Interview: Filip Sablik on LAST MORTAL – Plus: Original Art Giveaway!

This week, the newest book from Top Cow hits comics book stores – Last Mortal. Below you can read an interview with Top Cow publisher and co-writer Filip Sablik talking about the book itself. But if Filip's words aren't enough to entice you to give this new series a try, he's got a little more incentive for you: an original art giveaway just for the members of the iFanbase!

Want to win the original art (right) depicting a pivotal scene from Last Mortal #1? It's easy! Here's how it will work:

We are going to randomly select one person who has pulled Last Mortal #1 on the comics page to win the original art. Easy, right? Here are the caveats:

  • You must have pulled the book by Thursday at 6pm EST.
  • The winner must send in a photo of themselves with the book.


We will announce the winner fo the Last Mortal #1 original art giveaway on this week's Pick of the Week Podcast.
 



iFanboy: Just taking a look at this cover, we've got a dragon eating its tail (a supernatural take on the classic ouroboros symbol?) What is the thematic significance of this visual, and does it say anything about our hero's situation?

Filip Sablik: Good eye! The ouroborus does play into Last Mortal both the literal icon itself and what it represents. Readers will see that very design in issue #4 show up in the story, but we also wanted to immediately offer up a symbol or icon to let readers know what this story is about. The ouroborus represents an endless cycle, which Alec, the main character is stuck in. It's a very ancient symbol which is seen repeated in various cultures around the world including Egyptian, Greece, and Indian so it carries with it weight and meaning we felt would be picked up on by lots of different readers. Whether Alec can escape his personal cycle is something readers will have to pick up the series to find out. On a purely aesthetic level, we wanted to give the covers of each of the four issues a unified but unique design to stand out on the shelves. Artist Thomas Nachlik came up with the cool tribal looking dragon design on his own. I liked it enough to where I'm getting it tattooed on my back live at our Los Angeles launch party this Saturday at Collector's Paradise.

iF: Also, did he just shoot himself in the head there? How bad-off is Alec?

FS: It would certainly appear that way, right?
    
While this does spoil the end of the first issue, we have been talking about the fact that this story is about Alec hitting rock bottom, deciding to kill himself, and only then discovering that he seemingly cannot die. When is immortality a curse? When the only thing you want to do is die. That being said, shooting yourself in the head is still an incredibly painful and traumatic experience. Alec is not Wolverine or John McClaine – he doesn't heal immediately and he not some tough badass. The next four issues are going to hurt for him… a lot.

iF: There are a lot of ways to depict a common criminal, even as a protagonist. Is Alec the kind of petty thug with a heart of gold, or is he a true lowlife? How did he get to this point in his life and how much are we meant to relate to his plight?

FS: When we meet Alec he's pretty sunken to his lowest depth, which is becoming a paid assassin. While modern pop culture makes that seem pretty glamorous, I think most of us would agree that's pretty morally reprehensible. Truthfully, that was the biggest challenge as a writer, John and I knew we had to start the beginning when Alec hit rock bottom, but we also knew that if we didn't show the reader some redeeming qualities (or at least, glimmer for redemption) then no one would want to read the book. One of the big through lines in the series is seeing how Alec arrived at this point in his life. Few people start off hardened criminals or true lowlifes. We'll see that Alec was and could be a good man. And the great thing about hitting rock bottom with no way out is you are left with only one direction to go!

iF: The title is pretty bold too. What does it mean to be the "Last Mortal?" Should we take that literally, or is this a "I wouldn't date you if you were the last man alive!" kind of situation for poor Alec?

FS: Thanks. The title is both a play on words of the idea of immortality and also a hint at Alec's long term journey and character arc. John and I went through about a dozen possible titles for the series before settling on this one. The original one from when we were teenagers was the incredibly creative – "Forever Man."
     
iF: What is the ratio of noir to fantasy in Last Mortal? Aside from this supernatural second chance seemingly thrust upon the character.

FS: The series is very grounded and really Alec's immortality is the only true supernatural element. Both John and I would consider ourselves relatively novice writers, so we felt like trying to stay close to reality and writing "what we know" was key to making the story work. Not to say that either of us have every attempted an assassination, been to jail, or tried to kill ourselves, but by keeping the story grounded we were able to draw on personal experiences and research much more than if we'd taken it in a more supernatural direction.  We call it supernatural noir, but Last Mortal, particularly the first four issues, is probably more accurately described as 90% noir revenge tale and 10% supernatural fantasy.

iF: You're the publisher of Top Cow but you've been dipping your toe into the writing pool lately. Is writing something you want to do more of?

FS: Absolutely. Most of my week is spent on my day job, but I've always enjoyed the act of creating art and stories so I'm always developing a handful of projects on the side. I consider myself really blessed that in the last couple of years Marc Silvestri and Matt Hawkins have taken notice and encouraged me to develop some of these projects and offered to let me publish them through Top Cow. They certainly aren't under any obligation to, they didn't hire me to be a writer or an artist.

iF: What's the creative process between you and your co-writer John Mahoney?

FS: John and I have been the closest of friends since the sixth grade and originally when we were collaborating in middle school and high school, John would do the writing and I would do the drawing. We first created Last Mortal when we were teenagers and there's even a very rare ashcan edition we made and took around in 1996 to Heroes Con. We've both gone in different directions in our own careers, but probably about seven or eight years ago we dusted of Last Mortal in earnest and decided to co-write it. The writing process has always been relatively easy between the two of us. Usually we would have several conversations over the phone about where we wanted the story to go in an issue, then John would go off and write kind of a prose outline for the issue. I would break it down into full script format, primarily because as an artist I tended to have an easier time visualizing what would work or wouldn't work on a page. Then we would bounce it back and forth over several drafts doing dialogue passes and making tweaks to the pacing until we were happy with it. It really is a great marriage, because I don't think we have many strengths that overlap as writers and as a result we tend to be very complimentary of each other.

iF: Tell us about the artist, Thomas Nachlik. Did you choose to work with him because your last names rhyme?

FS: And he's Polish too, so there's that connection!

On a more serious note, I met Thomas at WizardWorld Chicago in 2007 or 2008. He came by the Top Cow booth for a portfolio review and I thought he was dynamite. At the time I was the VP of Marketing and Sales, not the Publisher so I couldn't have hired him if I'd wanted to, but I also told him I didn't think he'd be a good fit for a Top Cow book. I did contact him right afterwards and ask him if he'd be willing to work with me on a personal project. I don't know if either myself or John or Thomas expected Top Cow to resurrect Minotaur Press, which turned out to be a perfect home for Last Mortal.

iF: What's the biggest challenge in launching new books–especially new non-superhero books–in the current market?

FS: No one wants new. Oh, sure, they say they do. Quite loudly if the internet is to be believed, but most readers just want to read the same characters they grew up with. So our biggest challenge was trying to get as much attention as possible on Last Mortal. That's definitely where my marketing background and contacts were helpful. We had interviews and articles on USA Today, IGN, Newsarama, CBR, and a ton of podcasts. But part of it is knowing that when the book is done, your work as a creator has just started. The promotion doesn't end at Previews, it begins before then and continues while the book is coming out. It's why we've done numerous contests, why we set up a production blog at www.lastmortalcomic.com, why we're doing a crazy launch event in LA with booze, food, music, an art show, and live tattooing. You can't be shy to shout about your project from the rooftops, because if you don't care enough to get in fans faces about the project, why should they moved to plunk down their hard earned money on it instead of just buying the next issue of their favorite Big Two superhero title?

iF: If you had just one word to describe Last Mortal, what would it be?

FS: Suicidal immortal.

Okay, that's two words. Suicimmortal?

iF: I'll allow it.

Check out Last Mortal at comic book stores this Wednesday, and if you want a chance to win some original art from the first issue, go pull the book here!

Comments

  1. This looks like an interesting book.  I’ve pulled it, but the probability of my shop having a copy for me to buy and then photograph myself holding is essentially zero.  I hope the winner enjoys the wonderful original art. 

  2. awesome new top cow title and a chance for some filip sablik art I am so there 😀

  3. I’ve been looking forward to this one.  Minotaur’s first book Echoes, or was it just Echo, was phenominal.

  4. Now I only have to find somebody to open a comics store in Estonia before Thursday, so I can buy the book and win. It’s good to set yourself impossible goals.

  5. I see a lot of potential with this storyline – I hope the series is successful so we get either more minis or an ongoing of this title . . .

  6. awesome.  I had this book put on my pull list at my LCS when it was solicited in previews. My LCS is only get 2 copies in….one of them for me.

  7. Awesome interview.  And the party Filip mentions is at our store, Collector’s Paradise.  Link to the more info is below:

    http://comicsandcards.net/?page_id=2621