In an exclusive interview with Villain Media, writer Nate Cosby talks about Alter Ego, the action-packed superhero epic set during the golden age of Hollywood. Find out what happens when one cocky stuntman becomes two superheroes in this spectacular 100-page graphic novel.
PLOT: LA’s scandalous crime wave inspires two strikingly different heroes to spring into action. By day, the streets are protected by Whiz-Bang, a grinning, gregarious defender of goodness. By night, the City of Angels is defended by an entirely different kind of hero: The Black Dog appears in a cloud of smoke, a mysterious vigilante determined to strike fear in cowardly criminals. And unbeknownst to the mayor, the police force, the entire city…these radically different heroes share an incredible secret: They are the same man.
With the Kickstarter campaign now live, Cosby opens up about the cinematic influences behind Alter Ego, the mindset of his protagonist Ace Adams, and the superstar artists involved in this original graphic novel. Join me and Cosby in the writer’s studio as we discuss the craft of storytelling.
VILLAIN MEDIA: Alter Ego has touches of behind-the-scenes cinema and Flash Gordon. What were the influences that inspired Alter Ego?
NATE COSBY: Singin’ In The Rain by Stanley Donen and DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke. There’s lots of classic movies and comics that we pulled from, but those two perfect entertainments formed the inspirational backbone of what Alter Ego has become.
VM: Tell me about the characters of Ace Adams, Whiz-Bang, and the Black Dog?
NC: Well, they’re all the same guy. Ace Adams, a struggling stuntman, figures that he should help people. So he throws on a mask, calls himself Whiz-Bang, and fights bad guys in public. But he soon realizes that that’s not enough. He also has to put on a dark cowl and strike from the shadows, as The Black Dog. Our story begins a little while after Ace has made the choice to become these two very different people, who are each quite different from himself. And Ace is a strong-willed guy, but he’ll soon find that when you spend all your time pretending to be different people, you can lose yourself.
VM: What were the challenges in separating and distinguishing three distinct personalities with the creative team?
NC: That was actually one of the easier aspects, because I made it personal. I thought of the different parts of myself…as a writer, and an editor, and then just me. When I edit someone else’s script, I don’t think about their story the way that I would if I were the author. I’m there to help them tell their own story. Then when I’m writing, I try to not come at the story from an editorial standpoint, because I want to be able to let my creativity flow without internal criticism. And then, when I’m not writing or editing, I do my best to put both disciplines away. But it’s hard, because they’re both thought-intensive activities. So I sort of have an inherent empathy for how Ace navigates his Whiz-Bang and Black Dog identities.
VM: Because Ace is a stuntman and the setting takes place in the Golden Age of Hollywood, did you discover something that surprised you in your writing and research?
NC: “Surprise” isn’t the word, because I’m already such a fan and so familiar with that era. But I was enlivened and inspired the deeper I dug into details of that time; both the real and the fictional. So much so that Jacob and I didn’t want to just show Hollywood like it was. We’ve built a heightened version that features a Los Angeles that’s been split into different studios, like a massive movie-making DisneyWorld! There’s entire “lands” where they only make Westerns, or Sci-Fi, or Musicals. Then there’s the Korean cinema, Japanese, Hong Kong, Bollywood, and more! We wanted to build a sprawling city full of movie magic, and then add superheroes into the mix!
VM: With the Kickstarter coming up live, what do you think pledgers will be most excited about?
NC: Well first, the book! Jacob Edgar’s art, Kike J. Diaz and Rus Wooton’s design and lettering alone are worth the price of admission. We’re all doing our damndest to bring a fully-realized world to readers. Outside of the book, we’re offering a wide variety of different covers and prints by some of my favorite artists: Phil Hester & Klaus Janson, Declan Shalvey, Chris Eliopoulos, Wilfredo Torres and SOZOMAIKA!
VM: Tell me how Alter Ego changed you as a storyteller?
NC: It really forced me to think about the cost of people wanting to do the “right” thing. I’ve never written a superhero story before, and I found myself musing a lot on what I’d do if put into a difficult situation, where it’d be so easy to just quit and go home, because helping would be so hard. But the part I kept coming back to with the character of Ace is that he just wants to help people. He’ll screw up. He’ll say and do the wrong thing for the wrong reasons. But at his core, he shows up to help because it never occurs to him that he has a choice.
VM: What are you working on now?
NC: Alter Ego! And my previous Kickstarter, Fight-Bunny, with the amazing Jennifer L. Meyer and Ariana Maher. In fact, I should go write some more script right now, right after I grab more cashews and another coffee.
Readers can find out more about Alter Ego and its Kickstarter campaign here: