Jim Zub & Andrew Wheeler talk about Freelance

andrew-wheelerEd Furness and Ted McCall’s Lance Valiant appeared in 35 issues of Freelance Comics between 1941 until 1947. Now, Lance Valiant is returning as part of the new Chapterverse. Jim Zub and Andrew Wheeler were nice enough to stop by First Comics News and catch our readers up on all things Freelance.

First Comics News: Lance Valiant was a globetrotting Nazi fighter. Is he still fighting Nazis?

jim-zubAndrew Wheeler: If he meets any, he will be! We’re bringing him into the modern day, so we didn’t want to have him immediately facing the same enemies as the 1940s version. Lance doesn’t like extremists of any stripe. He doesn’t belong to any country or any ideology, and he’ll fight back against anyone who tries to impose themselves on others.

1st: What types of threats is Lance facing now?

Jim Zub: Nanotech engineering mad geniuses, artifact-wielding zealots, super spies, terrorists, and a whole lot more. Andrew and I are balancing modern threats and giving the series a pulpy-adventure edge.

freelance-1-cvr-a-perkins1st: Lance never had an origin, are you giving him one?

Andrew: Absolutely. The original Lance was a loosely defined character, at least in terms of what was ever shown on the page, but we know who he is now, and why he’s a little different from everyone around him, and that’s a story we hope to reveal over time.

Jim: Building a ‘mythology’ for Lance we can explore and reveal to readers has been one of the most fun parts of working on the series.

1st: Lance had a love interest in the original series; Natasha, the Russian Secret Agent without a last name. Is Tasha Kolchak the reimaging of that same character?

Andrew: We’re taking all of these characters in fresh directions, starting with what was seen in the 1940s, so yes, Tasha is our take on the Russian spy Natasha. But having a Russian spy named Natasha feels a little too tropey in this post-Black Widow, post-Rocky & Bullwinkle age, so we had to reinvent her. And she’s no longer the love interest.

 1796102-11st: Is Tasha still a Russian Agent?

Andrew: She is a former special agent, but in our version she only ever pretended to be Russian. Our Tasha is actually a Canadian citizen from a remote Inuit village, as well as engineering genius and a brilliant intelligence operative. She went rogue, so she’s burned bridges with the people she used to work for and the people she used to pretend to work for!

1st: Lance’s other partner was Big John Collins the former Pirate. Is John Cabot a renamed John Collins or a new character?

Andrew: Maybe he’s John Cabot, maybe he’s John Collins, and maybe those are both just names. But he’s a roguish ex-pirate who knows how to fight. We’re filling in the gaps and making changes to bring him up to date.

187-1Jim: Those original Freelance stories serve as inspiration, but we’re reinventing and expanding them, especially when it comes to the supporting cast.

1st: Just a little thing, but why doesn’t John Cabot have shoes?

Andrew: Because you can’t swim in shoes! He actually will wear shoes, but as infrequently as possible.

Jim: The whole cast changes up their outfits quite a bit actually. Stylish action-adventure is our jam.

1st: Natasha and John didn’t get along in the original series, what is their relationship like now?

1889475-26Andrew: I’d describe them as having more of a brother/sister relationship in this series. They give each other a hard time, but their circumstances have knitted them into a team. All three of our leads have very different worldviews that sometimes put them at odds, and that’s the dynamic that keeps it exciting.

 1st: The original series was a globetrotting adventure. Is the series still international in scope?

Jim: Relentlessly international, yes. In the first issue alone we toggle between Rio De Janeiro, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut and it grows from there with adventures in future issues taking our heroes to Istanbul, Ukraine, and beyond. The global scale of the series is really important to its identity.

1889466-181st: How do Lance, Tasha and John relate to the Captain Canuck series and the Chapterverse at large?

Andrew: They’re all part of the same world, and you’ll learn that Tasha has the most direct connection to those characters, but it’s not an easy relationship. Lance and John have stayed off the grid, for different reasons. Hopefully they’ll cross paths with the Captain eventually, but we want to tell a story that stands on its own. If you’ve never read another Chapterverse book, you’ll be able to jump right into this one. If you read all the other Chapterverse books, you’ll slowly get a sense of the expanding universe.

1st: What makes Freelance so cool that no comic fan should miss it?

Jim: Freelance is jam-packed with big action and big drama, Raiders of the Lost Ark by way of Stargate with a bit of James Bond sexiness thrown in for good measure. It’s a fun and fearless pulp tale told with modern storytelling flare.

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