It astounded me to learn that Fred Van Lente‘s Ivar, Timewalker (published by Valiant) was initially slated to be a four-issue project. One part love story three times the adventure the story stars two versions of Neela Sethi (thanks to time travel) the tale deserves and has 12 issues to tell its story. For my money that is a hell of a compliment that Valiant gave Van Lente and Sethi that much freedom. Fortunately she has Ivar, Timewalker, in her corner. Now it’s down to history’s most jaded, most tempestuous time traveler to stop the worst of everything that is, was, and will be…before time runs out!
Tim O’Shea: Who is to blame –I mean credit –with issue titles like let’s not kill Hitler seriously those titles are absolutely hilarious.
Fred Van Lente: Thanks. Originally, the title was Let’s Kill Hitler but then Clayton posted some inks of the story on Facebook and somebody told him that was already the title of a Dr. Who episode. I have seen exactly two — well, now three — episodes of Dr. Who in my entire lifetime and I went and watched that one on Netflix as soon as I saw the Facebook post. The two stories don’t have much to do with each other beyond that killing-Hitler part, but since the whole point was you can’t kill Hitler I thought I should change the title to differentiate ourselves from the episode.
Am I right in thinking the time travel aspect is the most logistically complicated element of the story?
Sort of. Making sure the time-tossed characters are all consistent — like older Neela still sounds like Neela and younger Ivar still sounds like Ivar, that’s sort of the complicated part, depicting these two people at such different parts of their own lives, which, thanks to time travel, are so consistently at odds with each other.
How early in the planning of the story did you realize Armstrong needed to be part of the plot?
I went a couple rounds with the editors as to who exactly would go with Ivar on his suicide mission to rescue Ivar from the end of time. After a couple discussions I just realized his immortal brothers were the most fun choice, as well as the most logical, as who else could survive a trip to the end of eternity but some immortals?
Are there members of the cast that ended up with expanded roles because you grew to like them?
Definitely the Lurker, who was just a one-off bit in #2 that the editors loved and begged for me to bring him back. I think people just liked his truncated text message-speak, kind of like an extreme version of newspeak from 1984. Also the fact he’s basically 4chan come to life, which is a terrifying thing to even type…
How much of the success of the series can be credited to the art team.
All of it. Clayton is such a great designer, and Francis kills the far-future bits with his design, and Pere is so good at the acting and action. I’d be nothing without them.
The 5 Guys bit was an instant classic. How did it come about.
I really like 5 Guys!
OK the Juggalo Clowns of issue 9 how did you pull that gem off?
Well, I already knew that I was going to do the Roman dinosaurs — seemed like a natural fit, what with their Latin names. And I needed another historical mash-up to kind of introduce the idea that the multiverse is made up of infinite numbers of recombinations of matter. I wish I could even remember what the other candidates were. The first thing I thought of may have just been Clown Vikings, and I was like, “Full stop. That’s it!”
How critical is Tom Brennan to the success of the series?
Very. He’s been a tireless advocate for the book and great sounding board for making it better, exactly what I want from an editor.
Was it always set to be a 12 issue series.
No, it was originally four, but Valiant was very cool about letting me extend the story and flesh out the characters to tell the tale I wanted to tell. It was very generous and not something every publisher would do.
Anything we neglected to discuss?
The ending is coming soon. The team is pretty happy with it, I’m not sure. I hope people dig it. There’s a moment that pretty much sums up the idea of the whole series. I hope it lands. Time will tell!
Ha ha, that was totally unintentional humor, I swear…