While you probably recognize actor Dan Fogler from hit films like ‘Fan Boys,’ ‘Balls of Fury,’ and ‘Take Me Home Tonight,’ what you probably didn’t know, is that Dan Fogler makes comics! He’s already published two anthology books in the ‘Moon Lake’ series, and now he’s ready to launch an all new original series through Kickstarter, ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’! This new sci-fi action series from Fogler and a creative team including artists Glenn Fabry (‘Preacher’), Tom Hodges (“Star Wars’), and Darick Robertson (‘The Boys’) is set to blow your mind! The Kickstarter campaign has just over a week left to reach their intended funding goal so that the book can be published, and Dan Fogler needs your support!
“‘Brooklyn Gladiator’ is a brutal dystopian tale of survival amongst the fittest, mentally as well as physically. It’s an acid-fueled rage punch in the face; you can almost taste the blood in your mouth of broken teeth,” says artist Darick Robertson. If that doesn’t make you want to check out this book, I don’t know what will!
“Why should we support Dan Fogler and his need to make comics?” Well, first off, shame on you for questioning why you should be supportive of anyone trying to make anything! Being creative is tough, and from the sounds of things Mr. Fogler has poured quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears into crafting this massive universe that’s in store for the readers of ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’! So why should you check this book out and support it? We recently sat down with Dan Fogler to talk about his new comic, and find out just why this book is worth supporting! Check out the full interview below!
Science Fiction (SF): Okay so, diving right in, you’ve got what sounds like a pretty awesome new comic book coming our way soon called ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’, What can you tell us about the story?
Dan Fogler (DF): Oh man, ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’! We have the Kickstarter up right now and we’re really trying to push it since it’s ‘Comic Book Month’ on Kickstarter! The story takes place twenty years in the future, and it’s a world just trying to be sustainable. I took the dial and I turned it up on a lot of the issues that we’re dealing with today and wondering what would happen twenty years from now. So the glaciers are all gone, and the water levels are rising to ridiculous levels, and America has mastered microscopic nanite technology with microscopic robots, which is actually a thing that’s happening, you’ve probably heard about that right? So in this universe, they have the nanites building this gigantic wall around America to keep out the terrorists, to keep out the tsunamis, and it’s a military state. All of our rights are all but gone, and they were given up pretty freely. We just didn’t put up a fight. There was no revolution, there was no World War III, there was no big apocalypse. Everybody just got less and less and less. So now stuff like weed, beer… or any drugs really, there’s none of it! Nothing other than Government Issue ‘Smog’, which is this grey cotton candy looking sh*t that people are smoking to achieve enlightenment.
SF: Can you tell us more about our hero, John miller?
DF: Oh yeah of course! Here I am laying out the whole universe! The hero is John Miller, and he’s rejecting all of this. He’s this underground sort of street-fighter-mixed-martial-artist. He kind of like a ‘Robin Hood’. He takes the ‘Smog’, and he has these new found psychic abilities, and he’s traveling on the astral plane, and he’s taking this ‘smog’ and he’s purifying it and giving it to the people because like I said, he’s kind of like a kung-fu Robin Hood! He’s just fed up, so he pretty much sells his soul to get out of this military lockdown state where he gets this sense that he’s not being told the whole truth. Like everything is watered down. There’s like ONE channel where everyone gets their news. He literally like sells his soul to get a plane ticket, because inflation is like ridiculous so a plane ticket is close to half a million dollars, so he gets a ticket, he gets in his plane and he gets over the wall! But then he’s shot down pretty much instantly, and he realizes that the rest of the world is very much mired in World War III and it’s insanity out there! It’s like ‘Robotech’ and ‘Apocalypse Now’ and he’s just this babe in the woods. He gets pulled into the Canadian armed forces, who are like this foreign legion essentially, and he is suddenly fighting his way through World War III. He realizes that maybe what’s happened is that maybe America started this chain reaction that started World War III and now they’re just hiding behind this wall and letting everything else go to hell and they‘re just going to start over or something. So john goes through this entire epic journey, and it’s biblical, ya know? And he becomes this prophet badass astral magician walking the earth who basically goes back to free America whether it wants to be free or not, and he wants to bring them the truth. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! It’s a big story.
SF: It sounds like a big story! So you mentioned that John has newly discovered psychic powers? Could you elaborate a bit more about that?
DF: Yeah! He’s very much “at the beginning” of his journey. He’s very much like Luke in the beginning of ‘Star Wars’, or maybe a little further along than that. Ever since he was a kid he kind of felt like he had some kind of weird… well especially around mechanical devices or technology, they would kind of go on the fritz around him! If he picked up some kind of meditation crystal it would shatter in his hand, so he knew there was something up with his Chi and his energy. So as he started meditating as he got older, and getting more into the physical stuff like karate and combat and parkour, he started dabbling with the astral plane and really flying his soul around the city while he dreams at night and retaining all of this information he sees. So he can find out all of this stuff in the world where ‘big brother’ isn’t watching, so he’s able ot do all of his black market dealings. As the story goes on, he gets pulled into WWIII, because they basically fry his brain and whip it and reprogram him, so he becomes like a natural remote viewer, and he just doesn’t know why. A lot of the story is him trying to get back his original identity and hone his skills again and trying to grow even further than that. He’s effectively a ‘Jedi Master’ by the end of this. And there are others out there that are starting to have psychic abilities, so the idea is that we’re starting to make the next leap of our evolution- which is more brain power! It’s starting to manifest itself in different people and in this story it has to do with the changing of the kind of radiation that the sun is letting off. The sun is changing, and it’s letting off a more portent form of radiation. So the next generation is feeling that! There are certain things awakening in their DNA, and that’s the world that this is in. I mean obviously I mention ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Akira’ and it’s just inspired by so many of the things that I love!
SF: I was about to mention that actually! It sounds like you’re taking and pulling some of the ideas from some of the ‘best stuff’ of some of pop culture’s ‘best stuff’. I know you just mentioned ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Akira’, but where would you say you found the inspiration for this story, and what are the biggest influences on it? It sounds like you’re pulling from a lot of great places and it sounds like it’ll work well as a really cohesive piece.
DF: Oh man, yeah! The people that are involved, just to stay on the ‘Star Wars’ thing, but we’ve got this artist Tom Hodges who does a lot of ‘Star Wars’, and he’s just making it look delightful. And he’s already in that mindset creating the characters and I’m obviously just in a ‘Star Wars’ frame of mind because I grew up on it and of course I saw that new trailer and I just think about it and get tears in my eyes! So that’s obviously a huge influence. ‘The Matrix’ is another one! It’s very Matrix-esque, because of the two different worlds. Inside America they’re very much sheltered. They’re living this zombie life, and then he gets outside and is living in this reality, so he’s very much the ‘Neo’ of sorts to this world. ‘Mad Max’ is another one I grew up on…
SF: That’s another one we’re getting a sequel to this year! It just had a new trailer too!
DF: Yeah! It’s like all of my favorite things are coming out this year!
SF: It’s a good year to be a fan of stuff!
DF: Well it’s a golden age to be a geek! I grew up on all of this. I don’t know how old you are, but I was born in ‘76, so this is right in the wheelhouse of all the comics I bought and the things I saw in the movies! I mean god, look at Harrison Ford! I look at him and he’s basically… I mean it used ot be Nicholson for me, but now I look at Harrison Ford now and it’s like “okay, he is the coolest person on earth. The coolest person ON EARTH!”. How do you even… I mean he should run for president!
SF: I can’t even argue against that one, I know I’d vote for him; but only if he got Chewbacca to be his running mate.
DF: He should just go right on the POTUS trail right after ‘Star Wars’! Vote for Solo! Getting back to ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’, I got Darick Robertson who does ‘The Boys’ on board too! I just wanted something really visceral, and in this future you’ve got to be a tough motherf*cker to survive! The cover artist is Glenn Fabry, who did the art for the ‘Preacher’ books! I want people to associate the raw violence with this dark comedy, and at heart our guy John Miller is traveling through this world and he was raised on all of these movies and such too, so he’s very much a fish out of water. And he’s crawling through the minefields of WWIII and it’s very much like John McClane crawling through the building in ‘Die Hard’! I basically put everything I love into what I do. I actually did this other book called ‘Moon Lake’ with Archaia and BOOM! and it’s like ‘The Twilight Zone’ on THC! So I basically put everything I watched whenever I was a kid and was supposed to be going to sleep into this. Like reading ‘Heavy Metal’ magazine when I wasn’t supposed to be. That’s this book!
SF: It’s funny that you bring them up because that was actually my next question! You’ve managed to land some pretty major A-list talent for this project like Glenn Fabry, Tom Hodges and Darick Robertson to handle the artwork; did you know going into this who you wanted to bring on board to do the art, or did you sort of luck out here?
DF: Tom Hodges did some pin-up work for ‘Moon Lake’ and I reached out to him. I love that he’s doing this! I reached out to a lot of people. I obviously reached out to Darick Robertson, he was one of the first people I reached out to, and he’s very busy obviously, and Tim Seeley is a buddy of mine that I was hoping would do some work and I also wanted Jeff Stokely! He did some work on ‘Moon Lake’ Volume 2, but this was before ‘Six Gun Gorilla’ was kind of a big deal, and I was basically auditioning him for ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’ with this cage match in ‘Moon Lake’! And I loved it! The way that the fighting came out, I thought that he’d be great for ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’. Glenn Fabry I just reached out to while thinking “how awesome would it be to get him to do the cover of my book?” and he got back to me pretty quickly and got the cover back to me even faster! I think he just liked the idea.
SF: With you experiences producing ‘Moon Lake’, did that at all change how you went about trying to get ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’ out into the world?Photo credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
DF: Yes! With ‘Moon Lake’ Volume One, Archaia was pretty much holding my hand, but with Volume 2 I was a bit more “oh I can do this”. It’s a pretty small world, all of the artists know each other and they can help you get references. Towards the end of Volume 2 I turned to back to Stephen Christy at Archaia and said “let’s put a nice bow on this”! So they packaged things amazingly and helped me get artists too! By the time I got to ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’ I knew a bit more about what I was doing. I mean this seems a lot easier than the anthology book where I’m juggling ten different artists and ten different writers. This is a saga, so it’s really just the one main artist at this point, so that was pretty easy for me. So I’ve just been making movies and directing stuff form storyboards, and I feel like coming to ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’ that I’ve got a nice handle on the story I want to tell here and how I want to tell it.
SF: I know this next question is almost entirely unrelated, but I feel like I want to ask it anyway because it seemed so coincidental! Did you know there was actually a baseball team in the 1890’s called the ‘Brooklyn Gladiators’? They only played for one season, and they finished last in the league. I was wondering if that was in any way influential to this story, as it seems like a bit of an ‘underdog’ story?
DF: Oh I love that! Haha I didn’t know about that! They only played for one season? That’s so great! I might even put that into the book somewhere now! Maybe someone should say that… or uncle Benny should say that! He’s the Micky to John Miller’s Rocky. ‘Brooklyn Galdiator’ comes from… well, I grew up in Brooklyn. There are just certain places that are famous like Gleeson’s boxing gym, and I started getting into boxing and eventually mixed martial arts just for exercise because I’m a lazy bastard and I can’t exercise unless I’m doing something that I’m excited to be doing. So I got into all of that, and I just got into that world which is where a lot of the inspiration came from. I thought that a good name for the gym that Uncle Benny owns and John Miller works out at is called ‘Brooklyn Gladiators’, but maybe now it’d be so funny if that quote was on the wall or something! “Just remember you’re a f*cking underdog!” Everyone roots for the underdog!
SF: So we know you’re into making comics, but what are your favorite comics to actually read?
DF: I just re-read a bunch of ‘Preacher’, and I had never read books five and six, so I just read all of that, which is what inspired me to reach out to Glenn. I love ‘100 Bullets’, with Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I think that the combination of the two of them is fantastic. I’ve been reading ‘Copperhead’, ‘Gotham Central’, I started picking up those books. ‘Revival’ is another one. And you know, I read ‘Batman’ and stuff. I’ve been getting into ‘Big Man Plans’ by Eric Powell, that one cracks me up! I just picked up ‘Jupiter’s Circle’ which is fun. Oh and ‘Descender’! I started picking up a lot of sci-fi stuff because of ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’! I really read everything, you know? I can’t go into an airport without stopping to see if I can find comics at the bookstore and honestly not very many of them have them. Maybe LAX does, but that’s about it. I go to the comic shop all the time too and just get whatever looks good. From here it’s been a lot more about how things are going to inspire what I’m doing now.
SF: Where there any particular comics, writers, or artists that inspired you to break into the comics industry?
DF: Well I’ve got to talk about Todd McFarlane. I grew up on his stuff and I’ve got to start from an art perspective which meant that everything had to look good to me. And Todd McFarlane… wow. I mean I had all of his posters on my walls, ‘Amazing Spiderman’, ‘The Hulk’. Oh, and ‘The Punisher’! That miniseries featuring Jigsaw by Zach… I forget his last name, but it was amazing! And I was a huge ‘Ninja Turtles’ fan! And I mean the original Eastman and Liard, well before anyone really knew what that series was. I would draw them on my notebooks and people would look at me like “what is that? Some kind of lizard?” Of course I got everything from ‘X-Men’ growing up. ‘Punisher’, ‘Daredevil‘, ‘Wolverine’ and all of the spin-offs! And I love ‘Batman’, especially ‘The Killing Joke’ because it was such a huge influence on me. It was just such a great story and it was beautiful. Then ‘Death in the Family’ was just like holy sh*t! They killed off Robin! That was insane! Then of course Alan Moore’s ‘Swamp Thing’ blew my mind, along with ‘Hellblazer’. Is that a good enough answer? I feel like I could just keep going!
SF: I would certainly say so! It seems like you’ve got quite a list going haha. One last big question for you about your comic ‘Brooklyn Gladiator’! We know that so far the book sounds amazing, but in your own words, why do you feel people should back this project?
DF: I think people should back this project because it has the potential to be something huge! I’m someone who is so loyal to the fans and I love collaborating, that if they want to get involved and help fund it, then join the caravan! Who knows, maybe one day further down the line your likeness might even be reflected on the ‘Darth Vader’ of this story’s universe! It’s the future of pop culture. The other reason, just on a social level, the themes in the book are hot topics that was happening right now, and I’m taking the dial and turning it up on a lot of the things that are happening now and the book is only set twenty years from now! There’s a lot to be said about things that are going to happen during this generation and our kids generation and if you can imagine just twenty years from now WWIII is happening and America is just sitting under a tortoise shell watching it happening… maybe if you read something now, it creates a nightmare for us right now, with all of these tangible horrors happening, maybe they’ll do something about it right now. Or maybe they’ll just say “oh wow this is like ‘Mad Max’ awesome man!”! I mean hell, in ‘Mad Max’ they had people killing each other for oil, and I think that there was some real social commentary there as well- but I don’t think anyone really got it. I think it’s got a lot going for it!