As far as I am concerned, Black Snow is a comic about friendship. When we started tossing ideas around about making a comic book back in 2002 (or 2001, Jesus Christ) we pretty quickly decided it would be about a superhero. It didn’t take me long to realize I have pretty limited interest in telling superhero stories. I hate writing fight scenes, I have extreme difficulty coming up with superpowers, and the pacing I prefer would most charitably be described as languorous. I’m not some Vertigo snob (in theory at least), and I absolutely believe good superhero stories are still being told, I am just no good at telling them. The Boys, Ex Machina, Astro City, Invincible, The Savage Dragon, all these books retain superhero pathos but they wisely took the training wheels off an often restrictive genre and pushed their capes and cowls into exciting new abandoned alleys.
And yet it is now 2013 and we are in the midst of rebooting Black Snow. It’s still ostensibly a superhero comic but it is finally the kind of superhero comic I think it was always meant to be. There are no gratuitous fights. The cast has been trimmed, consolidated, sharpened. The themes I’ve beaten into the ground year after year-loyalty, redemption, family, frail masculinity-seem fresh again in this new iteration. Most importantly the theme of friendship. To me, Black Snow is an adventure story/buddy comedy about a crass drunk jerk with powers (Black Snow) and a level-headed do-gooder with barely any power at all (Eric). There is no one without the other. In them I see shades of almost every significant friendship I’ve ever had. Sometimes I play the boorish Black Snow, other times the thoughtful Eric. Sometimes both at once. Often I’m not sure which I am.
It is Father’s Day, and family is an important thing (newsflash!), but your best friends are really subsumed into the whole familial tapestry, and with your closest friends, there is no meaningful distinction. There are so many layers of the Black Snow and Eric friendship we haven’t even begun to peel back yet. But almost everything these two eventually do is informed by the family they’ve created. This obviously includes the wet-behind-the-years pest Lightning Lad and the lazy Elephant Boy, but it also includes fallen friends like Brother Brad, mentors like The Eternal Barkeep, party animals like Jon Killingbear and peripheral types like Black Power. If we ever get to Volume 5, you would see a lot of people trying (and often failing) to do things to better the lives of their friends. I want to live in a world where people have each other’s backs, and I want to write about people that give it the ol’ college try. The characters in the book are often cynical, the book itself is optimistic. And a lot of them happen to be superheroes. Superheroes have a raison d’etre and that is to protect the innocent or to save the people or rescue bystanders or to defeat ancient evil or punish greedy criminals and what have you. Those are things the characters in Black Snow aren’t exactly obsessed with. The struggle in Black Snow is to help your buddies get through the world in one piece. If they can smite evil in the meantime, all the better. If they can make the world a better place, that is great too. But your friends (and family) are the world, and though that’s quite a myopic viewpoint in some respects, there is a nobility in being decent rather than heroic. Black Snow, Eric, and all their hangers-on are going to be learning all this shit rather soon.
Bref, Black Snow: Two Drink Minimum is a story about friendship, and written and drawn because of it.