Question: Is SCALPED going to be like other ongoing Vertigo series in terms of length (about 50-75 issues long)?
My answer: I sure hope so. As of right now, I have the series mapped out to around issue #30, when the shit really hits the fan. In those first thirty issues, we'll meet tribal cops, meth addicts, greedy officials from the BIA, practitioners of Jeet Kune Do, the Dawg Soldierz, the Burn Victims, an FBI agent named after Warren Oates' father, a two time Soldier of Fortune Combat Knife Champion, a brutal Hmong street gang, a Heyoka who talks to his horse and the sheriff who presides over the largest drunk tank in the United States.
Places to find me online:
My page on MySpace has a couple of slideshows with preview art from both THE OTHER SIDE and SCALPED.
THE OTHER SIDE on MySpace
THE OTHER SIDE has its own MySpace page, where you can make yourself eligible for all sorts of cool prizes (including original art) just by adding THE OTHER SIDE to your Top Friends.
I just recently signed up for this all comic book version of MySpace.
Check out all sorts of character sketches and preview pages from my books, as well as the occasional photo.
My favorite message boards:
Comic Book Resources
In case you haven't heard, SCALPED is a Native American crime drama set on a modern day Indian reservation. Issue #1, shipping January 3, 2007, is the first of a three part storyline called "Indian Country" that introduces readers to angry, young drifter turned tribal cop, Dash Bad Horse, and to aging, Red Power activist turned rez crime boss, Lincoln Red Crow. There'll be action aplenty, along with sex, meth, Kung Fu and a couple of murder mysteries.
I just finished writing issue #7 ("Down on the Killin' Floor") and artist R.M. Guéra just finished drawing #6 ("The Man Who Fights the Bull"), and we're only falling more and more in love with these characters. We can't wait for you to meet them.
Written by Jason Aaron; Art by R.M. Guera; Cover by Jock
"Indian Country," part 3 of 3. After a harrowing shoot-out with the notorious "Burn Victims," Dash Bad Horse goes looking for answers and quickly finds them during a "gentlemanly conversation" with Chief Red Crow. Meanwhile, Red Crow's daughter, Carol, has her sights set on Dash, and she's not the type of girl who hears "no" very often.
Vertigo 32pg. Color $2.99 US Mature Readers
On Sale March 7, 2007
"The Other Side" is a terrifying war comic
By Burl Burlingame
Make no mistake: Even though "The Other Side" is ostensibly about the Vietnam War, it's not your average war comic. It's more of a horror show, with some distinctly unsettling themes and superbly horrific images...
War comics have always either sanitized conflict into banality or gone over the top in demonizing it. Rarely, the arena gives creators like Joe Kubert an excuse to explore characterization in the midst of excessive circumstance, but in this case the story is about people, not the nature of conflict itself. "The Other Side" succeeds in doing both, and in a more personal manner that eclipses Marvel's 1980s stab at the same subject, "The 'Nam."
For the full review, click here
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by R.M. Guéra
Cover by Jock
During his first week as a tribal cop, Dash Bad Horse soon realizes that life on The Rez ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, between busting cranked-up meth dealers, breaking up drunken bar brawls, and dealing with the tribal president’s promiscuous daughter, it’s turning out to be a real headache. And that’s just the beginning of his problems!
On sale February 7
Written by Jason Aaron
Art and cover by Cameron Stewart
The critically acclaimed miniseries comes to its shocking finale, as PFC Everette and Vo Dai confront each other on the hellish battlefield of Khe Sanh. Whether the two men live or die is unclear, but one thing is for sure…neither will ever be the same again.
On sale February 7
Modern war comics take genre to whole new level
By Web Behrens
Special to the Tribune
Published November 5, 2006
Visions of mutilated dead soldiers appear to a young recruit in boot camp. Bombs rain down on Baghdad, setting loose its zoo's inhabitants. Or -- most chilling of all -- two hijacked passenger planes explode into their twin targets one fateful September morning, announcing a frightening new world order to a heretofore ignorant citizenry.
Each of these stunning visuals can be found on bookshelves and spinner racks this autumn, as graphic novels and comic books rediscover the power of war stories. "The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation" (published by Hill and Wang) led the pack in September, translating the bipartisan 9/11 Commission's text into 128 illustrated pages. Soon thereafter, Vertigo Comics released two powerful works: "Pride of Baghdad" is a gorgeous graphic novel that traces the fate of four lions in Iraq's capital after a U.S. bombing raid frees them from their cages; and "The Other Side," a five-issue monthly miniseries (the second issue comes out Nov. 1), takes an unconventional look at another controversial conflict, the Vietnam War.
"Other Side" artist Cameron Stewart says about this resurgent theme: "We are living in a time of war, so it could definitely be a zeitgeist thing."
For the rest of the article, click here.
One of the highlights of the January solicitations is the first issue of Scalped, the new Vertigo crime drama by Jason Aaron (The Other Side) and R.M. Guéra (Heavy Metal), with covers by one of my favorite artists, Jock.
Best known for his collaboration with writer Andy Diggle on Vertigo’s The Losers, Jock is an Eisner Award-nominated cover artist whose vibrant illustrations have fronted that series, as well as Batman, Nightwing, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Rush City and others.
His upcoming projects include Faker with Mike Carey, and Green Arrow: Year One with Diggle.
Scalped #1 is one of my favorite Jock covers to date. It’s not as dynamic as his work on Rush City, or as “designerly” as some of his work on The Losers. But it exudes attitude and quickly establishes the mood and setting for the story. It’s stunning.
Click here for the full text
GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM
Artist Cameron Stewart Journeys to Southeast Asia as research for THE OTHER SIDE
Tired and worn out following the long and busy 2005 San Diego Comic-Con, artist Cameron Stewart found himself not on a flight back home to Toronto, but to Vietnam.
While many artists get reference for their latest projects by logging onto Google, ordering from NetFlix or busting out their library cards, when it came time to do research for his current gig, the DC/Vertigo five-issue mini-series set in Vietnam titled THE OTHER SIDE, Stewart needed a passport, inoculations and travelers checks...
For the rest of the article, pick up Wizard Magazine #182, available now.
BAD HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: AARON TALKS “SCALPED”
by Emmett Furey
Jason Aaron's story is the stuff that aspiring comic book writers' dreams are made of: his very first published comics work featured Marvel's resident canuckle head, Wolverine. But while the 2002 Marvel Comics Talent Search winner described that as a “very cool experience” that he'd be only too eager to repeat, as of last year Aaron has found a new home at DC's Vertigo. “For now, Vertigo is where I belong,” Aaron told CBR News.
For the rest of the interview, click here.
For the full review, click here.
IGN calls the book a "Must Have" and makes it their Top Pick of the Week: "Cameron Stewart, who was drawing talking fish not long ago, seems to have experienced an artistic rebirth for this series. His work is simply incredible. And as for Jason Aaron, his comic-book debut is one of the strongest I've read. He's going to be a superstar in a few years."
Comic Pants says, "this is among the best goddamn Vietnam stories I’ve ever read. Twisted, real, like a punch in the gut, but with a dark sense of humor and imaginative element that makes it not just intense but intensely readable. Take a great story, pair it with great art from Cameron Stewart, full of blood and guts and jungles and training camps, and you’ve got the recipe for one hell of a character-driven war comic. Think you’ve seen all the Vietnam War stories you needed to see? Take a trip to The Other Side and see how wrong you were. Outstanding."
Wizard Universe says, "Check out career-best artwork from Cameron Stewart in this grounded and incredibly affecting look at the Vietnam War... Jason Aaron's distinctive dialogue is as raw and vivid as anything in 'Full Metal Jacket'..."
Brian Wood, writer of DMZ, says, "THIS week, make sure you buy THE OTHER SIDE #1 (Vertigo). This gets my Highest Personal Recommendation. I read the proposal years ago, read the first script, read an advance copy of the first issue... and it keeps getting better each time. The first issue is really dense, it really delivers. It's gonna hit big, and I feel it's worth reading monthly."
More than thirty years after our last military personnel were airlifted off the embassy roof in Saigon, many Americans still shudder at the mention of that word...
For the rest of my On the Ledge column, click here.
Comics and Conflicts
On Wednesday, Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, will release the first issue of "The Other Side," a mini-series about the horrors of the Vietnam War. It tells the parallel stories of two 19-year-old farm boys — one from the United States, one from Vietnam — who become soldiers in the conflict. The series's writer, Jason Aaron, is a cousin of Gustav Hasford, whose novel "The Short-Timers" was adapted into the film "Full Metal Jacket." The series's artist, Cameron Stewart, traveled to Vietnam for inspiration. "It was enormously helpful," he said. "I don't think I could've done the job that I've been doing without it." Mr. Aaron's next series, "Scalped," about a modern-day Indian reservation in South Dakota and its conflict with the United States government, begins in January and will be a continuing series.
THE OTHER SIDE #1 hits comic shelves on October 4, and that day you can catch artist Cameron Stewart and I at Elite Comics in Kansas City, where we'll be signing from 11 am to 7 pm. Limited edition promotional items will be available, and Elite Comics will also be offering a store wide sale. Drop by and say hello.
11842 Quivira Rd
Overland Park, KS
Written by Jason Aaron
Art and cover by Cameron Stewart
The miniseries that shows the real horrors of war continues. As Everette and Vo Dai soldier on towards their inevitable showdown against each other, both men begin to question their respective missions and, more importantly, their own sanity.
On sale December 6 • 3 of 5 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • MATURE READERS
Check out my page on MySpace for a special slideshow featuring art from both THE OTHER SIDE and SCALPED. At present, it's accompanied by "Satan Is Real" from the Louvin Brothers. Just don't get any cooler than that, now does it?
A six-page, full-color preview of THE OTHER SIDE #1 is now online at Newsarama. Thanks to Dave McCaig for his amazing work on the colors. And thanks to Rick Remender, writer of FEAR AGENT and STRANGE GIRL, who in the Newsarama forums calls THE OTHER SIDE the best new series of 2006. Thanks, guys.
"As I've said before, my biggest concern with working on this book was doing the script justice. It's a fantastic piece of writing, everyone who's read it has been completely captivated. This is a script that came to DC in the mail, unsolicited, and on its strength Aaron now has two series at Vertigo. I wouldn't have invested so much of myself in this if I didn't wholly believe in the brilliance of the story. I've worked with Grant Morrison, Ed Brubaker, Pete Milligan, Mike Mignola, Brian Azzarello, Joss Whedon - a veritable Who's Who of the best writers in comics - and this is easily one of the very best scripts I've drawn."
by Benjamin Ong Pang Kean
In 2002, Jason Aaron won a Marvel Talent Search contest and subsequently saw his 8-page story published in Wolverine #175 and… that was it?
For those who’ve been following the recent con reports, Aaron’s name not only came up once but twice at DC’s Vertigo panels.
The Other Side, an October-debuting five-issue Vietnam War limited series with art by Cameron Stewart, was announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego.
This was followed by the announcement of another Vertigo project, this time an ongoing series called Scalped with art by R.M. Guéra and covers by Jock, at Wizard World Chicago.
Newsarama.com tracked down Aaron for a meet and greet session.
The Other Side writer talks about telling a war story from both sides.
This October, writer Jason Aaron and artist Cameron Stewart will present THE OTHER SIDE, a story of the Vietnam War focusing on two soldiers, one American and one Vietnamese. For both creators, the project has required significant personal investment. Stewart went overseas to do research for the story, while Aaron is taking his inspiration from his late cousin, a war correspondent. Aaron sat down with Wizard Universe to talk about the genesis of the Vertigo project.
Click here for the rest of the interview
This past weekend at Wizard World Chicago, I sat in on my first Vertigo panel, and talked about both THE OTHER SIDE and my newest project, SCALPED. From right to left, that's VP of sales Bob Wayne, editor Will Dennis, writer Brian Azzarello, artist Tony Moore, writer Brian Wood, artist Peter Gross and me, your humble narrator.
To read some of the more colorful comments from the panel, check out the following reports:
Comic Book Resources
This Wizard report also features additional comments I made about SCALPED, recorded after the panel:
My newest Vertigo project, an ongoing series titled SCALPED, was announced this past weekend at Wizard World Chicago. It's a crime series set on a modern day Indian reservation in South Dakota, and basically it's about the bad things that can happen when you take the poorest region of the United States and you add a multi-million dollar casino and all the corruption that goes along with it. Covers are by Jock (THE LOSERS) and interior art comes courtesy of European sensation R.M. Guéra.
Check out these interviews for more info:
Comic Book Resources: "Jason Aaron Cuts Close with SCALPED"
Wizard Universe: "Vertigo Heads to Indian Reservation for SCALPED"
And check back here later this week for some special preview pages.
THE OTHER SIDE #1 (OF 5)
Written by Jason Aaron; Art and cover by Cameron Stewart
1968. The height of the Vietnam War. Two young men from opposite ends of the earth must drag themselves through Hell for the opportunity to kill one another.
Written by rookie sensation Jason Aaron with astoundingly visceral art by Cameron Stewart (SEAGUY, SEVEN SOLDIERS: GUARDIAN), THE OTHER SIDE is a 5-issue miniseries following Bill Everette, a 19-year-old Alabama farm boy drafted into the Marine Corps whose only goal is to come home alive, and Vo Binh Dai, a 19-year-old Vietnamese farm boy who enlists in the People's Army of Vietnam, terrified only of failing in his duty to die bravely for his country.
Along the way, Private Everette encounters demonically vicious Parris Island drill instructors, talking maggots, voiceless ghosts, jaded grunts, man-eating pigs, maniacal rats, leeches that quote William Blake, a rifle that begs him to shoot himself and occasionally even the enemy. Vo Dai must undertake the long march south down the Strategic Trail, through black forests and bloody swamps, over pockmarked earth and fields of fire, past tigers and dragons and mounds of the dead, past exhaustion, beyond endurance. At turns, wholly fantastic yet always heartbreakingly realistic.
THE OTHER SIDE is an epic tragedy about America's most haunting war. A surreal exploration of the Vietnam war from opposing viewpoints. A horror story about the horrors of war.
Vertigo, 32pg., Color, $2.99, US, Mature Readers
On Sale October 4, 2006
B. Clay Moore asked for it, and here it is: TOD HOLTON, SUPER GREEN BERET.
Tod is an all-American teenager who's given a magic, glowing beret by his uncle. When he dons the beret... SHAZAM! Young Tod is transformed into an adult super soldier, much like Captain Marvel in fatigues. As Super Green Beret, Tod is able to use his magic powers to aid the American troops in Vietnam by making "magic monkeys" appear to throw coconuts at the Viet Cong or turning hand grenades into pineapples.
This guy here's already done a great job making fun of this comic, panel by panel, so why should I even try?
SUPER GREEN BERET, published by Lightning Comics, only lasted for two issues in the spring of 1967. So unfortunately for all the GIs in Vietnam, Super Greenie Beanie was no where to be found come Tet 1968. Probably could've used those magic monkeys of his in Saigon and Hue City.
AFTER THOUGHT: All told, who made for the more ridiculous Green Beret, Tod Holton or this guy:
I spoke too soon when I called the Mighty Thor the first superhero to get embroiled in the Vietnam War. How could I forget the one hero whose very origin goes back to the earliest days of the war? In the pages of Marvel's TALES OF SUSPENSE #39 from March 1963, millionaire industrialist Tony Stark gets himself injured by a booby-trap in the jungles of Vietnam, while demonstrating his high tech “transistor-powered” weapons to the U.S. military. He's then captured by Wong-Chu, the yellow-skinned “red guerrilla tyrant” of Vietnam, who forces Stark to build weapons for the Commie cause. Instead, Stark builds a suit of armor he uses to blast the Commie bastard back to the stone age.
And thus, Iron Man was born.
I don't want to seem like a pompous ass who's just trashing on all Vietnam War comics except mine, so here's one of my favorite Michael Golden covers from THE 'NAM. Marvel released this image as a post card that read, "Weather's great. Wish you were here."
More on THE 'NAM later.
"This is the BIG ONE! It's the soul-searing saga you thought you'd never see... the Howling Commandos in action today!"
So proclaimed the cover of 1967's SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS ANNUAL #3. In its bid to become “the most talked-about work of war-mag wonderment ever published,” this 50-page travesty features a cameo by President Lyndon Johnson (who talks like a bad version of a Mark Twain character), Viet Cong fighters who look like Mexican banditos (and like most other comic-book VC of the era, speak fluent English, their favorite phrases usually consisting of “Die, American swine!” and “Death to all Yankee imperialists!”), and a ridiculous plot to sabotage North Vietnam’s creation of a Hydrogen Bomb. Fury’s well-formulated plan consists of the Howlers disguising themselves as Vietnamese refugees (a ploy that’s perpetrated merely by donning different hats), infiltrating the city of Haiphong and detonating the bomb. “There she blows!” the Howlers joke, as their plane soars above the mushroom cloud. Stan Lee presents…Nick Fury executing thousands of civilians! Excelsior!
Marvel's Mighty Thor may have been the first superhero to lend a hand in the Vietnam War. In 1965's JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #117, Thor blundered into the war and helped a crazed, Commie commander see the error of his ways. "It was Communism that made me what I am—that shaped me into a brutal, unthinking instrument of destruction!" raved Hu Sak, as he aimed his pistol at a huge stockpile of bombs. "To Communism, then—may it vanish from the face of the earth and the memory of mankind!"
Unfortunately, that wasn't the last time Thor would visit Vietnam...
But more on that later.
Believe it or not, when THE OTHER SIDE is released later this year, it'll be the first Vietnam War comic that DC has published in decades. Their last full-fledged Vietnam War title was actually one of the first published by anyone. In 1966, Captain Hunter first "smashed through the blazing Viet Cong battleground” in the pages of OUR FIGHTING FORCES #99. A former Green Beret searching for his POW twin brother, Hunter was armed with a wicked right jab and an endless repertoire of witty battle cries, like “Good night, Charlie!” “It’s sleepy time, Charlie!” “Peek-a-boo, Charlie!” “Surprised, Charlie?” “Nothing like Karate to straighten things out, Charlie!” and “Going somewhere in a hurry, Charlie? The fun’s just beginning!”
No offense to writer Robert Kanigher, who was after all the godfather of DC war comics, but there's no denying that Captain Hunter's exploits were riddled with the type of racist stereotypes and ridiculous plots that became synonimous with so many of the early Vietnam War portrayals. The Viet Cong are portrayed as either slant-eyed sadists or yellow-skinned buffoons, much like their buck-toothed Japanese counterparts from World War II.
In addition to blatant exploitation, these issues also stink of just plain old stale writing. Issue #101 is the prime example, as evidenced by these descriptions of Captain Hunter’s mysterious female guide, Lu Lin: “Your face tells me as much as a jade carving!” “That Oriental kewpie doll isn’t risking a thing!” “What could I say to someone as cool as green jade?” “Despite the killing she had seen, Lu Lin’s eyes were cool as green jade.” “Then I heard a voice as cool as green jade…” “Can’t make out that Oriental kewpie doll…” “Only an Oriental kewpie doll, in whose veins blood ran cool as green jade wouldn’t blink an eyelash…” “Lu Lin appeared cool as green jade…”
When Captain Hunter failed to catch on with readers, his daring mission ended after only seven issues. As far as we know, he never found his brother, but at last sighting the lovely Lu Lin was still “cool as green jade.”
As part of my research for writing THE OTHER SIDE, I've been reading tons of Vietnam War comic books, both old and new, good and bad. One of the first and the best was Warren's short-lived BLAZING COMBAT magazine. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War segments of this anthology proved too inflammatory for audiences in 1966, and the series lasted just four issues. Most all of the stories were written by the late, great Archie Goodwin and drawn by such luminaries as Gene Colan, Russ Heath, Alex Toth and John Severin. These days, the original issues of BLAZING COMBAT command high prices, but back in 1993, Apple Comics reprinted the stories in two volumes, and those are a lot easier to come by. The above image is the cover to BLAZING COMBAT #3, painted by Frank Frazetta.