Ande Parks started his career as an inker, most notably doing a 40 issue run with Phil Hester on Green Arrow working with writers Kevin Smith, Judd Winick and Brad Meltzer. In more recent years Parks has been known for his writing starting with Union Station and Capote In Kansas for Oni Press and working with Ed Brubaker on Daredevil. With Dynamite Parks has played with such iconic characters as Kato, Zorro and The Lone Ranger. Nancy Collins talked with Parks about his work on the legendary cowboy hero.
NANCY COLLINS: How familiar were you with the Lone Ranger before coming on as writer for the series?
ANDE PARKS: To be honest, not very. I had seen the show some as a kid, but I definitely not what you would have called a big fan. The first time I wrote the characters was in the Death of Zorro mini-series, and I struggled to find their voices in that first issue. I had dug into the Zorro character, but was lagging on The Lone Ranger and Tonto. So… I dug in, big-time. I read the entire Brett Matthews/Sergio Cariello/John Cassaday run from Dynamite. I sought out some old TV shows, radio shows and comics. I got into the characters as much and as quickly as I could. Fortunately, they really spoke to me.
The values of the Ranger are very appealing to me, and I love the dynamic between him and Tonto. When I write, I place a very high value on theme; a big, underlying idea that runs through the story. If there’s a central theme in all of my Lone Ranger story, it is friendship… looking into what holds these two men together, and why they are so important to each other. We established with our second arc, “Native Ground” that The Lone Ranger and Tonto have redeemed each other. Each man has been helped by the other in reconnecting with his own humanity.
NC: Do you read Western fiction? If so, do your tastes run more to Louis L’Amour & Zane Grey or Elmore Leonard and Larry McMurty?
AP: Not really. I have read some Leonard, and liked it. I think I read some L’Amour when I was a kid. My grandpa was a fan, and had them around. I think I read a few, but don’t remember them well.
I feel more connected to the Western films of John Ford. I think you can find a lot of that stuff in our book. We even quoted Ford in our first issue.
NC: How does writing for the Lone Ranger differ from writing for a ‘powered’ superhero like the Green Lantern?
AP: I approach Lone Ranger in a more grounded, realistic way. I like writing big supervillains tearing down cities, but the smaller, more personal stories of the Ranger’s world appeal to me even more.
I like to take John Reid’s clear and noble values and smash them into real-world situations where there may not be a simple answer. We set up collisions between a black and white man and a gray situations, and we observe how the characters respond. That resonates more, I think, when your characters are men who are really flesh and blood. The Lone Ranger could easily be killed by a bullet. He’s willing to die for what he believes in. The fact that he’s so righteous and so vulnerable makes him a very relatable hero.
NC: What do you think today’s comic fan is looking for from a character like the Lone Ranger?
AP: They want to see the man’s values on display. They want to see that pillar of justice. They want the interplay between Lone Ranger and Tonto. They want action, but not without some meaning. I think, in the case of our book, they also want a sense for what the real Old West was like. I hope so, anyway… because we really try to get some of that history into the book. I think it adds another layer. It makes the heroic stories more believable, which elevates the heroism.
NC: Do you have any upcoming releases for 2014 that fans should keep an eye out for?
AP: Lone Ranger will continue. I’m also working on a new crime series for Dynamite. It’s going to be very interesting… very different. I’m excited about it. I’m always working on creator-owned stuff, as well. If people seek me out on Twitter, they can keep track of that stuff.
Click here for more on Lone Ranger #21 by Ande Parks and Esteve Polls.
Nancy A. Collins is the author of numerous novels, short stories, and comic books, including DC Comics’ Swamp Thing. A recipient of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award, The British Fantasy Society’s Icarus Award, as well as a nominee for the International Horror Guild, John W. Campbell, James Tiptree, Eisner & World Fantasy Awards, her works include Sunglasses After Dark, Lynch: A Gothik Western, and Knuckles And Tales. Legends of Red Sonja #1 marks her return to comics, and her newest novel is Magic And Loss, the 3rd book in the Golgotham series, scheduled to be released November 5th .