An Everyman In Nowheresville Brooklyn
Vince Brusio

If you had to imagine what the landscape of America would look like in 2033, what would you see? Utopia? Flowers in everyone’s mailbox? No, try a despoiled America where New Yorkers survive on scraps. In this exclusive interview, we talk with writer Dan Fogler about his upcoming book Brooklyn Gladiator, in which he introduces us to John Miller—an action hero for the ages who can drink Han Solo, Jack Burton, and John McClane under the table.

Brooklyn Gladiator will be available April 11, 2018.

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Vince Brusio: A press release that went out for Brooklyn Gladiator described it as a "sci-fi lovechild of Orwell, Huxley, and stoner conspiracy theories." Any chance you could elaborate on what the chemical composition is for this book that would lend itself to such a description? It sounds like the gonzo factor is turned up to “11.”

Dan Fogler: First of all thank you, these questions are insightful and delightful! Yes Gonzo is good. If you like Hunter s. Thompson, Akira, Blade Runner, Star Wars, The Matrix, and going down conspiracy theory rabbit holes on the Internet till 4am, then try taking a little break at 4:20, and jumping right back down the rabbit hole till you find yourself in a lucid dream floating over Antarctica. If you can do that, then this book's for you!  When I was in 9th grade we read 1984. That book scared the crap out of me, and I can't help but make comparisons to today. Glued to our tiny screens, tweeting short speak disconnected from reality, watched from all angles... now turn the dial up to 11: and you get Brooklyn Gladiator 2033. Imagine while we were distracted and apathetic that all our rights were taken away, and they were replaced with a wonder drug that keeps us complacent. The Wall was built so high it now wraps around America. WW3 is at the doorstep, and the citizens of the USA are oblivious. Our Hero suspects something is not kosher and nearly kills himself to get to Canada to learn the Truth. Sounds fun right?

Vince Brusio: The book is also described as “a fictional future that feels all too familiar.” Furthermore, we, as readers, are warned that this may be “a future we may find ourselves sleepwalking into if we’re not careful.” That’s pretty cryptic. So why the signposts? Why the high level of radiation? Are there signs/events today on our cultural landscape that would lead one to believe that this fictional future that could possibly come to pass?

Dan Fogler: These are volatile times my friend... doesn't it seem like we're living IN the sci-fi film where the weather goes haywire, and where we're on the brink of WW3, and the mad billionaire has taken the reigns of the country and is making it a reality show for his sick pleasure? Nano-bots are real, Elon Musk is heading to Mars, and they're cloning human organs inside sheep... need I say more? Brooklyn Gladiator takes place in a dark 2033 dystopia that could have been created from the ripples of the current era. It's our duty as artists, writers, and reporters to hold up the mirror to reality and make people think. We should be worried what the future holds for us at this juncture. Freaky? Yes. But REaaaaAAAllly entertaining too.

Vince Brusio: The main character in the story is John Miller. He sounds like a Clint Eastwood/John Rambo gene experiment that got stopped after the first prototype. But what DNA was really the inspiration for this character? Or did you add multiple layers of chromosomes to the canvas before you had your perfect beast?

Dan Fogler: Yes John Miller is an homage to my favorite movie heroes from the 80s and 90s. Bruce Willis, Stallone, Clint for sure. He represents the last of the anti-hero testosterone-fueled rage punchers. He's a dying breed. BUT this powerful psychic energy is awakening in him for some reason. He has rejected the population controlling drugs and tech, and he has found a way to beat the system through his dreams and on the astral plane. As the story unfolds John Miller slowly transforms from death match criminal to revolutionary warrior prophet. He finds his feminine side, which happens to turn him into a powerful psychic.

Vince Brusio: Does the story attempt to show that Miller is the “everyman” we would aspire to be? Does it make him the guy we would cheer as he sacrifices himself to take out the alien machinery that blinds us? Why should we like John Miller? Or is that beside the point?

Dan Fogler: Everyone loves an anti-hero. John is Cool Hand Luke. He's R P McMurphy. John's the only lunatic brave enough to thwart authority and lead the maniacs to freedom. We need to cheer on John's transformation. As the end of the world draws near, John becomes the person who will rally the army to fight back the forces of darkness. Even if it costs him his life. So, yeah, what you said, he's "the guy we would cheer as he sacrifices himself to take out the alien machinery that blinds us." Word.

Vince Brusio: Who are the supporting characters in Brooklyn Gladiator? How are they more crust than pizza? How are they more lies than truth?

Dan Fogler: Well let's hope the supporting characters are more "PIZZA than crust."... that's John's way of describing the times their living in in 2033 NYC. "More crust than pizza," "more filter than cigarette," "more surreal than real...and the blitzed masses are eating it up." The people that surround John are mostly zombies hooked on drugs and tech, but there are a few who he calls friends. Jimmy, his sparring partner who may or may not have sold out John to the Nannies (they prefer to be called the Nanite Enhanced police force). There's Benny, the Micky to John's Rocky. Benny is Burgess Meredith meets Yoda if they both liked the Beastie Boys. Cassandra, John's lover, is the Bonnie to his Clyde. She has embraced the tech fully, and has nanite enhancements like color fluid hair and morphing tattoos. She's addicted to watching John fight in the death matches, but it's survival of the finest, and she has several Sugar Daddies she's manipulating. Everyone must lie, cheat, and steal just to get by in Brooklyn 2033. Either that or you become a fully "sustainable citizen" and sell your soul to the government so they can milk you for your...natural resources that's mmmmm-mmmm gooood sci-fi fuuuuuuun.

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Vince Brusio writes about comics, and writes comics. He is the long-serving Editor of PREVIEWSworld.com, the creator of PUSSYCATS, and encourages everyone to keep the faith...and keep reading comics.

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