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Mark Sable Interview (MAR 2009)

 height=Mark Sable is the author of such comics as Grounded, Fearless, and Teen Titans Spotlight: Cyborg. This month he brings us Unthinkable from Boom! Westfield's Roger Ash recently contacted Sable to learn more about this exciting new book.

Westfield: What is the genesis for Unthinkable?

 height=Mark Sable: Unthinkable is based on a real life government program. After the attacks of 9/11, many in the media said that the attacks seemed "something out of a Tom Clancy novel." Evidently, the Department of Defense agreed, and gathered the country's most darkly imaginative writing minds - novelists like Brad Meltzer, screenwriters etc. They were asked to come up with worst-case terrorist scenarios, so that we could think of them before the terrorists do. In other words, they were asked to think "The Unthinkable."

Westfield: What can you tell us about the story of the mini-series and who are the main characters?

Sable: Where I take that real life incident and turn it into fiction is by introducing Alan Ripley, sort of a young Tom Clancy-type writer who is living a life of ease here in Hollywood when his brother, a former Navy S.E.A.L., is killed in the attack on the Pentagon. Out of both of guilt and patriotism, he joins the aforementioned Think Tank. It's comprised not only of writers, but of nuclear physicists, microbiologists... to say more might hint towards the scenarios themselves.

 height=7-8 years later... the nightmare scenarios he imagined start coming true. At first people don't believe him, especially when the government denies the Think Tank's existence. But when even worse terror attacks that occur, they not only start believing him - they start blaming him. Along with his fellow Think Tank members - he's got to stop the next attacks before they happen and find out who is behind them - while being pursued by the government.

What I think makes his character compelling is, he's a writer, not Jack Bauer or one of his characters. He is absolutely the last person who you'd want saving the world, at least when the story starts. This is very much a tale of someone trying to become the action hero that he writes about/wishes he was.

Westfield: Since you're dealing with the very real idea of terrorism, was is challenging to balance that reality with the fictional needs of your story?

 height=Sable: Definitely. First off - I don't want people to think this is a 9/11 conspiracy book or one that deals insensitively with terrorism. I lived in NY during 9/11, and lost people I knew not just there but in terror attacks in Israel as well.

As for the nightmare terror scenarios - I did tons and tons of research - not just reading but talking to those who are in charge of keeping our country safe. While I wanted the attacks to feel "real," I always erred on the side of entertainment over reality. After all, if they were too realistic... the book might as well be called "Thinkable".

Westfield: You're working with artist Julian Tedesco on the book. What do you feel he brings to the story?

Sable: What doesn't he bring? I think... artists often fall into two categories. Those who draw insanely detailed but static work, or those who have incredibly dynamic pages but shy away from realism. Julian somehow manages to draw incredible detail while imbuing even the most boring shot with a sense of dynamism.

 height=That let me give him 9 panel pages that never feel too crowded. So in five issues you are getting an incredibly dense story that still moves along rather quickly.

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

Sable: For now my energies have been almost 100% into Unthinkable. But I'd like to encourage readers to try out some of my other books, whether it's Grounded, Fearless or Hazed from Image, or Teen Titans Spotlight: Cyborg and Two-Face: Year One, from DC... the latter two which should be out in trade soon.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

 height=Sable: I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. And to encourage readers to give this a chance. You can check out my blog at marksable.blogspot.com where I'm going to have exclusive bonus content for Unthinkable etc. I can be contacted there, and I'm a pretty accessible creator, so I welcome all questions and comments.

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

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