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Exclusive Interview with Creator @RobLevin for @TopCow's Bushido @ImageComics


I was fortunate enough to ask Rob Levin (Mind the Gap, Witchblade, Darkness), the Creator of the upcoming genre-blending samurai vs. vampires series Bushido a few questions about the comic industry, and his new book. Thanks to Top Cow I also have a 9-page preview of the first issue of the mini-series. You can read the interview by clicking Read More.

"Written by Rob Levin and illustrated by Jessada Sutthi, Bushido: The Way of the Warrior, takes place in feudal Japan and tells the tale of Kichiro, a young shipwrecked boy who is raised by samurai and trained in the art of Bushido. As he grows, and a vampiric threat emerges, Kichiro will lead a small group of samurai as Japan’s only line of defense."




How does it feel working for a company like Top Cow?


Top Cow is where I began my career, as an intern and later as an editor, so I've been working for them in one capacity or another for almost ten years. I definitely have aspirations to do more creator-owned work and to get my hands on a few toys owned by other publishers, but Top Cow has always felt like home to me. I grew up reading their books, I spent several years shepherding some of their key titles like "Witchblade" and "The Darkness," and I feel tremendously humbled to have written several titles for them across the last four or so years.

Top Cow is running their Talent Hunt 2013, As the industry stands now, what are some tips for breaking in?


Get it done. That's the only thing that matters. If you're not willing to put in the work and actually finish something, you're not going to last very long in this industry. If you're a writer who's never written a script before, write a script. Write the end when you're finished, then go write another one. If you're an artist, draw pages. Don't draw pin-ups, because there are a million guys who do that as well or better than you who already have names and relationships. The industry always needs more storytellers, so draw stories. Silent ones featuring your favorite characters. Write your own comics and draw them. Hook up with the many hungry and established writers who are always looking for artists. If you're a new writer and you find a new artist and you guys work together and finish it, you've just made a comic together, and now you have something you can show that isn't just a sample page. It's a story. It's a real And that counts for a lot, since most people won't even go that far.

What are your tips for launching a new story or intellectual property into the world?


Planning. Marketing. More planning. I can't give away all my secrets...

Have you experienced other peoples comments and suggestions alter the narrative of your stories-in-creation, or do you already have the entire story planned out before you sit down at the drawing board?


On "Bushido," the guys at Heroes & Villains Entertainment created the idea and always give me a ton of ideas in terms of the story. But then they give me room to go in and make changes where I want to, we discuss, change things some more, and only then do I think about getting down to the actual writing. I come from editorial so I'm always happy to collaborate with other creators, editors, etc. It changes a bit when it's an original idea, as I'm usually talking to a few trusted people -- a mixture of non-comics people, other writers, and sometimes an artist or two -- but any time I'm writing something based on someone else's idea or with characters they own, I want to make sure I'm delivering a story I want to tell and that also accomplishes whatever they want out of it long before I start writing. I'm big on outlines and planning (see above) as it's much easier to change things when you're talking broad strokes.

As a writer do you consider the suggestions of other writers, artists, fans  and editors as community building or interference with writers freedom and independence?


As I mentioned above, who I'm soliciting advice from changes based on the specifics of a project, but I'm not such a genius that I don't want to hear another person's idea if it's a good one. I'm all too happy to take credit for someone else's genius idea if they offer it up freely. I think even the best writers need a sounding board, just to double check that they haven't totally missed something, or, as does happen even to the best of them, written something that just isn't very good. There is interference, when someone is trying to change something just to put their stamp on it, but I think for the most part everyone is working together to create the best possible comic.

Can you talk a little bit about the artist, writer, producer collaboration when building new narrative worlds? Should creators be their own Editor/Producers?


Their own producers, sure, that can work, but I think everyone should have an editor. I say this not just as an editor, but as someone who's worked on projects without having someone to challenge me or ask questions about the work. On some of the projects I edit I'm very involved in the story, and on others I'm there more to keep the trains running on time. It all depends, but the writers I work with no they have someone who is there watching their back and will say, "Hey, this needs another pass," if they turn in something that's less than what it needs to be.

An editor can also function to keep everyone on the same page. Everyone in the process be it writer, artist, letterer, designer, etc. is all working toward the same goal, but it's also very personal at times, and getting notes can feel like an attack. An editor can work as a middleman and safe guard against that. Not all editors are wonderful, but plenty of them are and it's always pretty amazing to work with them. Given the choice, I'd always want an editor watching my back than to go it alone.

What were some of your inspirations in creating Bushido? What sparked you to wanting to create this comic in the first place?


The idea was from Mikhail, Dick and Markus at Heroes & Villains, so they came to me with a treatment for the series and I gave my take on it, we workshopped and settled on the final and away I went. Samurai versus vampires -- what's not fun about that? I also saw the opportunity for a lot of character in the story, so I tried to focus on that while still delivering on the very action-y promise of the premise.


I hear that it will have a samurai (Kichiro) fighting vampires, pirates and others, what made you decide to go with this concept?


There are sort of pirates… I suppose. But maybe the sequel will have a lot more pirating, because that's now all I can think about. Again, this was an idea that was brought to me, I dug it, and they liked my take on the material.

Jessada Sutthi art is stunning. How did you two meet, and how easy was it to work with him?


He was found by Filip Sablik, who was still at Top Cow at the time, and as you said his work is stunning. We knew it was a chance to work with a fantastic artist who could bring a unique look to these characters and the world and jumped on him (not literally) when we heard he became available. He's located over in Thailand, so I mainly worked with the studio managers over at Studio Hive, where he's a resident artist. So while we never spoke directly, his team was easy to communicate and I think things came together pretty well.

Do you feel his style best represents the look and feel you were going for in Bushido?


Definitely. I never want to get one specific look in my head when I first come to a project. I always have ideas, but who we can get, not to mention who I'm even aware of, is crucial. I had never heard of Jessada before Filip sent me some of his samples, but as soon as he did I thought, "Yeah. That guy."

Do you think 5 issues is enough to tell Kichiro's story, or are their plans to maybe make additional mini-series or even an ongoing?


No plans for an ongoing right now, but whenever I do books with HVE we're always thinking about them as franchises, so there's plenty of thought about the past and future of each world in addition to the plot of the miniseries. I know what's next for "Netherworld," which I did for them previously, and I have several ideas for where "Bushido" could go next. One of them might involve pirates, so don't be surprised if you get a thanks in the credits.

Any final thoughts?


This book is a long time coming. I've been talking about it with the guys for years, and it's been in the works for a while. Beautiful painted books take time. We've been putting it out digitally since July, and starting this Wednesday it'll be released in print weekly, all five issues on sale in October. I hope people enjoy it, and if they don't they can hurl digital rocks at my twitter @roblevin. I also accept compliments and pirate jokes. Avast!

Bushido #1


Publisher: Top Cow/Image Comics

(W) Rob Levin
(A) Jessada Sutthi

VAMPIRES IN FEUDAL JAPAN!
Kichiro is an outsider in feudal Japan. Lacking the Japanese blood that would allow him to become a samurai, Kichiro must fulfill his dreams of serving the shogun in a less traditional manner… by eliminating every foreign supernatural threat that rears its fangs!

Bushido #1 will be released on October 2nd, 2013. Check out the preview pages here below to prepare yourself for samurai vs. vampire action.




Pre-Order Bushido #1 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Bushido #2 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Bushido #3 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Bushido #4 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Bushido #5 (Save 20%)

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