Old Dogs Have New Tricks In Aftershock’s Rough Riders
Dec 16, 2016
by Vince Brusio
Historical fiction is a popular vehicle for feature films and literature. Countless examples of movies include Saving Private Ryan, Gone With The Wind, and Schindler’s List. In literature, there’s A Tale of Two Cities and The Thorn Birds to name a few. But what do you get when a writer takes historical characters and puts them in a comic book adventure? You get Adam Glass’ Rough Riders: On The Storm #1 (DEC161179) from Aftershock Comics, which is the next chapter in Glass’ Rough Riders comic saga feature the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Houdini, Jack Johnson, Thomas Edison and Annie Oakley. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, Glass gave us a few moments to explain the mechanics of his new story, and how the players we saw in the first story arc are not as naïve and flexible. So in this next adventure, things might get a little rough for the Rough Riders.
Vince Brusio: First, let’s get up to speed for those who may not be familiar with the previous series. In “Volume One” of the Rough Riders, what are the pertinent details we would need to know to be on the same page as the regular readers of this series?
Adam Glass: What you need to know is that history is exactly how you learned it in school with a few hidden secrets. Like, the "Spanish American War" did happen, but instead of being invaded by Spain, the people of Cuba were attacked by Aliens. "Aliens" you ask? That is correct. Plus, the wealthiest men of that time — Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, etc. — task a young Theodore Roosevelt (not yet President) to fight the aliens. So TR puts together an Avenger-like team circa 1898 into motion. First up is a young Jack Johnson, who would go on to become the first African American Heavyweight Champion. A young street magician by the name of Harry Houdini. The first famous gangster of his time, Monk Eastman. The greatest scientist and inventor in America, Thomas Alvin Edison. And finally, the world famous gunslinger, Annie Oakley. Together these Rough Riders fight off a world-ending Alien invasion, but it comes with the cost of one of their lives.
Vince Brusio: Theodore Roosevelt is thrust into the spotlight for this second story arc, and is the main focus for hatred towards America because he’s the new President of the United States. But he’s President by default because of the assassination of William F. McKinley. Does this make Roosevelt’s job harder or easier, in terms of what his objectives could be given the circumstances of an entire nation’s fear and angst?
Adam Glass: TR was never supposed to be President. He was shoved into the Vice Presidency as a way to keep him out of everyone's hair back in NYC's Tammany Hall. So, in reality when he becomes President everyone is shocked, including him. He carried the burden his whole first term of being an "accidental President." It wasn't until he won re-election that he really felt like it was truly his. But in our story he is not ready to assume the role until he uncovers the truth about how the President was killed and the bigger conspiracy behind it.
Vince Brusio: The characters outside of Roosevelt range from Harry Houdini to Annie Oakley. What research or resources did you consult to get inside the heads of these individuals to determine how they would speak, or act? What helped you resurrect these long-dead characters so that they once again had speech?
Adam Glass: I studied history in college and have always been a history enthusiast. After history, my second biggest love is magic, then boxing. So one can say I've been researching this book my whole life. The only character I did not know that much about is Annie Oakley, who I came to learn was a real-life bad ass. Maybe even a MUTANT. Yeah, I mean like X-Men stuff. She never missed. Ever. She was a freak of nature. Bullseye, Deadshot and Task Master had nothing on Annie. I read something once about her that I thought really summed her up historically. During the fight for women’s suffrage Annie never marched, joined or spoke about women's rights, because she was too busy living it. Unsung hero for sure.
Vince Brusio: What were some of the back-and-forth conversations between you and artist Patrick Olliffe during production for this book? Were you very much hands-on in his initial drafts, or did Patrick have a lot of liberty in setting up the scenery, perspective, and body language?
Adam Glass: There is such a short-hand between us it's crazy. Maybe it's growing up and reading comics at the same time but whenever we talk or email we very quickly end up on the same page. I can be very specific on some things and then give Patrick room to breathe and draw what he thinks is right in others. It's a nice balance.
Vince Brusio: They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but in this case absence may be impairing communication between the Rough Riders, and their camaraderie may suffer as a result. What might be some of the sink holes in the road as the crew attempts to bond again to work together in unison?
Adam Glass: I purposely started the first book before most of them where famous or powerful so that as they change over time so do their relationships. It's one of the things that interest me the most about telling this story, the evolution of their characters, and that really starts to take shape in this chapter of the book because Houdini and Johnson especially are a little older and a little more successful, and might not be as ready to take blind orders like they did once before. They definitely will begin to question things more, and not like everything going down.
Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.