The Quarter Bin

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Going Native: An Interview with Jason Aaron

Posted by Luke Brown On October - 15 - 2008

You’ve no doubt seen how much I love Scalped from various posts on TheQuarterbin. Lucky for me, Jason Aaron agreed to do an interview about his creator-owned Vertigo book. Scalped is the story of Dashiel Badhorse, a man who returns to his reservation after a long absence to try and right the wrongs of his past. It’s actually about so much more, but that’s another column on its own. Hit the jump to see just what Jason had to say about working on the book, and what we can expect in the coming year.

Month after month, Scalped is one of my favorite reads. How did the book come about?

My Vietnam War mini-series, The Other Side, helped open the door for me at Vertigo. And my editor, Will Dennis, is a big fan of the crime genre, as am I, so we started talking about ideas for a crime story. I was already interested in Native American culture and history, and ultimately it’d seem like setting a crime series on a modern day reservation would provide a very rich background for the story.

RM Guera’s art really gives the book the perfect stylized look. Was he someone you had in mind, or that Vertigo was looking at?

I wasn’t familiar with Guera’s art beforehand. He’s been drawing comics for years, but it was mostly stuff in France and Spain, stuff I still haven’t been able to get my hands on. I soon as I saw his work though, I knew he was the one. He brings so much passion to his art, so much soul. He was born to draw a book like this.

This month’s issue starts “The Gravel in Your Guts,” which runs until the end of the year with issue #24. Having been put through the wringer quite a bit over the last year, is this the arc where Dash finally catches a little bit of good luck?

Actually, we’d hardly even see Dash in this arc, though the one scene where he does pop up will be very telling. This arc focuses on Chief Red Crow and Dino Poor Bear, whose previous stand-alone issues have been among the most popular stories we’ve done on the book.

One of the things I love about the book so much is the use of Native American symbolism, particularly in the issue where Catcher sees everyone and their spirit animals. Do you stick to the Lakota/Sioux mythologies, or do you draw from other tribes as well?

In that issue, Catcher talked a lot about the myths and religion of different tribes, not just Lakota. He’s not actually a Lakota medicine man. He just thinks he is. As for whether or not his visions are real, we don’t know yet, do we.

What can we expect from Scalped as the book begins its 3rd year in 2009?

After “The Gravel in Your Guts,” we’ll be doing an arc sort of like “Casino Boogie,” the collection of stand-alone stories that made up the second trade paperback. The arc will be called “High Lonesome,” and it will focus on some of the characters we haven’t focused on yet, like FBI Agent Nitz and Shunka, who’s Red Crow’s right hand man. And that arc will also be setting things up for the biggest story we’ve done yet, a major arc called “The Gnawing,” which is where all the shit we’ve been building up to for the last two years will finally hit the fan. And that’s still just the beginning.

It’s been said that every comic is someone’s first. One thing I like to ask creators is which of their books they want to be someone’s first.

Whichever one I’m working on right now. Whatever I’m working on, I always try to make it the best thing I’ve ever written. And I still hope that my best work is ahead of me.

Scalped is available monthly, and the third trade collection, “Dead Mothers,” is out today. Jason also writes a bunch of other good books, like Ghost Rider and Wolverine, which you can also find at your local comic shop. Thanks again to Jason for taking the time to do this interview for us.

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