Whether he's playing Luke on The Walking Dead or Jacob Kowalski in the Fantastic Beasts movies, Dan Fogler is an actor with a good eye for genre. What else would you expect from a dude raised on a healthy, nerd-based diet of comic books, anime, and 1981's Heavy Metal movie?
Almost 40 years after the film's theatrical release, SYFY WIRE can exclusively announce that Fogler's latest career move is three original comics published by (who else?) Heavy Metal. A genre mishmash of detective noir, dystopian sci-fi, and an Outer Limits-type anthology, these projects represent a lifetime of imagination. They're also some of Fogler's proudest professional achievements.
"There’s just a lot of surreality going on," the actor tells SYFY WIRE exclusively. "The fact that I’m working with Heavy Metal on my comic books, some of them being an homage to Heavy Metal, with some of the artists I grew up reading. It’s just insane."
First up, we have Brooklyn Gladiator (on sale July 1), an Orwellian nightmare of the future drawn by Simon Bisley, an artist known for his illustrations of DC's Lobo. Set in 2033, the comic (named for the actor's native New York borough) follows John Miller, a toughened warrior and psychic underground death match fighter trying to navigate his way through a totalitarian society ruled by A.I. and a drug-peddling government.
"This is my dystopian sci-fi story. It’s an homage to Akira, which is a movie that also just blew my mind as a kid," Fogler explains, also citing The Matrix as an influence. "It’s really my Star Wars, I would say."
While the idea for the story began to take shape after 9/11, Fogler only began putting words to paper about five years ago.
"They’re in this world where they’ve given away all their rights," he explains. "Everyone’s living off the government and again, you look at it and you say, ‘Wow, it’s not really that far from the seeds that are being planted today.’"
Next up, there's Fishkill (on sale July 8), a gritty, noir-inspired mystery about Detective Bart Fishkill, a haunted New York City cop modeled after the gold standard of sleuths: Jake Gittes and Sam Spade. When he's framed for a terror attack on the Brooklyn Bridge, Fishkill attempts to clear his name by diving headfirst down the conspiracy rabbit hole.
"Those are some of my favorite movies growing up, like Chinatown and The Maltese Falcon," Fogler admits. "I was like, ‘These are down and dirty guys. These are guys who are underdogs, who don’t look like it, but they may be the smartest guy in the room' ... I love a guy who gets beat up for justice. He’s looking for truth, he’s looking for justice, he gets his ass kicked and he just keeps on coming back. He’s just so stubborn, you know? I think we need more people like that in the world today."
Fishkill, which Fogler describes as a sort of prequel to Brooklyn Gladiator, is drawn by 30 Days of Night illustrator Ben Templesmith.
And finally, we have the crown jewel of the bunch, Moon Lake. Set in a strange town near the border between America and Canada, this 15-issue anthology is Fogler's loving tribute to the aforementioned Heavy Metal movie (among other things).
"I grew up watching Tales From the Crypt and Twilight Zone. It’s an homage to everything that I stayed up past my bedtime to watch," he says, mentioning Lost as another one of his inspirations.
"[The town is] displaced from time. You go to Moon Lake, and it’s like this endless labyrinth/rabbit hole of crossroads of different brands of evil," Fogler explains. "Aliens, sasquatches, werewolves. It’s everything and that’s why it’s so surreal and hysterical sometimes. You have these characters working side-by-side with each other a lot."
Thanks to its looser format, Moon Lake is also the nexus for Fogler's shared comic book mythos.
"There’s a lot of crossover," he teases. "There’s a lot of room for characters to be mentioned throughout Fishkill, Brooklyn Gladiator, and Moon Lake. I’m just trying to build this, I guess you would call it an 'anti-Marvel universe.' It’s my own anti-hero universe, essentially."
Issue #1 goes on sale July 15.
"Dan Fogler's imagination and artistry surpasses my highest expectations," Heavy Metal CEO Matthew Medney says. "When I was introduced to Dan back in October, I was blown away by the oozing creativity that engulfed the conversation we had then, and continue to have. I am beyond excited to introduce these stories as part of the Heavy Metal world and continue to grow and share Dan's brilliant mind with the Heavy Metal Community."
With some pretty topical themes explored in Brooklyn Gladiator and Fishkill, Fogler is curious what fans think of his comics when they hit stands over the summer.
"I would love for them to please reach out to me on Twitter," he says. "We need a community, we need people to get together and bond, especially with comic books. I feel like it’s still the last innocent thing that represents our childhood, and we can’t lose that in a world where it just seems like everything is going to hell."
The actor is set to take over Heavy Metal's Instagram this Wednesday (March 25) at 2 p.m. EST where he'll be live-reading an excerpt from Fishkill.
You can pre-order Fogler's books right here. And before July arrives, whet your appetite with some SYFY WIRE-exclusive interior pages from Brooklyn Gladiator and Fishkill in the gallery below...