We continue our chats with the creators
of the Red Circle characters coming up in the DC Universe, and today,
itís time to talk to writer Brandon Jerwa, writer of the Inferno co-feature
which will be appearing in The
Shield, starting with Septemberís issue #1.
Newsarama: Brandon, people are probably most familiar with your
name from your work at Devilís Due and Dynamite more recently. Tacke us
back to the beginning - how did you break in?
Brandon Jerwa: Truthfully, I made it into comics on my first
try, with a blind submission to Devilís Due in 2003. That script ended
up being my debut on their G.I. Joe anthology series Front
Line. They turned the main series over to me a few months later
and the rest, as they say, is history. Iíve worked consistently ever
NRAMA: How did you end up at DC?
BJ: I can actually trace this to a specific day: Free Comic
Book Day, 2007. I had been asked to do a signing at Olympic Cards &
Comics in Lacey Washington Ė a great store that just happens to be owned
by Eric Trautmannís wife Gabi. I met Gabi, Eric, Greg Rucka, Jen Van
Meter and Matthew Clark that day, and some friendships blossomed. Eric
and I had a sort of instinct that we should be working together, and
eventually started pursuing some ideas, one of which ended up being our
new free webcomic Wide
Cut ahead to last year: as Checkmate was
wrapping up, Eric was asked to pitch some material to the amazing Queen
of All Editors, Joan Hilty, at Vertigo, and he asked me to co-pitch with
him. The winning pitch was greenlit for an OGN that I canít talk about
yet, but let me give you my personal assurance that itís awesome.
As things progressed, I was lucky enough to have Eric, Greg and Joan all
singing my praises to DC, a fact that I am eternally grateful for. I
guess someone was listening, because I was approached by Rachel
Gluckstern about Inferno via
e-mail on the Friday of this yearís Emerald City Comic-Con and Michael
Siglain in person about working for DC in general the following day.
As nerve-wracking as itís been to start this
process, I canít say enough how enjoyable itís been thus far. I think I
have a great rapport with Joan (and superstar assistant editor Sarah
Litt), and Rachel and I are settling into a groove very nicely. Iíve
been waiting a long time for this opportunity, and I hope itís just
NRAMA: Had you been a fan of the Inferno prior to getting the
assignment Ė or did you even know about the character?
BJ: I was familiar with the character, but not a hardcore
follower of that universe particularly...although I did have all the
Mighty Crusaders action figures back in the 80s!
NRAMA: What was the premise or direction you were given for the
BJ: The basic directive was ďJason Bourne on fireĒ and I was
tasked with turning it into a fast-paced action thriller. Iím a big fan
of that genre, so Iím digging in deep and doing my best to take it to
the level it deserves.
NRAMA: Joe Stracynski said he left a "bible" for writers of the
ongoing series. What type of notes did Joe Stracynski leave for you as
the incoming writer?
BJ: Itís funny, because I wrote my pitch with only the script
for the Inferno chapter of JMSí mini-series; I didnít have the
additional notes that clarified his intent in terms of the bigger
picture. The pitch I turned in did something pretty drastically
different from what JMS intended, but my basic over-arcing story was
still compatible with that unseen information, so Rachel gave me the
scoop and asked me to re-jigger things a bit. One more pass, and we were
good to go.
NRAMA: Originally Inferno was a circus fire breather and a
criminal who with the help of Steel Sterling turns his life around. How
does this Inferno turn his life around?
BJ: This is definitely a tale of discovery and redemption, but
itís about as far away from fire-breathing circus performers as you can
get. I canít say too much at the outset, but letís just say that Inferno
canít turn his life around until he figures out what his life isexactly.
NRAMA: As the solicitations state, Green Arrow and Black Canary
show up in the very first story. With a co-featuresí limited pages do
guest stars hinder story telling?
BJ: It was my choice to use them, as itís logical to the story.
It didnít really hinder things at all...and can I just say how exciting
it was to write those two in my first script? I mean, come on Ė itís
Ollie and Dinah!
NRAMA: That said, how much of the Inferno story crosses over
with the DCU and how much of the "Red Circle" is separate?
BJ: The Red Circle characters are definitely in the DCU, and
weíll be playing with that in The Shield / Inferno a bit, while still
keeping their stories individualized. In fact, Eric and I are exploring
some connections between the worlds of our characters as well, so I
think itís going to be a really rewarding experience for the readers.
NRAMA: Frank Verrano is physically different from Inferno. Is
this a transformation like Captain Marvels or are Frank and the Inferno
BJ: The Magic 8-Ball says ďASK AGAIN LATER.Ē Seriously, thatís
the $1,000,000 question, and a big part of the story.
NRAMA: Fair enough, well, to leave with a tease, what do you
have planed for the Inferno long term?
BJ: I have a super-detailed outline for the first 12 issues.
Beyond that, I have a pretty good idea of what Iíd like to do in the
second year, but Iím focusing on the immediate future first and
foremost. Iíve written 80-odd comic books at this point, but this is my
first superhero story. Iím planning to enjoy writing every page of it.