We here at Biff Bam Pop! are big fans of the work of David Pepose, the author of titles like Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel, and his most recent book, Scout’s Honor. David was kind enough to talk to me about his new book, his background in comics and more.
Uncle Highlander: Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background in comics?
David Pepose: Sure! For those who don’t know me, I wrote a book called Spencer & Locke over at Action Lab, as well as the recent romcom heist book Going to the Chapel. I also ran a really fun Kickstarter back in the fall called The O.Z., which we’re gearing up for our next campaign to roll out in the next few months.
I’ve been working in the comics industry in some capacity or another for almost 13 years, starting off as a DC Comics intern on Final Crisis and Batman RIP, and then spending over a decade as the reviews editor at Newsarama before I took the plunge and tried my hand at writing. It sure beats digging ditches!
Uncle Highlander: Where did the idea for Scout’s Honor come from? Do you have any experience with scouting that informed your approach?
David Pepose: My younger brothers were Boy Scouts, and I think being on the outside looking in was really the central kernel behind this idea — when you’re on the inside, scouting is about the camaraderie and learning practical skills and doing stuff alongside your friends, but on the outside, the costumes and the bylaws and the ceremonial nature of it all couldn’t help but feel a little like a cult.
And so when I had the idea of, “what would be the weirdest thing a society could use as its bible?”, the Boy Scout manual immediately sprang to mind. There’s a lot of imagery in the Boy Scouts that can be distorted and mutated across the long arc of history, but more importantly, I think there’s a lot of themes to a post-apocalyptic Boy Scout cult that tracks with today’s society — the culture of toxic masculinity, the fetishizing of the military and survival preppers, the rise of evangelism… add in some nuclear weapons, and the Ranger Scouts of America suddenly don’t sound that far-fetched.
Uncle Highlander: What can you tell us about our main character Kit and her friend Dez?
David Pepose: Kit is the ultimate Ranger Scout true believer, and has really embodied all the best that this survivalist society has to offer — but there’s one catch. The Ranger Scouts are a hypermasculine cult that only allows men to serve, and as such, Kit has had to conceal her identity as a woman in order to pursue her calling as a Ranger Scout. But when Kit makes a chilling discovery dating back to the Ranger Scouts’ creation, she’s going to find herself losing her religion as she embarks on a dangerous quest for the truth.
Dez, meanwhile, is the son of the Scoutmaster, the political and religious leader of the Ranger Scout cult. He’s kind of the Loki to Kit’s Thor, always coming up second-best despite the immense scrutiny his father places on him. The big thing is that despite their lifelong friendship, both Kit and Dez have some pretty major secrets that they haven’t revealed to one another, and those walls are going to pit these two friends head-to-head in a big and nasty way. But at the same time, I always look at Dez with a bit of sadness — when you strip him down to his core, he’s just a kid in a small conservative town looking for his father’s approval. And he might just do anything to get it.
Uncle Highlander: What can you say about your fantastic main artist Luca Casalanguida? How has he helped you establish this new world?
David Pepose: What’s funny is, I had actually reached out to Luca years ago for another project, but his schedule was justifiably busy working on James Bond over at Dynamite — so I was thrilled when Mike and Christina said he was looking for his next project.
Luca’s such a versatile artist with a real eye for emotion and action — he’s able to shift gears so quickly between these thoughtful, quiet moments to these sequences of brutal combat in post-apocalyptic wastelands. And his take on the Ranger Scout iconography has been really terrific, to boot.
Uncle Highlander: Are we going to delve more into the background of this world and how it came to be this way?
David Pepose: Delving more into the background of the world, absolutely — the Ranger Scouts are very much a product of their environments, and seeing how their fanatical religion weaves into the Colorado Badlands has been some of my favorite parts of the book. But as for the story of why the bombs fell, that almost feels unnecessary to me — this is the story of people navigating a broken world and finding their own meaning in it, rather than causing the apocalypse themselves.
Uncle Highlander: Any hints about what we can look forward to in future issues of Scout’s Honor?
David Pepose: Monsters, raiders, the intrigue of the Ranger Scout cult… Kit is going to have to navigate a lot of challenges both physical and ideological over the course of this story. And if you think the Ranger Scouts are tough, imagine what the Eagle Scouts of this world might look like… and the grueling tests it takes to become one.
Uncle Highlander: What’s it like working for AfterShock?
David Pepose: It’s been really incredible. This is the first time I’ve ever worked with an editor, and it’s been such a great experience to develop this story alongside artist Luca Casalanguida, colorist Matt Milla, letterer Carlos Mangual and the entire AfterShock team. From Luca on down, the whole team has been so top-shelf, and seeing everyone jam out with their contributions has been such a blast.
I’ve known one of my editors, Mike Marts, ever since I interned at DC, and so in a lot of ways it really feels like I’ve come full circle in my career — our lead editor, Christina Harrington, meanwhile has been a tireless champion behind this book, really pushing to make this book everything it possibly can be.
Uncle Highlander: Any plans to follow this series up with other stories set in this world?
David Pepose: I wrote Scout’s Honor with a distinct beginning, middle and end for Kit’s journey, but if the demand is there for more, I always have ideas in my back pocket. So never say never!
Uncle Highlander: What’s next for David Pepose? Any upcoming series you’d like to hype up?
David Pepose: Sure — I’ve got the next Kickstarter campaign for my fantasy war series The O.Z. coming up in a couple months, as Dorothy Gale, the Tin Soldier, and some unexpected friends embark on a quest for the legendary Silver Slippers.
Meanwhile, I recently wrapped a superhero one-shot called Roxy Rewind with my Spencer & Locke co-creator Jorge Santiago, Jr. — it’s very much our love letter to classic Spider-Man and Kim Possible, with time-travel nods ranging from Back to the Future to Life is Strange. And that’s not including the long-awaited Spencer & Locke 3… lots of stuff on the horizon!
Thanks to David Pepose for taking the time to talk to Biff Bam Pop! You can follow him on Twitter @Peposed.