‘Beasts of the Black Hand’ Writer Ron Marz: The Conskipper Interview

For over thirty years, writer Ron Marz has worked for just about every comic book company imaginable. So whether you know him from his runs on Silver Surfer, Green Lantern, Witchblade, Star Wars, or as one of the chief architects of CrossGen Comics, you have most likely read one of his stories.

Marz continues to work in the industry and has also launched a number of successful creator-owned kickstarter projects such as Harken’s Raiders (with Green Lantern Emerald Twilight artist Darryl Banks) and Demi-God (with Bart Sears and Andy Smith). Marz is currently following-up on his World War One supernatural espionage thriller Beasts of the Black Hand with a brand new kickstarter campaign for the Ominous Press graphic novel Beasts of the Black Hand Vol. 2: The Viking League. Along with creator/sculptor Paul Harding, artist Matthew Dow Smith, colorist Nanjan Jamberi, and letterer Troy Peteri, Marz returns to a world that seems historically familiar and also terrifying, with a slew of creatures and black magic to contend with.

Marz spoke with us about his new project as well as a number of his fan favorite stories in this exclusive interview.

For those unfamiliar with Beasts of the Black Hand, how would describe the tone and scope of the series and the world it takes place in?

Ron Marz: It’s our world, just after World War 1, but with a few twists. Dieselpunk technology is spreading across Europe, and the evil cabal of sorcerers known as the Black Hand is unleashing monsters upon the continent. Our story is about the people trying to stop them, including British secret agent Oswald Rayner and Biffy Dunderdale, and American war hero Henry Johnson, all of whom were real people. There’s espionage, horror, and a bit of history.  

You are widely known for your work on “cosmic heroes”.  How do you approach a more historical science fiction story?

Marz: The approach is no different. Everything comes from character, so whether it’s cosmic heroes or historical heroes, or anything in between, it all starts with the characters. If you don’t give the readers a reason to care about the characters, nothing else matters anyway.

What is it like working with sculptor Paul Harding and artist Matthew Dow Smith on Black Hand

Marz: Paul and Matt are two of my best friends in the world, so this collaboration is really easy and really fun. It helps that I think they’re both hugely talented. Getting to make stories with your friends is one of the sheer pleasures of comics.

Out of all of the legacy heroes that emerged in the 90’s, fans still have a real affinity for Kyle Rayner.  What is it about the character that has stood the test of time?

Marz: Well, that’s really a question for the readers to answer. But from my perspective, we tried to make Kyle an Everyman. We tried to make him someone readers could identify with. We wanted you to be able to put yourself in Kyle’s shoes, whether he was doing superhero stuff, or just figuring out how to pay his rent.

You also had an extended run on Silver Surfer.  Memories of working on that book for some many years?

Marz: It was my first gig in comics, my first regular series, so the main memory is how excited I was. Jim Starlin showed me the ropes of writing comics, and I had Ron Lim drawing my issues, so it was a big learning curve for me. I was learning to do the job while I was doing the job. I’m thankful for the opportunity every day. I have a career thanks to Jim.

Do you find it more difficult to work on a licensed property like Star Wars or John Carter in terms of constraints? 

Marz: Not really. When you get right down to it, Marvel and DC characters are licensed properties too. I really haven’t found much difference in writing any of those properties. It’s all playing with someone else’s toys. You need to understand the parameters that come with the job, and then tell the best story you can tell within those parameters.

Any other projects that you are working on? 

Marz: A number of them that are coming at the end of this year and the beginning of 2021, but nothing that’s been announced officially yet. So I have to just say stay tuned. 

Beasts of the Black Hand Vol. 2: The Viking League is presented in a deluxe, oversize hardcover edition, featuring 64 pages of story and art. Along with the graphic novel, there are also a number of special incentives such as variant covers and original artwork available for backers of the project.

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