First Comics News: What is The Outlaw of Torn all about, what will grab most people about this story and who are the main characters in The Outlaw of Torn?
Tom Simmons: This story, affectionately known as “TOOT” at ERB, Inc., is an historical romance set in 13th-century England. In many ways it’s like the old Robin Hood stories, but is decidedly darker. The story was written the year before Edgar Rice Burroughs came up with his Tarzan character, and I see similarities between Norman of Torn and the Ape Man himself. My adaptation of the story into comic strip – and ultimately printed graphic novel – format hides a major “reveal” until near the end. I suspect that would grab readers with knowledge of the original tale.
1st: How is a comic strip different than a comic book?
Tom: For me, a comic book is a compilation of comic strips.
1st: You wrote Epoch: The Rune Relics. How do you feel about working with an iconic character like Flash Gordon?
Tom: Although Rune Relics is modeled after Alex Raymond’s stories featuring Flash Gordon and his love interest Dale Arden, artist Nik Poliwko and I developed new characters for this story…and the female protagonist, Marla Falcon, takes the lead.
1st: What are the online story adaptations you do for ERB, Inc.?
Tom: I currently do three: The Monster Men, The Outlaw of Torn and I am a Barbarian.
1st: How is I am a Barbarian coming along?
Tom: With 59 weekly episodes currently published, the online strip version of this story is about a third of the way completed. The printed graphic novel is on schedule to be published in 2019.
1st: Why did you decide to write the TV pilot The Nessus Shirt?
Tom: I’ve always been fascinated by the largely untold story of the German Army’s resistance to Hitler. I thought the story would constitute an excellent basis for a dramatic series. Of course, writing a pilot is a far different matter than selling one.
1st: What is the best advice you can give to a new writer?
Tom: Whether it’s a 30-second commercial or a four hundred page novel, know your ending and write to it.
1st: Which character would you most like to write a comic book about that you haven’t done before?
Tom: Being a screenwriter by nature, I usually envision my characters as actors in film scripts. Not all of these would lend themselves to comic format. I suppose if pressed it would be someone sensitive, like Peter Parker in Spider Man.
1st: Which ERB character would you most like to meet?
Tom: Certainly one of ERB’s many female characters, like Grace Evans from The Girl from Hollywood or Virginia Maxon from The Monster Men.
1st: Have you read many or any of ERB’s books?
Tom: Burroughs wrote more than 100. I recently discovered I’ve missed a few.
1st: Who has supported you the most in your writing career?
Tom: Other writers, my wife and sons, friends…I thank them all sincerely.
1st: What would you like to say to the fans of your work?
Tom: Fans? I have fans?