Anthrax and Damned Things guitarist Scott Ian has always had a passion for comic books, one that first manifested itself through his music when Anthrax were inspired by the British comic book series Judge Dredd for their song “I Am The Law” from their 1987 album Among The Living. And this was eight years before the Sylvester Stallone movie emerged. In 2009, Ian got to take his love for the medium further and pen a two-issue Lobo run for DC Comics, and they have asked him back for a Demon mini-series that is in the works. I recently spoke with Ian about moonlighting as a DC Comics writer for a Grammy.com feature on rockers writing comic books. We spoke about plenty of things that did not make it into the story, so here is the rest of that conversation.
How did you get involved with DC, and how did you pick the titles that you were going to work on?
They initially called my manager a few years back asking if I would be interested in coming in and having a meeting. We had no idea what they wanted to talk about. So I set it up and met a bunch of editors at DC, and they asked, “Do you know why you’re here?” I said, “Actually, no. Not a clue.” They said, “We want to do a book with you. We think you’ve got a pretty good point-of-view and have read a bunch of stuff you’ve written, and we just think you’ve got something to say.” I was like, “Really?” I kept looking over my shoulder thinking there was someone standing behind me. They said to take some time and think of characters and gave me an open door as far as the DC universe was concerned. They said to think about characters and come up with some storylines and outlines.
I had a couple of ideas for some Batman stories, but I immediately found out that some of their A-list characters — Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern — have a lot of rules and regulations that you have to follow unless you’re Frank Miller or Grant Morrison or someone like that. But for someone like me [it was different]. There’s a lot of continuity stuff that I don’t know because I haven’t followed a lot of that stuff. So I basically said to them that I wanted to do a horror oriented story and what character could I use where I wouldn’t have to worry too much about stuff? They immediately came back to me and said they had wanted to do another Lobo book for a couple of years. The light bulb just went off because I was a big fan of Lobo in the ’80s, and I just felt it was the perfect character to start with because he’s very no holds barred and you don’t have to worry too much about reality when you’re writing Lobo. In some ways it made it easier for me, but at the same time made it harder because I had so much freedom with the character and started getting too big with too many ideas. Then I tried paring it down.
“I want him to be huge and disgusting, tearing limbs and blowing people apart with fire shooting out of his mouth. So far Sam Keith has accomplished all that.”
What led you to The Demon?
It’s just another character that I’ve always really liked, and before Lobo was even finished they were asking me about doing something else. I had brought up that I already had Lobo in Hell, so I thought why not stick with it and try a Demon story next. They loved it because he’s one of those characters that they only use as a recurring or background character, but it’s been a while since The Demon had his own book. I think I have something cool to say, and I think I came up with a really cool idea for a back story for this character that I created for the story. The Demon just fit in as the character that needs to fight this person.
I’m a big fan of Silver and Bronze Age comics and characters, but once in a while the reboots are interesting. DC did a pretty good job with The Creeper in the late Nineties.
Mine’s going to be pretty classic. He’s definitely more on the malevolent side of his personality. That’s what I want to show. He is The Demon. I told the artist that I want him to be huge and disgusting, tearing limbs and blowing people apart with fire shooting out of his mouth. So far Sam Keith has accomplished all that. [laughs]
Do you think that DC initially came to you because of the Anthrax-Judge Dredd connection from the ’80s?
Possibly. Everyone I initially met with was an Anthrax fan, and my editor Ian [Sattler] is an old-school metal and hardcore guy, so we have this mutual background as far as music we’ve been into our whole lives. And we have been into the same comics our whole lives. He’s really easy to talk to, and it makes my life really easy.
What is it like doing a second DC book?
This [Demon] book is definitely more of a challenge than the first one because there’s just more going on, and I just naturally put more pressure on myself because I want to be better and to do a better job. It’s the kind of pressure that I put on myself.
Are there any recent comics that you’re reading right now?
I’m just catching up on some older stuff. I’m going to start the whole Blackest Night thing right now, and I’m catching up on the last 10 or 15 issues of The Walking Dead. DC piled me up with a bunch of books, so I’ve got a lot of reading to do.