The Fighting American and the belle of the ball having been published by more comic companies than any other non-public domain character. Starting out in Prize Comics, with Atlas publishing a reprint, then moving to Harvey Comics with reprint and original material. Marvel Comics published a hard cover with unpublished material. DC Comics published an all-new miniseries. Rob Liefeld’s Awesome Entertainment published 2 mini-series. Dynamite Entertainment announced a series with Alex Ross but it never came to be. Titan published a Hard Cover in 2011. Neofelis also published a reprint in 2014. And now Titan Comics will be the ninth publisher to produce Fighting American comics.Gordon Rennie will be writing the new series for Titan and he was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and catch our readers up on all things Fighting American.
Gordon Rennie will be writing the new series for Titan and he was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and catch our readers up on all things Fighting American.
Gordon Rennie: I’m from that tradition of British comic writers who grew up reading 2000AD, UK war comics and Doctor Who comics rather than American superhero comics, so I’m afraid my exposure to the Fighting American came very late on. And, by late on, I possibly mean ‘when the publisher asked me to pitch for the gig’.
1st: What was it about the character that appealed to you?
Gordon: I liked the ‘man out of time’ angle that we decided to go with on him, and the idea of culture clash between the values of the 1950s era he comes from, and the 2017 world we trap him in with the first issue of the series. Unlike his close relative Captain America, he doesn’t really adapt to this new world he finds himself in – and he doesn’t see why he should, since he’s convinced his values are still the right ones – so a lot of the fun and drama in the story comes from that.
1st: The comic has been done both as a traditional comic and as a parody comic. What tone are you taking in your story?
Gordon: Definitely more traditional, but with strong elements of character-based humour throughout it. There’s only so far you can go with parody, and we really want to extend this world and tell more stories with these characters. Which we couldn’t do if we’re just doing a straight parody of a certain kind of politics or a previous era of comic storytelling, or whatever.
1st: Are you following any of the history of the previous series or is this an all new start?
Gordon: We’re assuming that all the original Simon & KIrby stories happened – they’re the character’s backstory that we refer to and build on with the new story – but we’re not referring to any of the other more recent revivals of the character. This is the original 1954 version of the Fighting American continuing in new adventures. I haven’t looked at any of these reboots or reinventions of the character that have happened since.
1st: In your series who is Nelson Flagg?
Gordon: He’s this all-American guy from the 1950s who volunteered for the Fighting American program. Which means having his consciousness transferred into the body of his dead brother Johnny, in order to continue Johnny’s work fighting organised crime, Reds under the bed and other anti-American elements.
1st: Zombies are all the rage these days, is Nelson’s mind still inhabiting the walking dead remains of his deceased brother John?
Gordon: Yeah, as origins stories go, the Fighting American’s is definitely one of the weirder ones. We’re playing it straight, in that he sees nothing at all strange about walking about in your own dead brother’s body. Other characters – the ones he meets when he’s dropped into our modern 21st century world – might react a little differently to the utter bizarreness of this, though. I hadn’t thought about the zombie angle before, but it would be a cool ljoke to drop into a later story, especially since he comes from an era before zombie movies and wouldn’t really know what people are talking about.
Gordon: 1st: For a long time Speedboy was a generic, unnamed sidekick. What is your take on the teen sidekick for the 21st century?
Gordon: Like the Fighting American, he’s from the 1950s, but in our story finds himself transported into the world of 2017. Unlike Fighting American, who’s completely certain of the values and conventions of the time he comes from, Speedboy is young enough and malleable enough to be susceptible to the lure of 21st century culture. He’s from an era of white picket fences, beanie hats and safe and certain cultural values, and suddenly he’s in this different time where he’s surrounded by all the crazy technology and media of our world, where everything’s a lot less safe and certain. And, as a teenage boy, he’s going to have his head turned by a lot of this stuff. Especially lingerie billboards, MTV twerking videos and the clothes girls are wearing these days.
I kind of like that Simon & KIrby never gave him a secret identity name, and we continue that as a joke in this story, when it’s revealed that the Fighting American doesn’t actually know his sidekick’s name, and isn’t particularly curious about what it might be. To him, he’s just….Speedboy, his faithful teenage sidekick.
1st: Will Nelson Flagg portrayed as either a nationalist or strong Trump supporter?
Gordon: Neither, because – as I said – we don’t want to do this as a parody or make him a blatantly parodic character. He’s a 1950s Eisenhower era Republican. He believes solidly in the all-American values of that era, and a lot of the comedy and drama in the story is about what happens when those values come into conflict with the very different social and cultural climate of today. He certainly isn’t going to understand modern political correctness, but he also embodies a certain straightforward decency and old-fashioned direct way of dealing with problems – protect innocent people and punch bad guys in the face – that cuts through the complex moral hand-wringing of today.
1st: The original series was anti-communist/anti-Russian. Will the new series focus on Russia as the villain?
Gordon: No. The 1950s anti-commie thing is there, but it’s definitely quaintly out of date in the 2017 America the Fighting American now finds himself in. I imagine he’ll be bemused by the fact that, while the Russians are still the bad guys, it’s because they’re now super-capitalism gone wrong; a society in the hands of a corrupt oligarchy of robber baron billionaires rather than Communist ideologues.
1st: Will we be seeing updated versions of Double Header, Hotsky Trotsky, and Round Robin?
Gordon: We’ll definitely be seeing some of these villains from the original stories. And they will be the original versions, not rebooted or updated. But, like Fighting American, they’ve got to deal with being in the future and trying to catch up with how everything has changed since their day. I imagine the Commie villains will get quite a shock at seeing what’s happened to the Mother Russia since 1954.
1st: Will this be a mini-series or an ongoing series?
Gordon: It’s a mini-series initially, but we’re already planning to continue it on as an ongoing title. Lots of juicy story meat in there.
1st: What makes Fighting American so cool no true comic fan should miss the first issue?
Gordon: His two-fisted, WHAM! BAM! attitude! His sense of inherent justice! He’s the embodiment of the classic all-American hero! He’s not crippled with angst, he’s not conflicted, he’s not brooding, he’s not mind-controlled and he’s not from another world. He’s FIGHTING AMERICAN! And while this comic utterly embraces that original vision of Simon & Kirby it’s still at its core, the classic tale of a man out of time. It just so happens that in our case our hero has no intention of changing his ways or fitting in, he’s too busy punching the crap out of crime! All that plus the artwork by Duke Mighten that is simply sublime!