Today we talked with writer Mark Sable about NYC Comic Con, meeting his heroes, D&D and his new comics “Chaotic Neutral” on kickstarter and “Dracula: Son of Dragon” coming out soon on Dark Horse. We also want to give a special hello to Mark’s Mom – Hi Mom!
Mark Sable – Interview
Renee: [00:00:00] And welcome back to spoiler country. Everyone. Today, we are joined by writer extraordinary. Mark Sable. Mark is a writer for comics, film, and television, best known for. Image comics, graveyard of empires, boom studios, unthinkable. Dracula’s on a dragon coming out soon from dark horse and the new comic chaotic neutral on Kickstarter.
Now, mark, welcome to the show. How are you doing
Mark Sable: today? I’m doing well. Thank you so much for that.
Renee: Well, thanks for being here. We’re happy to have you I feel like were you just at New York Comicon? I know we were talking a little earlier about cons and I was like, wait, weren’t you just
Mark Sable: at New York. I was, I just flew back.
I went to New York Comic-Con, which was great. It was exhausting, but it was great. And I just flew back to Los Angeles on a, on Tuesday a couple of days ago.
Renee: Yeah. How, how was it [00:01:00] being in New York? I know you’re from there. So was it, was it like a little surreal being at the Comicon? Like your hometown?
Mark Sable: It was very surreal. Let me put in the best way. First of all, I was happy to see. I I’d only been back to New York once it’s depend emic, but only to long island is where I grew up, which is a suburb I had not been in the city for two years, I think since 2019. So that’s the longest in my life have gone, gone without seeing New York city.
And then you hear all these things about New York city is gone. It’s over. People are leaving and look, there were definitely some, some storefronts to that that you know, were closed and it was not. Maybe not as lively as I’ve, I’ve seen it at, at it’s, you know, at its liveliest, but it’s still New York.
And, you know, the con I have to give credit to all the other people who were, you know, worked there and volunteered. Like it was really, they did a great job of keeping everybody safe. You know, vaccines are mandated if you’re over 12, otherwise you have to have a [00:02:00] COVID test. People were really great about keeping their masks on, in addition to that.
So it was just, I was so happy. Obviously, it was just really happy to see fans and I’ve had books out. This is like, that came out during the pandemic and it was my first chance to talk to people, let alone even sell the book or sign them. And it was also just great to see friends that I have, whether they’re in comics or out of comics that I had not seen in years.
So I’m, that was such a great experience. And I’m glad that, you know, I’m going to knock on wood here. It seems like it was pulled off safely. To COVID tests after just to be sure despite being vaccinated, but I was like, you know, before I see other people, I was with a lot of groups, so yeah, it was, I was really, really, really grateful to be able to.
Renee: Yeah. Was there. I know, I like, I I’m a big fan girl. I like self-proclaimed. And so anytime I’m at a con, I’m always like, Ooh, like when I see people that I know or want to connect [00:03:00] with, was there anyone that you were kind of like fanning over a little bit and
Mark Sable: so yes. Chris Claremont was, was in my artist’s alley row.
And, but I was, you know, and it seemed from just watching, like, it seems like he was being super nice to everybody. I follow his Instagram. So like he was taking pictures of people and smiling. I mean, I think he had his mask on, but you know what I mean? Like, it seemed like a very. I felt like I could only, you know, they always say like, don’t meet your heroes.
Or like, you know, I was like, ah, it can only go, I’m only gonna mess it up. And it’s, it’s, that’s just totally me. That’s not on him, but it was, it was great to see that he’s there and, and you know, it just, so that was it for me. I know Brian Kayvon was also there. I knew there were. Yeah, I’ve had the pleasure of getting a medium a couple of times.
I’m sure he probably doesn’t remember this early on, but so that would have been cool too, but I just was, I was happy to just sort of do my thing and I don’t know I’m if somebody introduces me, it’s one thing I’m pretty shy when it comes to that kind of thing. [00:04:00] Yeah,
Renee: it, it it’s like there’s part of me that always really wants to meet people and actually like shake their hand and tell them how much their work has influenced me.
And then there’s other times where it’s like, I’m just going to just stare at you awkwardly and maybe I’ll just avoid this interaction instead. I, are you like a big, would you say you’re a big X-Men fan or.
Mark Sable: Yes. I mean, I’m, I’m sort of a little bit overwhelmed right now because there’s a hundred X books out.
And even though I, I, I actually know so many of the creators and love them and love their work on it. Like it’s like my stack is piling up, but yeah, I’ve been X-Men was the book that, you know, X-Men and I would say GI Joe by Larry Hama booth where the books that got me to become a regular tonic reader.
So they weren’t the first comics I read. You know, growing up in the, in the late eighties those were just, oh, like boats, two books were like, I guess they were very kind [00:05:00] of soap opera ish. And they weren’t, they were, they were, self-contained like more self-contained than issues are now, but they told this really grand story and, and it blew me away.
And especially X-Men, I think shadier to her, I think there were both books that were really much more mature than you would think. I mean like GI Joe, it’s a toy line. It was, it was written by Larry Hama who is like a real military person and had like real experiences with that. And X-Men just, you know, with deal with things like discrimination you know, and, and, and it was not.
At, at whatever age I was at that point, you know, 13 or whatever. It really seemed like so advanced for me at the same time that it was entertaining. And I felt like I was learning and I felt like, oh, my parents don’t realize how like how adult these, these comic books are. So, so yeah, I, I. I’ve been reading for, you know, with some breaks in between like, you know, since then.
So I’m definitely, that’s a short, a long, long answer to your, are you an expert then? [00:06:00] Fantastic. Yes. Well, no.
Renee: I think it’s always good to know, like, you know, where, what were those comics that you know of? Really impacted us early on. And I would definitely agree. I think X-Men influenced so many people who were, you know, grew up from a certain time period.
I will say, you know, like I, I also remember X-Men being just something that was so. Like monumental in my life where I was like, oh my gosh, like, look at these female characters that are empowered. And like, I was like, what is this? This is amazing. And so I, I’m also an X-Men fan. That’s that’s my long answer for saying I wouldn’t
Mark Sable: really quick thing is it’s.
It’s so funny because you mentioned women being empowered in it is like, it’s funny to me looking back that the book was called X-Men and during the run that. I want to say the majority of the characters were, were women, right? Like, you know, it was like storm rogue, shadow, cat to believe, you know, et cetera, et cetera.
And it just never even [00:07:00] occurred to me that, like, it was great thing I think, to grow up with in the sense of like, that was normalized for me at a pretty early age. Oh, who are these women coming over to take the car? It was just that’s. That’s how it was. That
Renee: was, yeah. Well, so let’s, let’s back up a little and say, how did you get from reading X-Men to writing comics?
I feel like you you’ve had quite the journey. So I’m curious, how did how’d you get from point a to point B.
Mark Sable: It’s a, let’s see if it’s possible for me to make a long story short. So, yeah. Was a huge fan. I mean, I, I was just telling this on a panel in New York Comicon soap, the theme of my bar mitzvah was actually Marvel comics.
And so I wish I got to get an image of the shirt. The next time I go back to New York, I’ll find one, but we had a character tourist app, a live caricaturists like at the, at the bar mitzvah itself. But beforehand had me draw me in for a signing board as Wolverine. For for the t-shirts as Ironman and it’s, you know, you can picture, [00:08:00] I mean, I was a short Jewish kid with glasses and big hair and you know, but with the iron man suit and holding it, you know, but all the shirts that I had, a Marvel and Marvel and all caps, marvelous time at art’s bar mitzvah.
So I was a huge fan of that. I, yeah, I mean, as a huge fan and, you know, comics are not as considered as, as cool as they are now. Well, you know, we’re role-playing games or things that I was into. It was definitely like, you were, you know, you pick, you know, picked on a little bit or just not looked at as like cool for doing these things, but I love them anyway.
And I, I, you know, I wanted to be a writer. I never thought of the idea of writing comics professionally, like until me. Maybe college, like at the end, when I met I met somebody named Mark Powers, who was an editor actually an X-band editor. Who’s I was, I had been friendly with his, his sister.
I’m sorry, his, his, sorry. It was my friend’s sister, his, his, his his wife, his soon to be wife at that point. And but even then it just seemed like such a far off thing. Going to college, going to grad school, going to [00:09:00] law school. It wasn’t until I was in law school and extremely miserable. Which is I think not unusual at all.
But I was, you know, I was, I had moved to LA to go to law school and my plan was I wanted to become, I was like, well, I’ll become an entertainment attorney, so I’ll learn the entertainment side of the business. But at the same time I will you know, I’ll, I’ll also. I’ll be writing and I’ll be closer to my dream and all this stuff sort of worked out except for the writing part.
And I think the part of law school that really made me miserable was not so much the law, but just, you know, I was working at an entertainment firm. I was helping other creative people to make money and achieve their dreams, but not having a chance to do that myself and just not writing. And so in like second or second year of law school, I had a screenplay that I wrote that was.
That was about a kid who went to a high school for superheroes or everybody had powers except him. I said, this should be a comic book. And it’s just [00:10:00] before this was before. I mean, there were X-Men movies had come out Spider-Man but like the Marvel movies or not what they were, you know, what they would become.
And I actually went to Mark Powers and I was like, you know, any. Artists that might be willing to work on a project for, you know, little or no money. And I had the most incredible fortune, which is that he knew Paul as a setter who many people might know from writing outcast. Paul wrote that then.
So we put a pitch together. He for this comic called grounded, we took it to image comics, to image image comics at San Diego Comic-Con. And I want to say the summer of 2009. I basically camped out and waited to meet Eric Stevenson for like the entire weekend. We had an intro and there was somebody who’s going to make an introduction.
And finally, at the very last day he saw Paul’s pages, which are stunning. And it was just like, well, I don’t see why we shouldn’t make this comic. And then he walked away. I mean, and it was so nice for him to just even to give us that time. [00:11:00] And I was like, is that a yes? And everybody around me was like, no, no, no, that that’s.
Yes. You know, that comment came out did really well. And I’ve just been fortunate that I haven’t had to look back since you know, not that there’s anything wrong with being a lawyer, but I just have been, I just love writing comics and being, being in this industry.
Renee: Yeah. Well, and, but you also have an MBA from USC or are you
Mark Sable: today?
Oh, sorry, go ahead.
Renee: No, I was just going to say like, because it’s not just. The law degree was also the MBA. And I’m curious, like, did you ever think, like maybe this was enough or was it just like this constant pursuit of the degrees?
Mark Sable: No. So, okay. I, I sh and it’s, I have an MFA, not, I don’t have an MBA. I was in like a MBA sort of, I took some classes there, but I don’t have an MBA.
I mean, I’ve got an MFA from NYU, which is like a master of fine arts and dramatic. That’s because that’s what I wanted to do. The [00:12:00] JD was me and my twenties panicking that I hadn’t made it, you know, in my twenties and, and maybe a little bit of parental pressure, although my mom would deny that
Mark Sable: you know, and I think it’s coming from a place of just like, you know, Hey look, the entertainment industry really. Not a good place, you know, for security. But also I think just not, you know, I think it’s something that it doesn’t work in ways that people readily understand. And, and I thought it would be, you know, look it’s, it is certainly a handy degree that if if I ever, you know, were, were kicked out of comics or I couldn’t write for whatever reason, I mean, it is, it is a useful degree.
It’s also, you know, very expensive and time-consuming one. So, you know, I try not to look back on life with regrets, but, but yeah, I, I mean, You know, it all, it all winds up in informing informing me, but it’s yeah, I, I definitely have collected probably too many degrees, but I still, I say that and it’s like, I’m saying I teach right [00:13:00] now.
I teach writing for the school of visual arts in New York. I teach it online for there for a master’s program there, but as a, as a perk, I get to take classes. So I’m taking, as I saying. To art classes. So I love, I guess I do kind of like school and learning. Yeah. I mean a forever
Renee: student. I think.
That’s awesome. Do you, do you feel like you’ve, I, I’m going to ask two questions. Do you feel like you’ve made it and then secondly, do you think your mom thinks you’ve made it?
Mark Sable: Oh, that’s a good question. So I want to say, you know, I’m going to be honest, that answered. No, but. I just, I hate saying it because that makes me sound ungrateful, right?
Like, you know, I don’t know. And I’m constantly rethinking what the definition of need it is. So it’s like, you know, I would, there are things that I’d love that I still don’t have. Like, I’d love to be either like writing on a television show or solely making my living from comics, which I’m not. And a lot of creators.
I think [00:14:00] it’s, it’s, it’s a little bit like kind of taboo to talk about, but so in that sense, I don’t feel like I’ve made it on the other hand. I was, when I was home with my mom, she was like, how many comics have you done? And I couldn’t give her an answer. And we sat down and went through all the comics I’ve written.
And I think both of us, you know, Probably I’d say she’s probably prouder of me than I am of myself, but even my mom has been wonderfully supportive. And my, my father, when my father was alive, he was as well. He, so, but I, I had to think like, you know, I’ve been doing this since 2005. Like that was when grounded first came out and I’ve, you know, there’ve been some years that comics have been coming out, but more often than not, they have, and people are still giving me work.
That’s a tremendous accomplishment. And so, you know, I would hate for anybody to think, like, if they, you know, for me, if you’ve got one comic or you’re working on something, like I would never judge anybody else and say like, well, you haven’t made it. Like, [00:15:00] and I would never want people to think that I’m ungrateful.
So, you know, it’s, I hope that’s an answer to your question. It’s like, well, there’s still things I want to achieve, but I, I also feel like so grateful and so. Of what I’ve done and who I’ve gotten to work with. Probably that’s the biggest thing. Such amazing artists and collaborators.
Renee: Yeah. Well, and the reason I ask is that I think a lot of people who maybe have MFA’s or MAs or, you know, art degrees, there’s often this sense of, oh, that’s not, you can’t make a living off that or, oh, you know, you, you should go into something more practical.
Right. And, and so many of the people I talked to on the show, It’s sometimes they think they haven’t made it yet. And yet here they are making their living off comics. And I, I think it’s just a good reminder for people out there who are, you know, starting in the business or have been in it for a while.
And, you know, it’s just, [00:16:00] this is a possible career and you can do it, I
Mark Sable: guess. Yes. And I mean, again, my am I non comics work that I do. I’m teaching in an MFA program, which is so inspiring where I get to see it’s a combination of writing and art. I love it. Like it’s what my students do is just like gets me excited every day.
I mean, it’s just talking to a student today and like, she had just like, has this amazing story and getting to like having now taught at SBA for, for eight years. Like, I’ve really gotten to see people just, just do tremendous things. And, you know, the only, I guess the thing I’d say to people is just, you know, never let anybody else define what success is for you.
It’s I know it’s, it’s like such a cliche, sounds like a affirmation thing. And it’s something I do struggle with myself, but it really is true. And it’s like, look, I have to come down to whether it’s getting something published or whether it’s just, honestly, if you sit [00:17:00] down and if you’ve read a writer and you’ve sat down and finished something, that’s a big accomplishment because I can’t tell you how many people.
Don’t finish. And if you haven’t finished anything, there’s still time, you know, like, so it’s again, it’s, it’s just really, you know, there’s, there’s so many versions of success.
Renee: Agreed. Well, speaking of success and your work I want to talk a little bit about some of your comics that you’ve done and just some of your writing.
So I was reading some of your work graveyard of empires and Ms. Ketonic and there’s. I noticed there was this kind of theme of a tiny of writing, a brown history or historical events, and then a twist, right. Or a fantastical element of it. And I’m curious, is that a genre that you really like to write or is that just a coincidence that you’ve, that a lot of your work kind of has that element?[00:18:00]
Mark Sable: It’s it’s so interesting because I, sometimes I look at my own work and, and I, sometimes I see through lines and sometimes I don’t and I think, but I, I don’t think it’s coincidence at all. Like I do think, I mean, I certainly, I love, I love historical fiction. I love just reading history in general. You know, I’m still, I mean, it’s funny because I was, you know, as an English major and stuff, but I guess you asked my favorite subject that probably would have been, you know, it’s either English or history.
And I, I do really love it. And you know, at the same time it sort of marries my other thing, right? Like I’ve always been interested in history and in current events, which I think kind of blend together. I mean, when I wrote graveyard of empires, it wasn’t historical fiction. It was pretty funny of empire is like takes place in Afghanistan.
It’s you know, Marines and talent Taliban fighting zombies, you know, we were, we were still there. It has become oddly. And, you know, in the past few months has become historical fiction. Some ways in good. I’m glad that we don’t have troops [00:19:00] there anymore. The way we left, I think we can debate.
And I certainly, you know, the people that were left behind, whether it’s interpreters that worked for us or just women in general that had gotten used to having rights that, that doesn’t not look like they’re going to continue to have anyway, you know, so, but yeah, I, it’s definitely, you know, I I’ve always loved the sort of genre stuff that comics has done, but allowing me to sort of talk about the world and the, the history of the world, like is, is just something that I love to be able to do as well.
Renee: Would you say that you’re, that you try to stay like pretty true to the history that you’re taking from? Or do you consider yourself more a liberal in your interpretations?
Mark Sable: I’d say it’s somewhere in between. Like, look, I, I certainly do a lot of research to the point where sometimes I question. Oh, like if you were to break this down by like, like financially, like, am I, is this the best use of my time to read 10 books for one comic or something?
But I put, I enjoy [00:20:00] and I enjoy reading those books. So it’s not like, you know, very rarely is it something it’s, so I’m not doing some reading things that I’m not interested in. I try my best, but at the same time, the goal is to tell a good story. So, you know, if there. I mean, I mean, if I only wanted to tell straight non-fiction, I mean, there are, there are, there are great, you know, there are great graphic novelists too, who do that then, you know, then I probably wouldn’t have fantasy elements at all.
So, but I think the more that it at least feels authentic. I think the more that they’re, the audience is going to be in the readers, it’s going to be able to buy the fantastical elements like. So with, you know, with graveyard of empires, for example it’s like, if you believe these are how soldiers are lacked, even though this might not exactly, you know, I may get some small element wrong.
If you generally believe that part of it, then you’re going to accept that. Then you can have an easier time accepting that there are zombies. If you see soldiers and Marines, like acting in a way, that’s just like, Like nobody’s saluting each [00:21:00] other or whatever, like there, and they’re just, you know, they’re holding guns upside down or something, then you’re gonna.
All right. You’re now I’m all right. You’re already being asked to suspend your disbelief. It’s going to be even harder when I introduce this fantasy element into it. Yeah.
Renee: I, I, I have been around soldiers. I grew up in a military town and I have to say the line. There’s a line in graveyard of empires.
Holy fuck. My Dick has been exposed to nerve gas. You got to say that line, just like so rang. True. I could just see that happening. I know soldiers that would say that. And I was just like, yes, nailed it on that line. That was so
Mark Sable: good. Well, thank you. I take that as. I think a lot of that is like, oh, well, like I would, that would probably be me.
Like, you know, I’d like to think that I’d be the more brave person in that situation. But no, I would probably be, you know, be freaked out. Yeah.
Renee: Well, let’s talk a little bit about your upcoming projects cause [00:22:00] you have two that are really exciting. And one that is rooted in. Which is Dracula son of the dragon.
This is based on the real life story of lad, the Impaler. And I have to say, I was surprised, like, has no one done this before? It seems like this would have, you know, I just, I love the idea for it. And I’m curious, like how, how did you come up with it and how has this not been around.
Mark Sable: So I’m always sending it to say, has no one done this before, because you know, there’s always to come out that I’m not aware of, or even, you know, look the movie.
Even so like I love Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola. Like that sort of touches a little bit on that was the first, I think one of the first certainly pop culture things to actually touch on, on. Okay. Jackie was connected to Vlad the Impaler. But it sort of, while I think it’s a great movie.
You know, somebody like it didn’t, it didn’t explore that to my satisfaction. So I’ve [00:23:00] been obsessed with Dracula also since I was a kid, you know, I would see the old universal and hammer movies with my dad. Then, you know, in high school I read the actual novel and it blew me away of how good it is. I still think it’s, it’s probably the best horror novel of all time to me.
It’s just, it’s such an interesting book and such a fascinating character. I also have these memories of, there was a. I think it was probably on in the seventies and early eighties, I was watching it in reruns probably, but called in searches. That would, that would be the Leonard Nimoy narrated it.
And it would be like these like true. I want to say it was like, some of it was historical. A lot of it was like, you know, it was almost kind of a prodo unsolved mysteries, but I remember it was the first place I’d been exposed to. Like there was a real Dracula now as a kid watching it, I thought that meant he was a vampire, but like, you know, The the, the, you know, as I grew up, I was like, oh, this, this historical figure is just as fascinating and probably much more scary.
And, you know, [00:24:00] I had always wanted to find this way to like, bring these stories together. And it’s tricky because there are, you know, there will be like historical debate about how much Bram Stoker was actually influenced by the real life Dracula. I mean, I think it’s undeniable that he was influenced to some degree.
They have the same name they’re from the same place. Like, you know, he can show that they’re there for sure. But there’s very few in the book. There’s like nothing in the novel ever tells you how he, how like Dracula becomes a vampire. So to me, you know, that was an origin story of dying to be told whether or not you connected it to VOD the impeller.
But once I found a way to connect them, I was like, I, I need to tell this story. You know, back in 2013, did a Kickstarter for it. And you know, now finally it’s getting to a larger readership, hopefully through it through Comixology, originals and dark horse.
Renee: So you in writing this and getting into it, like, did [00:25:00] you find yourself going to a dark place?
Because I imagine that writing, you know, for this character, right? There’s a little bit of that. To me, you have to get in the mindset and I’m like, did that, did that happen for you? Or were you able to kind of have a good, healthy separation from the character?
Mark Sable: I think I was in this and maybe it’s because of the distance historically, because I will say, cause I was going to joke, oh, I’m not a method writer, but it’s like, I do remember when I was researching graveyard of empires, like watching real, you know?
So this is around 2011. Yeah. More footage was just starting to come up on YouTube. Right. And seeing some things that just were just, just devastating. And then some level I wish I’d never seen. And I think, you know, not to say that I don’t care, I don’t care about what happened in the 14 hundreds, but like not being able to see video or know people that, that were directly affected by it allowed me [00:26:00] some days.
I mean, I still think it must’ve affected me on, you know, on some subconscious level, you know, just reading about these atrocities. And I think also just seeing, you know, one of the things that, that made me feel like it was time to write. It was just that, like, I feel like some of the themes are just still resonate today.
Both kind of like broader historical level of this idea of like, you know, Dracula was this, you know, Christian Crusader fighting Muslims and in a very brutal way and like, For that flash forward 500 years later, 600 almost years later. And we’ve got, you know, it’s, it’s some things haven’t changed and terror is omnipresent.
And also to me, it’s also very much a story of, you know, a son growing its son of the dragon. It’s, you know, his father Dracula that’s Dracula’s dragon and devil in Romania. And, you know, it’s a story of somebody growing up with a, with a difficult father and that’s, I mean, I, I, my father was really great, but like, I think.[00:27:00]
It’s even. So I think that that was a dark part for me, for me too. So yeah, I think it did affect me, but thankfully not as much as writing some of the more recent stuff I have.
Renee: Yeah. How was it working with Sal? Good. I hope I’m saying that, right?
Mark Sable: Yes. Yeah. So his, his real name is max Douglas. Sal good.
Sam is if you maxed Douglas backwards, think there’s a name for that. It says his pen name. So great. Max, I mean, max did a phenomenal job on it. You know, it was very much. A co-creator with a lot of input into the story. He has such a distinctive style. You know, we first met doing we did an ad.
We were just paired together on an anthology called comic book tattoo, which was stories for Tori Amos and yeah. Which is again, you know, just talking about being fortunate and lucky and like, you know, that, I mean, there’s a hundred different people. I think that were, I mean, some crazy number, like, and if you look at so many of the people, you know, Not fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick, we’re a part of that.
And Jonathan Hickman [00:28:00] and people that like, you know, w you know, we were, none of us were big deals now. Maybe I’m still not a big deal, but they certainly are. But it, it, it was just, and we got to meet Tori Amos, which was super cool. It was pretty briefly at comic con, but she could not have been cooler and kinder.
But, you know, I work, I got to work with them in a story. We, we clear we had a good collaboration and I had seen, you had done a book called sea of red with Rick Remender that involved vampires as an image book. And it was all just sort of in kind of very limited color palette. I think it was just basically black, white, and red, and I thought, okay, that would be like, I think he would be, I really want to with all my projects, I want them to look.
And as well as it being somebody who’s a good storyteller and a good illustrator. And that was, you know, you look at Sal good’s work, it’s just automatically stands out. You’re not gonna, you’re not gonna mistake it for anybody else’s. So he really did a great job. He did it, he did his own research. Like I did all this reading.
He created this image [00:29:00] gallery of like period costumes and armor and, you know, in a and locations and. You know, he put as much into the book as I did. And so again, a very, very fortunate collaboration.
Renee: Yeah, well, and I think, you know, it’s always the collaboration between an artist and a writer is so important.
And I, I want to ask so in your other new project, your Kickstarter chaotic neutral, you said, you’ve mentioned that you you got the artists for that project to be an, a D and D campaign and work with them. How did that work out?
Mark Sable: So. I should first, just for people who don’t know, a cataract neutral is just a really quick thing.
It’s a combination fantasy comic, and basically D and D adventure module. We’re not allowed to say it’s starting to dragons, but it’s compatible with like old-school versions of Dungeons and dragons. And we just did a stretch goal that it’s now compatible with fifth edition. So, [00:30:00] yeah, it’s a combination like comic and adventure module, which is something.
I don’t believe anybody has done. And I was like, as soon as I thought of it, I was like, I have to do it. Like, it’s something I would have wanted as a kid and still want now. So let me do it. I had met you know, it had the idea for awhile. I had met Chris Anderson, the artist, and co-creator I’d met him at a drink and draw in Los Angeles and then met him again at San Diego Comic-Con and he showed me this book.
That was great. And I was like, okay, I got to get him into this. I knew we were going to work together. So, but I was, I used it as an excuse to devote an hour of my week. You know, like since 2014, I think I’ve been running or 2015, I’ve been running like a weekly Dungeons and dragons campaign all in my, in my head saying to myself like, well, this’ll be good for when I do data control.
Like, because, you know, I had never really run one when I was younger. But the truth is. I, you know, the more I did it, the more, it just became a pursuit of fun itself. And especially during the pandemic, [00:31:00] it’s been a lifesaver for me because we play online with a group of people, but I got Chris to play first in an old school rules kind of campaign that I was running and then started a new one in fifth edition.
And, you know, I think that I mean, I hope he would have wanted to work with me anyway, but it was, it was a good way though. It really was a great way of seeing like, Creatively compatible with somebody because at least the way that I run a D and D campaign or any role playing game campaign is like, I want the players to direct the story as much as me.
So yes, I’ll plan something out, but if they want to go in another direction, we’re going to follow it. Like, I may have to say bear with me for a second. If it’s like, okay, you’re going to a country that I haven’t fleshed out or whatever. But, and I want them to, you know, I want it to be a collaborative storytelling thing.
And so. You know, once I saw, you know, he’s just as a player, he’d come up with these really interesting things and you just get into his characters and he play a bunch of, of like, you know, at best chaotic, [00:32:00] neutral, like certainly chaotic, maybe even chaotic evil characters, which are totally nothing like him.
He’s the nicest person in the world. But like seeing that he had that, that element of creativity in addition to just being a great artist was like, okay, this is going to be somebody who we share a sensibility. We we’re, we’re good at communicating. This is going to work and, and he proved me a hundred percent.
Right. And no part of me doing this campaign is like, I want to get this guy paid. Cause it’s so good. And more people need to see his work. And you know, I want just want more eyes on him. He’s and he said, this is just the best. Yeah.
Renee: So were you two working on the comic together while you were playing that campaign?
Mark Sable: Yes. You know, and they’re totally separate, so they’re in a sense. Yeah, I’m just,
Renee: oh, I was going to say, I was just curious, like, did you ever sort of exercise some work conflicts out in the, in the D and D campaign
Mark Sable: and, and, you know, we’ve had a smooth collaboration where there hasn’t really been any [00:33:00] conflicts which is by the way, it’s not always the best thing.
Sometimes, you know, sometimes having some conflict, like solid, good, and I definitely butted heads on Dracula and I think it made for a better. So I don’t think we needed to exercise any conflicts. You know, the other thing is it helps, you know, it’s weird. Like I think because I’m a writer, I love being a dungeon master, but on the other hand, I wind up tending to run other people’s products more than creating my own worlds.
Because I, I feel like I need to just, I, you know, it, it uses too much of my, of that part of my brain. So it’s, if I’m using something, even if I’m riffing off of it, somebody else’s creation. I just say that to say that like the world in, in chaotic neutral is not the world we played in our campaign. I’m, I’m going to probably, I know I’m going to test it with my group, like, pretty soon.
So I think art may, you know, uh, life may start imitating art, so that’ll be an interesting thing, but but yeah, but no, it was actually a really smooth collaboration.
Renee: What is one of the perks of the Kickstarter that you’re really excited about? I saw some really cool [00:34:00] things like trading cards and some other artists projects.
And I’m curious which one is your favorite? Right.
Mark Sable: So I’m going to cheat and just pick three. I can’t pick one. I mean, you mentioned the trading cards. I have to say that they’re so awesome because we were lucky enough to get an amazing. Like series of creators Dan penny Roseann and Jim rug and Tim Seeley and, and six other people.
Because I, because I’m going to, if I try to name all nine, like I’ll forget somebody and they’ll be terrible. But they, they each contributed like an original piece of art. And on the other side is stats for an, like even the classic monsters, I’m putting a new spin, but most of the monsters are original.
So I think that’s a great thing. I also want to say. Well, definitely the other thing, which I don’t know that anybody’s taken me up on this yet, but that I’m offering, it’s sort of, it’s a higher tier, but I’m offering to run the adventure myself for, for, you know, for small groups of people. So I hope people take it.
We’ve actually lowered the price because I think maybe we had priced it a little high, but if people, I [00:35:00] hope people take us up to pick us up on it because maybe I’ll rope Chris into it too, but I’ll be the DM. You know, I think it’s one of the things I love about comics is like, you can get to meet your creators.
I mean, we’re talking about this, like, yeah, maybe I’m too shy to me, Chris Claremont, but my experience as a fan, you know, anytime I’ve gone up to creators, they’ve really been wonderful and I try to do the same and it’s like, this is a way of just connecting even closer and really getting to like, share this really unique experience with fans.
Yeah, so those are my, my, probably my, my, my two favorite ones. Chris, I guess I would also should say like Chris is offering, could do, and is doing a bunch of like character commissions or whatever kind of role playing game you’re playing. He’ll draw the character and he’s done it for our group, like for all the characters.
And we use those as the title. So that’s, that’s also pretty hard to not say as a favorite. Yeah.
Renee: Well it sounds like an amazing project. And did you use to play D and D as a kid? Is that
Mark Sable: funny? Yes and no. And I say that. I [00:36:00] was, I was painfully shy as a kid, so I would buy every, or, or have people buy me every role-playing game I could get my hands on particularly Dungeons and dragons and the Marvel superheroes, all playing game.
But it would be really hard for me to find people to play with. So occasionally I would play with I’m an only child, but I have cousins who are like brothers to me. Occasionally I would play with them. They’d also be some solo adventures. You know, in high school, I ran like a star wars game a little bit.
I’m using it as west end games at the time had a star wars game. That was awesome. But it wasn’t, I really was so shy that it wasn’t until the newest edition came out around 2014 that I actually started playing first online, like on like play by play by post. Then I would start to like venture into comic book stores and play with strangers.
And then I got the confidence up to be like, okay. Yeah. Let me see like other comic creators, other friends who want to play. And so now it’s like, it feels like I’ve been doing it forever, but I was, I was really, you know, but I always loved that. [00:37:00] You know, those books always stoked my imagination and part of what we’re trying to do.
And it’s not just a comic and a role-playing game adventure. It’s trying to evoke those the early days of the, of the eighties, when there was also the satanic panic going on and people were really afraid. You know, their deal, this really weird black and white art and the books. And we’re trying to capture that tone and that feeling that like anything could happen at the same time and that sort of edge that came from thinking that like there were secret lead, like this was secretly a tool for devil worshipers, but at the same time, like while we’re doing an making, trying to make this an eighties artifact in some ways you know, there are parts of the, of, of the past that aren’t so.
You know, there, it was not, the books were not very diverse, whether it came to gender or sexuality or, or racer or any of these other things. So it should hopefully feel like a modern book in that sense, in that like, you know, there’s, I think a much more diverse [00:38:00] cast and, and. You know, and it should hopefully feel accessible to anyone.
Renee: I, I want to bring it back a little bit. I know you mentioned going to Emerald city Comicon and you know, I’m here in Seattle. And one of the big things about Seattle is that wizards of the coast, you know, is here. And I’m curious, do you have any plans to maybe go visit them?
Mark Sable: I mean, if somebody wants to invite me, I would, I would, my God, what I love too is, I mean, I, I, you know, it’d be like going to Willy Wonka chocolate factory to me.
I don’t know, you know, I, I don’t know that you can just pop in. I would, I would love to though. I mean, I have to say, you know, while our book is hearkening back to an older era of, of of, of D and D like I play the latest edition fifth, I think they’ve done a great job. I think I love how they’re constantly evolving with the times and, you know, and taking feedback from the players.
I think it’s really, you know, Like, yeah, I would love to. So if anybody’s listening who works at the coast, you know, I’d be happy to [00:39:00] bring bias, free comics. You know,
Renee: you heard it here first. So any future projects that you can tell us about? I know sometimes these things can be under lock and contract.
So any, any other projects you’re working on that you’re excited about?
Mark Sable: Yes. There’s two. I can name there’s a bunch. I can’t. For the reasons you said, but so, in November of 2021 there should, there should be I did a book called miss ketonic for aftershock which is all like Lovecraft being a crime historical fiction mashup.
We’re doing a giant size special. That’s gonna be a follow-up to the series and to the trade. That’s like when I say it shines sites, it’s a 40 page issue, but it’s also like magazine size and printed nicely from Comixology, originals and dark horse. And there’s a book called the dark, which is coming.
It should be out in December. Which is you can get it now on kind of a solid original, but it’ll be coming out in print it’s with Christian Donaldson. It’s this like, it’s about a trans cyberpunk like hero in the, after [00:40:00] like the. What happens like after the, the, the internet and the grid are shut down in a cyber attack.
And then finally, I mean, there’s, I guess at New York, Comic-Con we teased the project that I’m not allowed to name, but you could see that it has from the image, from the image, you could see that was if I’m working with an artist named Andrea Olympia, Ari who’s Italian and wonderful. And you could, you could tell it Saifai.
So sometime in 2022, I will have another book from aftershock out that I can’t name or, or say more about. But but it’s, and so like this is just having all this work is just you know, it’s, it helped in the pandemic, it helped so much having it, just, I so enjoy writing and I still enjoy getting, you know, we were talking about this before we went on the air about, you know, I enjoyed New York.
Comic-Con. Excited about, you know, getting to see, to see more comics people at Emerald city and hopefully, maybe see me too as well. So this is all just, just
Renee: well, yeah, and I think being around community and the comics community [00:41:00] is like, we haven’t been able to do that for a while. So getting to see everyone and, and see the fans, I think too just makes it inspires us that much more to keep creating and doing things.
So. Yeah, absolutely. Where can people find you on the internet if they want to follow these cool projects?
Mark Sable: So I am at mark Sable, which is M a R K S a B L E on both Instagram and Twitter. Twitter is probably the easiest place. Just you go there and I, if you write me, I’ll respond. And yeah, and just if chaotic neutral, if you just put that into Kickstarter if you put it into Google, you’re going to get a lot of different things, but if you put it into Kickstarter, you’ll just get on my project and you can find me there.
I’ve been talking to backers and prospective backers and happy to answer any questions about it.
Renee: Nice. And I have, I have to ask one final question. What, it’s actually a two parter. What is your, what is your alignment and what is the one that you wish you could be? [00:42:00]
Mark Sable: Oh boy. It’s, so-so, I’m probably somewhere between lawful and neutral.
Good. Like I know that sounds so boring, but I, I probably, you know, I’m a rule follower, but I mean, to a point, right? Like if, if I think a rule is unjust, I won’t follow it, but I’m, I’m a pretty, I don’t wanna say like, oh, I’m a such a good person, but I’m like, I try to be good, really hard. So I feel like that’s, that’s where my alignment lies.
Yeah, I wish I could be more like more, I don’t know. Canik neutral feels a little selfish, but maybe more chaotic. Good. Like I wish it was maybe a little. A little less, you know, like I would take, took more risks, I guess. It’s basically, that’s my way of saying it’s great. That’s a great question though.
Renee: Yeah, I think it there’s always like the, what are we, and then maybe what do we aspire to be a little bit? So I think I, I tend to be a little more chaotic and I, I may be aspire to be a little less chaotic. Sometimes the world
Mark Sable: needs, you know, the world needs every type, right? I mean, maybe not the [00:43:00] evil parts.
W, you know, we need both, we need people, we need people who like follow and make rules and we need people who break them. And I think that’s sort of, you know, I think the beautiful thing about sometimes about role-playing is like you can, you know, having a group when people don’t have the same alignments and seeing them, that sort of creative chaos, that, that.
Renee: I love that creative chaos. I’m going to, I’m going to use that next time for sure. It’s all yours. Thanks. Well mark, thanks so much for being here on speller country. It was so great talking with you and having you on the show today.
Mark Sable: Thank you so much. My pleasure.
Renee: And for those of you listening, mark Sable is a writer for comics, film, and television, best known for comics like graveyard of empires, boom studios, unthinkable, the new comic chaotic neutral, which is on Kickstarter now and Dracula son of dragon coming out soon on dark horse.
And we’ll make sure to put a [00:44:00] link to all of those in the show notes. And for those of you still listening, I’m Renee and the. Is spoiler country.