Interview with “Last Man Standing” Writer/Artist Dan LuVisi
by Kyle Anderson on May 17, 2013
In 2010, Dan LuVisi’s massive graphic tome Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter was released, detailing the history, world, and characters of LuVisi’s Last Man Standing comic series that hadn’t come out yet. The book details how Gabriel, a scientifically-created, genetically-enhanced super soldier 600 years in the future was framed for a horrible crime and sent to a maximum security prison. Upon his escape, his real story begins. The Killbook is everything Gabriel (and we) need to know about before the eventual journey, and at 272 pages, LuVisi leaves no stone unturned. The book, published by Dark Horse, is getting re-released in December, but it can be pre-ordered now.
We asked LuVisi about the book, and he also supplied us with some exclusive pages from the new printing. Guys, a shark and a dinosaur are involved.
NERDIST: A character’s backstory is often only known to the creator; you’ve got an entire, fully-illustrated guide to Gabriel’s history that fans will read before anything else. How important was that to you that the audience all start with the same knowledge?
Dan LuVisi: That was actually the first thought that came to mind when I started working on LMS. When I originally pitched the idea to my business partner, Stephan Lokotsch, I asked him: “Imagine that, before X-Men comics were ever issued, the readers were given an extensive look into who these individuals were before they went on their journeys. That way, the readers can pick favorites, growing attached and awaiting their arrival in the series.”
Also, I enjoy teasing when it comes to art or stories. Cliffhangers are my thing. I like to have people wanting, and then hopefully delivering on the final product. It gives me a chance to push the character, idea and design.
N: What sort of freedom does that give you in the stories to come?
DL: It does, and it doesn’t. I’ve set ground rules for each one of these characters. Histories, and what not. The fun part is that now that I have already determined where they started, I can now write where they venture off to and grow. I’ve set my first arc, now it’s time to improve and advance upon that.
Or I could just say Gabriel didn’t know what he was writing about while writing his memoirs.
N: It’s certainly a huge amount of work, but how fun was it for you to be able to explore a character so deeply and design his entire world and circumstances before the story-proper begins?
DL: To be honest, it wasn’t fun at all. Not at first at least. It was very stressful. I had to first create my character’s visual appearance before the story. No character had a story before the art. The art helped inspire who they were, and from there I designed their interior folders, expressing their background and history through visual references.
When the book originally came out in 2010, I knew a faint history of Gabriel. But over the next 3 years, up until this release, I had time to hone in on it and learn who he is. Not only from new ideas, concepts and designs I had created, but also from the general audience and their perception of who he is. Ranging from the armor equip he usually has, his helmet, sense of humor, or most importantly, his candies.
Now, this is where I can have fun with him and who he’s to become in the following comics.
N: What was your favorite weapon or bit of technology you got to “invent” through the course of creating LMS?
DL: Gabriel’s FLAAT Blade sword. If you really break it down, it’s a katana, heated by a device that wraps around the blade. So essentially, it’s a lightsaber in a way.
But the cool thing about it, is that it has two holes on each end of that said mechanical device. And when activated, two insanely burning-hot cords launch out on each end. Connected to the end of the cords are two devices that are able to lock onto targets and fly at them. Mix that with Gabriel slicing through people, (and) you have a room filled with body parts.
N: Do you plan on doing any Killbook-type bibles for any of the other characters in the Last Man Standing universe? Dante, perhaps?
DL: I definitely want to do spin offs, especially since there are nearing 50+ characters already, all with their own unique backstory. As for a Killbook? No, the Killbook is strictly Gabriel’s. It’s the entire part of the story, the blueprint of a world-wide assassination.
But for Dante, I have something planned. I tell everyone he’s my favorite character, because his true backstory has yet to be revealed, and I couldn’t be happier with it. So I hope to take advantage of that at a later point and make a fun spin-off for him before his big reveal.
N: Since so much of the book is written by Gabriel, he has to have a distinct point of view and way of speaking. How did you decide what kind of voice Gabriel would have?
DL: In all honesty, Gabriel has my sense of humor. But I really didn’t understand his voice until I figured out who he was; a kid trapped in an adult body. Being created from scratch, and built to be a super-soldier, Gabriel just thinks its cool. He’s excited. He’s grown far too fast, and is still catching up with his personality. He’s not an idiot at all, or dense. He’s insanely intelligent, deadly, and witty, but also unsure of what to do with all that rests on his shoulders.
The best example would be what my father once told me. He said: “The thing that I enjoy about Gabriel, is that with most movies it’s about a normal man becoming something super. But with Gabriel, it’s about a superhero becoming normal, and how he learns to understand that.” Once I heard that, I knew my character, and what his true objective was.
LMS: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter will see store shelves in December, and but can be pre-ordered now.