Psi-Lords issue one hits comic shops today and we had the opportunity to chat with writer Fred Van Lente. Van Lente has been a part of the Valiant family since the big relaunch in 2012, taking on Archer and Armstrong and then continuing with great titles like Ivar, Timewalker, Generation Zero, War Mother, and more! If you want more insight on Van Lente and his work, head on over to his official website!
DFAT: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us today Fred! You’ve been a big part of the Valiant family since the relaunch in 2012, what do you love about this comic book universe the most?
FVL: I like the fact they’re all distinct books, with distinct genres. Shadowman is horror, Quantum and Woody is comedy, Bloodshot is an action thriller, and so on. There’s a variety to the line that really is very old-school but I feel like only Valiant is doing well right now.
DFAT: We absolutely agree and it keeps us coming back for more! Your latest venture with Valiant is the relaunch of Psi-Lords with issue #1 due out on June 19th. How did this project come about and what was your approach to bringing this team into the modern Valiant Universe?
FVL: I had pitched on a completely different property, and Valiant liked what I was talking about, but they came to me with the rather unusual suggestion to take what I did and apply it to a totally different title, Psi-Lords. It meant a lot to me that they tapped me for that, because this was the last big 1990s series they hadn’t brought back yet. It was the sole remaining bullet in the chamber, and it was quite an honor that I’m the one who gets to fire it.
DFAT: That’s pretty exciting and some great insight into the creation of the title. The art by Renato Guedes is spectacular, very much like a painting in every panel! How was your experience collaborating with Renato and how did you two work together to bring the story to life?
FVL: I mean, working with Renato is the great joy of doing this book for me. He really has created a distinct world — which is terrific, since it takes place very much on a distinct world — and we’re in that point in the collaboration (I’m working on the first issue of the second arc right now) that I really know how to write specifically for his strengths. Not to get too pretentious, but it’s like being in a jazz band — the different instruments have to know how to riff off of each other to be able to create some really special music together.
DFAT: I love when people use analogies like that and you can really tell there’s a good partnership there when a comic flows the way Psi-Lords does. Without spoiling too much, the original Psi-Lords series ran back in the 90’s and established a whole new narrative for the future setting of the Valiant Universe, what new elements are you bringing to this series and how does this story impact the current Valiant Universe as a whole?
FVL: There are significant differences between the original Psi-Lords and this one, the most obvious one being that this series is set in the present-day, not 4001AD, so we’re operating more on that timeline. In our version, the Psi-Lords are ancient, incredibly psychic beings that ruled much of the universe before the existence of humanity. In the present day, astronauts awake in an alien jail with no memory of how they got there, with incredible powers they don’t fully understand. A mysterious voice tells them — “Find the Psi-Lords.” And the action pretty much is non-stop from there.
DFAT: Long time fans of Valiant are begging to know if and how this book ties into the old series, anything you can share with us on this?
FVL: This series is really more of a spiritual successor than anything else. In the original series the Psi-Lords were the future versions of HARD Corps who absorbed this diner-menu of superpowers and went out to conquer human space as these kind of benign dictators. Our Psi-Lords are similar, except they did this in the past and didn’t (necessarily) start from Earth. And our main characters are trying to find these Psi-Lords, not be them. But there are lots of names and such from the original series that if you were a fan you should be able to instantly pick up on.
DFAT: What did you enjoy the most about writing this new telling and what challenges did you face when approaching the story?
FVL: I can’t remember ever really working this heavily in the outer-space of the science fiction before, with new worlds and alien beings and spaceships. Being very much of the Star Wars (“A New Hope”) generation, it’s exciting to flex those muscles.
DFAT: Well being from that generation as well I can’t express how excited I am for more issues! Could you give us a little more detail or insight to who our heroes are and where we find them in issue #1?
FVL: They find themselves on the Gyre, which is a planet-sized prison comprised of all these derelict spaceships floating around a blue dwarf star called Nihlio. No one has ever escaped the Gyre before, not in its many thousands of years of existence. Generations of alien prisoners have lived on it, breeding, forming whole clans, armies, societies, religions. Constant warfare has resulted in a tenuous peace–peace our heroes accidentally disrupt into quest to find the Psi-Lords, who are also supposedly entrapped there.
DFAT: What can we expect in future issues of Psi-Lords? How many arcs do you have planned?
FVL: The plan takes us well beyond the first year of publication. But you know what they say about plans, everyone has one until they get punched in the face…
DFAT: Let’s hope that doesn’t happen and that we are sitting here next year eagerly anticipating the next issue! Last question today Fred, do you have any tips for aspiring comic writers out there?
FVL: Yes, read this article I wrote. http://www.creatorresource.com/anatomy-of-a-comic-script/
Amazing stuff! This is a great read especially since we just launched our own comic imprint, DFAT Comics! Get out there, get drawing, creating, whatever you do best (or even worst)! Never be afraid that your idea isn’t good enough!
Thanks again to Fred Van Lente! If you are a fan of mystery and sci-fi, then we highly recommend that you get down to your local comic shop and snag Psi-Lords #1 hitting stands Wednesday, June 19th! If you’re in the NYC area catch Fred at the following venues!