David Pepose talks Scout’s Honor from Aftershock!

We are joined again with David Pepose to talk about his newest book Scout’s Honor out now from Aftershock!

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David Pepose – Scounts Honor – Interview

 

[00:00:00] John: All right, guys. Welcome back today with me. I’m sitting down and chatting with a repeat guest on the show.

David peoples, who’s coming on to talk about his new book. Scout’s honor. How are you doing man?

David Pepose: I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me excited to be here and excited the catch-up. Yeah.

John: Yeah, this is great. And you know, you should, it’s kind of cool. I don’t, I don’t, I personally don’t do a lot of news on the show anymore, but I only, I saw your name come across and you messed up.

Like, no, I’ll do him again. Cause I did it last time. It’s a lot of fun.

David Pepose: No, thank you. Thank you. You for having me? Yeah, it’s been, it’s been a busy 12 months, which given all the, the, the, the craziness of 2020 that’s probably the best possible thing I could be. Yeah. But yeah, I, I I’m I’m stoked to chat with you about a new book that I’ve gotten stores called Scout’s honor.

Yeah. So I, I had a

John: chance to read the issue you sent over to me. And before I get into my thoughts on it, why don’t you go ahead and give everybody the pitch of what it’s about.

David Pepose: Sure Scout’s honor is the story of years after a nuclear war, a cult has risen. From the ashes and their Bible is an old boy scout manual.

So our story follows kit, who is like an nth [00:01:00] generation ranger scout of America really kind of the body mint of this survivalist cult that is been tasked with taming, the irradiated, Colorado Badlands. There’s just one hiccup. This is a hyper-masculine cult that only allows men to serve.

And so kit has had to conceal her identity as a woman in order to pursue her calling as a ranger scout. Unfortunately kit is going to make a pretty chilling discovery, dating all the way back to the ranger Scouts creation. That’s going to have her find herself losing her religion as she embarks on a dangerous quest across the Badlands.

To discover the truth. I’ve likened it to Madmax w you know beats move along, but there’s little bits of hunger games, the Handmaid’s tale, and even planet of the apes thrown in for good measure.

John: Yeah, man, that Karen spoiler is wife. I’m sure we’ll talk a little sports in the first issue. I let her a little bit around, but not ton right at the beginning, but I got to say the way the reveal was handled with kit, not being a man was handled so subtly in wealth.

Like if you’re not really paying attention, you might miss [00:02:00] it, but it’s sure it’s not, it’s hard to see, but it’s like, it’s not like in your face, like shoving at you. It was, it was, it was written really well. So I’m trying to say.

David Pepose: Thank you. Thank you. Well, you know, that, that moment in particular was a real kind of a high wire act for, for me and artists look at castling WEDA because you know, there’s.

There, there are a lot of ways that that reveal could be told that would wind up punching down. It would wind up kind of either coming across as titillating or coming across as punching down on, on people who are wrestling with their own sort of gender related issues. And so I know we redrew that page a couple of times on to make sure that like this wasn’t supposed to be sexy.

This wasn’t supposed to be funny. This was just supposed to be kind of a serious. Moment because that’s really, that’s what Scout’s honor is kind of boiled down to beyond sort of the religious iconography. It’s, it’s what happens to people who live in like a very kind of closed off isolated minded, conservative town, you know, for [00:03:00] people who fit, you know, fit a certain mold, you know, of, of rigid masculinity, right?

The the world’s their oyster, but Scout’s honor. I think we kind of examine what happens to people who don’t fit that mold and how do they kind of navigate the world and how do they sort of, you know, hold onto their secrets and sort of wrestle with who are they really and how do they live in authentic life?

Yeah,

John: I think, did he do something to this issue that every good first issue of a series does and that’s you start off with expectations in the first couple of pages and by the end of the issue, everything has changed. Like the expeditions you get from the first, like they say three or four pages, whatever it is.

And when the last two pages it’s all shifted, it’s all changed. And everything you thought about the world that you just created in the first couple of pages has now shifted to a different, a different outlook, which is a great way to keep people intrigued and, and, you know, had that cliffhanger of wanting to keep going.

David Pepose: Thank you. Yeah. You know, I mean, so much of this book in a lot of ways, it was inspired by the way I grew up. I grew up in a [00:04:00] pretty conservative, both politically and religiously household and Missouri is a very conservative Jewish household. And as a result, I didn’t really have my own kind of political and spiritual reawakening until I left home.

And then I realized that there were a lot of things that I was. Ray is to believe that weren’t as set in stone, as I had thought they weren’t as rooted in reality, as I had been told, and that can be really disorienting. You know, but I think that’s, that’s something that I think we all deal with. I think that’s very much a coming of age question, not just figuring out kind of where your spiritual compass lies, but figuring out just kind of, you know, you have to figure out how, how does the world actually.

Work, not just the way that you were told by your parents or, or whatever religious upbringing you’ve had or your schools, but just kind of figuring out like, Oh, okay, now that I’m in the real world, I’m actually meeting people who did not come up from the same place that I did realizing like, Oh, you kind of have to recalibrate.

And I think that’s something that at first can be very [00:05:00] disorienting, but I think is something that’s ultimately, it’s very empowering. I think that’s the only way that we can kind of grow and improve and, and turn a corner as a society. And and so, yeah, I feel like you know, making, making kit question everything she thought she knew and believed in is really going to be a core part of a Scout’s honor as a whole.

John: Nice. It sounds like this experience of writing. It was, I was kind of therapeutic for you

David Pepose: a little bit a bit you know, it’s, it’s weird because I, you know, the way that the timeline of, of making comics goes, it’s, it’s a lot longer than I think a lot of people might expect. I pitched Scout’s honor. It was in the fall of 2019, and so we were green lit around Christmas, and then I officially signed my paperwork, my contract, I signed it about.

Two weeks before it locked down. And so I wrote about 80% of the series in quarantine, and I got to say writing a post-apocalyptic book in at the time of COVID, you know, it certainly, [00:06:00] I think everybody’s kind of thinking like, how are we going to re reimagine things and how are we going to sort of reinvent ourselves?

And I won’t lie, you know, it was at first a little anxiety inducing. And then I realized like you just kinda have to barrel through and you have to kind of write through those fears and right through those anxieties and Scout’s honor. And a lot of ways kind of reminded me. Of my own values as a storyteller.

You know, anybody who’s read my previous work books like Spencer and lock books, like the O Z even by my action crime romcom, going to the chapel, which is great. I love that one. Thank you. They’re all there. They’re all kind of rooted in. Bleak concepts, but I don’t consider those stories bleak.

I consider them about kind of the redemptive journey out of that. And, and I think Scout’s honor really kind of reminded me of that is that, you know, Kit ultimately believes there is a better world. And ultimately that’s the reason why she wants to be a ranger scout is she’s she’s like, you know, there needs to be people willing to fight for a better world and she wants to be one of them, [00:07:00] you know, no matter what the cost and that’s kinda, that’s inspiring.

For me. I mean, I think kit is certainly despite growing up the apocalypse is probably the most well adjusted character I’ve ever written. And you know, but seeing her kind of, really kind of come into her own and start to take her own independence and figure out, you know, this is how I was raised, but how do these values, what do these values mean for me and how can I live with them and live with myself?

It was, was very autobiographical. I in a way. But yeah, I think, I think getting to know her as a character and really kind of getting in her head while on lockdown and seeing, you know, the apocalypse might not be as far away as we thought, right. Getting to write this character really kind of, it left me actually with a renewed sense of hope.

And I think by the time that this series, and hopefully we’ll have all kind of turned a corner in some way, how long was the story’s going to be. Five issues. So the issue to issue to just hit stores on Wednesday and issue three is up for pre-orders [00:08:00] I guess by the time this goes live, the preview window will have closed, but yeah, so The coming out through may I believe.

And then the trade paperback if I remember correctly will probably be out in in the office.

John: Nice, nice. So I gotta ask, I gotta ask why boy Scouts, why choose that as your catalyst for this whole, this whole universe,

David Pepose: you know, it’s. Like many of my stories, it’s less of me choosing it and more of it kind of choosing me.

When I initially came up with the core kernel of Scout’s honor, I was thinking I had been watching a show called the path on Hulu. It’s got Aaron Paul on it and it was very much kind of a Scientology allegory. And what happens to a guy when he decides he wants to leave the cult? And he’s become disillusioned with it.

And what happens to him and what happens to his family and what happens to the guy who the second command, who’s really kind of stealth running the cult because their, their cult figurehead is on his death bed. Nobody knows. And I had been thinking to myself, you know, and this is how a lot of my pitches start with.

What’s the weirdest thing that in this [00:09:00] case, what’s the weirdest thing that could be used as Bible. And when I thought of the boy Scouts that CA that popped up pretty quickly. But my younger brothers were boy Scouts. And I think for me on the outside, looking in you know, when you’re inside the boys Scouts, you know, it’s about the comradery and it’s about hanging out with your, with your, with your, with your boys and learning practical skills.

It’s all positive stuff. When you’re on the outside, you see the outfits and you see the pageantry and you see the bylaws, you know, you see the rituals. I mean, you don’t have to squint too hard for it to look a little like a gold. Right. And when I was thinking, you know, well, what if you made a whole religion based on the boy Scouts the gear started.

Turning pretty quickly. You know, I always find myself gravitating towards stuff that has a lot of concrete imagery whether it’s built water since Calvin and Hobbes and, and my first book Spencer in lock, whether it’s wedding imagery and go into the chapel the wizard of Oz and the O Z the boy Scouts as an organization has a really rich history and mythology and I can all graphy to them.

And so that was kind of the real [00:10:00] joy of this book in a lot of ways was finding the religion. In all of these things. I I’m I’m, I don’t talk about it a lot in interviews cause it just, doesn’t usually there’s no reason to bring it up, but you know, I, I’m a practicing Jew. I was raised Jewish and I’m still Jewish.

Granted. My spiritual path is very different than that of my parents, which is very different than that, of their parents. Right. But you know, Judaism as a religion, it’s, it’s built on a literary analysis and literary critique. You have five different rabbis giving 10 different interpretations in the same passage.

And then we leave all these apocryphal notes in the margins. You know, and, and so it’s a religion that is a very wide spectrum of, of practice and interpretation. And so. Being able to kind of figure out all right, like what’s the religion in merit badges, for example. Right. And so in our first issue, we actually did back matter explaining 14 different merit badges, which will all be available to the public in some form or fashion show.

Nice. Either as, as order minimums for a certain issues or I [00:11:00] believe they’ll, they’ll have one available for when con’s return. You know some, some stuff available for, for retailers at retailers, summits, things like that. But you know, finding out, you know, the Rangers or Scouts have certain standby badges, things like archery or wilderness survival, but they’ve also got a few more like intense badges, like tactical driving and explosives.

I saw those. Those were cool. The explosives badge was my favorite out of all of them because that’s sort of the ranger scout creation myth. Yeah, is the, you know, the world was, was born in an explosion. And so they know that sometimes, you know, that’s the way you make change is sort of through these big, dramatic, explosive moments.

But at the same time, you know, the ranger Scouts, they’re obsessive about figuring out how bombs work and figuring out like, you know, what’s the blast wave radius and what’s the payload compositions, because they know that if you don’t respect the bomb, you might be the next thing that gets consumed by it.

Right. And that was kind of, you know, that figuring out yeah. Things like the seven scout laws, [00:12:00] which has kinda are kind of the 10 commandments that as has been written or has been interpreted as, as we should say from the scout prophet, a Messiah figure to Dr. Jefferson Hancock Yeah, that was a really fun way to kind of build up this world and to really build up the ranger Scouts as a religion and as a cult you know, for me writing this, it was kind of seeing, you know, that religion can very much be a double-edged sword.

Yeah. Oh, for sure. For some people it’s, that’s, that’s the thing that, that carries them across the finish line when they have no more fuel in the tank. There’s so much positive stuff that has come out you know, and I’ve sort of this altruistic religious foundation. On the other hand, you know, you don’t have to look very far to see all these atrocities that have been done in the name of religion and all these horrible things that have been swept under the rug by religious institutions saying, well, you know, we can’t throw out the baby with the bath water, so we can’t have accountability.

And. You know, that’s, that’s kinda the, the, the high wire that we’re walking with. Scout’s honor. And that’s, that’s the thing that kit really has to figure out is, [00:13:00] you know when she discovers that there’s some really sinister stuff at the very heart of the ranger scout tradition, she has to kind of figure out like, well, what does that mean?

Like, what can I, what are these values that I’ve grown up respecting and loving and are a part of me? What can I keep? And what do I have to, to, to throw out and the. Stuff that I do throw out what can I put in it? And I think that’s, that’s a, I think a coming of age that a lot of people have no matter what, no matter how they practice spirit joy.

But I think figuring out your values and your moral and ethical and spiritual compass, I think that’s something that we all have to wrestle with as we sort of come into our own as adults. And and I, I think that has been kind of a fun journey to follow with kid as a character.

John: Yeah. I mean, he hit them any other really?

Cause like the seven commandments, whatever you call it, the seven what’d you call them the book. Yeah. The,

David Pepose: the, the, the, the seven laws of document. Yeah, yeah,

John: yeah. Those are all very, I mean, you read them and it’s like, okay, this all makes sense. And it’s like, that’s the, that’s the, [00:14:00] the leading part of, how did we get involved in Colton and get fanaticism, say that on the surface, everything seems up and up and receivers are really good, but in practice is this, there’s this weird dichotomy behind the scenes.

People just don’t see. And it’s people they’ve got to become, you know, cultism or become fanatics. And we see it in our art in modern day. So. Reading books like this, even though it’s about, you know, not necessarily an allegory or a straight comparison to what’s happening. What’s been happening over the last several years here in our current world.

And there’s a lot of ties back and forth. Like, yeah, you can see how people like before. I mean, you never thought that people would before the whole pandemic. I never thought that people would be as crazy as they are about wearing a mask or all this stuff. And I was like, man people really? Yeah. Just follow, follow Colton, just blind follow.

And it’s crazy.

David Pepose: I, I feel like in this, I give after a lot of credit because they think they realized how pressing it, this book was even before I did I had sent aftershock a number of pitches. I’ve known one of my editors, Mike Mart since I was in college. And [00:15:00] so I had been, I’d been pitching and pitching and pitching and pitching and Scout’s honor was the, the, the, the, the idea that they really gravitated to.

And it was, I was at first very surprised because it was kind of the least developed idea that I had sent. Right. And Now looking back on it, it makes total sense. I mean, you know, looking at the way the world is today, we’re kind of, we’re in a culture of toxic masculinity and you see kind of the rise of sort of the, the engine ethical churches, and you see this fetishizing of the military and survival prep.

And you know, you, you sort of put all that in, in a cauldron. And sort of this disdain for critical thinking and sort of saying, you should just kind of follow the pack. You know, you put that in a cauldron for 200 years and years radiated a little bit, the ranger Scouts suddenly don’t seem that farfetched.

Right. But yeah, it’s just, you know, I yeah, it was, it’s been a fun world to kind of explore and, and to flesh out and and yeah, and, and I think also kind of seeing it as, you know, [00:16:00] All of these characters, they believe that’s the thing. They’re all true believers in their own ways. I mean kit and her best friend, Dez, they’re the ones who are sort of struggling with kind of the doctrine you know sort of the, on the ground level.

Because as I, as I alluded to before they don’t fit the mold, there’s something about them that runs counter to their culture. And that’s a hard place to be in that’s a lonely way to live your life. You know you, you kind of have this armor up because you have to keep your secrets because if something slips you could be ostracized or worse.

Whereas people like scout master shepherd, who I guess is the closest thing to a villain that we have in this book You know, he he’s a die hard, true believer. I mean, if you strip away all of the you know, boy scout and post-apocalyptic imagery, this is really the story of, you know, two kids, you know, in a very small conservative town and kind of how they are trying to navigate this kind of fire and brimstone preacher.

[00:17:00] And figuring out like, you know, I want to stay a part of this town. I still believe in the town. Even if the town, if they knew everything about me, certainly wouldn’t believe in me. And so I think that’s, I think really the human heart. Of Scout’s honor beyond kind of the bigger world building. And I think that’s the thing that really can, it gives this series.

It’s hard.

John: Yeah, I agree. I agree. Yeah, it’s it, it, it’s got that deepness to it there. I like, I liked the fact that I was reading the first issue. Like when I first I had mentioned it earlier, but when I, the first few pages, it really felt like it was like, you were reading a story built in some kid’s imagination of how they feel they are when they’re a boy scout doing they’re earning their badges and stuff like that.

Like, it’s not real. It’s like, it’s, I’m an imaginary story, but then. It brings it in and it’s more real. And by the end, the end reveals of the story, you realize that no, this isn’t some, this is like a fetishizing of being a boy scout and like seeing all these cool things. It’s, this is a reality of a world that’s gone mad essentially.

And things have gone way out of proportion and way, way out of whack. Yeah.

David Pepose: Well, you know, the, the way that, that, that came to be, because when I was [00:18:00] initially workshopping Scout’s honor, I there, I found like kind of a fork in the road, as far as where the story could go, because in order to build a cult, you have to isolate people.

You know, the more that they’re kind of connected with the rest of the world, like there there’s a grounding effect. That winds up happening, you know, I think there’s a little bit of a shared consensus of how the world works. And you know, you see it with Scientology where, you know, that it’s sort of, that is an isolated group where it’s very insular.

You know, you, you sort of, you are they’re trying to inoculate you from the rest of the world. And so when I was writing Scouts on her, I was like, there’s two ways I can do this. I either do. Sort of a desert Island, you know, Lord of the flies kind of thing. And there are certainly some Lord of the flies in this book’s DNA, for sure.

But or I go sort of post-apocalyptic I take it, you know, they’ve isolated themselves temporarily. And I thought about something that I read in high school you know, there’s a, there’s a, the historian Howard Zinn. Who talks about how history is written by the victors. And, and I would pause it.

History is written by the survivors. It’s kind of like a game of [00:19:00] telephone you know, and it sort of builds up and pathologizes on itself and you don’t have to look any further than the, the mythology around Christopher Columbus. You know, it wasn’t until very recently that people started saying, you know, he committed genocide, but he was not a good guy.

You know, and there’s still statues of them all over the country. So I the thing that I thought was, you know, what happens if you kind of cut this game of telephone, human beings want continuity, that’s just how we’re built. And so if we cut off that game of telephone, what would we, what scraps of the old world would we grasp onto.

For that comfort in that direction and that foundation. And how would that mutate from there? You know, the game of telephone keeps distorting stuff, and that was what was so fun about, you know, being able to tackle the boy scout is that, you know, you take it into the far future. There’s all sorts of ways it can mutate and you don’t have to explain that deeply.

It’s just the world exists as it is, and you are dropped into the middle of it. And yeah, that. That was sort of really [00:20:00] kind of given me a lot, a wide berth to, to, to work within of saying, okay, you know what? I cannot gruffy do I like, how do I butane it? You know, what kind of twists can I put on things like the boy scout, you know, the boy scout pocket knife, for example you know, which has turned into is the sort of Buster sword switch plates as they call them.

It’s, it’s sort of, they’re, they’re, that’s their sort of, one of their capstone moments that sort of your, your, your, your passage into full manhood is they give you a switchblade, but. The history has been so butane that, you know, we see it, you see a pocket knife, these, these, these giant blades that have sub blades in the middle saying, Oh, well, you know, like that’s how this Scouts used to do it.

And you can hear these conversations going on today. Anytime somebody talks about the founding fathers and what they intended you know, I mean, it’s, it is no different. Those arguments are crazy than, than, than, than, than constitutional literalists. Yeah. And so that, like, that wound up sort of being a fun way to explore that.

Yeah. This world is crazy, but it’s got its own internal [00:21:00] logic to it and just, you know, they’ve been out in the wilderness so long that yeah. Some of this crazy stuff starts to make sense. Let’s talk

John: about the art for a second here. Cause the artist’s book is fantastic. I think it matches the tone of the story.

And I’m a big believer in, in art and writing matching tone, lead to each other. Like, cause you’re gonna, I mean, there’s, there’s so many different types of comic book art out there, but not all writing can make match any kind of art and you know, when you have a match up like this, I think this book matches really well to the art art to writing.

Yeah. Yeah. What was you know, how did you come across getting with Luca and what was that process like?

David Pepose: Sure. Well, Scout’s honor was an interesting book in the fact that most books that I’ve pitched, I’ve had to kind of individually RingLead the creative team. I’ve had to find the, the line artist and the colorist and the letter.

And I’ve had to sort of put together everything myself. And then I start going to publishers and saying, do you want it, do you want it? Do you want it? Do you want it? After shock similar to places like boom. They want to be more hands-on with the development of it all and that’s, that’s great. And [00:22:00] so my editors Mike Martz and Christina Harrington actually brought.

Luca to, to, to the team. We had talked, we had discussed a number of artists and I was so thrilled when they brought up Luca, because I had actually reached out to him years ago about another project. And he had been, he had been busy working on a James Bond over a dynamite. Luke has got, you know, he’s got that kind of classic Italian stuff.

You can see it in his line work. It’s, it’s sort of, it’s sort of that lineage of like a joke Hubert. Right kind of style. But you can see little influences even of like of, of people like jock or people like Frank Miller. You can see that in, in Luca’s work

John: he does or shadowing.

David Pepose: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 And, and so Luca he’s, you know, he’s a, he’s a really tremendous artist. I, I think Mike was the one that brought up Luca and I think we were actually discussing it just as everything was starting to shut down all around the country. And I really liked the kind of scratchiness, the grittiness that Luca brings to the artwork.

It works really well for a book like Scout’s honor. Like you said, he, and he really did a lot of the heavy [00:23:00] lifting as far as the visualization of this book was concerned especially, you know, beats like the Eagle’s nest, which is kind of the, the, the the central hub. Of the ranger scout compound.

That’s a really cool kind of ominous looking tower that we we show off in issue two. And we, we get to explore it a little bit more in in, in issue three and issue five, I believe. But yeah, you know, I, the thing I like about Luca is even though this is a fairly action packed book he really excels most in the quiet moments.

And I think those are the, the most important moments of this book. Those are the ones that really make you feel for characters like kit and Dez. You know, there’s a lot of just thinking and these, these sort of deliberating and thinking, you know, is this thing that I think I saw, did I really see it?

Like, do I want a book either that I saw this and sort of. You know, what do I do? You know, my secrets in danger? It, because I, I, I stumbled upon this other bigger bore terrifying secret. And so, yeah, it’s, it’s very Yeah, it, Luca has added so much to kind of the way that [00:24:00] Scout’s honor has been developed.

And I liked just the way that he, he makes our characters really just engaging. He makes them so sympathetic and and, and he really makes it kind of a feel for them in a big way. I also want to give a shout out to our colorist, Matt Miller. I was just, I was

John: just going to ask about him about Matt and the colors.

That is

David Pepose: terrific. So Christina Harrington is our lead editor on the book. She’s the one who really has been championing it since even the initial pitch stage. And I distinctly remember Christina saying like, Hey, how would you feel about Matt Miller being on this book? And I remember responding.

Oh, are we allowed to do that? You know Matt is a, a terrific colorist. You might know him from his work on Daredevil with Ron Garney you know, he is just. Just an, a list colorist. Yeah, I am so thrilled to have him on it. You know, Mike Mike marts are my other editor on the book. He was the one who really instilled in me.

When I was in college, he was he was the Batman editor at DC comics and I was, I was one of his interns and he really instilled in [00:25:00] me that art, good art makes or breaks a comic, but good colors make or break your art. And so having you know, a strong colorist is, is. Arguably, I think just as important for me is having a good line artist is finding a colors that can compliment them.

And so Matt just, you know, He, he nails like the end of the dusty post-apocalyptic side of Scouts honor, so well, but then he’s able to kind of throw in these like neon, you know, Magenta’s or TEALS just to remind you, like, this is still like an irradiated wasteland you know, Oh, it’s definitely, it’s an unrecognizable sometimes alien kind of world.

And so yeah, I just, I CA I can’t say enough good things about Luca and Matt. Putting them together was a real stroke of genius on, on, on Christina and Mike’s parts. You know, obviously they’ve been doing this for a long time, so they know what they’re doing. But and then, you know, kind of rounding out the team is Carlos, magwell our letter.

And I really like. You know, Carlos adds such a fun [00:26:00] degree of texture to this book. You know, just by seeing his font choices, just in the, in the dialogue, like there’s, there’s that sort of grittiness to it. You’re like, Oh, like, you know, we’re not in Kansas anymore, right? Like this is, this is a harsh world and there are harsh people in it.

And even just the way that they talk. How’s the degree of harshness to it. And so you know, having, having that team together, I mean, I’m arguably the least experienced here. And that really kind of inspires me to keep bringing my a game is that I’m like, all right, like I know that like, Luca and Matt and Carlos, like they’re busy guys and they’re, they’re, they, they have a lot of talent.

And so I want to make sure that I give them something good to work on. And yeah, so far you know, I, I, I, I’m totally fine. Kind of be in, you know, like, like the, the, the, the backup, you know, here And, and, and kind of the, the, the, the, the, the least known member of the team. But I feel, I feel really fortunate to have to have editors kind of [00:27:00] matchmaker project this well.

It really takes a lot of the, the, the, the pressure of making this book off of my shoulders.

John: Yeah, it wasn’t, it’s got to feel good for advertisers to have such faith in this story that they paired you up with, you know, with Luke and Matt and Carlos and people who have, you know, have a track record of doing good stuff for a long time.

And, you know, you just said, you know, the least experience as you can. We get, not that, I mean, I, you, you’re an amazing writer. I love your stuff. But coming in and then pairing it up with people who’ve been working on much bigger projects than something like this. It’s kind of feel good. They have that faith behind you.

David Pepose: Yeah. You know, I mean, it, it, it was good. The fact, I mean, you know, we were really lucky, you know, we were the first new book that after Chuck put out in 2020 or 2021, I should say you know, we, we kind of got to lead the new year and yeah, I, you know, I I’ve wanted to work with aftershock for a really long time.

Like I said I, I interned under Mike Martz over a decade ago when I was an intern at DC comics. And Mike was the one who kind of really made me realize that My internship at DC was not the end of my journey. As in [00:28:00] comics, it was the first step and that there was a very, there’s a much wider world than just the big two.

The fact that there were kind of creator, there was creator owned publishers and, and create our own stories outside of the superhero mold. And so I’ve been, I’ve been bugging poor Mike since my first book, Spencer and lock came out. And so I was talking a lot with him. I was talking a lot with the president of the company, Lee Kramer, who lives in Los Angeles as well as I do.

Steve Rotterdam their SVP of publicity and marketing who I also knew from my time at DC and So, you know, it took, it took a little while to get there. You know, this was not, this was not the first time I pitched after shock by a wide margin, I think. Aye. Aye. Aye. Aye. Every single book that I’ve put out since the first Spencer in lock I’ve pitched.

To aftershock. You know, and even, even, like I said, Scout’s honor, I had sent aftershock a number of log lines. I think I had sent them a dozen ideas saying these are things that are on my to-do list. Did any of them kind of catch [00:29:00] your eye? And Scout’s honor was the first time that they bid. And so, you know, I always try to tell people like, that’s, them’s the breaks with comics, you know, rejection is you better just get used to it.

Because every rejection is either a chance for you to recalibrate or it’s just a chance for you to know, like, okay, this wasn’t the right fit. You know, you would much rather a publisher reject you up front, then it’d be a bad fit once you’ve been accepted. Like that, it’s much easier to start over from scratch.

So, yeah, we’re working with aftershock, you know, it’s been wonderful. I, I, I keep saying, you know, it’s it was certainly a learning curve for me because I’m so used to being my own editor. Every other book that I’ve done in the past, I’ve had to not just write it, but finance it and kind of circle all the cats that are by creative teams.

Do a lot of art direction, figure out the deadlines, you know in the case of my Kickstarter for the O Z. Even coordinating the printing and distribution. And so having actual editors to work with that was a new and different experience because I wasn’t the central conduit [00:30:00] anymore. And so I, you know, I, it made me, I think, a more nimble writer and I think it made me a more deliberate writer you know, figuring out how to include more reference in my scripts and figure out how to be more specific in my direction, figuring out I have to measure twice.

So I can only cut once because you know, the, the, the deadline of this book is also one of the fastest things that I’ve ever put together. You know, Luca was drawing issues, I think every six weeks or something along those lines, I mean really fast faster than any artist I’ve worked with before. And so you know, but also kind of realizing that like, you know, because I’m working with a publisher who sort of has, you know both a financial Inc creative investment in the book, it’s kind of figuring out all right, like, What does my publisher need?

What are the, what do they want and need and what do I want and need as a storyteller and kind of figuring out well, where’s that overlap. And you know, it’s, it’s, it’s challenging because it’s [00:31:00] not always, it’s not something that you usually talk through. It’s more of a, I know it when I see it kind of thing.

And so I’ve said that, you know, the process of making Scout’s honor, it has just as much in common with with work, for hire, as it does create a round. And I think that’s a really good thing because I say this in every interview, but I want to be a 30 year, man. I want to be spending a long time. In comics is my career.

And being able to work with editors and figuring out how to be nimble with my creative team and to figure out how to sometimes how to, how to roll with the punches a little bit. Yeah. These are all things you have to learn if you ever want to work at the kind of level that I want to work. And and so I think working with Dina and Mike, I couldn’t be luckier to have these that have them as my, my first two editors.

You know, Christina especially has been such a champion of this book from start to finish. You know, I couldn’t be luckier and more grateful and you know, we’re, we’re. Hopefully, this is the first of many projects with [00:32:00] them. You know, it’s, it’s just it’s been a great working partnership and I’m, I’m really, I’m thankful for the ways that they’ve really leveled up this book in a big way.

John: Nice. Nice. So this is a five-year series and you got issues two to three out of three will probably be close to me now when this releases due to time of this. Yeah. And just go ahead and tell me what’s next. What’s next for you after

David Pepose: this boy? You know, I’ve, I’ve got a couple of things that I’m working on right now.

We’ll have the second Kickstarter of my book, the O Z. Coming soon as soon as we have kind of a critical mass of pages, we’ll be launching a Kickstarter for that. Artists, Ruben Rojas is hard at work on the book. We had a little bit of a COVID related delay. So that’s why the, the Kickstarter is still kind of TBD on, on, on the schedule

John: and all  book is written.

I’m so sorry. I said, I know all about that, but through the COVID and everything, my book’s delayed and not out yet. Not fully out yet. Anyways.

David Pepose: Yeah. Yeah. You know but he’s, he’s, he’s, he’s back in the saddle. He’s hard at work. The pages are looking amazing from what he’s turned in so far. And, and as I’ve said, in other interviews, the whole [00:33:00] series is already written.

So it’s just I I’m, I’m lucky that I get to see pages coming in. Right. We’re working on artwork for my book, grand theft Astro. Which is TBD when it comes out. But the artwork is looking really cool on that so far. I’m still writing Spencer and lock volume three that is still coming artist George Santiago, Jr.

And colorist Jason Smith, or I’ve already committed to coming back for our third and final volume. Nice. And then beyond that this should still be up on Kickstarter by the time this comes out. I’m also, I have a full length story with George Santiago Jr. In the big hype anthology which will be on Kickstarter.

It’s called Roxy rewind. It’s sort of my love letter to classic Spiderman and time travel adventures, like back to the future. So I’m really, really excited for all those. And then I have a few other projects that are sort of in the way I am working on my first horror book. Hmm which is of will slowly be kind of getting pages together as this interview goes up.

As well as by return to comedy. After going to the chapel I’m working on a comedy book right now that it’s very, very, very early in the process, you know, just [00:34:00] sort of figuring out how the plot and characters are gonna work in the midst of my high concept, but I’m really thrilled with this book.

And I feel like it’s it’s It fits certainly within the realm of a Spencer in lock in the O Z. But tonally very, very different.  So I’m really excited for for how this book is turning out.  I’ve been working hard on it for the last couple of weeks and can’t wait for people to eventually get to see it.

John: Nice. Nice man. So I’ve got to ask you You have all these different worlds you’ve created like Scout’s honor and Spencer and Locke and thosee and Crohn’s chapel. You ever get into like a fun little combination story. We just combine the characters for fun.

David Pepose: I wish you know, it’s in my head maybe you know, I I’ll, I’ll give you the depressing answer.

 The pressing real-world answer is that for multimedia purposes you can’t do that. Right. And the reason why is you know, if, you know, like right now, we’re, we’re still working on the adaptation of Spencer and lock which we’re still working on it. Everything has been kind of a little up in the air with COVID, but we’re, we’re, we’re [00:35:00] sort of back on the grind.

Versus something like going to the chapel, which might get another, another home. And. If you start cross-pollinating them, then, then there’s some, there’s an argument for somebody to make that, Oh, well, if I want to do a Spencer and Lark TV show, and you teamed up with the bad Elvis gang, we’re going to use the of gang in this TV show.

And then somebody might say, well, I wanted to do what going into the chapel TV show. I don’t want to do the bad Elvis gang if this guy’s had the bad all of us King. Right. So but in my head, I think about this stuff. All the time you know you know, figuring out what would happen if, if lock got knocked out and woke up in the O Z you know, and, and you know, how, how Dorothy would absolutely kick his ass.

You know, I think about that stuff. Constantly.  But yes the, the, the only way, the only place that, that these, these, these characters will have a shared universe is on your bookshelf. So if you want to, to, to buy my books, you can visit my website, David pepo.com, or you can buy everything, but the O Z a is available at your local comic shop on Amazon through [00:36:00] diamond.

So But yes, I, I, I think about it constantly and I will say, I have had at least one story come out of, Oh, if I did like a shared universe, what would I do? And then realized, Oh, I don’t need a shared universe to tell that story. You know, I will say that right. There was a discarded Spencer in Loch villain that I wound up just using in another short later that I think will hopefully be announced in the next month or two.

John: Nice. Nice. So my last question for you is a bit of a fall one kind of off topic here. But you’re a writer and you don’t want to have, is there one character or series or property that’s not yours? You would love to write.

David Pepose: Oh boy, there’s a lot. You know, I mean, she’s an AME is, is, is, you know, I, I love the character of Billy Batts and I think he’s, he’s, he it’s criminal that he’s not a top five selling book at DC.

And that is a series that I could write for years and years and years and not, and not run out of ideas. Exiles over Marvel, I think would be a really [00:37:00] cool fit for me. Being able to kind of take like the, the, the, the off-brand versions of all the Marvel characters and kind of slamming them together.

That sounds super fun. I’d love to tackle the justice league or the Avengers someday. I mean, granted, that’s me sort of speaking very, very, very far into the future, but I feel like there’s something you could do, what Jonathan Hickman did for house of X. You could do that for either of those properties.

And I’ve been thinking about both of those books since I was about 12 years old. But I think my white whale honestly, is captain planet. Really, I would love to write a captain planet book, and I tell every publisher that I talk with that I’m like, if you’re looking for another license and you get into talks with captain planet, I’ll be really upset if you don’t talk to me.

I’ve got, I’ve got a pitch already. Ready? I it’s, it is a concept that is so long overdue, a 21st century reboot. It does not take much to make, like it was so far ahead of its time that it’s still super relevant today. And all it takes is like a very, I think, minor stylistic redesign. Yeah.

Basically, if you gave captain captain planet pants, [00:38:00] 80% of your job is done. Right. And so I love the character and that is my white whale. I’ll say it again. Any interview is if somebody gave me the keys to captain planet, I’d probably never have to write a superhero book again.

John: You know, I, I watched that show every day as a kid, so yeah.

I’d love to see, to bring it back and make it, make it fun and gear. Right. Putting pants on him would change most of his outfit problems. Yeah.

David Pepose: It, you know, it’d be like the first Avengers movie meets avatar, the last Airbender with the globe trotting, environmentalist spin. It, it, it, it. That would be my JJ Abrams star Trek.

That would be sort of my, just my, my, my polishing for a new generation. And yeah, I would, I would love to write captain America. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t think you can get away with no ball it and pants, and that’s like, most of your problems solved. Right. But I honestly, the Planeteers are so interesting as characters and I feel like their power sets are, so they have not been particularly defined that.

[00:39:00] I think there’s a lot of really, really, really cool stuff you could do with it as a property. And it would be just an adventure story with a point. Yeah. And so yeah, I would, I would love to, to, to, to put my stamp on captain planet and if there’s ever any publishers listening to this if you, you know, if you need a new franchise give your boy a call.

Yeah.

John: So yeah. You heard it here? Not first. Probably not, probably not first, but hear it today. And captain planet. I I’d read that. So for sure. Yeah. Well, David, thank you so much for coming on Smith’s time today and talking about your new book and everything else. And as I said, I read the first issue.

I really enjoyed it. I look forward to, to reading the whole thing and seeing where it goes.

David Pepose: Awesome. Thank you so much for having me really appreciate

John: it.

 

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