Friday, March 13, 2015

Ralph’s Rants interviews Chuck Dixon


This week on Ralph’s Rants we have the pleasure of interviewing a man who really needs no introductions if you’ve read comics or novels in the past 20+ years. Chuck Dixon wrote Batman and many of the titles in the Batman family (Nightwing, Robin, Birds of Prey etc.) for many years. He and his equally well-known artist/collaborator/friend Graham Nolan created Bane, the villain who broke Batman’s back in the early 90’s.

Bane has since gone on to be featured in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ as well as the deplorable George Clooney Batman movie, ‘Batman and Robin’.

Chuck also wrote many comics for Marvel comics including extensive runs on the Punisher and Moon Knight.

Chuck currently writes an exciting and action packed novel series called ‘Bad Times’ which features a group of time traveling ex-army rangers. Chuck also continues to write comics for companies such as IDW and their GI Joe series in particular.


Hi Chuck, how are you? It’s a real pleasure to talk to you today.


Good to talk to you, man!



Chuck, what was your first scripting gig in comics?


Other than my fanzine work the first paying job was doing the writing and art for an eleven page story for a heavy Metal knock-off called Gasm. It was back in ’78. The first time I got paid just for scripting was on Evangeline for Comico.




What comics did you grow up being a fan of?


Batman, Sgt. Rock, lots of monster comics. I fell in love with Ditko’s Spider-man and the fantastic Four were big favorites.



A personal favorite of mine, which I felt was overlooked, was your Moon Knight series. To me it was the last great Moon Knight run. What were your thoughts on that series?


It was fun when Carl Potts was editing it. Mercenaries were big in the news at the time and Carl wanted to ditch the multiple personality thing. So I doubled down on Marc Spector being a former merc turned urban vigilante. It was fun action stuff with an attempt to keep it topical like my work on Airboy. When Carl left the book I butted heads with the new editor until he finally fired me. Or, as we say in comics, “he decided to go in another direction.”





Your Punisher run is considered one of the best. Looking back how do you see that series?


I still wish I’d come up with a cop character who pursued him. An Inspector Javert to his Jean Valjean. It would have provided the kind of continuity that a recurring villain usually provides. But Frank was always killing his villains!


But I loved my time on the character.



Let’s talk Batman and friends; when you took on that book, did you think you’d be writing pretty much the entire Bat-universe?


Never. I recall telling Denny O’Neil that I wasn’t sure I had all that many Batman stories in me. I wound up being the most prolific writer ever to tackle the character.



How did that come about? Did they (DC) just really like what you were doing and decided they wanted more?


Denny (and later Scott Peterson) simply found me easy to work with. I was the Batman go-to guy. They needed material and I had tons of ideas. It was my Elvis years. It all ended when Archie Goodwin pass and Denny retired.



Some of your best Bat universe stories were done in Robin’s series, in fact you actually returned to that at a later date and re-introduced Stephanie Brown (The Spoiler). She was obviously a favorite of yours; if I remember correctly (and I think I do) she was your creation, right?


Tom Lyle and I created her as a one-time plot device. She was the Cluemaster’s daughter. We wanted to do a story showing a villain’s private life and how that impacted those close to him. Especially a screw-up, back bencher like Cluemaster. But she took on a life of her own and the fans just assumed that she was here to stay.


I know you’re no longer working for DC on anything, and that just surprises me because you (and Graham) had such a rich history with the company. Did they just move in another direction with the characters or did you decide it was time to move on to other things?


We grew apart, as divorcing parents tell the children. My contributions were no longer sought after and I had no real interest in the kind of comics they were doing and continue to do? I mean, have you seen their “new” Superman? He looks like a sissified gym rat.



Today you’re doing more work for IDW with GI Joe and a new project called ‘Winterworld.’ What’s Winterworld about?


It’s about the near future, a generation or two away, when the entire planet is frozen over. It’s really the story about Scully and Wynn; two people who form a bond in a world hostile to them. Oh, and a pet badger. It’s bloody, down stuff for the most part with some dark laughs here and there.



You wrote a series of novels called ‘Seal Team Six’, are those based in fact?

They’re based on my own research and whole bunch of stuff I made up. It’s what I imagine those guys do and what they’re like.


Are you still writing anymore Seal Team Six novels?


We’re talking.


Let’s move on to ‘Bad Times.’ This has been a personal favorite of mine since you started writing them I think almost two years ago. They are a quirky action packed series of books about these ex-soldiers who are hired by a brother and sister team of scientists that have created a time machine and are able to traverse the past. These are great reads full of danger and action/adventure. How did they come about? What made you think “Hey time travel and soldiers, that’s gotta be fun?”


I love time travel stories with a passion. And I have a toy soldier fascination with anything military. And I’m a history nut. It seemed like a no-brainer. Though my wife hates it when I write time travel and alternate universe stuff. She says it makes me schizoid. She might be right. The Bad Times books give me an excuse to do research and imagine the world of the past. They’re problem solver stories both for me and the characters. The logistics of small unit ops in the past fascinates me. Apparently others share that fascination as they sell steady.





There are three books in the ‘Bad Times’ series so far, the most recent being ‘Avenging Angels.’ When will the fourth be out? After that amazing ending I know I’m waiting for it.


I’m two weeks from completing Bad Times Book Four. It’s called Helldorado. The Rangers go back for a man they left behind. It’s their longest exposure yet to the past and especially prehistory. It gets nasty and bloody and primeval. I’m dedicating it to Edgar Rice Burroughs. I rarely dedicate books but couldn’t help myself this time.



So what have you planned for the future, beyond more ‘Bad Times’, anything you can share with us at the moment?

I have the first of my Levon Cade books out. It’s called Levon’s Trade, It’s a return to the kind of vigilante action stuff I used to write on the Punisher and my fastest selling novel to date. There’s also Joe Frankenstein by me and Bane co-creator Graham Nolan. It’s our 21st Century take on the classic monster genre.


I'm really looking forward to reading both of these! They look fantastic!

Chuck, it’s been a real pleasure chatting with you. You’re one of the great ones. Best of luck in whatever you do and thanks very much for agreeing to do this interview.


Thank you, Ralph!

You're very welcome Chuck!


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