A Slice of Life From Sang The Silent
Jan 27, 2018
by Vince Brusio
Death on two legs can be more lethal when the blade that comes for your neck is swung by a kid not even half your size. We tend to think of assassins as professionals that have at least passed high school. Maybe in some cases, they even wear a yellow Bruce Lee Game of Death jumpsuit and go by the name of “The Bride.” But seldom do we think of a killer as someone who would just as much enjoy an hour of playtime with a Star Wars X-wing fighter toy. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview with writer Ed Brisson, we get the last homework assignment that can prep us for The Ballad of Sang #1 (JAN181816). You will rethink the benefits of cult cinema, and your definition of “silent, but deadly.”
Vince Brusio: What was the inspiration for The Ballad of Sang #1?
Ed Brisson: The inspiration for The Ballad of Sang largely comes from my love of bizarre cult cinema. Initially, Sang was (very loosely) based on the Filipino actor Weng Weng, star of 70s and 80s films such as The Impossible Kid and For Y’ur Height Only. I was a huge fan and wanted to do something that would be a nod to the actor.
That said, I wanted to do a story that felt both original, but wasn’t afraid to tip its hat to ‘70s and ‘80s B-movies. This is my love letter to exploitation and cult cinema of that era.
Vince Brusio: In the solicitation for this book, you say that you’ve been working on this idea since 2010. How has the story changed since you first imagined it? What edges were sharpened? What ended up on the cutting floor?
Ed Brisson: Continuing from the above, a lot has changed. Sang became a kid instead of a small man. To me, there was more room there to explore how Sang became who he is today and what shaped him. Some of the backstory doesn’t get fleshed out until the last issue, but has been there since the jump.
Beyond that, we’ve added a small supporting cast that wasn’t initially there. In the early stages, Sang was this force of nature, out there causing havoc. However, I pulled back on that some and gave him a proxy family. People who he cares about and who care about him. Since he doesn’t know his real family, this felt important and I feel that it adds a much needed emotional core to the story.
Once Alessandro Miselli came on board and we started shooting some designs back and forth, the story really started to take shape and crystalize into what it is today. He’s brought a lot of great designs to the book and his art is that perfect blend of fun and gritty that’s crucial to telling this story.
Vince Brusio: Tell us about Sang and what makes him tick. If you could put together a profile that would benefit a behavioral psychologist, what aspects of Sang’s personality would you emphasize?
Ed Brisson: Sang is a small, mute child, trained to be a killing machine. Because of his size, he’s more equipped to get into compact spaces than your regular-sized assassin. He’s very valuable and very deadly.
However, that all comes at a price. He doesn’t know his real family. He was kidnapped from the streets as an infant and trained his entire—albeit short—life, to be what he is. He doesn’t lead a life like normal kids, though he still is a child and as such, is interested in making friends, playing with toys, etc. He was forced to grow up fast, and secretly pushes against it.
Vince Brusio: Who are the supporting characters in the book? How do they help or hurt Sang?
Ed Brisson: His primary father figure, Thomas, is also the man who books Sang’s jobs for him. Obviously, he trades in murder, so is maybe not the best role model, but he is kind with Sang. He’s not cruel. It’s what happens to Thomas that really kicks off the series. Sang is his only family and the only one that he could openly communicate with. That said, Thomas did kidnap Sang as a baby and trained him to be this killing machine. So, while he may be outwardly kind, this is far from a healthy relationship.
Lucy is a character who we meet later in the book and through her, I think Sang starts to see what family can really be like. How the life he’d been leading up to this point has been tragic in ways that he was not capable of understanding.
Beyond those two, we have several gangs who are out for Sang’s head for something he does in #1. There’s a price on his head, and he and Lucy have to fight their way through the city in order to find the man who places the bounty on his life.
Vince Brusio: The over-the-top Kill Bill-type violence is brought to the surface in the four-page preview shown in the January PREVIEWS. Could you give us the backdrop for this scene? What are we seeing, and how is it relevant to the story?
Ed Brisson: That scene serves a few purposes. We get a nice snapshot of who Sang is and what he’s capable of doing to people. But, it’s also in this moment that Sang makes a mistake that will come back to haunt him later in the issue and kick off the incident that drives the rest of the story. I think it also sets the tone for the book quite nicely. It lets readers know what sort of ride we’ve got in store for them.
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.