Comics / Interview

Monty Nero Talks ‘Death Sentence’, Working With Marvel and His Start at EA

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On June 25, Titan Comics released Death Sentence Vol. 1, a graphic novel collection of the first six issues of writer and artist Monty Nero’s indie comic book series.

Death Sentence tells the story of three people who gain superhero powers but are also given only six more months left to live. Nero and collaborater Mike Dowling explore how differing personalities might handle that difficult situation.

Nero, who began his career working for EA, was nice enough to answer some of our questions about his beginnings in the video game industry and how his success with Death Sentence has led to him working with Marvel on the Amazing X-MEN series.

Nero answering questions in 2013 at the University of Dundee in Scotland

Nero answering questions in 2013 at the University of Dundee in Scotland

Hey Monty! Thanks for answering our questions and congratulations on the release of Death Sentence Vol. 1. When you began writing Death Sentence #1, what were your initial goals or expectations from its release?

Mike Dowling and I just wanted to create a quality comic, something of lasting value that entertained people and said something about the world. Quality doesn’t equate to success, in my experience, so we didn’t really expect it to be as popular it has been. It’s been a lovely surprise.

MTV Geek has called Death Sentence “a smart, raw and relevant spin on the superhero genre.” How does it feel to get praise like this about characters you created in a medium that has been around for such a long time?

Very humbling. Some of the reviews have compared us to Dickens, Dostoevsky, Alan Moore, Jock, Sean Phillips, Duncan Fegredo etc. They’re probably the best reviews we’ll ever get. So we’d be nuts not to enjoy it, though we take it all with pinch of salt.

Death Sentence has also led to your involvement with Amazing X-Men Annual #1 for Marvel. What has it meant to you to be able to work on a Marvel project?

It was like a dream. A real honour. I think Storm’s got a lot of untapped potential as a character. I’m doing a 30 page Hulk story now, and that’s been a real blast too. Characters like these that have built a following over decades always have something very appealing at the core, and if you can tap into it you can’t help but write a cool story.

Amazing X-MEN Annual #1

Amazing X-MEN Annual #1

Any particular favorite Marvel comic series growing up?

Spiderman. If you described it to someone it sounds nuts, but there’s something magical about the way he moves. And Peter Parker is one of the greatest characters devised in the 20th Century.

We here at Pixel Related like to mix up our coverage with TV, movies and comics but we focus heavily on video games. You got your start at EA working on such series as SSX and Need for Speed. What was a typical day at EA like for you?

 I liked it a lot. I designed and made characters there, mostly. The people I worked with were very creative, enthusiastic and encouraging. The facilities were great too, full size soccer pitch, gym, restaurant, cocktails. We worked long hours, but we had real fun making those games, and I made some good friends. I look back on it very fondly.

Are you an avid gamer and if so, what are some of your favorite video games from the last couple of years?

Hack Run’s really good. On the console side I liked a lot of the design and conceptual work on all the Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed games and InFamous by Sucker Punch. We share a sensibility.

Death Sentence #1

Death Sentence #1

Were you already toying with the idea of writing your own indie comic series when you worked for EA? How did it all come about.

Well I’ve always wanted to make my own comics, but the idea came later. There wasn’t a masterplan. It all came about because we were going to become parents. And working long hours at a computer game company doesn’t fit very well with seeing your kids grow up. So I had this mad idea that if I made comics instead, I’d be at home and be able to work more flexibly and go to sports days and take them to swimming classes and be around as they grew up. And it actually worked out pretty well. Though It could easily have failed too, there’s a lot of serendipity involved.

Besides Death Sentence, what are a few indie comic series that people should definitely check out?

There’s some great stuff from Titan Comics, Numbercruncher by Si Spurrier, Ordinary by Rob Williams, It Came and Monsterology is a good read too if you like that Necronauts vibe. I enjoyed Porcelain recently from Improper Books too. It’s a kind of gothic fairy tale with some lovely art.

For those who haven’t checked out Death Sentence yet, tell them why they should in five words or less.

It will change your life.

Thanks for your time Monty.

You can order Death Sentence Vol.1 right now through Titan Comic’s website. It will be available July 22 through Amazon as well.

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