get plenty of Triplets.  A lot of things that are set up in issue #1 are then blown wide open in #2.   The fight between CNV and the Triplet in issue #2 is off the wall psychotic – and I don’t mean that in a Triplet way, but rather in a over the top thrill-kill kinda way. [Laughs]
BF: When and how did you guys start working together on this project?

We've known each other for 3-4 years and have been batting ideas back and forth since then.

LIEBERMAN:  Like Riley said, we’ve known each other for a while and while Riley was doing his thing with Proof and I was doing my thing at DC, we finally had a window and here we are.

BF: Riley, were you surprised that Proof picked up steam so quickly?

I'm flattered that we received the reviews we did, and still do on Proof.  Mostly I was surprised with how solid our fan base was so quickly.

BF: Where’s that book going come fall and winter? 

Issue #25 is coming out in October (our extra big 25th issue); it’s a pretty big deal for us, with lots of extra content from there.  We have a short arc called "Who Killed the Dover Demon," and I'm also trying a lot of new techniques on Proof in the next few months; some painting washes and some photo collage stuff.

BF: Most artists can’t even do one book a month regularly and here you are doing two. Do you still get any sleep?

No.  Well a little, I'm really regimented about my work and processes…I get up around 6-7am every day and draw/ink till 1-2pm.  After that I do paperwork, jog, read, then do layouts, scanning, and coloring till 8-9pm.  The workload’s pretty heavy.

BF: AJ, what do you think of Proof? What are some of Riley’s qualities as an artist shown on Proof that make him the perfect fit on CNV?  

I had been talking to Riley about this for a bit and knew his style would be a perfect match for the tone I wanted.  CNV drawn by someone else wouldn’t work nearly as well (if at all) because Riley’s stuff has this manic quality that is essential in the character / story.


BF: Publishing this book is Shadowline. How did the book end up in the hands of Jim Valentino and his crew?

I met Kris [Simon] and Jim in Seattle; having an ongoing book at Image (the aforementioned Proof – ed.), and knowing how much work it is to do a book, I wanted to do another book at Image but with a little more support on the production, editing, and advertising end of things.

LIEBERMAN: Riley liked his experience with Proof at Image, but we knew we wanted more support so we took it to Shadowline first…and to Jim and Kris’ credit, the turn around on an answer was very quick, which to us showed us that they would be serious about supporting the book… which they have been.
BF: What else, that we haven’t covered here, should people know about CNV?

  It’s more kick ass than Bruce Lee. And we’ve got killer art, the most anti-iest-hero in anti-hero history that is equal parts Zen (Ninja) violent (Cowboy and Ninja), hyper violent (Viking) and looking to get laid whenever possible (Cowboy). 
BF: If that ain’t a recipe for disaster, I got nothing. Let me just check one final time: Cowboy. Ninja. Viking. But no Zombie? Everyone has zombies in one way or another these days!

I gotta be honest, I’m kinda over the zombie thing... 

What!!?  Who says no zombies, issue #4 features Baby Zombie Dentist!

Cowboy Ninja Viking #1 will be in stores October 7, 2009. Check out the comic's blog here.

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