|Ron Marz interview|
Ron Marz has written such books as DC's Green Lantern, CrossGen's Sojourn, and various Star Wars titles for Dark Horse. This month, he and artist Jeff Johnson bring the book Dragon Prince to Dark Horse. Worlds of Westfield's Roger Ash got in touch with Marz to find out what he's up to.
Westfield: What can you tell us about the book Dragon Prince?
Ron Marz: It's actually an idea Jeff Johnson showed me six or seven years ago. He had characters designed and a bunch of story notes. We'd wanted to get together and hammer it into a book even back then, but our schedules never matched up. Now, after a few years and a couple of moves to and from Florida, it's a reality. It's set in the here and now, but it really qualifies as a fantasy story. It's about a boy who discovers his true heritage - he's the last dragon on earth, and it's up to him to keep dragonkind from disappearing forever. It's about family, about growing up, about finding your place in the world... and about magic.
Westfield: Who are the main characters in the story?
Marz: Aaron Chiang is the lead character, the Dragon Prince. He's about 14, an Asian-American kid who's never quite fit in with either world. The rest of the cast includes his mother, a very dogged Dragon Hunter, and a secret cabal of wizards who have hunted dragons to the brink of extinction. And, of course, a dragon or two.
Westfield: What does artist Jeff Johnson bring to the book?
Marz: Well, as I said, the initial concept and characters came from Jeff, so without him, the book wouldn't even exist. This is very much a labor of love for both of us, and especially so for Jeff, since he's been carrying this story around in his head for quite a while. I've been friends with Jeff, and worked with him on and off, for years, but I think this is the longest project we've ever collaborated on. Jeff's a great, fluid storyteller, and he's got an ability to draw both the everyday and exotic, and make them both believable, which is a necessity for this series.
Westfield: You're also writing Samurai: Heaven & Earth for Dark Horse. Is there anything you'd like to tell people about that book?
Marz: It's a samurai story that's straight historical adventure set in 1704 - no fantasy elements, nothing supernatural. It follows a samurai from feudal Japan, all the way across Asia and Europe, and finally to Paris as he pursues the love of his life, who has been kidnapped. Eventually he crosses blades with the King's Musketeers and becomes embroiled in a plot to assassinate King Louis XIV. It's half love story, half swashbuckler, and all gorgeous thanks to the artwork by Luke Ross and colorist Jason Keith.
Westfield: Both Samurai and Dragon Prince are mini-series. Would you like to bring back these books if they do well?
Marz: Absolutely. Assuming sales warrant it, I'd love to do more with both of them. We have a pretty good idea of where we want these stories to go after the initial minis, we're just waiting to find out if the audience wants more. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, because doing these books has been one of the most satisfying experiences I've had in 15 years in the industry.
Westfield: You've also got the book The Darkness: Black Sails coming from Image this month. What can you tell us about that?
Marz: It's a Darkness story set during the golden age of piracy, and the art alone is worth the price of admission. Keu Cha, who made a name for himself penciling Witchblade a few years ago, left the industry for a few years to do advertising work. This is what brought him back, and the work is breathtaking. Keu is doing these lush pencils, and then painting over them in the computer. We wound up with a book that looks like it could have come off Howard Pyle's easel. It's got pirates, monsters and a beautiful damsel. What more could you want?
Westfield: Do you have any other upcoming projects you'd like to mention?
Marz: As far as current projects, I'm writing Witchblade for Top Cow and Blade of Kumori for Devil's Due monthly, both of which I'm thoroughly enjoying. I've also got something coming from Wildstorm later in the year, and a couple of other creator-owned projects in the pipeline, at least one of which should see print in 2005.
Westfield: Any closing comments?
Marz: I'm really proud of both Dragon Prince and Samurai: Heaven and Earth because they're books we built from scratch. We were freed from any continuity or restraints, and just left to create. Both books are colored by Jason Keith, lettered by Dave Lanphear and edited by Dave Land, and I couldn't ask for better collaborators. I'm grateful Dark Horse has given us the opportunity. If the audience has even half as much fun reading the books as we've had doing them, I think everybody's going to happy.
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