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Bennett Neuhauser interview (MAR 09)

 height=Bennett Neuhauser is a new comic writer who is the creator of Dream Sub Comics' The Last Troubadour. Westfield's Roger Ash spoke with Neuhauser about this new comic.

Westfield: What was the inspiration for The Last Troubadour?

Bennett Neuhauser: I've always been fascinated with the role of popular music in culture. And by popular I mean the music of the people - social commentary and satire, along with offbeat looks at life and love. In recent history that role was embodied by the folk singers, singer-songwriters and acoustic alternative rockers you hear on the radio or at a local coffeehouse. Centuries ago, it was the wandering minstrel, that singular voice that reflected and sometimes lampooned society's mores.

 height=In 12th and 13th Century France, Spain and Italy specifically, it was the troubadours who served this purpose. They were kind of the prototype for the others I mentioned. A troubadour would roam from court to court, playing songs he composed himself, entertaining both nobles and peasants, bringing news from other towns, including the intrigues and scandals of the day, and championing the art of courtly love. As a comics fan, and as a songwriter myself, I always felt this type of figure, who tended to be part of the "supporting cast" in any story about medieval times, deserved his chance at a starring role, and, of course, to wield some super powers to boot.

Plus, I'm not sure, but I don't think there's ever been a musician-superhero, until now!

Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book? Any story hints you want to drop?

Neuhauser: Just that the hero is a present-day, twenty-something, Average-Joe college drop-out with a guitar - kind of a slacker who has greatness thrust upon him. He's a songwriter and his arch nemesis is also a musician, but of a much different stripe. There's some action, some danger, talking trees, wood nymphs, magical lutes - there's a lot going on.

Westfield: You're working with artist Sarah Christoff on the book. What can you tell us about her contribution?

 height=Neuhauser: Sarah holds a BA in fine arts and she was great to work with. She is somewhat Manga influenced but I talked her into channeling that impulse more toward a traditional look and the result is rather whimsical. She's still growing as an artist, but she had just the right flair for the material, especially for the fluid, swirling look I felt fit the tone of the story.

Westfield: You're planning other books through Dream Sub. Is there anything you'd like to say about them?

Neuhauser: Yes, hopefully The Last Troubadour will be only the jumping on point for lots of readers of the universe I envision. Other characters in the works include Alloy, who I call the amphibious armored adventurer. He's closer to a straight superhero, but he's got a great back story, it's like, what if Jacques Cousteau had a special diving suit that doubled as a high-tech suit of armor on land, the very nature of which compels him to become a protector of the ocean environment on a whole other scale? There's also The Dream Submarine, which is a vehicle of the imagination. It will take its hero and his friends on many weird adventures, some of which are going to be based on actual dreams I've had. Somehow, these three titles will eventually intertwine, especially The Last Troubadour and Alloy. And, I think it bears mentioning, that all of the lead characters of the Dream Sub Universe are based in the Great Lakes region. They'll all be doing their part to put this part of the country on the comics map.

 height=Westfield: Any closing comments?

Neuhauser: I hope readers give The Last Troubadour a whirl. It may be an acquired taste, but I can promise them it's going to take them places most comics titles won't. At least, that's my goal.

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

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