“There’s none of this tedious posturing and do-gooding you get in most superhero comics” Monty Nero on why Death Sentence: Liberty is not your average capes comic

Monty Nero and Martin Simmonds’ sex, drugs and superpowers series Death Sentence: Liberty is back with a new issue now funding on Kickstarter. We’ve already raved on here about the first issue, (as well as the debut series), but what better what to find out the secrets of the world of G-Plus than talk to the creator itself – the man behind the mayhem, Monty Nero.

For those new to the world of Death Sentence, can you give us a quick catch up on what it’s all about and what the world of G-Plus, Verity, Weasel and co is all about?!

Monty Nero: It’s about a sexually transmitted virus that kills you in six months but gives you superpowers. So what would you do if you could do anything in that time? We see how it affects three ordinary people: Verity, a frustrated artist, Weasel, a rock star, and Roots, a drug dealer. They all start to do amazing things, transforming their lives. Then there’s Jeb, who’s an undercover FBI agent trying to discover more about the virus. After the first issue, which is epic action, things get pretty freaky and dark.

The concept of a superhero virus that is caught rather than gained and also gives those with powers a limited life span, really gives the book a unique twist on the superhero genre. Was this the initial spark for Death Sentence?

MN: Yeah, the most original thing about Death Sentence is the whole approach. The tone. The way the characters look and act, like you or I would. There’s none of this tedious posturing and do-gooding you get in most superhero comics. But it’s not cynical either. It’s just funny, dark, and real.

The spark was just that horrible feeling  that you’re running out of time and there’s so much left undone. Everyone feels that. We’re all dying, slowly. It’s an acute dramatisation of our essential dilemma as humans. That’s why it resonates with people.

You’re bringing this new series to Kickstarter rather than publish it via Titan, why is that? Did they not want to publish it? Or is Kickstarter where you think it’s natural home is?

MN: The first series was made independently and Titan picked I up later. They did a great job initially but that wild rock ‘n’ roll spirit has always been integral to our ethos. It’s why the comic’s so damn good. Me and Martin work at all the subtle storytelling details, I edit it, we do exactly what we want, and the results speak for themselves.

Death Sentence isn’t afraid to have a bit of adult content and lives up to its sex, drugs and superpowers mantra. Do you find you can push the boundaries a bit further when self-publishing it? And do you think the series would be as successful if you had toned down that side of things?

MN: My only interest is in reflecting the real world. You get plasterer’s living the rock n roll lifestyle these days, financial analysts, salesmen! I was quite shocked people thought the first series was out there. There is a lot of satirical exaggeration in Death Sentence, but only to expose the sordid truth. God knows the world is fucked right now, it’s important to have characters who acknowledge that. What to do about it is the question. Verity’s got a few ideas.

Artist Martin Simmonds has had a stellar year with books like Punks Not Dead and Friendo, but it looks like he has saved his best for Death Sentence? What is it about Martin’s work that seems to suit the world of Death Sentence so well? And do you think you push him to create his best work?

MN: This is his greatest work, I think. You get periods in artists lives where their knowledge and skill and enthusiasm and opportunity all reach an apex and Martin’s going through that phase here. To read his work is to read an artist revelling in the art of  storytelling – stretching himself for the sheer joy of it. Issue 2 is mind-blowingly beautiful. And issue 3 raises the bar further.  And comic fans would be upset to miss this. I’m just enjoying the ride like everyone else. I can’t take any credit for Martin’s talent at all.

Death Sentence has always felt quite political and satirical, but has the tone shifted in the past few years as the world has got more crazy and far-fetched? Reading the first volume it now feels almost dated, even though it is only a few years old, as the world has changed so much? 

MN: The first book was very much a satire about the horrors of the Noughties when the garden seemed very rosy. It wasn’t set then, but that was the theme. The second book was more a reaction to what was happening as we made Death Sentence in that second decade of the 21st Century, the London riots, the politics. The third book starts to look more forward, and by the end of the series we’ll be trying to find a path out of this current madness. 

Is there a long term plan for Death Sentence beyond this current arc? Or would that be giving away the secrets of this story?

MN: Oh yeah. The plot’s all been worked out since the beginning. We’ve ditched a few things, and taken a few detours, like any great comic, but the grand plan is unfolding just as it should. There’s loads of great action, and character moments, and twists. I love a good plot. You can enjoy it on multiple levels.

And will we be seeing more from Hollow Monsters soon as well?

MN: Absolutely. I’m beavering away on it. The badges and stickers arrived this week and  look spectacular. My family actually prefer it to all the Death Sentence stuff.

You can pledge to support Death Sentence: Liberty here. Find out more about Monty’s work at www.montynero.com, follow him on twitter @montynero and pick up volumes 1 & 2 of Death Sentence via Monty’s store here.