Interview: Catching Up with a Couple of Lone Wolves – Briggs Land Writer Brian Wood and Artist Mack Chater

A little while ago, we ran an advance review for Briggs Land – Lone Wolves #1 click the link below for the review.

BRIGGS LAND: LONE WOLVES Advance Review

Well, if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite for the star of this great series from Dark Horse, Comic Crusaders caught up with writer Brian Wood and artist Mack Chater to discuss some of the issues raised by this thought-provoking series.  Please note, there are slight spoilers ahead!

Comic Crusaders: I have to say, thank you both for creating such an interesting book.  Brian, at face value, Briggs Land is an isolationist story yet there are many layers. How did you prepare for writing this complex story?

Brian Wood: Briggs Land has many layers and lots of characters, which isn’t something I feel like I naturally excel at. Most of my past projects are centered on a single character or a trio. Grace Briggs could certainly be considered the main character in Briggs Land, but all the sons, the wives, and the opposing characters all need to be present. The key for me is to plan it out and create arcs and single issues where everyone gets their time to shine rather than trying to incorporate every character in every single issue.

CC: From a certain point of view, the U.S. itself was born out of seceding from the UK. How much of the story is impacted from the current backlash that certain politicians suffer?

BW: I feel like my American Revolution series Rebels is a better example of both secession and modern-day politics. Briggs Land is certainly set in the world of militias and extremists, but it’s a crime story at its core. It’s both an unfortunate and fortunate situation when real life in America has become so extreme, politically and socially, that a community like Briggs Land is not only plausible but is featured regularly on the news. A few years ago, Briggs Land would have read as fiction.

CC: Slight Spoiler* Early on in the issue, there is a great panel with a man standing next to the American flag while he fires on a news helicopter. Why are these characters still allowed to call themselves Americans if they pick and choose part of the U.S. Constitution to follow?

BW: The distortion of the U.S. Constitution is an uncomfortable reality with a lot of these groups. We think of them as people who want to disassociate or break away from America, but in many cases, they view “America” (the idea, the flag, the Constitution) as completely separate from the federal government.  They feel a belonging to America, but reject the powers that be and all that comes with it.  While I don’t agree with this personally, I understand making that distinction.  I understand the idea of loving your country but hating what political parties do in its name at the same time.

So, with the Briggs family, and the community of Briggs Land, they are looking to live in America, a very simplified, old-fashioned version of America where you have your land and your freedom and no one can come onto it and boss you around.  That sort of idea isn’t only associated with extremists – the 1970’s had the whole “back to the land” movement with hippies buying rural land and striving for a self-sufficient lifestyle.

CC: Mack, you capture the rural landscape extremely well.  What sort of research did you complete to engender such well-presented art/foliage?

Mack Chater: Thanks! I worked really hard to bring as much detail as I could to the environments. It’s something I hadn’t really pushed in my work prior to this. After reading through the scripts, and discussing the world with Brian, it was soon very apparent that the environment was just as important character as any of the others in the story.

CC: In your opinions, who is the hero of the book? 

BW: I’m not sure if there’s a hero in Briggs Land. I think people will act heroically sometimes, but may also do terrible things. Grace is someone I identify with as the writer, and as I realize just how much of her I’ve based on my late mother, have empathy for.

MC: I agree with Brian. I think Grace is the ‘hero’ of the book and is the one character people can identify with.

CC: If America is the “land of the free”, why do they characters feel the need to leave?

BW: My characters would immediately question the assertion that America, as it is now, is the “land of the free.”

CC: With an enclosed environment, will we see any mirroring of the social unrest in Briggs Land to mirror the unrest felt by a number of groups?  How is that presented in the comic?

BW: Yes, the mirroring of the social unrest in society is tricky to navigate because I don’t want to create stories “ripped from the headlines.” Stories based on headlines become dated fairly quickly and can appear preachy or divisive. I absolutely want to make this book feel relevant, but I also need to be careful. Without giving away too much, Briggs Land: Lone Wolves will deal with abortion rights, immigration, labour, and the media.

CC: What has been the most eye-opening part of working on this project?

BW: It’s always the research. I love research. I love learning new things, and I’m endlessly fascinated with the onion layers that is American society – so many of my comics are explorations of that, and there’s always more to discover.

Thanks guys for taking the time out to talk to me.  I really appreciate it.  Good luck with the book.

Briggs Land – Lone Wolves is six part mini series, the first issue is on release today (6/14).

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