With a second installment of the Iron Maiden game out now, Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast: Night City, Heavy Metal have produced a second comic book series with ties to the game. Written once again by Ian Edginton – himself a fan – and drawn by artist Kevin J West, Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast: Night City #2 is out now and I was able to catch up with Ian and talk about this new series, fan reaction for the first series, as well as his own fandom and more. Read on, and rock out!
Olly MacNamee: Ian, before we tackle the sequel to Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast, what was the feedback and fan reaction like to this first series?
Ian Edginton: Really positive. When we did the signings at Forbidden Planet and at comic-cons everyone was really pleased. I don’t think the fans knew quite what to expect and they were pleasantly surprised. It was basically a loud, brash, fun and ‘in your face’ comic to do. This is no Vertigo title. I think it just clicked with readers and fans of the band, because it was unashamedly an enjoyable romp.
One guy came to one signing dressed as Eddie, complete with the full face mask, and didn’t talk the whole time. He just grunted and growled, which was just awesome. He never broke character once. It’s really rewarding, as the fans who showed up to the signings were just the best!
OM: And what about the band members themselves?
IE: Yeah, Bruce Dickinson (lead vocals) has done a video where he’s sitting in the cockpit of a plane (Ed Force One, surely? – Olly), or simulator, where he’s talking up the book. That was pretty cool. And, I actually saw him in a Birmingham book shop where he was touring and signing copies of his autobiography, and he gave me a quick handshake and a thumbs up after I was able to pass him a copy of the comic via his minders. I have heard that the feedback from the band was great, too.
In fact, I think there’s even a special trade paperback you can only get only at Iron Maiden gigs.
But, you can get it mail order while you’re there so you don’t get beer and sweat over your ‘concert special’ copy.
OM: Were you a fan anyway?
IE: Oh, yes. I went to the very first Castle Donnington (an annual Heavy Metal music festival here in the UK) where I saw Alice Cooper, Rainbow, and of course, Iron Maiden. The Troopers (Iron Maiden fans) are great. They are so loyal. There’s fans, and then there’s the Troopers. They are something else.
OM: How must it have felt, as a fan, to land this gig in particular?
IE: I’d been writing some Evil Dead comics a while back and the company who held that franchise was approached to package an Iron Maiden comic. I was approached because I think they must have thought, “British band, British writer”. And, essentially the rule of thumb was “think Image Comics, early 90’s”; loud, brash, over-the-top.
But then I thought that actually, in Iron Maiden lore, Eddie doesn’t speak. In the game the comic is based on, however, there’s the character The Clairvoyant. So, I hit upon the idea of her’s and Eddie’s relationship in the series being more of a Han and Chewbacca relationship. We understand what he says, through her. And, this makes for very good jokes, too.
OM: Is that why you include a new character, The Alchemist, in this sequel series?
IE: In this second series, we’re in the next phase of the computer game, called Night City. London has been taken over by people contaminated by the Beast. The Alchemist is here now, instead of The Clairvoyant, and we have a new character called Charlotte. She’s like a dominatrix who also understands Eddie.
It’s a very dark, Satanic-looking London. And, we’ve got a lot more Iron Maiden references and Easter eggs in, too. Like the name of the pub in the first issue – The Cart and Horses – is where the band first played. We had more lead time with this series, so it’s less rushed.
OM: What makes a good Iron Maiden comic, then? Even setting it in 1981 is relevant as the year Dickinson joined the band.
IE: 1981 also ties in to their LP of the time (Killers, and the band’s last with vocalist Paul Di’Anno), with some of the characters reciting lyrics from that album. It’s about having fun with it, and lots of action and lots of adventure. Oh, and keeping it dark, but not taking ourselves too seriously. It certainly leans towards black comedy in places. But, there’s also a mythical weight to Eddie’s story, too.
OM: Certainly The Alchemist immediately had me thinking of the mystic Dr. John Dee, a familiar face in Elizabethan high society.
IE: Yes, well, we learn a lot more of his backstory too, and it does have ties to that era of British history. We definitely expand on the universe and mythology of Iron Maiden in this book.
OM: How important was it to have a strong female protagonist now The Clairvoyant is gone?
IE: Very. She’s like our Dr. Watson to Eddie’s Sherlock Holmes, in that she’s the reader’s view into this book. She’s being all of this stuff for the first time, although admittedly she’s seen some weird stiff as a dominatrix, but nothing like this! We experience events in the book as she does. Her reaction is our reaction. Plus, she’s a really cool character and gets some of the best one-liners in the series.
OM: Without giving too much away, what else can we expect from this 5 part series?
IE: Lots more Easter eggs and building to a huge crescendo. I told the artist to think of the as a ‘Jack and Stan’ book; big spreads, huge fights through London building up to a final showdown on Big Ben. Plus, as this is the middle part of a planned trilogy of comic book series, this ends on something of a cliffhanger.
OM: One last question, but how do you work from another’s story?
IE: Llexi Leon is my liaison, because he worked on the plotting for the game, so I get sent all the character designs and notes I need. Sometimes I can veer off, sometimes I can’t. For example, in the first series, I had Eddie blowing up mountains on the moon with his guitar, sculpting his face into them. But, as there were only dinosaurs on the Earth at that time, there’s no-one to notice.
OM: You certainly seem to be having fun with it.
IE: Well, while I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, I will put some Iron Maiden on while cooking the kids’ tea. Although, I don’t think they appreciate it, but it all feeds back into the creative process.
OM: What next for you in the world of comic books?
IE: Myself and D’Israeli will be returning to Scarlet Traces for 2000AD as well as more with Tina Trivellion tied in with Fiends of the Eastern Front. A sword, soccer and vampire horror! And, more Kingmaker with Leigh Gallagher and a two-part Judge Dredd story with D’Israeli, almost as a palette cleanser before our more heavy stuff. I like the silly Dredd stories. I’ll happily leave the more serious stuff to Rob Williams (The Small House).
OM: Plenty more to come then. Ian, thanks for your time, and look forward to seeing how the rest of the series pans out.
Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast: Night City #2 is available now from Heavy Metal and from your comic book shop.
[**Disclaimer: The Executive Editor of Comicon.com, Hannah Means-Shannon, is also a Senior Editor at Heavy Metal Magazine, but wasn’t involved in the set up or creation of this interview. But having read it, she thinks it’s very metal!]