Week after week, Vault Comics has been putting out strong titles. They’re comics that bring in new readers and keep seasoned ones going. Just look at their catalogue and see how many fresh and daring fantasy and sci-fi puts they’re putting out. Pick up one and you’re hooked! It’s a dangerous ordeal.
So one day, I was looking through Vault’s upcoming releases. This cover for a book called Relics of Youth caught my eye. It looked different from other books Vault was putting out. That’s when I reached out to Chad Rebmann, the writer of the title.
Not only was Chad gracious enough to send me an advanced reader copy of the book after I asked, he gave me the opportunity to interview him and his co-writer, Matt Nicholas about the book. Matt is a writer, producer and actor with film, TV projects and graphic novel projects in the works. Let’s get to the interview:
COMIC LOUNGE: So tell me a little about Relics of Youth. (How did this book go from idea to reality?)
Chad: Matt had the initial idea of teenagers called to a magical island to protect the Fountain of Youth. I was brought on to co-write and help flesh out the concept and characters and to world build. Vault encouraged us to go in the YA route like Hunger Games and Maze Runner but we decided to go in an edgier direction. I remember we had a tough time trying to find the right title for the book. We began to gravitate toward Relics, and I think it was Adrian Wassel who decided on Relics of Youth.
COMIC LOUNGE: (For Matt) Is this the first comic you've written?
Matt: Yes, this was such a wild ride with it being the first! I’ve learned so much from Chad and from Vault, from the process of bringing this from an idea and into a full fledged arc.
COMIC LOUNGE: (For Chad) How is RoY different from other books you've worked on like Judo Girl?
Chad: This was my first time working with a co-writer and it was a great experience. It was fun to bounce ideas back and forth with Matt and to blend our two different voices. We both brought very different viewpoints to the series, which really helped with the fact that we have a diverse cast. This was also my first time writing a primarily teenage cast which was daunting in the beginning. It took us the first couple of drafts to really nail the specific voices of the main characters.
COMIC LOUNGE: (For Matt) How is co-writing a comic book different from acting or producing? (RoY kind of seems like a departure from both of those things.)
Matt: It’s very different but also very similar. It reminds me more of writing television than anything else. Acting is worlds apart in it being about embodying a character physically, while producing is bringing all of the elements of something together.
COMIC LOUNGE: How did the creative team come together (with Chad, Matt, Skylar and Deron)?
Chad: Both Matt and I were introduced by a mutual screenwriting buddy. Matt had wanted to work on a few comic book projects and was interested in teaming up with a comic book experienced writer. We met a few times and found out we were in synch on the Relics story and brainstormed so many ideas and concepts for this fantasy world. Once Vault gave us the green light they helped us find the rest of the team. The nice thing about Vault is they have a big network of creators so they brought on Skylar to draw the book. Skylar was a late addition since we lost our original artist but she hit the ground running. And I have to say her work has been stunning. Deron was also brought on by Vault but judging by his stellar work on Vault’s Resonant I’m excited to see what he brings to Relics.
COMIC LOUNGE: Do you remember your earliest run-in with comic books? (Were there any books or creators that got you into comics?)
Chad: Both X-Men and New Mutants way back in the day were my gateway into comics so Chris Claremont was a huge influence (especially the Bill Sienkiewicz era on New Mutants.) Also Matt Wagner of Grendel & Mage are some of my favorite non-superhero comics. And James Robinson who wrote DC’s Starman in the early 90’s is a book that I reread every few years. It’s such a literate and beautifully crafted superhero saga. And finally Brian K Vaughn’s Y the Last Man is a book with such a gonzo plot premise but turned it into an intelligent discussion on gender politics. Another book I love to revisit.
Matt: Mine was Batman. He’s literally my favorite character ever. What inspired me to create Relics was reading huge team-ups like Avengers and Justice League. I wanted my own team of heroes, but I wanted them to be closer to my age.
COMIC LOUNGE: Why Vault Comics (versus another publisher)?
Chad: Vault really believed in the characters and story since the beginning. The book was long in development and we had several setbacks but Vault was like our guiding light. Vault is a publisher that really loves their creators and is focused on “comic books” as a medium. Which is such a refreshing change in this multi media “content” creator environment. Honestly, this book would never exist if it wasn’t’ for Vault.
Matt: I got hooked up with Vault close to their inception with this label. It was magic. They were just venturing out with this brand and loved my idea enough to develop it with me. They took a chance on me and my idea, which isn’t something that I suspect most publisher’s even do for non-name writers.
COMIC LOUNGE: Who is RoY for?
Chad: I know the book has been advertised as a teenage fantasy adventure but there really is a big cast and lots of world building. If you enjoyed comics like Runaways, Morning Glories with a dash of the New Mutants you will definitely enjoy what we have planned. And I think the soul of the series is our main character Nat Rodriquez. She’s our POV character who narrates this journey. She’s very much an isolated and socially awkward teenager who believes that this island has called to her for some higher purpose. But in the process learns to live again and bond with this misfit band of teenagers. Her journey is a mirror for so many people trying to find their place in this crazy world.
Matt: Relics is for every person, young or old, who is struggling with their identity. It’s a comic that informs all of these kids, who don’t feel like themselves ,that they can be found, no matter how lost you may feel in your own world. These kids were “found” by an island, literally via dreams and brought to it and thus, found out who they were. But you don’t need an island sending you dreams to find yourself. You can look inside yourself to discover your true purpose.
COMIC LOUNGE: What can readers expect from RoY?
Chad: Relics has a high adventure feel with teens becoming empowered by access to a secret magical world. There is also some interpersonal drama since these teenagers are not friends and forced to work together to survive. There’s also a nice collision of modern day cynicism with old world magic. What made these classic relics like Excalibur so powerful wasn’t that they were magical, but it was the character of the people who wielded that power. And power will always corrupt in the end.
COMIC LOUNGE: Are there any other projects you're working on?
Chad: I’m really focused on Relics of Youth at the moment, but I’ve just started work on my first novel and I have a few other comic book based stories percolating. I’m also working on launching my website which will feature film reviews and commentary on the state of pop culture.
Matt: Yes, I am also developing a graphic novel and also am developing a feature film entitled, Sonata, with Viola Davis producing. I also recently sold a film to Amazon that I am producing with Gabrielle Union - additionally, I’m developing a TV series with my writing partner, Nastassja Sanchez that we both are going to star in!
Relics of Youth from Vault Comics will be released on Sept. 25th. Keep an eye out for the Deadly Class homage variant cover.
Follow Chad and Matt on Twitter: @ChadRebmann & @mattnicholas
Advanced review of Relics of Youth coming soon!