Pegged as “American Gods meets Teen Wolf and Hellboy on the midnight road to Sacramento!” Bridgit Connell’s Brother Nash is a supernatural adventure that follows a highway trucker who can speak to ghosts, helping them along their path in the afterlife. When the moon is full, Nashoba’s dark and ancient secret emerges. This is far more than a man named Hernando ever expects to deal with when he thumbs a ride to Tucson with Brother Nash. And that’s only the beginning of what Nashoba and his friends have to deal with.
This is Connell’s first project as both author and artist. It’s clearly a labour of love that encompasses Choctaw lore, music, powerful characters, sharp dialogue, and gorgeous art. Following the November release of the trade from Titan Comics, WWAC got a behind the scenes look at Connell’s creation in an interview with the creator herself.
You include song lyrics in your story. What was it about these songs that resonated so much with you?
While writing Brother Nash, I put together playlists that resonated the sort of atmosphere I was looking to create. The lyrics to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ song “If You Wanna Get to Heaven…” was just so in-sync with the whole concept, I asked them if I could use it as sort of an intro, and they said yes! Theatrically I just imagined rolling through the first scene with it playing in the background, it’s just such a great song and fit too perfectly, with Nash being an Ancient and all that. It also gave off a sense of whimsy, which is a direction my tale about truckers took rather than being super gritty. I think that set the tone in my work more than I realized, but I’m glad it did!
Setting art to music was the best way I could think of submerging the reader further into the story, and the coolest way to give a further hint of just how powerful Nash was as he is the “man” who “comes around.”
As for the Johnny Cash song, a ton of Cash’s music was in that playlist, as he’s one of my favorites. I love werewolf transformations and wanted to try my best at busting through those pages with it, really freak the readers out, surprising them with this good-hearted character turning into the the Highway Beast. Cash’s “Man Comes Around” was playing while I was planning out the scene, and I began to think of the moment in a sort of sequence. In as many things that song has been used in, I couldn’t get past the fact that each panel was literally being described in the song. I designed that scene so that it could be read along to that Johnny Cash song, if the reader were tempted to do that. Setting art to music was the best way I could think of submerging the reader further into the story, and the coolest way to give a further hint of just how powerful Nash was as he is the “man” who “comes around.” There’s a lot of metaphor available there to the reader if they wanted to investigate it and come up with their own theories as well.
You have mainly been a comic book artist, but Brother Nash lets you explore both the artist and the writer role. Tell us about the process of moving from art only, to doing a full comic of your own.
I think the main, and most obvious, thing I can think of is that it is a LOT more work. But it probably takes some of the time off of getting thumbnails approved and trying to plan sequences of action and scene composition. I already know in my head what’s happening, because I’ve already envisioned it when I wrote it. This is good because there’s no communication struggle I might have if I were working with another writer, but it’s also cool to work on a team with someone else because they might give ideas you never could have had of how their scene were to take place. It’s a give or take. Doing everything in the book, I had trust issues with myself; it’s just so much more of an undertaking. You are in charge of everything, and you could be the reason everyone loves or hates it. But in the end I’m more just happy it’s completed; it started out as the story I wanted to tell and ended that way, too. Titan was so awesome to work for as well. They really had my back and believed in my creation, not to mention worked their butts off to get it published! They rallied behind my idea more than anyone has done before, I’m just really grateful to have done this book with them.
What relationship do you have to the characters and the overall themes of the story? Why was it important for you to tell this story, and how long has the story been brewing for you?
The characters each come from different parts of me I’m sure, though Nashoba has attributes that I aspire to: he’s calm—though a bit growly—in the face of danger, wise, has a tremendous amount of compassion, though he is still a protector, and will first and foremost protect anyone who isn’t strong enough to protect themselves. Chukfi is similar. I identify most with Billie and actually struggled to not make her the main character, because I was so quickly and easily able to get into her brainspace. Her reactions to things were similar to how I think I’d have reacted in her situation. And Ray I think ended up being all of my stupid humor trying to break into the story. He kind of has a different tone but I love him so much. I have an itch to add random stupid things into the story, but it just became the character Ray. I loved writing him. I think as the story went on, he rounded out nicely. It’s fun writing a badass underdog.
This story is a giant pile of things I love and wanted a chance to draw. Some of them, like trucks and motorcycles and folklore with animal personification and astronomy and monster beasts, I knew right away I wanted to write the story about.
This story is a giant pile of things I love and wanted a chance to draw. Some of them, like trucks and motorcycles and folklore with animal personification and astronomy and monster beasts, I knew right away I wanted to write the story about. I originally had more of a Mad Max type of story planned, as I am a huge fan of those movies, and is probably where Reuben and Spider-Woman came from, but then I had a desire to create superheroes out of ranchers and truckers. Putting ordinary people in an adventure with a certain darkness where, in these comics, not just random powers they’ve been given shine through, but ultimately their integrity and inner strength can shine out like stars themselves. Trying not to sound too mushy, but bonds of friendship that beat the odds are the best kind of superpower.
This story took over five years to complete. It started out as just a single mega-issue, which I wrote in a single night, I’m not kidding—I don’t know how or why it happened or where it all came from but I just got tangled up in it and had a script by morning. I gave myself a single issue to see if I liked it, and I did—I loved working on it so much. By the end I had several other characters and points I wanted to make so I wrote a script for five more issues. A few years later it got picked up and I finished up the rest in my free-time, while working at other jobs. It was a labor of love but it was worth it to just be able to hold it in my hands right now!
Connell promises that Nashoba’s story is not yet done, as there are many friends and enemies whom we have not yet seen. “As of right now, I have one or two more scripts in the works, but we will see what happens!”