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Arnold Pander interview (APR 09)

 height=Arnold Pander is part of the popular Pander Bros. creative team, along with his brother Jacob. Together they have worked on such books as Batman: City of Light, Accelerate, Grendel: Devil's Legacy, and Triple-X. This month, Arnold Pander and co-writer Jonathan Vankin bring us Tasty Bullet. Westfield's Roger Ash contacted Pander to learn more about this new book.

Westfield: How did the story come about?

Arnold Pander: Having met at the 2000 San Diego Comic con, Jon Vankin and I had bounced around ideas about some type of collaboration. We wanted to combine our interests of pop culture and obscure urban legend. Jon had been interested in the energy drink fad that was starting to hit big. I had also been intrigued with the new phenomenon after a my own experience with energy drinks and their addictive nature. This seemed like a fresh area to explore and came up with a premise of an Energy Drink Icon in search of something beyond the next thrill.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the story? Who are the main characters?

Pander: The story revolves around Tamar, the "Tasty Girl". Her death defying stunts are powered by her own addiction to the very product she is promoting. After a stunt nearly costs Tamar her life, she decides to find out why she has the acute addiction that has clouded the memories of her dark past. She tracks down an early test subject deemed "Patient Zero" by the drink's manufacturer, Bullet Corp.. The sickly, yet hopeful, youth named Zak survives on Tasty Bullet and Oxygen as he battles the side effects of the Drink's secret formula and a growing pandemic called H.O.A.R.D.. When Zak begins to reveal Tamar's mysterious past, Bullet Corp. sends a "Teen death squad" to silence Tamar's new ally. Tasty Bullet soon becomes popular, and Tamar must face a number of enemies that includes "spiritual terrorists" led by the misunderstood Ali Hallaj, Bullet Corp. mastermind, "Mr. Six" and his Teen death squad and of course, Tamar's powerful addiction to Tasty Bullet. She can never kick the habit while it fuels her own mission of self discovery. Its a vicious cycle Tamar must break if she wants to find the twisted truth behind her personal link to Tasty Bullet.

Westfield: You're working with co-writer Jonathan Vankin on Tasty Bullet. How do the two of you work together?

Pander: The story was conceived of while both Jon and I lived in Los Angeles. We would meet a couple times a week while surrounded by the new era of "Bling" that was permeating Hollywood. The "Tasty Girl" character with her branded image that encourages consumers to "Drink Pink!" seemed an appropriate archetype of our times. Having written a number of editions of "The greatest conspiracies of all time," Jon would expand my mind from his rich knowledge of obscure urban legends. We would riff on how we could weave them into this modern day tome of pop culture, hooked on hype, glamour, and the next quick fix. We had a lot of fun in the process but probably the most when we came up with the book's title itself. We finally found a home for the book with Image comics and were excited to have it finally completed after years of work.

Westfield: The cover for the book has a Manga influence. Does that style continue on the interior pages?

Pander: The Asian-centric feel of the "healthy energy" that Tasty Bullet provides helped set the tone of the book's narrative style and look. I have always had an affinity toward Manga in general and wanted to capture the fun over-exaggerated energy that Manga can convey. I wanted my own visuals and storytelling sensibility to meet it somewhere in the middle.

Westfield: I read that Tasty Bullet has been optioned for a film. What can you say about that?

Pander: While Jon and I were seeking a publisher for Tasty Bullet, there was an option on the story by Hollywood production company, Anonymous Content. Due to reasons still unknown, the option was dropped. (We still wonder if Bullet Corp. was behind it.;))

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Pander: My brother and I have been busy the last two years on our debut live action feature film, titled Selfless. Its a psychological thriller about a hip architect whose world come crashing down when his identity is stolen. Having won Best Feature at BendFilm Fest 2008, Selfless is currently doing the national film festival rounds and the next stop is The Seattle True Independent film Festival, June 4th -14th. Jonathan meanwhile, is developing Graphic Novels as an editor at Vertigo and keeping it on the cutting edge.

Westfield: Do you have any closing comments?

Pander: If you want to see more about Tasty Bullet in the coming months, check out www.tastybullet.com and also the main hub for the Pander Bros.' projects at: www.panderbros.com

Plus view the Selfless movie trailer at : www.selflessthemovie.com

Oh yeah, and June 24th do like the Tasty Girl says - "Drink Pink"!

To link to this interview, use this link (right click and copy)

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