It’s Game of Thrones meets Ocean’s Eleven and the stakes have never been higher! Action Lab: Danger Zone is about to release the follow-up to their thrilling miniseries BRIGANDS. Entitled RUIN OF THIEVES, the series is a grimdark Sword and Sorcery story with a heist movie plot as the heroes must survive cross and double cross and their own reputations to come out on top. Writer Ram Venkatesan returns to pen the new adventure along with new series artist Sumit Kumar, colorist Rosh, and letterer Aditya Bidikar.
PopCultHQ had the true privilege in chatting with Ram and Sumit about their upcoming release. Take a look at the preview of the upcoming launch of RUIN OF THIEVES: A BRIGANDS STORY #1, then hear from the writer and artist of the series as we take a more in-depth look at this exciting title!
RUIN OF THIEVES: A BRIGANDS STORY #1
Available: May 16th
32 pgs./ M / FC $3.99
The Myros Comet passes overhead, setting the night ablaze, a spark to a tinderbox of political forces vying for its power. As the first flames of conflict begin to lick at their heels, our heroes, led by the infamous Stilian “Blackheart” Desault, find themselves on the smuggler’s isle of Rekik. And, for all their efforts at keeping their heads low, trouble seems to have a knack of tightening the noose around their necks.
PopCultHQ’s Spotlight Interview w/
Ram Venkatesan & Sumit Kumar of
Action Lab: Danger Zone’s RUIN OF THIEVES: A BRIGANDS STORY
PopCultHQ: So glad to hear that BRIGANDS is finally back! With RUIN OF THIEVES, I expect that we will be getting more sword and sorcery excitement and another wild heist. How does this new volume compare to the first? Have you added, included, or introduced anything (or anyone) in this new series that ups the stakes?
Ram V: It’s the same heist, actually. Just farther down the rabbit hole. I think we get to see more of our characters in this arc. Their pasts, their chemistry, their relationships. We learn a bit more about the object of desire – The Myros Pendulum – and how it came to be. It all culminates with a particularly magnificent climax and a revelation that no one expected.
PopCultHQ: In this new volume, the con men have traveled to a new land with a new object in their sights: The Myros Pendulum. What can you tell us about this new world we’ll be visiting? What’s the backstory on The Myros Pendulum? It seems as if it’s not only something quite valuable, but perhaps powerful as well?
Ram V: We begin with our Brigands at Rekik, which is a smuggler’s island. And they’re on the shores of the neighbouring Kingdom of Krantal. A harsh place of scorched plains and rasping deserts – ruled by an enigmatic ‘emperor’ and a near fanatical following of his troops.
When we arrive, Rekik is under martial law. Soldiers already on the lookout for our Brigands. Plus, the entire region is also on the brink of a rebellion. Two colonies of an enslaved race of people known as The Koraven are about to revolt against oppression from their neighboring kingdoms. So, the whole world is quite the powder keg. One wrong move and that’ll be it for our heroes.
I’d love to tell you more about The Myros Pendulum – but you’ll have to wait and watch!
PopCultHQ: You’ve mentioned that you grew up on fantasy/adventure stories featuring thieves and scoundrels. Though BRIGANDS, and as I’m sure will RUIN OF THIEVES, was reminiscent of a time when fantasy tales were at their peak and all the feels one would have watching along, at its core BRIGANDS highlights the human condition: conflict, perseverance, mortality, and emotionality. How important is that component to the BRIGANDS tales? Do you find it difficult or fairly easy to incorporate those characteristics in your storytelling?
Ram V: I think all good stories are about fundamentally human questions. All stories pick at the moral ambiguity of choices. We are enthralled by the vagaries of our characters, their poor choices and their brave ones. Their follies and their unexpected victories.
A well-built world or a well thought through premise are interesting and important components of a story. But if they are not in service of reflecting upon something that attempts to reach into that nebulous space called the human condition, then it makes for superficially interesting fiction but lacks the ability to really affect its reader.
RUIN OF THIEVES will very much follow in the same vein as Brigands. There are sword battles and thefts and magical meteors. But in the end, it is the characters that really keep you coming back.
PopCultHQ: In RUIN OF THIEVES, you’re teamed up with familiar faces: ROSH (BRIGANDS) on colors and Aditya Bidikar (PARADISO, GRAFITY’S WALL) on letters, plus you’ve brought in Sumit Kumar on interior art. In our last interview, you mentioned you had been in talks with Sumit since the first volume and stated that with him coming on board for volume two, “He is going to be absolutely huge.” How has Kumar helped achieve the look and feel of this new series for you?
Ram V: Yeah, I’ve jammed with these guys before. ROSH is incredibly talented as a colourist, a painter and an artist. I expect to see more comics work from him! Aditya- well, I don’t really need to say much about Aditya, at a time when he’s probably lettering half of comics. Master letterer.
Sumit is a special talent. His work stands out immediately among his peers. There is skill and craftmanship in his pages, of course. But what I really enjoy is his grasp of emotion and acting. His eye for teasing out the important moments in the story in a dramatic visual style. I love that. You can’t teach those things – they come from the ability to observe life.
I’m convinced he is going to be an artist to look out for in the years to come. I’m just happy to be able to collaborate with someone that talented. Sumit and I had been trying to collaborate since before the first BRIGANDS. I’m glad we’ve finally gotten down to it. Expect to see more from us!
PopCultHQ: How did it finally work out where the two of you got to collaborate on this project? How has it been for you working with this creative team?
Sumit Kumar: Yeah, Ram and I pitched the first volume of Brigands together. Plan was to work on it together from the start. Ram was showing it around to the editors while I decided to do a course in animation from IDC, IIT Bombay. When the pitch was finally accepted by Action Lab: Danger Zone, I tried to take out time from my course but it didn’t work out. As I was pretty keen on completing the course, we both decided that it would be better If Ram move forward with another artist. That’s where Nick [Barber] came in. It was sort of a mutual understanding that I’ll be taking up the project as soon as I finish my course and that’s what happened. Basically, it was because of my course that I wasn’t on the first volume. Not that I’ve a problem with that. What I learned in animation has made Ruin of Thieves even better.
It has been an absolute pleasure and a humbling experience. ROSH and Aditya are quite experienced in their respective fields. Rosh has been working in animation for over a decade and Aditya, well, with all the titles that he has to his credit, I don’t even need to mention how expert he is at his job. So, the best part has been the learning experience. Following them throughout the project, I’ve learnt a lot from the whole team. There are pages where ROSH has saved the day. I absolutely love his approach in the nested story that we have in this arc. We keep teasing the visuals from it on our social media from time to time. Also, I love the hand lettered SFX that Aditya throws in the panels.
PopCultHQ: Ram has been bracing the world for the impact your illustrations will have for RUIN OF THIEVES. What do you find the most important aspect of the story that you want to highlight or showcase through your art?
Sumit Kumar: It’s the world that our characters live in. This arc explores the world of brigands in more detail – its story, mythology, aspects and conflicts. It was important to pay attention to what we place in the world and what we emphasize. Paying attention to the establishing shots was important. Ram has done an excellent work exploring the backstories and conflicts of the characters & the world. I’ve tried to the best of my abilities to depict them in an interesting way.
PopCultHQ: From early previews, you show some remarkable detail and the intensity jumps off the page. How has working on RUIN OF THIEVES been similar or different to previous work you have done?
Sumit Kumar: It was quite different. There were a lot of ‘First-times’. This was the first time I’d taken up a story set in a medieval-ish world, Before RUIN OF THIEVES, the projects I’ve worked on were either set in modern world or based on Indian mythology, both of which I am comfortable with. So yeah, drawing medieval was something new and exciting. I am someone who loves noir and dark stories and prefer to draw the same. So, the lighthearted tone was new to me. It all turned out quite satisfying, thanks to the team!
Also, if we talk about art and techniques, I’ve experimented a lot with this project. Usually I would just do slick line art with some hatching, but in RUIN OF THIEVES, I’ve used inkwashes, screetones, drybrush, Toned papers, thumbprints, smudging, whatever I learnt during those two years away from comics, I tried it all!
PopCultHQ: Do you have a favorite character to illustrate? If so, what do you like the most about that character?
Sumit Kumar: Oh …. how much I want to say it’s the Count, but sometimes, you love certain temporary characters more than the main ones. That character has been Zamish, the blonde guy with a smirk on the cover of issue 1 . The most exciting thing about working with characters is how they respond to certain situations. I love how cool, regal and dangerous Zamish is. He carries himself with the confidence of an experienced hunter. He is hunting brigands and he has done this before.
PopCultHQ: For someone unfamiliar with BRIGANDS (Volume One), how easy will it be to get caught up on the characters and right into the action?
Ram V: I like to think of arcs as self-contained modules. All you really need to know is this group of characters has arrived at a new place looking for a magical object that they’re trying to steal. They’re expendable mercenaries dropped into a harsh land to do a job that no one wants to do. Once you know that – you’re ready to read Ruin of Thieves.
There is a ‘Story so far’ page right at the beginning of Issue 1 of RUIN OF THIEVES. So, if you’ll take a minute to read that, you don’t need much more.
That said, if you enjoy this. Go back in pick up BRIGANDS! Who wouldn’t want the complete experience?
PopCultHQ: How many issues do you have mapped out for this run? Can we expect BRIGANDS: RUIN OF THIEVES as a monthly release (with a trade to follow)?
Ram V: We have 4 over-sized issues (Average page count of about 28 pages). We’ve got 3 finished. 4th almost finished.
I really like this format. It delivers a good chunk of story with each issue and yet gives you a nice meaty trade when they’re collected. I’ve never liked feeling like there wasn’t enough story in a single issue. So these oversized issues seem to be my preferred method!
PopCultHQ: What are you most excited about, or proud of, with RUIN OF THIEVES?
Ram V: The characters. It’s always been about the characters for me. I’m most proud of those quiet moments when I know the readers have felt something for the characters. That’s really every storyteller’s aim – to evoke a feeling, to inspire a reaction.
I think I’ve done that a few times in this arc, based on reader responses. So, I’m excited for people to read this!
Sumit Kumar: Gosh, I’m proud of so many things I’m going to list them. In no particular order, I’m proud of –
The covers- Thanks to Ram for trusting me with them.
The characters- like I’ve said before, the best thing about working with characters is their reaction to situations. Since we have 6 main characters, exploring how each one of them react differently to the same situation has been fun! I’ve tried my best to bring up their personality to the readers.
The nested story- I’m particularly proud of what we have achieved with the third issue of this arc, both in terms of art and the dimension it gives to the world.
Special thanks to Ram and Sumit for taking the time to speak with us about their new series. Be sure to pick up the debut issue of RUIN OF THIEVES: A BRIGANDS STORY when it arrives at local comic shops and online retailers on May 16th. This is one you won’t want to miss!
And catch up on the initial heist with the first volume of BRIGANDS!
The first volume of BRIGANDS is available in comic stores near you and on comiXology now. It collects the critically acclaimed adventures of a rat-pack of medieval conmen, thieves, cut-throats, hasbeens and never-will-bes who are planning the heist of their lives.
The Collected Volume 1 of the fantasy, action/adventure mini is HERE! (Collects Issue 1 to 5) A rat-pack of medieval conmen, thieves, cut-throats, hasbeens and never-will-bes are set to carry out the heist of their lives. For some, it is a second chance at a better life. For others, it’s the only chance they’ll ever get. And in the treacherous world of BRIGANDS there are only two sureties to life; the steel in your hand and the promise of a dagger in your back!
Writer – Ram Venkatesan
Artist – Sumit Kumar
Colorist – ROSH
Letterer – Aditya Bidikar
Action Lab: Danger Zone