Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Western Comics Focus: PETER BRANDVOLD

This month we turn our Western Comics Focus on someone who is well known to us all, as a longtime member of our group -but who  most of us would associate more with prose than with sequential art (which is a fancy word for funny books.)

In addition to the many westerns PETER BRANDVOLD has written, under his own and various pen names, in 2008 he ventured into the four-color world, scripting a miniseries for DC Comics... Bat Lash: Guns and Roses, with art by the legendary John Severin and covers by Walt Simonson and sharing writing duties with Sergio Aragones. I know I'm not the only one who was envious!

Bat Lash- aka Bartolomew Alouysius Lash -is one of DC's most famous western characters. He first appeared in the late 1960s... the first ad for his new book asked "Will he save the West, or ruin it?" Lash was a gambler and ladies' man, who went to great lengths to avoid violence (and wore a flower in his hat-band.) In some ways he was a more flamboyant version of Bret Maverick. The publishers' initial view of the character was that he was a loner whose family had been wiped out by thugs, but his series turned out to be pretty lighthearted -albeit short-lived. Bat Lash became a frequent guest star in other western books... it was always fun to see him team up with the gritty antihero Jonah Hex.

The 2008 miniseries, though, aimed at fully telling Lash's origin story and getting back to his grittier roots. They could have chosen no one better than Pete Brandvold, whose work is as gritty as it comes.

Pete agreed to answer a few questions about the experience.

1. You were one of our judges for the Top Ten Western Comics feature... can you tell us what some of your favorite western comics are?

Blueberry by Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean 'Moebius' Geraud

Desperadoes by Jeff Marriott and John Severin

Jonax Hex (I like them all but while I'm usually partial to original stuff I have to say that Jimmy Palmiotto and Justin Grey did incredible work in the later stuff and I wish to hell they were still writing and publishing those.  Those were the only contemporary comics I was reading.  Now I'm not reading anything though I know there's a lot of good stuff out there.  I'm miffed they took away Jonah!  (Don't talk to me about the short stories they're putting out now, mingling Hex with superheroes.  That's not MY Jonah!)

Bat Lash (the original series, of course, since I penned the latest one with Sergio Aragones, John Severin drawing, which I don't think is half bad though I agree it didn't have the romantic, 60's hippy-goofiness of the originals, which are classics)
2. How did you end up writing the Bat Lash miniseries, and what was it like? How did it differ from writing novels? What was your favorite part of the experience?

I can't remember how it all went but I wrote to Michael Wright and he put me in touch with another editor, Rachel Gluckstern, there, and they liked my idea for an "origin" mini-series showing how Bat Lash became that crazy feller with the flower in his hat.  It wasn't at all like writing novels, and that's frankly what I don't like about writing comics.  It's more technical, like writing screenplays, and I have trouble disappearing into the experience the way I do in prose novels.  Writing comics, I found I had to be too conscious--I had to be thinking about how much I could get into one panel, and one word balloon, and it stifled me.  I could never write comics full-time.  When I write novels, its like I'm half asleep, dreaming.

3. Are there any characters you'd like to write for, if you had the chance?

Jonah Hex is the only one I could think of but I'd rather write a series of prose novels about him, frankly.  I don't like collaborating.
4. Tell us about the Rogue Lawman comic.

That was so damn long ago I can't even remember why in the hell I did that!  I think Michael Wood, the editor of the OUTLAW TERRITORY compilation emailed me and asked if I wanted to contribute and I said yes.  That was before the first one was even out.  We had trouble getting an illustrator for my story, "The Girl From Screaming Squaw," because the character and thus the rights to the story had to remain all mine.  But we finally got Andrew Maclean and he's truly outstanding.  So is the colorist, Christiane Peter. 

5. Any other upcoming projects, in any medium, you'd like to tell us about?

I have a brand new adult western series out called THE REVENGER.  The first book is "A Bullet for Sartain."  That's an ebook original published by my own Mean Pete Press.  And I have a plethora and cornucopia of other Mean Pete press reprints of original print novels as well as completely new and original ebooks.  You can check them out at my website: www.peterbrandvold.com, and my blog, which I keep a little better updated:  www.peterbrandvold.blogspot.com


  1. Mean Pete Brandvold could write gum wrappers and I'd read 'em. His Bat Lash contribution is one hot-diggity tale--highly recommended!

  2. Mean Pete, I had no idea you had written western comics! I learned something new about you again! An' yor one mean fella that's full of supprizes...

    Great questions and answers, and your covers are really, really nice. Seems like you've always got a new project going on--excellent stuff!

    Troy, thanks for this series on western comics--I look forward to this each month because I missed out on it earlier on.

  3. I was also in the dark about Pete writing comics. Amazing!
    I'm still trying to catch up on Lou Prophet.
    Thanks for the post.

  4. You're right, Matt, it was very good.

  5. Talent and creativity will win out no matter what the medium. Just keep those stories coming for they are great reads. I'll try to catch up. Doris

  6. Just to show you how uninformed I am, I didn't even know there was such comics. What an interesting post. I enjoyed reading it.

  7. I'd like to see Mean Pete's take on Tomahawk, a DC character I liked, but was handled poorly.

  8. Ooh, this is so interesting! As a little girl, I wasn't fond of anything much Western, but today I find these comics classy!

    Thanks, Cheryl, for sharing and to Peter for being your excellent guest!