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FOG! Chats with Nate Cosby About His New Kickstarter, ‘Alter Ego’!

Nate Cosby believes that great comics come from the collaboration of great creators.  As a writer/editor/packager/producer, Cosby has previously worked on such properties as Thor The Mighty Avenger, Cow Boy, Flash Gordon, James Bond, Agents Of Atlas, Red Sonja, Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, Buddy Cops, World War Hulk, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and lots, lots more.

With his latest project, Alter Ego, Cosby finds himself collaborating with Jacob Edgar, Rus Wooton and Kike J. Diaz, on a original action-packed 100-page graphic novel.  Nate took some time to discuss the concept, his current geek obsessions, and potential sequels with Forces of Geek.

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FOG!: Nate, let’s start with the most important question, what is Alter Ego about and what was the genesis of the book?

Nate Cosby:  What if one man was two heroes? Alter Ego is the story of Hollywood stuntman Ace Adams, a guy that spends his days as the bounding superhero Whiz-Bang, and his nights as the brooding vigilante The Black Dog. His life is a constant balancing act, of performance and timing, and he’s actually pretty good at keeping everything together, for a time. But as the dangers increase, and pressure is applied in all areas of his lives, Ace begins to lose sight of why he’s made such drastic choices. And when you spend all your time pretending acting like two totally different people…who are you, really?

I think the idea stemmed from my being away from superhero stories for a while. There were a few years where I didn’t really read or work on anything superhero-related. When I came back to them, I started thinking of the idea of being a superhero as a performance. In Grant Morrison & Frank Quietly’s Batman & Robin, there’s an early scene where Dick Grayson’s feeling insecure about taking the Batman mantle. Alfred suggests that he think of Batman as a performance, like he was playing it on stage. That really stuck with me, and it relates to how Ace thinks about his different identities. Ace is a performer, an actor, and he carries that through when he’s Whiz-Bang or The Black Dog. To the public, they seem like different people, because Ace is working hard to perform two totally different roles.

What about the time period of Hollywood’s Golden Age is particularly appealing to you as a storyteller?

That era of moviemaking holds a really special place in my heart. There was such an earnest, “Let’s put on a show!” energy coming off the screen at that time. Jacob and I arrived at that time and setting through our mutual love of musicals, specifically Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen’s Singin’ In The Rain. We wanted to capture that vibrancy, in comics form. But our interpretation diverges from historical reality, by creating a Hollywood that embraced racial and cultural diversity early on. Entire neighborhoods are dedicated to Westerns, Sci-Fi, Noir…and there are humongous areas focused on films by Japanese filmmakers, Nigerian, Indian, Egyptian, Korean, and more! It’s a huge melting pot of a place, with the recognizable trappings of the Golden Age of cinema.

There’s a very unique twist with Alter Ego’s main characters, Whiz-Bang and The Black Dog. How long have you been developing this concept and what do Jacob, Kike and Rus uniquely bring to the project?

The idea of one man being two heroes was something I’d come up with a while ago, but it was just a basic idea. When Jacob and I decided we were wanted to work on something new together, I pitched the concept and we developed the details together. Seeing his character designs really helped bring the rest of the world to life in my mind, made me start thinking about the thought process of a guy that was SO dedicated to helping others, that he’d be willing to spend all of his time pretending to be two totally different heroes, along with his “real” self.

Jacob’s ability to draw ANYTHING is what’s made this story feel so special to me. It’s at once a daytime superhero serial, a moody noir-tinged drama, and a behind-the-scenes look into moviemaking, and Jacob handles those shifts with elegance and awesomeness. When you combine that with the subtle tone and texture work of Kike, and the genius design and lettering acumen of Rus…it’s a really inspiring creative team to be a part of.

Alter Ego is a self contained graphic novel. What made Kickstarter the ideal platform to bring it to life?

The Kickstarter community has been so supportive of the previous projects my collaborators and I launched on the platform, so it was an easy choice to do it again. My background in comics comes from working with big publishers, who have entire infrastructures built around every aspect of making/marketing/distributing comics. But going through the crowd-funding and self-publishing process a few times now has been invigorating for me, personally. I love the idea of creating something specifically for the people that believe in what we’re making, so much so that they’ll invest in us before the story’s even been told!

Who or what have been the biggest influences on your work?  

Oh man…Darwyn Cooke, Don Rosa, Andre 3000 & Big Boi, Joan Allison & Murray Burnett, Kurt Busiek, Mike Wieringo, Aaron Sorkin, Dwayne McDuffie, David Lean, Gene Kelly, Stanley Donan, Dr. Dre, Jeff Smith, Ron Marz, Bun B, Michael Curtiz, Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Greta Gerwig, Dave Stevens, Curtis Hanson, Jeff Parker, Robert Bolt & Michael Wilson, Brad Bird, Chuck Dixon, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, David Mazzucchelli, Orson Welles, Humberto Ramos, Roger Langridge, Chris Eliopoulos, Joe Johnston, Scott McDaniel, and I’ll stop now because there a few hundred more.

If this is successful enough to warrant a sequel, would you be interested in exploring this universe further?

Maybe! I’m not sure, to be honest…I’m still in the midst of writing this volume, where there’s a specific roadmap and a complete story in mind. I really love the world that Jacob and I have created, but this isn’t built to be an ongoing. After we’re done with these 100 pages, and if there’s an audience for it, I’d be up for cracking open my notebook, staring at a blank page, and seeing what comes to mind.

What are you currently geeking out over?

I’ve been listening to a lot of JID recently, really liking his stuff. I’m midway through Taboo, a truly weird FX show from a few years ago, starring Tom Hardy wearing a big hat. Been loving Mark Harris’ biography of Mike Nichols, which has made me appreciate Nichols’ work far more than I had previously. And I was thrillingly surprised at how much I loved Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza. A movie hasn’t delighted me that much since Greta Gerwig’s Little Women.

Check out this ALTER EGO strip, exclusive to FOG! (Courtesy of Nate Cosby and Jacob Edgar)

For more details and to support Alter Ego, click HERE!


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