“‘NamWolf” is your recently announced comic with Logan Faerber. What’s the general idea of the story for those they may not know?
Fabian Rangel, Jr.: “‘Namwolf” started as something Logan said at HeroesCon 2014 that I misheard. We were tabling next to each other and somehow started talking about Predator, and werewolf movies, and I could’ve swore he said “American Werewolf in Vietnam” but of course he said American Werewolf in London. I told him what I thought he said that would be awesome. We were both laughing and joking about it, and before we knew it, it started to sound like something we should actually try and make. So to answer your question, the general idea of “‘Namwolf” is an american werewolf in Vietnam. The story is an exploration of what Vietnam would be like if one of the soldiers was a werewolf, and the good and bad that comes along with it.
“‘NamWolf” is something that you and Logan have been pitching around for a couple of years. I know you had ashcans and stuff printed up that you were taking to cons for a while. What was the journey of that pitch like? How did it eventually end up at Albatross Funnybooks with Eric Powell?
FRJ: Yeah, we had shown it to a few publishers, and had some real interest from a couple, but it never worked out for one reason or the other. Mostly, Logan and I don’t have an extensive sales record that pubs can look at as a sure bet. Yes, even with projects like “Space Riders” and “Oh, Killstrike!” under our belts. So we put it on the shelf. Logan was busy with some other stuff, and so was I, but we eventually reunited for “Tribes” over at Stela. Around the time that was wrapping up, I read an interview with Eric Powell where he mentioned that he would eventually be taking on other books that weren’t his own at Albatross. I knew “‘Namwolf” was in his wheelhouse, so I asked if I could send it to him. Luckily, he dug it!
What made Albatross and Eric a great fit for the book? He’s editing the book, right? How is that experience going to be?
FRJ: Since it’s a monster book, and a horror book, but also has a bit of humor, and since it takes place in Vietnam, I knew Eric would think it was fun. I’ve been reading “The Goon” for years, and I feel like Eric and I have a similar sense of humor, and think the same things are cool. I’m really stoked he’s willing to take a chance on some dudes who are still a bit unknown. And yes, from the get-go Eric has had suggestions on how to improve the overall story, and even how to make the design of “‘Namwolf” stand out a bit more. It’s been blowing my mind to have him work with us on the book, especially since he’s one of my favorite creators. Just unreal. It rules so much! But yeah, the dude is an Eisner award winning creator, like, we’re gonna listen to what he has to say. It really is a honor to have him be our editor/publisher.
Like I already mentioned, you and Logan had previously pitched around an ashcan of “‘Namwolf”. How much of that story is going to stay in this new version of the book?
FRJ: The ashcan was 8 pages, and those 8 pages are pretty much still in the book, but with a couple of tweaks. The story does have one major change that gives the story a dramatic twist (that I won’t talk about yet). Art wise, the main character, Marty, and the design of the werewolf, are different.
I know your first comic, “Extinct”, dealt with werewolves. What is it about werewolves that make them such great basis for comic stories?
FRJ: Raw power! Werewolves have been my favorite monster since I was a kid watching movies like Monster Squad, Teen Wolf, and Waxwork. Me and my brother and sister used to go howl at the moon when we saw a full moon. As far as comics, they translate well because we can really take our time and show the transformation, and that wild energy that they bring. From a writing standpoint, there’s a lot of drama involved, and as far as art, artists probably dig the design work involved with drawing a monster as the main character.Continued below
Lately it seems like you’ve been mixing your time pretty well between creator-owned and work for hire projects. With everything from “Space Riders” and “Tribes” to “Mouse Guard” and “TMNT”. How has it been switching between the two, especially as you get ready to dive into “‘Namwolf”?
FRJ: More and more I realize that writing comics for me is essentially a grown up version of how you play with toys as a kid. Writing other people’s characters is fun because you know them/love them already, and know how they would react in certain situations. There are rules, though. You know what those characters can and can’t do. But with creator-owned, there is the excitement of creating something totally new, something that comes from you and your collaborators, where YOU makes the rules. You get to decide how they act, and you decide what happens to them. I really enjoy working on licensed properties, but my preference will always be creator-owned. With licensed properties it’s possible to get it wrong, but with your own books, it’s like, you can’t fuck it up because it’s your thing, you know?
Anything else you’d like to add?
FRJ: Thanks for making the time to ask me these questions! It means a lot. Also, I’m really excited for 2017. I have half a dozen projects being published, and they’re all creator owned. “Space Riders 2” with Alexis Ziritt, “‘Namwolf” with Logan, and unannounced things with other really fantastic artists. It’s going to be my best making comics year yet.