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CRAIG ENGLER, FRED VAN LENTE talk Z NATION #1, on sale in APRIL!

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  • CRAIG ENGLER, FRED VAN LENTE talk Z NATION #1, on sale in APRIL!

    CRAIG ENGLER, FRED VAN LENTE talk Z NATION #1, on sale in APRIL from Dynamite!

    BYRON BREWER: Craig and Fred, tell us a little about how you got involved in bringing this Syfy and Asylum franchise to comics.

    FRED VAN LENTE: I’ve been friends with the great co-creator of the show, Craig Engler, for some time, and I’d already done irreverent zombies for Dynamite when Max Dunbar and I did The Mocking Dead for Nick, Joe and crew. So, it was a good fit.

    CRAIG ENGLER: Fred was my first choice to work on the comic, both because of the fantastic work he’d done on The Mocking Dead and because he’s a great writer who brings tons of new ideas to the table. He’s also crazy busy so we were lucky to get him.

    BB: You guys are co-writing the series. What can you tell us about that process?

    FVL: I doubt there’s a person alive who knows more about Z Nation and its world than Craig, and we kicked some ideas back and forth between the two of us until we came out with a really interesting prequel that was true to the series mythology that at the same time allowed us to explore areas the show isn’t able to get into – we have an unlimited “budget” in comics, unlike on TV, so we can take the usual Z Nation dial of insanity and crank it to 11!

    CE: For the show, we have a whole writers’ room full of people to brainstorm ideas for episodes and overall plot lines. For the comic, Fred and I were a writers’ room of two, with input from the series co-creator and showrunner, Karl Schaefer, the studio, the network and Dynamite. But Fred does all the heavy lifting writing the scripts, and I take a light pass after that and add in any notes from the rest of the team.

    BB: For the uninitiated, tell us a little about the world of Z Nation, and about what part of that world the comic touches upon.

    FVL: It’s set during the time called Black Summer, which was the worldwide tipping point when over the course of one summer, most of the world’s surviving population dies and turns zombie. All remaining forms of government collapse. The last vestiges of civilization are abandoned. Everyone is starving everywhere. Nobody is safe. After Black Summer, there's no going back to the way things were. This is when you really see the governments of the world and societies in general breaking down, when a scary situation becomes an end-is-nigh situation.

    BB: Who are your protagonists in this new comic? Anyone involved in Z Nation that TV viewers will know or recognize? Might we see the beginnings of plotlines already ongoing or that have been hinted at in the show?

    FVL: We follow a group of National Guardsmen sent out by series favorite Charles Garnett to secure a precious shipment of the biologically engineered super-food “Soylent-Z” from a long-forgotten FEMA warehouse to save the lives of the starving survivors bunkered down in Fort Benning, Georgia. Unfortunately, what our heroes don’t realize until they get to the docks is that they’re in competition with another group for that supply – the crazed captain and crew of an enormous cruise ship that has turned the vessel into a floating fortress. They’re going to try to get the Soylent-Z too and harpoon anyone who stands in their way.

    BB: What opportunities will this book offer both readers unfamiliar with the show and longtime viewers of the Syfy series?

    FVL: From the very beginning, The Asylum – the production company behind Z Nation -- wanted the comic to have an international feel, and with the international passengers semi-trapped on the cruise ship we have a terrific opportunity to look at what’s going on outside the U.S. borders in the world of Z Nation.

    CE: The comic lets us do two things we can’t do in the show: 1) Follow a different group of survivors to see what’s going on in the larger world of Z Nation and 2) Really amp up everything about the show, from the size of our “sets” to the number of zombies we can put in the story, and to the types of zombies we can do. For fans of the show, it’s the Z Nation they know and love but with more of everything.

    BB: What does artist Edu Menna bring to the table here?

    FVL: He’s doing a great job with the action and horror, he’s a perfect fit.

    BB: Fred, are there any other projects current or near-future you’d care to tell us about?

    FVL: April is a big month for me! I hope people who grab Z Nation also take a gander at two more books I have out that month, Deadpool vs the Punisher from Marvel and the Arthurian one-shot Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight from Valiant.
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