Rapid City Below Zero writer Josh Dahl recently talked with the people make the comic book series Super! about making comics.
Josh: Hi, who are you
Laurie: Hey Josh! I’m Laurie Foster, the inker, editor, and co-owner for Unlikely Heroes Studios and our book, Super! How about you, who are you and what is your current project? :)
Josh: I’m Josh Dahl. I write and publish Rapid City Below Zero. That’s a super villain revenge drama.
My book is fairly “high concept” (a villain-on-villain revenge story with a female lead)... What sets your book apart from other superhero books?
Laurie: Josh, I’m gonna pause this one sec and bring in Zack and Justin [Piatt], who write the book and will give some better answers than me!
Piatt: Villain on Villain revenge story with a female lead doesn’t sound too high concept. It’s a revenge story, and then you tweaked it from there. I think a lot of the best stories can be summed up into a phrase or core idea, and if you can’t, there’s trouble! :)
There’s a lot that sets Super! apart. Yeah, we’ve got tons of brand new Supers all using their powers in crazily imagined ways (i’d pay to see what goes on in Zack’s head for 5 minutes!), but our Supers are different. For starters, they age, as evidenced by the old-age home for Retired Superbeings (Super! issue 4!). That really hasn’t been done before because superhero comics are thought to go on forever. Think about it, in Spider Man, Aunt May has been nine-thousand years old since the ‘60’s! That’s insane.
More than that, our story is going to build to an awesome conclusion - and superhero stories that nail the ending are really rare indeed. We’re going to be able to shout “hey Superman, where’s your ending?” because if the whole planet being destroyed thing wasn’t enough to depress good ol’ Clark, out-comicing him most certainly will (in a certain 4th wall breaking way).
My turn? Yeah, my turn! Josh, it kind of seems like Rapid City Below Zero is the opposite of Super!, something a little more serious instead of light-hearted. Zack’s more of a comic buff than I am so I haven’t read all that much dark and gritty or serious comics, and when I have, they usually involved Batman or the Punisher or someone without powers. Am I right in thinking that you’re going for something a little on the serious-side, and if so, can you talk about what it was like mixing superpowers with a serious tone (Rapid City has legitimate super-beings, right?)
Josh- I hadn’t thought of it like that, but yeah, Below Zero might be the opposite of Super! It is dark, and heavy, and not much fun/ Unless you get some kind of thrill out of watching selfish, violent, powerful, individuals drag each other down into destruction.
To me, telling stories about super characters with a dark tone, and dark subject matter, just makes perfect sense. I take superheroes and super villains very seriously. These characters can fit into any kind of story. Fun, scary, exciting, silly, sad, compelling. Rapid City Below Zero just happens to be on the darker end of that spectrum.