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FCBD Interview: Rafer Roberts Talks About The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong

4001 A.D. and A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG preview together in Valiant's special Free Comic Book Day 2016 edition. 

With art by David Lafuente, the comic duo of Archer and Armstrong are brought to life through detail and creativity.   

FCBD talked with writer Rafer Roberts about what to expect from A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG as well as the perks of being a creator involved with FCBD 2016!

Free Comic Book Day: For those who might be new to A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG give us a quick rundown of the story. 

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Rafer Roberts: Armstrong is a ten thousand year old drunken, immortal, warrior-poet who ran afoul of a confederacy of secret organizations called The Sect a few millennia ago. Archer is a super-human teenage martial arts expert who was raised by a fundamentalist wing of The Sect and trained since birth to assassinate Armstrong. When Archer discovered that everything he had been taught by his adopted family was a lie, and that The Sect was the true evil plaguing the world, Archer switched allegiances and joined Armstrong. Now they fight against all the weird and strange forces who secretly control humanity and bicker like an old married couple the entire time.

Free Comic Book Day: What has been your favorite part of A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG or character to tackle?

Rafer Roberts: Would it be cheating if I said it’s all my favorite? In all honesty, it’s probably getting a chance to explore the unique friendship that exists between such different characters. All the strange adventures and weird happenings are fun and exciting, but they would be nothing without the emotional underpinnings between Archer and Armstrong. They argue and get on each other’s nerves, but they have each others back when it counts. 

I’ve been describing A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG as a Neil Simon play with secret societies, monsters, new-age mumbo-jumbo, and a crap-ton of booze. They are The Odd Couple if Oscar Madison was immortal and Felix Unger had ninja skills. 

Free Comic Book Day: What initially got you interested in comics? 

Rafer Roberts: When I was real young, my mom used to buy them for me while running errands to keep me occupied. The first comic I remember getting was ROM: SPACEKNIGHT ANNUAL #2 (with a cool Bill Sienkiewicz cover) which probably cemented my love of weird blobby aliens and trippy action sequences. In elementary school I noticed that some kids were getting attention by drawing pictures and I wanted in on that. I started making my own comics and selling them to the other kids in the 4th grade and haven’t stopped since.    

Free Comic Book Day: What other titles would you compare to yours? “If a comic reader likes _______ , they should pick up my title"? 

Rafer Roberts: I’ve been looking at older, weirder super-hero comics from the 1970s (such as Englehart’s DOCTOR STRANGE or Gerber’s MAN-THING) for spiritual guidance, but A&A is very much a conglomeration of influences and inspirations with much more modern sensibilities. Tonally, A&A: THE ADVENTURES OF ARCHER & ARMSTRONG is a David Mamet adaptation of 1970s DEFENDERS, re-adapted for the screen by Charlie Kaufman, directed by the 3-headed Frankenstein of David Lynch, Tim Burton and Shane Black, with a soundtrack by Mark Mothersbaugh.

Free Comic Book Day: Tell fans why they should pick your book first on Free Comic Book Day!

Rafer Roberts: The art, mostly. David Lafuente has been kicking butt on art chores. Beyond just the beauty of his linework, and the amount of detail he can put into a panel without ever making it feel too crowded, his artistic tone only amplifies the emotional underpinnings. David’s style is well on the cartoony side of the spectrum, but the cartoony nature of his art sucks you in and helps deliver unexpected emotional punches when you least expect it. His art really seems to represent the book itself, happy and weird on the surface but emotionally rewarding once you really get into it. All of that is made even more beautiful under the inks of Ryan Winn, gorgeous coloring of Brian Reber, and perfect lettering of Dave Lanphear.

Plus, there’s the 4001 preview that leads off the book. Honestly, I’m just glad that Valiant let us be in this FCBD issue alongside of that. 4001 looks incredible!

Free Comic Book Day: What is your favorite part about Free Comic Book Day? 

Rafer Roberts: As a creator who does signings, and who is allowed into the store early, I enjoy getting first dibs on all the books. 

Ha ha ha! I also like meeting new potential fans. At conventions or regular store signings, the vast majority of people I meet are already comics fans and have at least a passing familiarity about the comics I do. Free Comic Book Day brings in people who may not yet be as addicted to the artform, people who may not realize what comics has to offer, and a lot of kids. When I see the kids come in, I think back to when I was that age and being handed my first comic. I envy all of those new readers for the amazing journey that they are about to embark upon.

Free Comic Book Day: Where do you plan to spend Free Comic Book Day?

Rafer Roberts: I will be at Sound Go Round in Vestal, NY. Hopefully everyone in the area will come out.

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