I hope everyone’s Thanksgiving was wonderfully fattening, now that your tummies have been filled up, check out this interview from the awesome writer Dan Hill, he is here to talk about Alterna Comics: Go Home!
For those of us reading this, can you explain Go Home to everyone?
Sure thing. Go Home follows a young sailor, Husk, as he washes up on a secluded Pacific island during WW2 after his ship is torpedoed. Once on the island, Husk finds the horrors of war have followed him and he learns firsthand how conflict can cloud the minds of those who wage it, including his own.
It’s written by myself and drawn by the incredibly talented Andrew Herbst.
What sets Go Home between other World War 2 comic series?
I’ll try and skirt this a little to avoid spoilers. But, after Pearl Harbor and America became involved in the war, a certain mindset began to rear its head, with fear and aggression coming to the fore. As a result of this, huge swathes of American-Japanese citizens were swept up and placed into camps up and down America’s West Coast. This was done without trial and had more to do with racism than any kind of credible security risk. This same fear lead to attacks on Japanese Americans as well as many businesses and communities actively shunning what were American citizens. This is what happens when war is brought to a nation’s doorstep and we let fear take control.
Hopefully, Go Home is a comic that explores that a little in a slightly different context, touching on a part of American history that is often overlooked but couldn’t be more timely.
What inspired you to write such a deep and enriching story?
I grew up reading war comics thanks to my Granddad who would hand me stock from a seemingly endless supply of Commando comics. Whilst they weren’t exactly deep on the character side of things they presented war as a spectacle, something to excite, inviting you to feel drawn to it. As you grow older you start to see behind that lie a little, as well as learning why that lie exists. Good war comics exist somewhere between those two points. That contradiction was what inspired me to write this comic, and I think it’s also why I’m drawn to war as a subject in my stories.
Was Go Home going to be a One-Shot? What challenges go into writing a WW2 One Shot?
Whilst the structure and scenes have changed over the course of its development, Go Home was always designed to be a one shot. I have a kind of loose trilogy formed in my head, but they’d only be thematically linked. No characters would cross over.
One of the challenges of writing something set during WW2 is trying to be true to history whilst at the same time telling an effective story. Go Home takes some liberties with the truth as it’s not based on any specific event, but I still had to be wary not to stray too far down this road as I wanted the story to remain rooted in a reality we recognize.
Another challenge was the economy of space, and learning to use it effectively. But, up until now, I’ve only written short comics, for the most part, so Go Home was one of the few times I had a much bigger page count. As a result, I think I was a bit more equipped to meet the spatial challenge, but it was still something I was wary of as I was writing.
How did you mentally prepare to write Go Home? Any experience you pulled from?
It’ll come to no surprise that I’m a huge history buff. One specific subject which formed the kind of spark for Go Home was the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Many will know it as the subject of Quint’s monologue in Jaws, but there are tales from that ship that shock and stay with you when you read about them – hallucinations, men butchering each other in the water, countless tales of heroism and savagery. Reading about those experiences and seeing how they changed the men who went through it (for better or worse) informed Go Home in some way.
The art style is almost a classic noir black and white style, was there a reason for this style?
That’s all Andrew. From the get go, Go Home was designed to be mostly silent in terms of dialogue, so I knew any potential artist would have to evoke exactly what the characters were thinking or feeling without the crutch of text to crystallize that emotion for the reader. I’d previously read ‘Wolves of Summer’ by him and Tony Keaton and straight away knew he’d be a perfect fit for Go Home. His style really lends itself well to black and white, but more importantly, his work just swells with emotion when it comes to character work. Even his lettering for the captions in the book perfectly capture the moody scribblings of Husk. Andrew just invokes a really great sense of time and place with his work. He’s the reason the book works.
What other surprises can we expect from Go Home?
I’ve popped a preview of the comic up so people will already have seen Andrew’s amazing splash page near the start of the story. I think readers will be surprised by some of Andrew’s work and just how dark some of it goes when Husk gets onto the island proper.
Also, hopefully, the ending. I’ve constantly fretted whether that ending makes sense given what the book is trying to say and how it circles back around. It was an ending designed to kind of punch the reader in the gut, and it’ll be interesting to hear what reader’s think once the book finally gets out there.
Dan Hill and Andrew Herbst: Go Home is available NOW!