Interview with Brandon Jerwa
Brandon Jerwa submitted a comic book script to Devil's Due Publishing in 2001. After a lengthy process his script was given the go ahead and was turned into a story arc in the pages of G.I.Joe Frontline. The story will be released this coming August and will span four issues (#11, #12, #13, & #14), but there is a bit of surprise that will come with this story. One issue of the arc will be released each week of August, turning Frontline (for one month) into a weekly comic title. Following is an interview with Brandon. It covers the process he went through, some experiences of his, and what he likes to do in spare time. Following the interview we have a sneak preview of each cover that will be released in August.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself
A: I'm 30, born in Manhattan, Kansas and currently a resident of Portland, Oregon. I've been married for four years to my wonderful wife (and best editor) Jessica and we have a 3 year old son named Orion. I'm sure you will discover by the end of this that I like to talk. 80)
Q: Who is your favorite character of all time? If that is too hard give me your top three.
A: I can't possibly narrow it down to a single character. I love GI Joe far too much to spread my loyalty so thin like that!
So, my three favorite Joes:
Now for the Cobras:
- Chuckles, for sure. My love for that guy will be made pretty clear in my story arc. Great character and very much underused.
- Hawk. He may not be the flashiest guy, he may not be so "battlefield active" in the new book, but when it comes down to it, Hawk is THE MAN. I mean, the government has a team of the best, and HE'S the guy that's good enough to LEAD them.
- Lady Jaye. I'm so glad to see her taking a command position in the new book. Scarlett as a character never lived up to the ideal, for me at least, that she was the "girl as tough as the Joes." She was effective, yes, but very fragile. Lady Jaye can take the test and come out smiling.
- Destro, Destro, Destro. He is the one man that everyone should fear in the end. 'Nuff said.
- Cobra Commander. He's the reason we're all here. Josh handles him the way he should be handled, and I love it.
- Storm Shadow. I would really like him to just snap from mental stress and turn against the Joes AND Cobra. His first appearances in the old book were just excellent. "Ah, sweet science...a boon to villainy thou art."
Q: How about favorite vehicle?
A: FLIGHT PODS. God, I love those. Trubble Bubbles rock. And I'm a straight up VAMP-guy. Keep your 500 ton Hummer...me and Clutch are takin' the back road.
Q: Did you always want to be a comic book writer when you were young?
A: You know, I did. I think that as I grew into adulthood, it seemed kind of lofty, even though everyone was telling me I should write. So, my focus drifted to music, and I found great success in that. Still have that success, in fact. And having it made me realize that I could do anything I wanted to if I really, really tried. So, I did it.
My next goal (Joe Quesada, are you listening?) is to have my own Ultimate book and carry on in the world of G.I. Joe.
Q: What was your favorite issue or storyline of the Marvel comic?
A: The trade paperbacks have reminded me how taken I was with those first 15 issues. It was fantastic; we had never seen anything like that. Beyond that, I like the events leading up to the Cobra Civil War, the attack on Springfield, that whole era.
Q: Have you always wanted to write? What prompted you to start writing?
A: I always enjoyed writing in school, and I was good at it in terms of papers and those things. And it was fun. I just wanted to make sure that I didn't lose that as I got older, so I started doing it more.
Q: Did you have any influences while you were developing your talent?
A: Comics influences...wow. The X-Men, in the post Dark Phoenix era, to just before the Massacre. I liked that time. The late 70s Avengers, when the Vision was coming in, Pym was breaking down, all of that. Marvel Team-Up. The sort of street-crime, big business runs of Spider-Man in the 80s. Detective Comics. Firestorm. Everything.
Q: Have you been published before? If so, what was it?
A: My four issues of Front Line are my first. First thing I ever wrote, in fact, at least in terms of comic stuff.
Q: How did you happen to get a chance to write for a G.I.Joe book?
A: I sat down, wrote a script, and sent it to Josh in December of 2001. We talked a bit back and forth, and he finally read it in March. He liked it a lot, and that made me happy. From there, the process is long, long, long...
Q: What were some things that you did, if anything, that helped prepare you to write a G.I.Joe story?
A: I just opened that door. That little hatch in my brain that held every GI Joe fact I ever absorbed. Because it's up there, folks. I'm not the MINUTE DETAIL guy that some are, but I know Joe. If there was a minute detail that I didn't know, I made sure I did by the time I needed it.
Q: Were you into the whole G.I.Joe thing back in the old days? Watch the cartoon, buy toys, read the original comic, those things?
A: I ate, slept and breathed GI Joe. Period. Everything. I had a subscription to the Action Force books, or whatever they were. Memory's fuzzy on those. I could quote filecards, match weapons when others couldn't, and just thought I was a Joe, I think.
Q: Do you have a favorite character to do dialogue for?
A: Beach-Head. He's very distinct, and I liked using him. Destro would be fun, I think. He's in one panel of my story, so I can't say I've really written him.
Q: Did everything you write make it into the story or was there some cuts made?
A: The changes to my script were very, very minimal. I think we cut one line and changed one minor cameo character. That was it.
Q: How was your working relationship with Devil's Due? Were they easy to work with?
A: It's funny, because I've watched them become busier and busier since I first talked to Josh, and I swear when you talk to him on the phone, you can almost hear him sweating sometimes. They're working their tails off over there. But they've always had time for me, Mr. Million Questions. Marshall, Tim and Susan have been great when I've dealt with them, and Josh is just very cool. He and I have had these big hour-long discussions about Joe on the phone, and he's been very willing to spill some secrets about upcoming stories in order for me to make mine fit into continuity well. My favorite thing so far, besides the Front Line arc itself, is that Josh used my idea to give the Joes these field offices around the country. He and I had been talking about the PIT, and where it should go. I offered my two cents and pitched him the idea of having the bureaus, and now it's a part of the story. That was cool. If you meet Josh, ask him about "Ninja Wolves." I'm sure he'll get an odd look on his face.
Q: Have you been approached to do any more Frontline issues?
A: *sigh* It's like this. I have since submitted one four-part story, and two single issue stories. The four-issue story was rejected, because I was writing things that Josh was writing at the same time! It was freaky. Then, we discovered that one of the single-issue stories was eerily similar as well. The other single-issue story is on hold waiting for a place. It's not guaranteed they're using it, but Josh was keeping it to look at down the line. Since then, I have made a formal pitch, with Josh's blessing, to take over the main book when he finishes at issue 25. You'll probably know by the time this sees print if I got the job.
Q: Now that you have your name out there will you be working on keeping it out there or is this kind of like a hobby?
A: I am absolutely, 100% devoted to this. I have been busily submitting to any company that allows such things. Josh already knows that I would give my liver to write more GI Joe, especially on a regular enough basis to have ongoing stories. But I want everything I can get. Image, Marvel, DC, Avatar, Dark Horse, Crossgen. Devil's Due. I just want to write comics.
Q: What else have you done career wise?
A: I have a pretty successful music career. I led the electro-goth band Omnibox for six years, and we had one underground dance hit, a cover of Eurythmics' "Here Comes the Rain Again". We also put out an album and several compilation tracks, as well as a song in the video game "Bikini Karate Babes." My new band SD6 is just getting out and about, but we're very nearly signed and working hard on a new album. www.sd6online.com PLUG. Sorry.
Q: Is there anything special you do to get in the creative writing mind set or can you just start writing something out at anytime, anywhere?
A: I've had luck so far just sitting down and doing it, as long as I have a minimum of distractions.
Q: And in conclusion, do you have any advice or words of wisdom to anyone who might want to enter the comic writing field or any words of wisdom in general?
A: Be professional. Be patient. Don't give up. If you make it before me, put in a good word, and I'll do the same if I can be bothered to remember you.
That's a joke, kids.
Thanks, Yo Joe!
Below are the covers for Frontline Issues #11 - #14. The issues Brandon will be writing.
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