Jason Aaron Interview
Jason Aaron is the writer and creator of a wonderful graphic novel series called Scalped from Vertigo Comics. This interview ran in a recent issue of Crimespree
Jon: Jason, I know you are currently working on SCALPED for Vertigo comics right now. How would you describe the series for people who haven’t read it?
Jason: A hard-boiled crime series set on a modern day Indian reservation in South Dakota involving casino gambling, crooked tribal cops, undercover feds and Native American militants, featuring lots of hell-for-leather action and gritty character drama, plus a heaping helping of raunchy sex and murder mystery.
Jon: The character of Dash has some real issues. What's the appeal of a character that is so obviously far from perfect?
Jason: For me, the most interesting characters are always the ones who are flawed. Who can be a hero or a villain, depending on the day of the week. You're right, Dash has plenty of issues, most of them stretching back to his childhood, and we'll continue to explore those in upcoming issues.
Jon: What inspired a series based on the Reservation?
Jason: My interest in Native American culture and in particular, the situation on the Pine Ridge rez in the 1970s. Add in the current popularity of Indian gaming and the poor living conditions found on a lot of reservations, and you've got a great setting for a crime series, something that's hard-hitting and still has a socially relevant edge.
Jon: I know that Azzarello has a definite ending point set up for 100 BULLETS, how long do you envision SCALPED running?
Jason: There is a definite ending point, and definite arcs mapped out for all of these characters, but I don't have a specific issue number in mind. And even if I did, I probably wouldn't say, just because I don't want to be bound by that.
Jon: You also did THE OTHER SIDE for Vertigo, a Viet Nam story from a double perspective with a very different feel than more typical War comics. What brought you to write a Nam story?
Jason: My cousin was Gustav Hasford, the Vietnam Vet who wrote the novel that Full Metal Jacket was based on. I'd been spending years researching his life and work for a biography, so the Vietnam War had become a huge obsession for me. And as a comic fan, I was anxious to see a story about the war that looked at the conflict from both perspectives.
Jon: Is it just me or do you think Cameron Stewart went above and beyond the call of duty by traveling to Viet Nam before drawing the series?
Jason: Most definitely. I first met him at the San Diego Con that year, right before he left for Vietnam. So I felt a little like Robert McNamara back in the day, shaking hands with the troops and then seeing them off, saying "Keep your head down over there." Cameron's enthusiasm for the project was evident from day one and lasted throughout the whole process. I'm incredibly proud of the work he did on THE OTHER SIDE.
Jon: You also have a series with Top Cow called RIPCLAW coming out. Your blog calls it “A dark meditation on violence”. What do you have in mind for this series?
Jason: It's actually a one-shot that's part of Top Cow's Pilot Season program, where they're doing a handful of one-shots starring Top Cow characters, and once they're all out, fans will be able to vote on which one they'd like to see more of. With my story, I just tried to give a new direction and purpose to a character that has mostly been seen as just a copy of Wolverine. I had a blast doing it and would love to
follow up with the character.
Jon: Anything else coming soon?
Jason: I just did a dark, little stand-alone story in WOLVERINE #156 that seems to be getting a great response. And I'm already following that up with more work for Marvel.
Jon: I’m guessing that as a writer and as someone who majored in English that you enjoy reading. Outside of comics what do you like to read and who are some of your favorite authors?
Jason: Cormac McCarthy and James Ellroy are two guys who are sort of in a class by themselves, as far as I'm concerned. And even though I haven't read any of his work since college, when I devoured it all, I think I'm still heavily influenced by William Faulkner. These days, I'm mostly just reading the Hard Case Crime series of paperbacks and whatever non-fiction book I need to check out for research purposes.
Jon: How do you like to spend your free time?
Jason: Free time? What is this thing you speak of called "free time"?
Jon: What's the coolest thing about writing comics for a living?
Jason: Not having to go outside and do a real job. For real though, this has to be the greatest job ever. I get paid to make up stories, how cool is that?