In his latest project, Michael Uslan has combined to classic radio show characters with a familial link into one series. Now he talks to Byron Brewer about Lone Ranger/Green Hornet #4, on sale in October from Dynamite. Cover art by Jan Duursema.
MICHAEL USLAN: I am humbled by the overwhelming wonderful reviews that have poured in. Gio and I have put our hearts into this family saga spanning three generations. We love and respect these characters and their mutual creator, accepting the responsibility as the first ones in 80 years who are legally permitted to tell this story. The readers seem to appreciate the extensive historical research done here by both Gio and me. We also love how Pete, our colorist, and Troy, our letterer, and John and Jan, our cover artists, are being acknowledged for their massive talents.
BB: Wow! So Kato was trained by the older Tonto! Was that a fun concept to invent and write for these iconic sidekicks? Tell us about each's importance in the role of their hero, in your mind.
MU: "The Lone Ranger & Tonto!" "The Green Hornet & Kato!" The latter is the modern era, urban version of the former. Since I only have five issues to tell the multi-generational tale of the Reid family, I could not as a writer "rob" John, Dan and Britt Reid of their "screen-time," meaning I could not give Kato and Tonto a quantity of time, so had to concentrate on giving them "quality" time. In doing so, it was clear to me that Tonto needed to become Kato's "Yoda." If I say anything more, this will become a spoiler. So you'll just have to read the upcoming issues to see what happens.
BB: I don't think I am revealing spoilers when I mention that a death is coming in October's issue #4. Without spoilers, Michael, you are so close to these characters as a writer and fan, was this a particularly difficult issue for you to pen?
MU: Not difficult. Emotional. What I do not believe in in our comic book industry is the concept of the gimmick. By this I mean the publisher's move to draw the attention of the general public and mass media to a title by showing the "death" of a major character. By now, almost every superhero I have ever read has been killed. Of course, we fans know what the general public does not, that each of these characters will be back in one year. In our Lone Ranger/Green Hornet opus, if anyone dies, they are not… And I repeat, NOT… coming back.
BB: I know from past interviews you do a ton of research on not only characters but the periods of history in which your protagonists share adventures. This has been such an important title for you. Tell us what was the fun – the dessert, if you will – when it came to your research.
MU: I'm a history major and history buff. Most of what I read for pleasure are books about history. When I travel the world, I go out of my way to visit historic sites. I particularly love the period of the 1930s and '40s. I revel in scenes as simple as the opening of issue #1 where the kids in 1936 leave school, race through the park, and head to the police horse stables to hear tales of the Old West told by the old Lone Ranger. Yet I equally love scenes of action in conflict involving the Nazi threat and all it represents. That pure evil is the closest thing we have to the concept of an ultimate comic book super-villain.
BB: Artist Giovanni Timpano is hitting on all cylinders during this series. Is he also a big fan of the Ranger and the Hornet?
MU: This man, this artist is awesome! He started out great yet seems to get better and better with each page. His work is stunning both in terms of contemporary graphic story-telling and illustration. He is able to register tremendous emotional range on the face of each character he draws. And he does his homework! Not only does he research every detail extensively, he challenges me on my script references or any photo or art reference I send him, and has, to my sheer delight, managed to correct me on some occasions. We are a team.
BB: Michael, what is going on with you these days outside Dynamite?
MU: I'm excited about the upcoming Lego Batman Movie, great upcoming Batman animation, the upcoming Batman solo movies, Doc Savage, and the exciting Thunder Agents! Sometime in the next few months, we'll be making a major announcement about my plans for my future in movies and television. In the world of writing comic books, my next project will be something near and dear to my heart and will be the beginning of the rebuilding of, perhaps, my favorite brand franchise of all time! Beyond that, I have all the faith in Nick Barrucci at Dynamite that he will make possible three more "dream" projects of mine that have been sitting at the top of my bucket list for many years. I also hope to do something more with Turner Classic Movies, my favorite cable network!