Interview: Rollin’ The Dice with Freeway Fighter Writer and Artist Andi Ewington & Simon Coleby – Pedal to the Metal Style!

Next month, Fighting Fantasy makes a come back, thanks to the guys at Titan, who wisely went and got the excellent Andi (Overrun) Ewington and the equally talented Simon Coleby to create a story worth of a road warrior, in Freeway Fighter #1.  During the first issue, we get to meet Bella De la Rosa and her Interceptor car as they traverse a virus stricken world.  We caught up with both Andi and Simon to discuss storytelling, the impact of the change in medium for the book and of course, what is the best fictional car-

Comic Crusaders:   Hey Andi, great to catch up.  Seems you have been busy since last we spoke.  How did you two meet?

Andi Ewington: I like to think it was when we were gun-running for the cartel across the Mexican border. During our numerous trips evading local law enforcement, Simon and I would often talk about comics. We decided there and then that we would give up our dangerous jobs and work together as a creative force for good.

The truth is probably less exciting, it was when I was searching for artists on my first project, Forty-Five. He was kind enough to illustrate page for a superhero called Bearach. Co-incidentally, it’s also where I was introduced to Simon’s colourist, Len O’Grady. I recall being blown away by his work on The Authority, so it was a real coup to have him work on Forty-Five. Since those days, Simon and I have become great friends and a tight creative unit. We’ve worked on Dark Souls II, Just Cause 3 and now Freeway Fighter. I’m hoping it’s a trend we can continue!

Simon Coleby: Obviously, I can’t write too freely about this (or I’d have to kill you), but Andi and I met when we were on post in our former lives as MI6 agents. As I recall, our patriotic and vital mission was the investigation of Russian folk-prog band ‘Triglav’s Pentingle’. The extravagantly arpeggiating progressive Commies were attempting to indoctrinate the fine youth of the UK via 12″ singles, corrupted with backwards-masked KGB propaganda. It was as we were taking notes at the merchandise booth that Agent Andi asked me; “Don’t suppose you read comics..?”

In an alternative universe, we simply met through mutual professional colleagues, and Andi kindly asked me to contribute a page to his ‘Forty-Five’ project.

CC: What do you think is the attraction of Fighting Fantasy Book?

AE: It’s all about the freedom of choice. I was completely hooked by the interactive nature of the narrative and how it puts the reader at the centre of the story, rather than reading from the sidelines.

SC: It’s an interactive, rather than a merely passive reading experience. The rich fantasy subject of the books invites the reader to become immersed in the worlds on offer — it’s an irresistible proposition for anyone who enjoys fantastical subject matter

CC: Did either of you read / play the books? If so which were your favourites?

AE: Of course, I’m a huge fan of Deathtrap Dungeon, City of Thieves, House of Hell, Trail of Champions, Creature of Havoc… Argh!!! There are too many to choose from! I’ve actually started to introduce my son, Zack, to Fighting Fantasy and we’re currently reading Talisman of Death together.

SC: Absolutely! As a somewhat awkward and nerdy teen with a love of RPGS, death metal and Elric books, ‘Fighting Fantasy’ could not have been more perfectly suited to my tastes. I loved ‘Deathtrap Dungeon’, but my favourite would have to be the book which introduced me (and everyone else ) to the series — ‘The Warlock of Firetop Mountain’.

CC: I had “Warlock “ too Simon. Man, that maze was a pain! Andi, what were the challenges of turning concept where the reader has control of the action, into a medium where the story is controlled by a writer?

AE: It’s an interesting question, in truth I had to put the interactivity of the original aside, and approach it in a linear way. I was determined that this story wasn’t a direct rehash of the ‘correct’ path through the game book. I wanted to explore a new story that would ease new readers into the Freeway Fighter universe while giving die-hard fans a meaty story that felt familiar to them. In the end, I used the original game book as a narrative guide to bring in some recognisable set-pieces, situations and characters.

CC: Simon the art for the cars is fantastic. How do you manage to capture the action without falling into the similarities of other stories like Mad Max?

SC: Thank you — that’s very kind.

The challenge from an artistic perspective is to invoke a sense of movement and dynamism in drawings of essentially simple, geometric, mechanistic objects. In large part, it’s the way in which the objects ( cars ) interact with the background which can achieve this. Dust, smoke, flying debris — all of these effects and textures are helpful in bringing the cars ‘to life’, and in creating a sense of drama and movement. And, of course, we see the characters in relation to the vehicles — the way they touch, use, and occasionally bounce violently off the bonnet of such vehicles — it all adds excitement and action to the art.

CC: Relationships feature heavily in the first issue, be it parental, love of a car or even death being a close friend. How did the idea for these relationships germinate into the backbones of the story? How did it affect the art?

AE: From the narrative point-of-view, I felt these relationships would be magnified by the post-apocalyptic landscape. I put myself into Rosa’s mind-set, tried to get under the skin of her situation and mental state. I felt that Rosa would be conscious of Death’s presence. 85% of the population had died and I imagined that Rosa would come to see Death as a constant companion on a lonely road – not necessarily as a sinister force, more an acceptance of his presence. I’d also realised that over time, Rosa would feel the need to talk to someone… anyone! Her Interceptor is the only thing Rosa has left in the world that she trusts, so to me, she’d naturally converse with it as if it were her closest friend. I find that these emotions are often brushed over in other post apocalyptic stories, but to me, they are the last crumbs of humanity my characters cling to.

SC: All storytelling is about relationships, in one form or another. In this story, we primarily focus upon the relationship between Bella and her car, which perhaps hints at a vulnerable side to her personality. She cannot survive emotionally in complete isolation, and so she projects a personality onto her car, to give herself a companion and an outlet and foil for her thoughts and feelings. In a post-apocalyptic world, I’m sure that humans would have to adapt in whatever way might prove necessary, to survive psychologically, as well as physically.

CC: De La Rosa’s car is pretty sturdy.  If you could have any fictional car which would it be and why?

AE: Probably the DeLorean from Back to the Future… who wouldn’t want that! Roads? Where we’re going, we won’t need roads!

SC: This is not a hypothetical question — I have actually owned a ‘fictional car’! Many years ago, in a moment of spontaneous crass stupidity, I purchased a car from Ebay. A Suzuki Vitara, (henceforth known as ‘The Zombie Jeep’). I’d always wanted one, it looked great; jet black, with ridiculously chunky wheels and a soft top. It was described as ‘comfortable, reliable and an excellent runner’. That was the fictional bit! After extensive surgery and much misery, not to mention many months of it forlornly parked in front of my home, the only worthwhile journey it made was to the local reclamation yard.

It’d look great in ‘Freeway Fighter’, though. Perhaps I’ll give it a ‘last stand’ cameo.

CC: For me, it’s the Mustang from the Knight Rider reboot. Finally, what can we expect from future issues?

AE: Some familiar faces, a few surprises and a lot more pedal-to-the-metal high-octane action!

Excellent, can’t wait to see it.  The first issue reads and looks great.  Thanks for your time guys.

Freeway Fighter ships May 17th were all good comics are sold.  For an advance review of the book, head over the to review section!

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