RICH INTERVIEWS: AJ Scherkenbach Writer “Sweet Lullaby” Darby Pop

a-j-scherkenbachFirst Comics News: How did you make your start in writing comics?

Alex J. Scherkenbach: In 2007, I was deployed to Iraq, and a middle school friend found me on MySpace (yes, the greatest social media website… EVER!). He asked me to write him a comic book, because he remembered that I’d had all these crazy ideas as a pre-teen. I started to write for fun, but then I became obsessed with the notion of writing comic books. So, I plugged away until I found like-minded people.

sweet-lullaby-01st: Who came up with the idea for “Sweet Lullaby”?

AJ: “Sweet Lullaby” was an amalgam of a couple of different stories I had floating around in my head. I always thought it’d be cool to have government assassins living as everyday citizens right next door to unsuspecting marks. These killers would become invisible within their neighborhoods, and once they terminated their target, they would truly disappear.

1st: What is the plot of “Sweet Lullaby”?

Our protagonist, Lullaby, is a stone cold killer, but she’s beginning to wonder — is there more to life then just killing bad people? She’s torn between her reality and a fantasy that she sees as a possible future. She’s a tough woman who has to make the hardest decisions of her life.

1st: How does the main star Lullaby become as assassin?

AJ: To be the best at anything, you have to train both physically and mentally. I wanted to take Lullaby’s experience to the extreme by starting her at a young and vulnerable age. Her father, Z, and other members of ‘The Service’ guide her on her path, but still manage to provide a (dysfunctional) family-type atmosphere.

sweet-lullaby-1-11st: Lullaby’s dad how would you describe his character?

AJ: Z, Z-Monster or — to Lullaby — Dad — is the baddest dude on the planet. Z sees the world in black and white, and is used to suppressing his emotions. He feels responsible for not protecting Lullaby from his chosen profession, so he’s vowed to be her guide the only way he knows how — through tough love.

1st: What group do Lullaby and her dad belong to, what is its purpose?

AJ: ‘The Service’ is part of a government agency that “removes” domestic criminals. These ‘Boogiemen’ live as indistinctly as possible, making them forgettable to everyone around them. So when their targets are killed, no one suspects a heretofore friendly neighbor of the crime.

sweet-lullaby-1-21st: How has your time in the US Army helped to make you a better writer?

AJ: When you spend 20 years as an Infantry Soldier it will influence everything you do, for the rest of your life. The Army opened me up to the world, to all kinds of different people, and to how most conflicts are not about good or bad, but conflicting ideas and opinions.

1st: Is there any chance of “Sweet Lullaby” going beyond the six issues?

AJ: These six issues are a self-contained story that I hope readers will embrace. That being said, John (J. Briscoe Allison) and I have already plotted a kick-ass sequel that we are just as excited about! When I created these characters, I had only the first story arc in mind. But as they grew and evolved, I realized Lullaby, Z, and the rest have more tales to tell. And if fans permit, John and I promise to have a bunch more surprises lined up!

sweet-lullaby-1-31st: Do you have any ideas for other comics?

AJ: My head is ready to burst with all the ideas for potential comic books! I want to write a western, a “water world” sci-fi, a noir gangster, a dinosaur sci-fi, superheroes, and the list goes on and on and on. I love the medium and want nothing more than to continue to tell stories through it!

1st: Who has inspired your comics career?

AJ: There’s too many to name! J. Michael Straczynski, John Byrne, Jason Aaron, Brian Azzarello, John Arcudi, Katsuhiro Otomo to name a few. But, lately, my biggest influence is John. His ability to take my ideas to the next level makes me want to tell bigger and better stories.

sweetlullaby1-a1st: Are you still pursuing drawing comics?

AJ: I literally just completed my Associates Degree in Graphic Design. With the knowledge I’ve learned, and some self-tutelage, I’m pursuing another form of art within comics — lettering. I’ve really fallen in love with lettering comics; making the script come to life is just as exciting as writing it in the first place. Check out my work (warning: shameless plug) on the newest issues of ‘Slate & Ashe’ by Ethan Murphy. And I also plan on lettering any other volumes that I write after the first arc of “Sweet Lullaby.”

sweetlullaby1-b1st: When not working on comics how do you spend your time?

AJ: After being away from my hometown (San Diego) for 20 years, I’m enjoying being able to have quality time with my family. I’m also enjoying watching my San Diego Chargers and Padres play. But, the greatest joy in my life is my daughter. She’s my world, and I love talking about nothing and everything with her.

1st: What are some of your favorite comics besides “Sweet Lullaby”?

sweetlullaby1-cAJ: Again, too many! “Chew,” “Hawaiian Dick,” “Midnight Nation,” “100 Bullets,” “Akira,” “Scalped,” “Preacher,” and this list goes on and on and on. I will say that the most influential comics in my life have been the “Rocket Raccoon” series (1985), “The Amazing Spider-Man” #299, “Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt,” “The Punisher” Limited Series (1986), and “Daredevil” #208.

1st: Any words for the readers of “Sweet Lullaby”?

AJ: Thank you for taking the time to check out our little series. John and I have had so much fun making it; we really hope you enjoy reading it. Let us know your thoughts. Oh, and a big SHOUT OUT to Darby Pop Publishing for believing in me, John, and ‘Sweet Lullaby’, helping us pull it all together, and giving us the opportunity to get in front of more eyeballs!

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