Fresh from C2E2, Comic Book Yeti contributor Alex Breen corresponded on the convention floor with Todd Black, writer of 5 Bullets 6 Men, Tokyo Blade Detectives, and Thunder Rosa, to give us a rundown of a portion of his comics catalog, how he ended up writing a comic about professional wrestler, Thunder Rosa, and his advice for aspiring writers.
NOTE: This interview was conducted with Todd during last year's C2E2 on 8/05/22.
COMIC BOOK YETI: I am here with Todd Black, writer of 5 Bullets 6 Men, Tokyo Blade Detectives, and Thunder Rosa, among many others. Todd, thank you so much for joining me today.
TODD BLACK: Happy to be here, man. Hope you're enjoying C2E2 like I am.
CBY: Yeah. It's been a great time so far. So, the first question I've been asking everyone, because I've been getting a lot of great answers so far. What is your comic book origin story as a creator?
TB: I grew up on the superhero cartoons of the 90s, when everything was great, and over time, I just started to make my own stories in my head, and I came up with the one that I called Guardians. So, my very first Comic-Con, which was C2E2, ironically enough. C2E2 2011, I believe. I went to a panel called Making Comics the Marvel Way, which is actually here at the show this weekend, and Matt Fraction, during his legendary Iron Man run, was there, and I asked him, "What advice would you give to a writer who's trying to get into comics?" And he goes, "If you want to make comics, you find an artist and make comics." Fast forward two years, I finally got the money to hire an artist and we made my first issue of Guardians. I’ve had a lot of highs and lows since then, but now I've got 45 books under my name with more coming, and I'm doing shows like C2E2. So, it's been a journey.
CBY: Excellent. So, I want to start with the Thunder Rosa comic. That was the first PDF you gave me and since I also mentioned this on the side, a bit of a casual AEW fan myself. What was the story behind that comic coming together?
TB: Dumb luck. I have a group of friends and we're all AEW mega fans. Two of my friends, Marie and Jack, are huge Thunder Rosa fans. They were friends of hers in NWA, and Lucha Underground, and her work in Japan.
Okay, I got to tangent a little bit. I had made an AEW comic, a fan-made AEW comic, because I want to work with the company, I still do. And she knew that and goes, "You should make one about Thunder Rosa because she's really awesome." And I had watched her match with Hikaru Shida at All Out, and it was really awesome. So I'm like, "I'd be up for that but how am I supposed to contact her? On Twitter?" She goes, "No. She's got an email on her website." I'm like, "Oh, okay." And so, I write her an email and say, "Hey, can I maybe make a comic of you, tell your life story in comic form?" And I sent it off, go back to my friend group and go, "Okay, the email's sent. I'll never hear back from her." Five minutes later, I hear back from her and she goes, "Yeah, Todd, I'd love to have a comic about me." I'm like, "Huh? It's not supposed to be this easy." And yet, it was.
Fast forward a little while later, we got to talking, we made issue one, issue two, and then, issue three got done right after her steel cage match with Britt Baker where she won the title. So, in what we call the Championship Edition, which is the whole story in one book, we have her with the title and it looks really great.
So, it was an honor working with her. She is one of the most epic women on the planet. I truly believe that. And as I was telling you before the interview, I sold out of every copy of Thunder Rosa that I had in basically six hours, which shows just how many AEW fans are here, and how much of an impact Thunder Rosa has had.
CBY: Yeah, it's almost, I guess, Chicago's almost the second home territory for AEW. So, to unpack what you said a little, that's a great story of taking your shot and it working in a way you could have never imagined.
TB: Yeah, that's very true.
CBY: So, for your next comic, Tokyo Blade Detectives, could you tell us some of your influences behind that story?
TB: Basically, any and every anime I have ever watched. I wanted to make an anime story and I literally lucked into a title and when I had the idea, it's just... the Floodgates opened. I have references to Digimon, Pokemon, to even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because of the Shredder, and I have more on the way. I've even referenced wrestlers in there. The character known as the Empress, it's actually a reference to WWE's Asuka.
CBY: I had a feeling about that one (Laughs).
"...I’ve had a lot of highs and lows since then, but now I've got 45 books under my name with more coming, and I'm doing shows like C2E2. So, it's been a journey."
TB: (Laughs) And I'm also going to reference Kairi Sane in the later arc, so that's going to be fun. Japan's had a huge influence on my life, and I wanted to pay that back by having a very fun story of laser swords, samurais, and a land just riddled with epic technologies. It was great.
CBY: Awesome. And so, clearly, I'm not on video here, but your booth is filled with comics. So, can you describe what your creative process generally is like? And, I guess, do you vary it depending on who you're paired with, or is it pretty much one size fits all?
TB: At first, when I started out, I only did Guardians and I wrote 20 issues of that. It's the longest story I've ever done, and I did that because that's the story I wanted to make and I thought that people would read. And to be clear, as you know because we sold a comic of Guardians right before the interview, people will read it. But over time, I realized I like different genres. People like different genres. They'll look at my table and they go, "Oh, these all look different." And I'll say, "Yeah, because I have superheroes. I have fantasy. I have anime. I’ve got noir. I’ve got mystery novels. I have something for almost everyone." I still have a few genres I haven't touched yet, like horror, I get asked about a lot.
I try to make books for all sorts of people because all sorts of people like all sorts of different books. My best sellers at C2E2 was Thunder Rosa, which is a wrestling comic, and 5 Bullets 6 Men, which is a noir. And I'm like, "Really? That's selling over everything else. That's hilarious." So, you never know. That's why I like to have that range so that I might find that one person who likes this one book, and they'll buy it.
CBY: Makes perfect sense and speaking of 5 Bullets 6 Men, can you give us the premise of that story?
TB: It's an old-school noir. It's about a city riddled with crime, and five of the biggest crime lords of the city are killed in a restaurant full of people and no one knows who killed them. Or do they? So, a detective named Waverly is called in, and he not only investigates the suspects but breaks down who these five men were, and tries to find out who the sixth one was.
CBY: Excellent. And what was your collaboration like with the artist, Alex Garcia?
TB: It was great. Alex has been on a lot of comics with me. He's my go-to artist. And as to that one, we were like, "I want to do old school. I want to go black and white, Sin City style, really pop, really try and make the lighting dramatic to enforce the shades." And he really killed it.
CBY: So, this is another question I kind of ask everyone, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would you say to them?
TB: Believe in your story. If you do not believe in your story, why should anybody else? I believed in Guardians. That's why I wrote 20 issues. I believed in Home, which... Sorry, you didn't get to read. I believed in that one when I was really nervous about Kickstarter, and I believed in it so much that I got it funded five times over. Tokyo Blade Detectives, five times over. 10,000 Miles, it was a graphic novel I did, and that one was on Kickstarter. That was probably one of my biggest Kickstarters ever. I believe in every single story that I do because I believe that they are stories that are worth being told.
CBY: Awesome. And where can people support your comics outside of conventions?
TB: Okay. I am on Amazon, Todd Black Book. So, you can find me there. I don't have a website, but I am on Twitter, @Guardians_Comic. You can find me on Facebook, Author Todd Black, or on my personal page. Look for the hair and you'll see it.
CBY: Todd, thank you so much for your time.
TB: My pleasure, man.