Comics - Monty Nero Interview

Death Sentence London

We're getting a bit over-excited here at the /G-f office with the Death Sentence: London collection just over a week away. Imagine Steve Taylor-Bryant's excitement then at getting to sit down again with Death Sentence creator and all round good guy, Monty Nero...

I'm not the world's biggest authority on comic books, I'm not even the biggest authority in my own family. I can't recount issue numbers or certain appearances of certain characters and to be honest don't really care. I like what I like. It's simpler that way. I grew up with Dan Dare, with 2000AD, and have long loved Tank Girl. As I've matured I've developed more of a love for independent projects and creator owned comics and find the community is more accepting of everyone than other comic fandoms. The fact you can approach a creator and ask a question and they take you seriously is a massive plus for me. I'm not made to feel stupid for any lack of knowledge and often feel educated after a conversation. I'm thankful as a reader for the product I'm supplied and the creators come across as thankful for my love of their work. There is something elegantly old fashioned in the relationship. Of all the creators I've spoken to over the years there is one who, despite an ever growing fame, still has time to talk to me and not just about comics, and he is Monty Nero. 

Nero created Death Sentence and rapidly rose past Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin in my affections. Death Sentence was sublime, dark and twisted, funny, political, but most of all it was everything I've ever wanted and more and was incredibly well written and magnificently drawn. Then Death Sentence: London was announced. A sequel... Hmm. A new artist! Not happy. However Death Sentence: London was brilliant. The art different but still magnificent, the story more intricate but still contained within was the feel of the first. Oh and it's out to buy as a collection on 23rd and the wonderfully approachable Monty Nero has again come up tops again with an interview for me...

When I first heard that Mike Dowling wasn't coming back to Death Sentence for Death Sentence: London, I'll be honest panic set in. How did you go about replacing Mike and what did Martin Simmonds offer the project that made the decision for you to bring him on board?

I prefer to work with people I know and like and Martin then also sent me some pages that blew me away. His try out pages and pin ups were so good they ended up in the comic and on the cover. He really went the extra mile to show that he cared about this comic in the same way I do. And he brings a whole new dimension to Artgirl's art manifestations which was something I really wanted to develop in this series

The first run of Death Sentence had, amongst the insanity, quite a political plot. Death Sentence: London seems to ramp up the political and the conspiracy elements. I find this highly enjoyable but did you do this with a purpose other than driving the story?

I like to write about the reality of what I see around me: hypocritical politicians, inequality, the rich and the poor, social unrest, rioting - and twist it through a satirical lens. It makes the comic more meaningful and fun.

How do you manage to keep so many strings to the story together? There are more characters who are important to the general story than in the first run and how they all get their time on a page is impressive, I'll bet it's not as effortless behind the scenes.

I plan out the plot and all the characters on little cards and I have the whole story figured out before I start. It's twice as long as the first story and really fleshes out the world beyond the initial 3 characters we met in book 1, so we see the situation in America and how the virus has affected some cool new characters.

How do you and Martin work together? Is it you write and send him the script with perhaps notes or is it more of an organic process than that?

I really trust him - I'm a huge fan of his work. I think he's amazing. We sometimes tweak things when he's done the pages if we agree something hasn't worked or one of us has an awesome idea. Though sometimes he just repaints something for his own satisfaction. He's that kind of guy.

Colour got mentioned a lot in my issue reviews of Death Sentence: London with certain characters or story lines seemingly separated by palette. How did this come about? It's not something I see much of in other publications.

That's all Martin. He's like a Sienkiewicz or Dave Stewart the way he controls the palette and mood of each location and scene. But his art isn't static like a lot of painters, his character work's great and he can churn out a monthly book too. I honestly don't know how he does it.

I love reading the letters. You seem to have great fun answering them, as well as being highly approachable on social media, which gives the impression that you are just a comic fan that wants to give back. How do you deal with so much interaction and do the fans’ words ever bleed into your storytelling?

Yeah that's it - I really enjoy the letters page: the readers are highly entertaining and funny. It's a pleasure to write. I'm interested in what people think but it doesn't affect what I'm writing, not least because I've written the scripts about two years before they come out.

What next for Death Sentence? Will it be Simmonds on the art again? When is going into production? WHY ISN'T IT READY YET? How can folk find out more?

There's a new series launching later this year called Death Sentence: Revolt which has Martin on art. Then the series after that stars Monty and a Cuban revolutionary set before book 1. It's possibly the craziest story yet, and it's funnier than the current tale. I wanted to get back to basics and the joy of character with that one. We've got some great new covers from the likes of Ben Oliver and Luke Ross too. Follow me on Twitter @montynero or Facebook Monty Nero for updates.

You can pre-order Death Sentence: London in hardback/Kindle and catch up with the original Death Sentence

Images - Amazon