A Wrestling Comic that Feels Like a Suplex to Your Soul – An Interview with JASON DORING

Comic Book Yeti contributor Cody turns the Yeti Cave into the Yeti Squared Circle to find out all the details about Ziggy & MV's Violent Drama from writer Jason Doring. This is a factastic conversation about comics and wrestling and Jason's "Johnny Lawrence" style of scripting.

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: Hello, Jason, and thank you for dropping by the Yeti Ring. This is for our segment called Cryptid-Bits where I ask you questions about yourself and your current Crowdfundr campaign running for Ziggy & MV’s Violent Drama until 9/26. Before I get booed off the ring, let me tag you in so you can tell us a bit about who you are.


Cover by Lauren Moran

JASON DORING: Thanks! Besides being a (very infrequent) former CBY contributor, I’ve been writing and producing comics for four years. My first full issue, The Naked Eye was released in May 2019, and I followed up the next year with my first pro wrestling comic, WARHAUSEN, which has its story continued in Ziggy and MV’s Violent Drama.


Between my time working on those books, I’ve been contributing to anthology projects from the Boston Comics Roundtable, including their local kids’ superhero series Boston Powers and the deep space-themed volume STARBOUND.


During my time creating comics I’ve been privileged to work with a phenomenal cast of talent, including Fell Hound, Ben Humeniuk, Megan Huang, Rob Jones, and Nathan Kempf. It’s been a very rewarding four years!

CBY: What is Ziggy & MV’s Violent Drama about? In a World ripe with Super Heroes, what inspired you to go a different storyline and dive into the universe of tables, ladders & chairs instead of capes and tights? Well, I guess tights still exist in this universe as well to be fair.

JD: I’ve been a diehard wrestling fan since I was eight years old, and I feel as a storytelling format it’s incredibly underappreciated. Some of my favorite examples include Bret Hart and Owen Hart’s rivalry, Eddie Guerrero winning his first WWE title, Daniel Bryan’s rise to superstardom, and in AEW, Hangman Page overcoming his insecurities to become a champion.


I think moving pro wrestling to the comic page, where there can be zero limits on the action, is a natural transition. It’s already been done well in the comic space with Chido Comics’ Luchaverse (focusing on lucha libre stars like Rey Fenix and Pentagon Jr.), and I wanted to do something similar to reward independent talent who have been working hard to shift the perception of pro wrestling beyond the stereotypes we all know.

CBY: Ziggy & MV’s Violent Drama isn’t your first venture into writing a wrestling comic. As you mentioned, it’s actually the sequel to WARHAUSEN, which features All Elite Wrestling star Danhausen, independent wrestling champion WARHORSE and many other nationally renowned wrestlers. How has working with these IPs felt, being a lifelong wrestling fan?

JD: I approached all of them first with this idea, and I am immensely grateful for the trust they put in me to create a fun story that remained true to the characters they had worked so hard to form. I did my best to keep them all in the loop as the story developed, and there were some 11:59th-hour minor changes (that Megan and Rob did a spectacular job incorporating quickly), but I like to think the comic is something that made everyone proud and kept their names in the spotlight during the onset of the pandemic. CBY: Were there any difficulties in creating a comic universe that revolved around wrestling? I know it’s been mentioned that you are a life-long fan, but did you experience any challenges with the creative process of making this world in this format? JD: As far as the actual story development, not really! I don’t know how this is going to come off to readers, but I’m not someone who diligently outlines story beats and cycles through multiple drafts. I run through the whole thing in my head (including entire sequences of dialogue) and write it down and generally I’m happy with what ends up on the page. I call it the “Johnny Lawrence” style of comic book writing - I think “whoa, that’s badass” and want to get it out to readers ASAP.

Ziggy Haim herself was the inspiration for the story in Violent Drama. My Jewish identity is really important to me, and Judaism has never been represented well in pro wrestling. When I saw Ziggy in action, I was inspired to craft a story around this unapologetically Jewish badass and have her wreck shop like Judge Dredd or a Hong Kong action movie protagonist, and the plot built from that point.


MV Young, who had a brief cameo in WARHAUSEN, was the other pillar of Violent Drama. MV, the “PolyAm King,” as a character is someone who exudes magic and danger, and as a wrestler has worked hard to craft pro wrestling shows that enable LGBT+ performers to thrive and succeed - I wanted to platform that perspective on wrestling and also work it into this story.


The only challenge, as you noted earlier, is managing all these different characters properly, and that just takes a lot of open dialogue to make sure everyone loves the final product.

CBY: What are some tiers and add-ons our readers can expect with your campaign? Is there anything different you are doing this time around since you are using a different crowdfunding platform?


JD: This is a much smaller-scale campaign than WARHAUSEN - I’ve been honest about the fact that it scope-creeped pretty badly and I actually lost a significant amount of money on it despite the fantastic response to it on Kickstarter.


I also wanted to use Crowdfundr this time around because Kickstarter’s planned pivot to blockchain really bothered me and also because Crowdfundr is aggressively working to support independent creatives, as shown by their upcoming participation at SPX and MICE. However, the reality is Crowdfundr doesn’t have anywhere near the footprint of Kickstarter at this time, which limits our exposure and necessitates a more modest campaign.


That said, fans of the last book definitely have some kickass rewards for backing. There are ten slots to be drawn into the book as a character, which is my favorite reward to offer as it makes fans feel like part of the action and “canonizes” them as supporters.


I’m also incredibly excited about the latest set of tiers we offered, which will include a variant cover by Yeti favorite Don Cardenas! His cover will showcase the backup story of Violent Drama, where we’re bringing back Midwest independent star Dan the Dad and throwing him into an Elden Ring/Soulsborne-like world. If you enjoy those game worlds, you’ll love having Dan toss out his Dad jokes while fighting some amazing dragons and other Hidetaka Miyazaki-esque monsters.

"I run through the whole thing in my head (including entire sequences of dialogue) and write it down and generally I’m happy with what ends up on the page. I call it the “Johnny Lawrence” style of comic book writing - I think “whoa, that’s badass” and want to get it out to readers ASAP."

CBY: Since we are on the subject, I have to ask you what was your favorite Era of wrestling? I remember growing up and recording matches from the Attitude Era on VHS tapes, nothing was more exciting to me than a PPV Night. JD: I was a kid during the WWF New Generation era, which isn’t most people’s favorite time period, but I loved seeing Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in their primes. Their distinctive (and often adversarial) styles convinced me that pro wrestling is truly special as an art form.


When I moved out to Los Angeles after college, I was a regular at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla shows from 2006-2008, which was an awesome experience. I saw so many wrestlers you now see in WWE and AEW, like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn (as El Generico), Claudio Castagnoli, Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, and PAC putting on spectacular matches before they became international superstars and those shows are some of my most treasured memories. CBY: This isn’t your only campaign you’re running this year, Conductor Kids' Stories from Boston Comics Roundtable is slated to begin in October. Can you tell us more about what to expect from that project?

JD: The Conductor started out as a fun little one-off short for Boston Comics Roundtable’s Boston Powers series (first appearing in Issue #3) to get some more creative experience, but when the character was asked back for the second round of issues, I decided to create an entire mythos for The Conductor to inhabit.


Samara Koyne, the title character, is a young girl who gets technomancer powers from an immortal empath fairy because she’s tired of being sad that Boston’s notoriously unreliable train system makes her lose so much time with her family. There are three stories in this book, which take Samara through three different ages in her life - first grade, middle school, and graduate school.


CBY readers will love this book because it features an all-star art team. The first story was drawn by Fell Hound in one of her earliest stories, before she rose to award-winning superstardom, and I’m so thrilled she returned to draw the cover as well! Ben Humeniuk illustrated the second story, and I genuinely feel that thanks to Ben’s art it’s the best short work I have ever done (that one will also debut in BCR’s Boston Powers #6 in October, most likely at MICE). Italian comics star Andrea Modugno inks, colors, and letters the exclusive third story in this book, and it’s really stylish and fun and details the true extent of Samara’s powers and destiny. CBY: What social media platforms would you like to shoutout for our reads to find you on?

JD: You can get updates on VIOLENT DRAMA on both Twitter and Instagram on [at]comicwarhausen.

I also want to shout out Ell Balson (inker - [at]EllBalsonArt) and Reggie Themistocle (colorist - [at]sketchygothandz) for the amazing work they’ve done so far on Violent Drama, and Lauren Moran ([at]laurenmoran) who has knocked every cover she’s done out of the park, so follow them as well.

CBY: Thank you so much for dropping into the Yeti Ring and breaking down Ziggy & MV's Violent Drama with us. I wish you great success with your campaign and that’s the bottom line!

JD: Thank you so much, and if any readers will be at the Small Press Expo, look for my table at that event!



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