3-10-11:  Cabrera And Banting Give Secret Identity The Lowdown On Drop Dead Dangerous

Drop Dead Dangerous comic, DDD, Mike Banting, Chad Cabrera
A little while back Brian gave a great review of "Drop Dead Dangerous" (DDD) #0, a book that blends the Wild West with a noir murder mystery.  Recently, Secret Identity was able to catch up with the creative team behind the book--writer Chad Cabrera and artist Mike Banting.  The duo talked with SI about the launch of the zero issue and what readers can expect from the upcoming first issue of the series.

SI:  Chad and Mike, can you give us a little history of the project and how you two came together on it?
MIKE: It sort of started when I asked Chad if he wanted to make an entry for the 3rd Kodansha Morning International Manga competition around 3 years ago. We didn't quite make it in time, but what resulted after months of planning was "DDD." 

CHAD: Even though it was too late at that point, and the project had grown larger than the rules of the competition would allow, I'd grown really attached to the story we came up with and I wanted to push through with it in some fashion. We decided to go ahead anyway knowing that with the availability of digital distribution and print-on-demand services, we had viable options in finding an audience for our work.

Drop Dead Dangerous is a unique blend of genres and styles, mixing the Wild West and horror elements with manga style art.  How did you and Mike settle on the look and feel of the book?
MIKE: I grew up watching anime since the mid-80's when I was a kid, and during the 90's there was a huge anime boom here in the Philippines, so art-wise, I was heavily Japanese-influenced. My Western influences come from reading a lot of my dad's "Sgt. Rock" and "Sgt. Fury" issues. He also had some westerns, of which I really took a liking to Marvel's Rawhide Kid. So for "DDD," I suggested that we set it during a fictional western era, making it a combination of my Eastern and (literally) Western influences, with a touch of b-movie horror to add some spice.

CHAD: When I first started writing the script, I knew that I wanted to insert certain outlandish elements into the plot that just couldn't be contained sensibly in a more realistic and common setting. So, when Mike came with that suggestion, it just made total sense to me. The East meets Old West vibe gives the story a sense of unpredictability and highlights that aspect of Manga that thrives on character confrontations. I wanted to utilize this parallelism that exists between seemingly disparate genres and, as Mike mentioned, it reflects who we are as well as, albeit indirectly, the culture we belong in as a product of different external influences yet with a distinction all its own. 

You've given away a meaty 24-page zero issue for free.  Do you feel like that has really generated some momentum going into the first issue of the series? What have you heard from readers so far?

CHAD: I believe we've gotten as much traction out of it as we could hope for, but we slowly had to learn how huge the gap is between making our work available and actually generating interest for it. I was pretty happy that we managed to get a small audience that was consistently growing everyday, and when our newfound indy friend at Black Snake Studios stepped in to help us get the word out, we got an even bigger boost. We've gotten some good feedback from readers who said they enjoyed our work and couldn't wait for the first issue. Neither could I, now that we know that there's an audience out there looking forward to it.

Speaking of first issues, when can we expect to see "DDD" #1?

MIKE: We'll be launching "DDD" #1 at this year's Summer Komikon in April. 

CHAD: That's in Manila. We'll have a booth set up with a small print run and a little something extra. Hopefully, we'll also have the issue available online for the rest of the world around the same time, if not a little bit sooner.

Where can people find out more about the series and any other projects you guys have coming up?

CHAD: We're still in the process of working on an official website, but for now, you can drop us a line at our Facebook page.

When you get a chance to take a break and read comics yourself, what's currently on your pull list?

MIKE: I'm rereading "Batman - The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory." I'll also read anything that Chris Sprouse and Chris Bachalo does. As for manga, aside from my usual list, I'm brushing up on some horror titles - during daytime.    

CHAD: It's been getting difficult to find time to read anything these days, especially with school and work. When I do get to read, outside the occasional Star Wars novels and Heavy Metal back issues, I try to keep up with Tim Seeley's "Hack/Slash." It's my favorite title right now and I'm really looking forward to the new series.

Our thanks to both Mike and Chad for taking time to chat with us. You can grab the zero issue of "Drop Dead Dangerous" for free over on Drive Thru Comics, or ge the print version for $2.99 at IndyPlanet right now! Also, Check out some of the artwork from the first issue below.