“Warfare Without Warning” is the tagline for Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads’ exciting new series, The Activity, published by Image Comics, and the book lives up to it. Centered on a group of top-secret black-ops agents, each issue of The Activity sizzles with tension and intrigue, and Gerads’ realistic-yet-dynamic art sucks the reader in, making it hard to wait between issues.
Fortunately, if you haven’t picked up the title yet, you don’t have to wait: the first trade, The Activity TPB Vol. 1, just landed on our shelves–check out our video review here! We had the chance to chat with writer Nathan Edmondson about how the concept behind The Activity developed, and where it’s headed next. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read on, and enjoy a four-page preview as well. Just remember to burn this blog post after reading (just kidding!).
TFAW: Can you introduce us to The Activity?
Nathan Edmondson: The Activity is a book in comics without a peer. A military action thriller, the book is rooted deeply in real research. It’s team book, focusing on five central characters, and while quite episodic, from issue #1 it is written for the “long story” reveals. This is a book written with Special Forces, special ops and intelligence “advisors” looking over the shoulders of the creators.
TFAW: What does “Warfare Without Warning” refer to?
NE: The tagline to the book highlights the black ops nature of our team; what they do, they do as shadows. Lethal shadows. Their targets do not see them coming, and when they’ve done their job right, no one sees them leave, either.
TFAW: Take us inside the ISA: who are they, and what is their purpose?
NE: In the real world, the Intelligence Support Activity–who have gone by a myriad of names from Gray Fox to Centre Spike, to Cemetery Wind to The Fog–are the eyes and ears and sometimes spear points of the Special Ops community. They are a secret and undisclosed tribe underneath the Joint Special Operations Command, answering to no one but the president. Their existence is denied even to the army; they are a legend among even special forces soldiers.
TFAW: We learned a lot more about Danny Locke in issue #5–he’s a disgraced colonel who was drafted into the ISA. Was he a scapegoat, or does he really suffer from serious lapses of judgment? How does this affect his leadership skills?
NE: As we move forward into the story we will see the ways in which Locke’s past come to bear upon his future, but despite his poor judgment at Operation Anaconda, it’s worth noting that this was an operation in which armchair generals back in the states were making extremely poor decisions for the men on the ground. So Locke was a scapegoat, but he might also have a few skeletons in his closet or character flaws that will turn into drama later down the road . . .
TFAW: What inspired the idea behind The Activity?
NE: Reading about the ISA. I came across them in a couple of books I was researching through and when I realized that almost nothing had been written about them, I was excited to build a whole world around them in comics. When I found Mitch Gerads is when things truly took off, as he was hot on the idea in a big way.
TFAW: The US has now been at war with or in various Middle Eastern nations for almost a decade. How did this influence The Activity?
NE: It is a significant influence. Many of the soldiers with whom we research have spent much of their careers in Afghanistan or Iraq. Some in fact encountered The Activity over there, too. Modern warfare, in tactics and technology and living history, has been forged in the sands of the Middle East. Now, it’s all shifting to the Pacific Rim, but we have to acknowledge the theater that has made the modern soldiers and their gear what they are. And what has cost our country so much money that we have to change our style of warfare for the future.
TFAW: Artist Mitch Gerads is a real find, here–his bold-yet-realistic style is perfect for the book. How did he become involved with the project?
NE: I found his work on ComicTwart.com, and while what I saw was a different style, I could see it truly working for this book. I hit him up while I was still in LA for meetings and before I had written anything on paper about the book. By the time my plane landed home, I had character sketches from him and a note “this is the book I was born to draw.” Since then we’ve been partners on this book through and through.
TFAW: What’s next for The Activity?
NE: Up next is Uzbekistan, Somalia, the Philippines, and a few other hotspots. We’ll find some drama at home, some thrills abroad, and several missions that don’t go right. Readers will also begin to see that many tiny, seemingly unimportant elements in the first five issues are part of a much longer story being woven here. And issue #7 is co-written with US Navy Seals.
TFAW: You’ve written for a lot of different types of genres: superhero, sci-fi/noir, fantasy, and now war. What do you enjoy the most?
NE: Hard to say. I think I enjoy most writing in a variety of genres, because I get to exercise different creative muscles with each. As always with me, it’s not the genre, but the story.
TFAW: What else are you excited about?
NE: Dancer is getting better reviews than I could have hoped for, and that’s a book that Nic Klein and I are particularly proud of. I’ll be announcing . . . a number of other projects very soon, but I hope anyone who hasn’t checked out Dancer will do so!
What do you think of The Activity? Post your comments below!