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FCBD22 Interview: Red 5 Mash Up

Free Comic Book Day, FCBD, Red 5, Carriers

Look up in the sky! Together the Carriers protect the world from hidden threats and prove they are more than just ordinary pigeons. Dragon Whisperer 2 features the origin of the dragon Obsidian, from hatchling to mighty beast and leader of amazing creatures! Finally Beorn features an adventure about a little Viking and his quest to become a legend!

We caught up with series writers Alex Deluca, Ben Bender, and Ben Ferrari to learn more about what inspired their extraordinary characters, what to expect next in the series, AND to rifle through some really fun rapid fire questions! 

Check out the full interview below and be sure to head to your local comic shop on Saturday, May 7 to celebrate FCBD in all it’s glory! To find a participating comic shop near you, use our FCBD Store Locator. 


Free Comic Book Day (FCBD): Set up your title for those that might be new to your comic book: What will new readers need to know before diving into your Free Comic Book Day issue? 

Alex Deluca (Carriers): My FCBD story is a sneak peak into the exciting next volume of my Steampunk Fantasy series Dragon Whisperer. It’s a bit sequel and a bit prequel to my first volume. It tells the story of young Rosalinda Eberhardt and her incredible journey as the Dragon Whisperer; one who can commune with creatures of all types. In volume one she’s pressed to use her ability to hunt for the noble dragon Obsidian. She finds him with much ado! Volume two picks up soon after the events of volume one, with Rosalinda now on a rescue mission for this special dragon. We also get a look into Obsidian’s distant past, starting as a hatchling! This is where the FCBD story takes place.

Ben Ferrari (Carriers): Carriers is the story about a group of weaponized carrier pigeons and their New York adventures. They’re rooftop pigeons taken care of by an old man named The Keeper. Fable, Cherrybomb, Gladius and The Dark Dove have wild adventures around the big apple and beyond! We’ve got some ridiculously cool villains, including The Croc King, a group of owls called The Parliament, Deadlake, The Rat Pack, The Falcon Brothers, Surge, Frost Commando… and so many more!

Ben Bender (Beorn):  Beorn: The Littlest Viking Saga is an all-ages adventure comedy about a little Viking trying to be a legend in a really big world, and the relationships he forges along the way. It’s inspired from my love of old newspaper comic strips like Calvin & Hobbes, Hagar the Horrible, and Pogo mixed with a good dose of inspiration from epic fantasy tales like Bone and Lord of the Rings. Take all that and wrap it up with Norse myths, Old World folklore, and a bit of faerie tale twists, and that’s Beorn’s world.

FCBD: What are some of the core themes present in your book? What do you hope readers take away from your title?

Alex: Little and simple people can do great things, and it all hinges on truly open communication and not exactly being a badass. We don’t always succeed, especially at new things, but we still try. We make good decisions and dumb ones, but it’s the dumb decisions – even the regrets – that make for the best growth. We learn that people, even 450-year-old immortals and those aboard floating cities, airships and sky islands are still people, deep and rich, and always relatable.

Ben F.: We subtly suggest that these huge adventures they’re having every month… might just be in their heads. Look for hints that the story you’re seeing may be a product of their overactive imaginations!

Ben B.:  Wow. That’s kind of a big question. Hahaha! Beorn’s saga is very much an adventure-comedy epic meets slice-of-life. There’s all this amazing stuff that happens to this little Viking, but at its core, to me, the story has always been about the relationships he forges with the people on the island where he settles. Especially his best friend Goob, who just so happens to be a troll. In this FCBD short, even though Beorn hasn’t landed on the island that will be his home, I think the story gives a good hint of those themes. He finds himself in the middle of a fantastical adventure, but the driving force of the whole thing is the way he interacts with other folks, and the impact he has on their lives.

Free Comic Book Day, FCBD, Red 5, CarriersFCBD: What part of the book was most fun to write/draw?

Alex: The “people” moments. The cute rascally moments, the dramatic moments of forgiveness and realizations that long-held grudges and obsessions were actually in the wrong. Then again, writing an all-out battle between a dragon and goblin on a hovering island high in the atmosphere is freaking glorious too.

Ben F.:I created the book, the big idea and some characters. Erica Heflin came aboard and took my notes and expanded the concept into what it is today, including creating a whole new slew of characters. My part has evolved into plotting stories with writers, who will then take the reins from there, as well as being the editor on the book. I make it happen, I put art teams in place and push them to finish on time. I’m really a Producer on this series.

Ben B.:  I particularly loved drawing Mommy Smellg, the troll witch. Hitting her facial expressions was a lot of fun since I envision her as very animated. And her little cast of fantastical characters has me wanting to do more stories with them.

FCBD: Can you share some of the inspiration behind certain characters, settings, etc.?

Alex: The main character of young Rosalinda Eberhardt was inspired by two people. One is me! I’m short, not too special, would rather reason my way out of a fight (but would still fight if needed) and would be a little scared of a new situation, but I’d be even more excited. She’s also someone I envy in that she has so much fantastic and enriching background to her. The other inspiration is from my best friend in elementary school, Rosie. She’s astonishingly intelligent and spontaneous, and she inspired me to be smarter. Also, like Rosalinda, she has a beautifully diverse ethnicity. Many colors under the sun all in one stirring person. Also, I adore a Steampunk setting. The late great Neil Peart of Rush put it best by stating “It’s a view of the future from the past”. Very romantic too.

Ben B.: For the FCBD short, I decided to use a Huldra. Huldra are mythical creatures from Norse mythology. A lot of Beorn’s saga features Norse mythology and old world Germanic folklore. For the FCBD short, it kinda just wrote itself, honestly. In the comic series, there are other creatures and characters who are obviously, and not-so obviously, from famous myths and faerie tales. Part of the fun of working on this series is balancing how much to leave unanswered to the reader vs beating them over the head with the source material. For me, I’m not trying to give a history lesson, since I’m no expert. But hopefully folks will have fun, and the readers who do know a bit more about the myths and folklore will recognize lots of bits I’ve worked into the stories.

FCBD: If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?

Alex: To Rosalinda: “Always keep going. In the face of doubt, despair, and even death itself, just keep going. Let life get you down, but let it get you back up too.” To Obsidian the Dragon: “I’m sorry for the trouble so many have caused. You’re magnificent and deserve love just as much as anyone else." To Mr. Peel: “You’re honorable to a fault but lighten up. Smile once in a while. Reciprocate some love.”

Ben F.: I like characters who do interesting things. I like to see characters develop and change. I grew up with GI Joe comics, where Larry Hama would write the most interesting, character oriented stories, always with multiple subplots coming and going. I’d ask my characters to give readers something to think about, something they’ll look forward to following up on next issue. Not just massive splash pages, but along with great action and some splashes, readers want depth and character development.  I’d beg these birds to be three dimensional birds and characters.

Ben B.:  Hmm. I’d tell them Thank You. This has been one of those cases of a story and characters feeling as though they are revealing themselves rather than me really writing or creating anything. So I’d thank them for letting me into their world. It’s been one of the most important things in my life.

FCBD: Looking to the future, is there anything you can tease about what’s coming up for the title and its characters?

Alex: Yes. Rosalinda is not just a Dragon Whisperer. She soon learns that can connect and commune with much more! Mighty Obsidian the Dragon wasn’t always mighty. He was flawed, just like you and me, and the drive to push his astounding magic backfired as much as it succeeded.

Ben F.: This initial season is five issues long, along with this new FCBD story. There should be a trade paperback available as well when FCBD comes along. We’re currently working on a four issue season two, which we’re looking to release around December of this year. Look for stories about Ninjas, stories about NEW LOVE, as well as an unofficial follow up on a story called “Watchers In The Night” from Season 1. After those four issues, we’ll do a Carriers Annual #1 as a follow up. It’ll feature a slew of short stories by various creative teams as well as a ton of pinup work!

Ben B.: I’m like the anti-spoiler spokesperson, so this is a hard one! In this first mini series, readers will get to see Beorn’s very first experiences on the island and get a good idea of the fun, excitement, and hopefully heartfelt nature of Beorn’s saga.

FCBD: Let’s pivot a little bit here to talk about your personal experience with comics. Many newcomers will pick up comics for the first time on FCBD – what was the first comic you remember reading?

Alex:  Tough one, but one memory that sticks out from my very young self is 1972’s Chamber of Chills #23. I loved it because of the gorilla man on the cover and I was, am and always will be, a HUGE King Kong fan

Ben F.: I grew up pulling GI Joe and Transformers off the 7-11 spinner racks. These books were totally addictive, such good stories and art. I hope kids pick up my books and have the same reaction, I hope to blow their minds and make them love comics as much as I do!

Ben B.: Definitely comic strips from the newspaper. Calvin and Hobbes is without a doubt a huge influence on me as a creator. First comic books were anything off a spinner or magazine rack at the store. There was no rhyme or reason to my earliest comics madness. Everything was just picked up because all comics were awesome! That’s a big reason I love the FCBD events. Readers, new fans, everyone gets to check out such a huge variety of comics. How could it not be a blast?!

FCBD: What is your favorite part about working in the comic book industry?

Alex:  The people that I meet because of it. The immersion in the creativity and fandom and the communality of my fellow birds of so many beautiful feathers. The physical realization of one’s creation is also ludicrously fulfilling.

Ben F.: Seeing my books on the shelves is still a new thing for me. I’ve been making my own books for around 13 years, and Carriers is the first to make it to that level of distribution and exposure. Seeing Carriers on the shelves gives me an electric shock reaction that I hope never goes away.

Ben B.: Well, this is my first real run in the actual comics industry. Up to this point, my work has been crowdfunded and self-published. What I’m looking forward to in the comics industry is an extension of that sense of community that gets excited around a book. It doesn’t matter how big or small, a passionate group of excited folks is a contagious and inspiring thing. I’m looking forward to seeing what pops up around Beorn once the comic hits shelves.

FCBD: Tell us why everyone should read comic books!

Alex: Because it’s a medium – a medium, not a genre – that is an entirely unique and distinct form of art that has aspects to it that no other creative medium can do. It’s fully realized and mature and through it ANTHING can be learned accomplished.

Ben F: Comic books transport you to new and different worlds! I love adventure comics, but there’s something for everyone! Whether or not you like science fiction, super hero, horror, kids comics, you’ll find it in your local comic store!

Ben B.:  I truly believe you can do things in comics that you can’t do in other media that make them the perfect form of storytelling when done right. Of course the flipside can be the case, but I think I personally have had more amazing moments engaged in comics than any other form of entertainment or education.

FCBD: Now, we have a series of rapid-fire questions for you! They’re, ya know, mostly related to comics... Answer as quickly as you can and try not to over think it!


Do you listen to music while you’re creating?

Alex: Yes! Classical and Industrial symphony. Instrumental prog rock. No singing, Tough to listen to lyrics while writing. 😊
Ben F: Yes! Usually something fast and punk! .
Ben B.:  Writing and inking, yes. Drawing, no. I’m too distracted and slow as it is.


What’s your favorite comic book genre?

Alex: Oh… Too many out there that I love.
Ben F.:I love the adventure and science mixture of Tom Strong, but also love the early Image stuff, like Wildcats and Youngblood!
Ben B.: Kids, adventure, comedy, quests…whatever genre that falls into. hahaha!


Are you more productive in the morning or at night?

Alex: All of the above. I’m most productive when I have a deadline!
Ben F.: I’m an electrician by day, comic book creator by night! I get comics done after 6pm!
Ben B.: I take care of my almost-three year old daughter everyday, so really whenever she lets me work.


Do you think you could survive in a zombie apocalypse?

Alex: Yes
Ben F:Would I want to?
Ben B.: Absolutely 


Would you rather be invisible or have the ability to fly?

Alex: I’m going to be the boring and seemingly preachy square here, but neither. I’d want to be able to heal with a touch.
Ben F.: For sure, I’d love to be able to fly! No question!
Ben B.: The ability to fly


If you were a comic book character, would you rather be the hero or the villain?

Alex: The flawed hero or the virtuous villain  
Ben F.: Uhm, a hero of course!
Ben B.: The hero!


What’s your favorite comic book or graphic novel?

Alex: It varies, and always will, but lately Queen of Cosmos Comix by Barbara “Willy” Mendes quite plainly changed – my – life. Among MANY other things it’s a view of the creation of the universe from a female perspective. It’s about love and life and loss and is so, so, so beautiful. When I read it, one man opened the first page, a new man closed the last page. A life-changing read.  
Ben F.:  I find myself thinking about and reading Alan Moore’s Tom Strong book these days, a science adventure from Alan Moore and Chris Sprouse. Grabbing a lot of Conan back issues these days for the John Buscema art! Pretty diverse reader!
Ben B.: Bone.




Find a participating comic shop near you to celebrate Free Comic Book Day 2022!



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