Dan Fogler on his apocalyptic Heavy Metal series with Ben Templesmith

(Image credit: Heavy Metal Publishing)

Actor/writer Dan Fogler has had a dark vision of a fictional apocalyptic future which he's been telling in the comic book series Brooklyn Gladiator, and now he's looking back to when it all began in a prequel called Fishkill.

In this day and age readers might wonder how much of Fishkill's eerily poignant plot is based on current events, but Fogler assures Newsarama that he's been working on this for years - even before bringing in artist Ben Templesmith to draw the prequel.

Fishkill centers on Detective Bart Fishkill, who happens onto a mystery that turns into a conspiracy which calls into question his own idea of what's right and what's wrong. Newsarama spoke with Fogler about this four-issue series ahead of its August 12 debut, discussing how it relates to the bigger picture of the other works in his over-arching story.

(Image credit: Heavy Metal Publishing)

Newsarama: Dan, you've got a new series coming out in a few weeks called Fishkill - but its tied into an older comic book you've been doing for years.

Dan Fogler: It’s a prequel to Brooklyn Gladiator, in what I call 'The Last Storm' series. And the prequel to everything is like basically an antediluvian tale, 'The Time Before the Moon,' that I'm working on right now. I hope people dig it. I'm just writing the kind of books that I would want to read.

Nrama: I was curious like what's it been like working with Ben Templesmith on Fishkill because that's, again, a very distinct talent – like Simon Bisley on Brooklyn Gladiator, but in a very different way.

Fogler: Exactly. Dude, I'm glad you brought that up. Templesmith was also another guy who was like — 30 Days of Night and the like, I’m such a fan of his work over the years, but also a wild card, a rock and roll legend, essentially. 

And the fact that we got four completed issues in a timely matter - pretty legendary. [Laughs]

(Image credit: Heavy Metal Publishing)

Yeah, I am very excited about that, just that we completed it. Let's put aside the fact that it's fucking gold, what he did. 

Knock on wood, I think that people are going to see it and I think they're gonna be impressed by how well the ingredients came together, that's all I'm gonna say. I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but I'm very proud of it. 

Sometimes you seek out an artist, you take a big risk on someone who has a reputation, and you hope that they come through, because if they come through, it's gonna be something special. And so, you take a gamble. And that's what I did with both Simon and Ben. They really took it to the next level.

Nrama: How'd you come to work with Heavy Metal Publishing on Fishkill, Gladiator, and this overall de facto line you have going with them now?

Fogler: When I was doing Moon Lake back in 2010, I was with Archaia Press. And I was at a comic convention with my comic book, my first comic book, and I was just over the moon, no pun intended. And so, I wanted to go over the Heavy Metal Publishing table and give them a copy of the book and say, "Hey man, you guys are in the foreword, this book is an homage to Heavy Metal, I want you guys to have it.”

And ever since then, they’re my friends, they've let me squat at their booth at comic conventions when I didn't have anywhere to go, and they've been doing that for 10 years. I've written for the magazine over the years, and I've done small projects with them, which were awesome. 

But now, to have like my own 'Fogler’s Fictions' with Heavy Metal Publishing is like a dream come true for me. That’s the first book I ever picked up, man!

(Image credit: Heavy Metal Publishing)

Nrama: You have Brooklyn Gladiator and Fishkill, and you mentioned the prequel – do you have any other books scheduled with Heavy Metal Publishing?

Fogler: We’re doing more Moon Lake – there’s plenty more of that coming out. I plan to continually put this stuff out. I have I have years of material written out for all of these different titles.

Like I said, I want to introduce another prequel to all of this. As long as I can keep my family fed and do franchise movies that pay pretty well, I think I'll be able to keep making these comic books, really, for my own pleasure. [Laughs]

Finishing something, having something tangible in your hand that has the brand on it of the publisher that basically got you into comics… I don't know man, that's magic. I guess I'm very, very naive, but it just feels good to hold it in your hands. 

Nrama: And how long do you see this overarching story going? Like you said, you have years of material, but is there a set ending?

Fogler: We’re outlining for stories planned out several volumes in advance for Fishkill and Brooklyn Gladiator and Moon Lake, and at least another couple volumes of other things. And like I said, man, I'm just gonna keep on making this stuff as long as long as I got money in the bank. We have a lot of content for the next couple of years at least. 

Nrama: As a fan of comics, what are some creators and books that you currently enjoy?

Fogler: I love Eduardo Risso and Brian Azzarello, so Moonshine is one of my favorites. Together, they are an amazing team.

100 Bullets should have been a TV show years ago. 

East of West – that's another lovely dystopian deliciousness. I guess more mainstream. 

(Image credit: Heavy Metal Publishing)

I got into the whole DCeased thing. I like the DC characters, turning into zombies. I needed that since The Walking Dead ended!

I would be reading so many more books right now if it wasn’t for the lockdown. Every Wednesday, I would go — whether I could get to reading the comics or not — I would go to the shop and just buy a ton of comics. And I would maybe be able to get to half of them by the next week, but there would be a ton that would pile up and I’m just getting through a lot of them now. 

Undiscovered Country, our letterer’s also working on that and that’s a dystopian sci-fi thing, so I picked that up. I like to see what other people are doing with their dystopian universes, make sure I’m not wasting anybody’s time. [Laughs]

Nrama: I wonder if, after all this current mess has subsided at least a bit, there’ll be a moratorium on post-apocalyptic stories. Or a movement towards post-post-apocalyptic stories, that deal more with the rebuilding.

Fogler: Yeah! In the future, let's go back and work our way forward. Talk about biblical sheeeeeeeit. [Laughs]

Nrama: So then, how are you doing in this lockdown. I'm in North Carolina, so don’t ask me. We’ve had our own issues.

Fogler: We have kind of a plan, where if we start hearing key phrases like “mandatory vaccination,” that’s when we decide to bug out and go someplace a little more off the grid.

But yeah, these things, these concepts of martial law… We're in like a soft martial law right now, that's what that's what we're living in. And the next step is like basically TSA on everything. And every, every doorway has TSA, every block, every corner, they pat you down, checking your fever. You know that's the next step. 

These are all things that are in Fishkill and Brooklyn Gladiator. Like, people that read this will go, like, “Wait a minute! How the fuck did they know?!” No, I don't know! We wrote this basically two years ago when I was just taking in some of the headlines and siphoning them into my work and now here we are. I mean if you look at Fishkill, you'd be like, “Wait, when did they write this?!”

Freelance Writer

Zack is a comics journalist, who has written primarily for Newsarama, GamesRadar, and Indy Week. His words have also appeared in The Washington Post, AXS, VOX, The Sports Network, Gambit, and more.