My Interview With Bastards Waltz Writer Mark Bertolini

Like most of my connections in the comic book community i first met Mark Bertolini through social media (Facebook). Generally speaking, if you have enough mutual friends and enough things in common you get a friend request. Its one of the few things i like about Facebook and also one of the few reasons i keep it. I Actually got to meet Mark in person at Toronto ComicCon back in March. I got to support him directly and had a brief chat with him. It was a good con. A few weeks later he put the word out he was looking to promote his book Bastards Waltz. So I hit him up and we did an email interview.
Before we get to that I’ll give you my thoughts on the book. I have to admit i was initially turned off by the art style, which is usually a deal breaker for me. As i got into the story though i grew to like it. The art fit the story so well. I finished the book in one sitting which doesn’t happen a lot due to my limited reading time and few books grip my attention so much i have to finish it that same day. Needless to say, i really enjoyed it.
If you were even remotely a fan of the Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackon movie The Hitman’s Body Guard you will enjoy Bastard’s Waltz.
bastards page 1
How did you get started in comics and what inspired you to write the bastards waltz?

I got started in comics from the moment I could read because creating stories and making comic books was all I ever wanted to do. I originally wanted to illustrate comics, but I didn’t have the patience to sit and work on a single page for 8 hours. So I adapted my dream from drawing to writing comics, and I got serious about it in 2010. I wrote my first scripts that year, and my first published work, Long Gone (from Markosia) was published in 2012.

¬†Bastard’s Waltz came about from two different ideas colliding and becoming one, as many ideas do. I often jot down names for characters in a spreadsheet, and the name “John the Bastard” struck me as a cool name for a villain. I had the idea of an aging villain demanding protection from upstart rivals and when I realized the John the Bastard could be the aging villain, the idea exploded into what eventually became Bastard’s Waltz.
What was the process that led you to work with artist Giovanni Guida? Did you have a specific style you envisioned for this story when you started scripting?
I didn’t have a specific style in mind, except that I knew I didn’t want a generic superhero style for this. The script was written for a while, just waiting for the right artist to come along.
I occasionally help with submission reviews for a small-press publisher, and Giovanni had sent some samples in. I reached out to him, we discussed the story for a while, and then we were off and running.
There are many ways to get a comic book out into the world today what made you choose the indie publisher route as opposed to say Kickstarter or self-publish?
Working with a publisher, for me, means I can remain focused on the creative side of comics, and let someone else do the behind-the-scenes stuff. Trying to work out print costs and specs and legal jargon, that’s not for me, I’m not built for that kind of thing. I love to create, I love to remain free to keep creating. I did run a Kickstarter campaign for another project last year, and it’s no walk in the park, so I definitely prefer having a publisher handle my work.
John the bastard and agent Sweet are clearly the stars of the story but you also gave John a fair amount of memorable enemies. You conveyed it all in a relatively short amount of time as well.
Was it important to make sure his enemies stood out or did it just happen as you were creating?
Absolutely, I wanted the ancillary characters to feel like fully-fleshed out characters. I wanted to establish that this world they live in is populated with larger-than-life heroes and villains. Plus, John really needed some memorable enemies to make his life hell, characters that could kick ass as well as get their asses kicked.
bastards page 2
Any plans to create more stories from John’s universe?
Absolutely, I wanted the ancillary characters to feel like fully-fleshed out characters. I wanted to establish that this world they live in is populated with larger-than-life heroes and villains. Plus, John really needed some memorable enemies to make his life hell, characters that could kick ass as well as get their asses kicked.
bastards page 2
Any plans to create more stories from John’s universe?
Actually, Giovanni and I have discussed a sequel, and we intentionally left the first volume open, so that we could continue the story if there was enough demand! But there are so many stories to tell in this universe, that might not even have anything to do with John or Agent Sweet.
I completely agree! World building is a wonderful thing. What you’re biggest challenge or frustration while building?
To me, the biggest challenge is to make things believable, to make the world feel grounded and real, which was very important to this story.
Do you have any other comics or Kickstarter’s coming out soon?

I do, I have a 4-issue sci-fi miniseries called THE ARGUS coming out through Action Lab comics later this year, an anthology of short pulp stories I wrote called THE HAND OF GLORY coming out of Markosia, and a couple more pitches that are getting close to the finish line that I can’t talk about just yet. And as always, a slew of new pitches that will start making the rounds very soon.


You can follow Mark on Twitter and his blog

Physical copies of Bastards Waltz can be purchased through Darby Pop Publishing
Digital copies are available on Kindle/ Comixology
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