We’re wrapping up Image Month in style with an awesome interview with AJ Lieberman and Riley Rossmo of Cowboy Ninja Viking! Here’s the skinny on CNV: Tasked with creating a counter-intelligence unit, Dr. Sebastian Ghislain turned to those long thought useless to society: patients with Multiple Personality Disorder, which he transforms into assassins called “Triplets.” Now all but one of these Triplets has gone rogue, and it’s up to Cowboy Ninja Viking to find and stop this band of ridiculously disturbed–but highly effective–assassins!
TFAW.com: For readers unfamiliar with the series, can you give us a 5,000-foot view of Cowboy Ninja Viking?
AJ Lieberman: CNV is about Duncan, a guy who suffers from MPD (Multiple Personality Disorder) who has the personalities of a Cowboy/Ninja/Viking “living” inside his head. Part of a secret government program headed by rogue psychoanalyst Dr. Sebastian Ghisalin, Duncan is taught to retain the skill set of each of his latent personalities (why he’s called a Triplet) and trained as an agent helping with the war on terror. Think of him as part Jason Bourne, part John Nash (only without the super hot wife).
Riley Rossmo: He has a hot ex-wife, though.
TFAW.com: CNV was originally slated to be a four-issue miniseries, and just before the series debuted, it got picked up as an ongoing monthly. How did that phone call go?
AL: Yeah, once the response started to trickle in it was obvious we had hit upon something. Of course being on the cover of Previews didn’t hurt one bit. Couldn’t stop at four. The only concern was that we knew our first few books were pretty good and wanted to make sure that we didn’t rush into a monthly schedule without the new books being as good or better. In the end, I think [issues] #6 through #10 are probably better.
TFAW.com: Why did you guys decide to go with the Golden Age format for CNV?
AL: Jim Valentino suggested it and we said, “Ah, Okay.” It turned out to be a smart move as the extra space really helps us.
RR: The extra room really helps us, CNV has a lot happening in each issue so the extra space let us put way more in each issue.
TFAW.com: Have you been sitting on the idea of CNV for awhile? How did the idea of CNV evolve?
AL: No. I started thinking of certain characters types and situations I thought Riley would be good at drawing and the concept evolved. In fact, included in the recently released TPB, there is an early version of the script to show you what the whole thing started out at as.
TFAW.com: Did Image introduce you two, or did you know each other before you embarked on this series?
AL: Nope. We knew each other prior but had never worked together. We did a few pitches four or five years ago but nothing really came out of that.
RR: I needed time to refine my storytelling and drafting skills.
TFAW.com: Duncan had a major breakthrough at the end of issue #6, thanks to his psychiatrist. I assume that’s going to be short-lived? Or Will Duncan continue seeing Meyerhoffer in the future?
AL: Well, the breakthrough you speak of is significant and actually affects the next few books as Duncan tries to stay alive and tries to figure out what to do about said “breakthrough.” As far as seeing Dr. Meyerhoffer again, that is answered in CNV #7.
TFAW.com: You held a contest where one of the Triplets’ personalities was determined by a fan. That was Sumo/Cyborg/Rabbi in issue #4, right? Do you plan on holding any other contests of this nature in the future?
AL: That was fun and we got a great response, but as of now, no. You need a lot of lead time to get those things going and the next arc (#6 through #10) is already finished. And after that we’re taking a break to recharge, deal with other commitments, and then come back for more.
TFAW.com: Blaq lost a few of the Triplets to Ghislain’s Special Projects Program at the end of the first arc. We haven’t seen the baddies for a couple issues, when can we expect more Triplet-on-Triplet violence?
AL: Oh, Triplet-on-Triplet mayhem is coming, my friend. More than you know. No matter what you think you think you know from CNV #6 and #7, all of it will change by the time you’ve read #8 and #9. But yes, Blaq did lose a few Triplets to Ghislain. This does not make him happy. Let’s just say he’s working on a plan.
TFAW.com: Is it safe to say that the “15th Triplet” wasn’t actually a clerical error, as Ghislain claimed in issue #4?
AL: Well, in Ghislain’s defense, he’s had some pretty unfocused assistants (see CNV #1) so it could be a clerical mistake. On the other hand, Ghislain’s not half as scattered as he appears to be, so . . .
TFAW.com: Will we be meeting this mysterious Triplet soon?
AL: Well, that all depends . . .
TFAW.com: The love triangle between Duncan, Grear and Nix was a great addition to the story. Does that continue to complicate things for awhile?
AL: Short answer: Yes, it complicates things for the rest of the arc (and beyond). Long answer: [Duncan and] Grear, Duncan’s ex-wife, have a love-hate relationship which seems to oscillate between them having great porn-star sex and trying to kill each other. Then there’s Nix. Is she Duncan’s soul mate? Is she just a schoolboy crush of a guy with a Cowboy/Ninja/Viking in his head? Of course it doesn’t help that they all work together. It also doesn’t help that Nix has a few secrets of her own.
TFAW.com: The book pretty much speaks for itself, but what would you say to someone who’s on the fence about CNV?
AL: It’s exactly what you think it would be based on the title and absolutely nothing like what you expect it would be based on the title.
TFAW.com: Thanks again for taking the time out of your schedules to chat with us, gents. We’re really enjoying the book and look forward to seeing where you take us.
AL: Thanks a lot for the interest. And enjoy the new arc, it’s pretty wild.
Are you a fan of Cowboy Ninja Viking? What type of Triplet would you like to see next? Post your comments below!