Now available in paperback is Legend: Defend The Grounds, the first volume of writer Samuel Sattin and artist Chris Koehler‘s graphic novel series, Legend, published by Z2 Comics.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world after a biological terror agent wiped out most of humanity, Legend follows the domesticated animals who are left as they rebuild and rule the world.
Samuel took some time to discuss his background, his influences and Legend with Forces of Geek.
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FOG!: Sam, it’s a pleasure to be talking to you. Tell us about your background. How did you get into comics? Writing novels?
Samuel Sattin: It’s wonderful to be talking to you as well. As a kid, I spent a lot of time writing fantasy stories inspired by Anne McCaffery’s Pern books, the Dragonlance Chronicles, and various role playing games. Basically, I lived inside my own head. I drew a lot of maps, tried to create languages, got heavy into D & D, and read tons of comics. I was X-Men, Superman, and Batman-obsessed, but I also came up during the Image and Dark Horse genesis, so I embraced the new wave.
In college, I got into literary fiction, and by the time I graduated, after some encouragement, started trying to write books…and promptly began failing spectacularly. It took years for me to really understand how to craft a story, and when I finally started to feel confident in my ability to do so, I discovered I not only wasn’t at the finish line, but had barely put one foot to the ground. School helped a lot.
I attended programs—one in Fiction at Mills College and another for Comics at California College of the Arts. Each allowed me opportunities to put my work up for critique. The Comics program especially opened entirely new horizons. I came to see the world through a different lens. And I’m still polishing that lens to this day.
Who are some of your influences?
The answer to this question changes for me. Some influences remain the same, but I’m always discovering new authors that alter the way I think about writing. The ones mentioned here came to mind currently. Some, such as Ursula K. LeGuin and Marjorie Liu, provide insight into how aspects of traditional sci fi/fantasy world building can be altered. The Left Hand of Darkness and Monstress are great examples of exploring how different definitions of genders, and animal species, can expand the horizons of what we think is possible.
I, of course, take a lot of inspiration from Richard Adams, Margaret Atwood, and Hayao Miyazaki as well, for the ways they speak to environmental concerns, and redefining aspects of modern spirituality. I also find weird crossover inspiration between Jeff Smith, the Coen Bros., and Emily Carol. And yes, I’m drawn by the stylized violence of Kurt Busiek, Cormac McCarthy, Park Chan-wook, Emily Carol, and Haruki Murakami. I love traditional horror as well, in the vein of Stephen King, and the writers who are expanding on its definition, like Victor LaValle, Joe Hill, Paul Tremblay, and Junji Ito.
What are some of your guilty pleasures? Something you enjoy but know you probably shouldn’t?
I’m obscenely preoccupied with the Food Network…especially the Next Food Network Star and Worst Cooks in America. Bobby Flay is wonderful, and that Alton (Brown) is such a cad. I also love really bad horror movies. I love good ones, too, but bad ones are more fun.
Is there any comic book character that you’d like to write? Or any film or television universe you’d like to write for?
That’s a good question. I would love to write something in the Mike Mignola-created Hellboy universe. I’m a big fan of everything under that umbrella, and it just seems to keep expanding in intriguing directions. I would also love to work with some more horror properties, something in the Alien universe, maybe. And though it’s not a natural tie in from horror by any stretch of the imagination, I think Adventure Time would be a blast.
All that said, though, I’m more focused on creator owned material at this time. I like making up things, and want to continue doing so.
Tell us about Legend and what inspired you to write it?
I love animal stories. I have for as long as I can remember. I read a lot of The Mouse and the Motorcycle series as a kid, yes, but I think my preoccupation can be more directly traced back to Animal Farm. That book made a huge impression on me.
I definitely didn’t understand what the hell it was about when I read it at age eleven, but it stuck with me for years. I think I know why that is now…allegory is something I’m drawn to, and Animal Farm has the best of it.
Animal stories in particular are really good at integrating allegory: as characters, animals bring along the traits and symbols ascribed to them by people, and then are put into new contexts to convey larger themes. I wanted to see how I could contribute to that tradition. Particularly when filtered through a post-apocalyptic lens, which opens up entirely new possibilities.
The art in Legend is very striking. How is it to work with artist Chris Koehler? How did the two of you come together to work on this?
Working with Chris is an amazing experience. He’s a unique, talented artist, and has a process unlike any I’ve encountered. He’s also color blind, which makes for a lot of really dazzling colors that play tricks on the eye.
Also, collaborating with him is really fun, not just because we often work to the backdrop of horror movies, pressing play simultaneously and commenting throughout during crunch time, but also because together we end up creating something unexpected.
Chris was actually my illustration techniques professor during my Masters program at California College of the Arts. We hit it off, and soon after I graduated, we were sitting down to talk comic pitches. We threw a lot of ideas back and forth, but Legend was the one that grew legs. And now we’re walking!
Finally, what other work do you have upcoming that you’d like to tell us about?
I’m working on a few new projects…a novel, a serialized novel, a YA graphic novel, and of course, more Legend! One thing I also think might be interesting is a novelistic offshoot of Legend (illustrated by Chris). Though time will tell.
Thank you for talking with us Sam!
Thank you for having me!