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Ross Wellington: Hard-Boiled Extraterrestrial

May. 9, 2011
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Set in 1940s California, Ross Wellington is the story of a Roswell alien who now works as a private detective. With the comic book's third issue newly available online, the story's Milwaukee-bred perpetrators Mark Van Handel (Ross creator and co-writer) and Brian Ellis (artist and co-writer) took the time to speak about their E.T. P.I. …

Even though he's an alien, the tone of Ross Wellington is very much crime noir, played straight. How often do the sci-fi elements come into play?

Brian Ellis
: Percentage-wise, Mark, would you say it's … 70% crime, and then just 30% sci-fi?

Mark Van Handel
: I'd agree, yeah, definitely.

: When we originally started it…I was bringing all sorts of stupid sketches, and Mark was like, “That's too far out there,” in terms of sci-fi. I think Mark kept it grounded, and after a while I came to really appreciate that.

: Yeah, I didn't want to be doing Men in Black—like, he's got a snitch who comes from the Crab Nebula or something. I wanted Ross to be kind of a loser. [Laughs]

Were you both fans of the detective genre before you started working on

: Honestly, it was more that it made sense to put him in that setting. When we knew that this was what we wanted to do, I read some of the Mike Hammer novels … What was nice about that was going back to the origins of the genre and seeing that things built at a very steady pace.

: Yeah, I agree … We wanted to retain that true essence of the '40s … It's not all action—just a nice, slow burn. We wanted to do that rather than the fast-cut edit sort of crap that's out there right now.

: I'm really glad that we're not developing the series with a publisher. Obviously I hope that at some point it can get wider distribution—whether that's through a publisher or through ourselves—but right now I'm glad that…we're the ones deciding what the pace should be, when the action should take place. There's no one telling us from the side, offstage, “Hey, fire up an explosion now!”

According to rosswellington.com, the series will end with issue 12. Is that right?

: Yeah. It was really important to me that we have a full story before we actually started putting pen to paper.

: It is a slow burn, but—especially with issue three—I think the people who have been reading it are really gonna start to see where things are going. They're gonna be glad that they stuck around. I think it has a really good payoff.

: Absolutely. … And I mean, hell, it's free! If you need something to do when you're at work, it's online and it's free!

The fourth issue of
Ross Wellington is due this summer. The first three are available—for free!—at www.rosswellington.com.

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