By Stefania Rudd. Music is the great equalizer. It brings us all together regardless of race, class, etc. And when it’s good, really, really good, it contributes to our overall well-being. Music, if we can get a bit glib for a second, rules.

Music is what drives We Are The Danger, an all-new series from writer/artist Fabian Lelay, colorist Claudia Aguirre, and letterer Taylor Esposito. It follows Julie, a straight-edge kid new to town and looking to make friends. When the first day of school gets a bit rough, Tabitha, musician and all-around cool girl, invites her to a show where drama inevitably occurs, enemies are made, and bonds are forged. All courtesy of music, the one things that ties all this together.

But We Are The Danger isn’t looking to embrace any high-wire clichés here. This is a labor of love for creator Fabian Lelay, a story near and dear to his heart. It’s important he captures the life of a band in the comics medium — not necessarily the easiest thing in the world to do — and luck would have it that Black Mask Studios was happy to oblige him.

I personally wanted to stay away from the “band members in-fighting” storyline, as it has become kind of a trope,” Lelay tells us. “With how the world is today, I think a little bit of hope through the characters is needed. They still have drama to deal with but it’s coming from a different band. They need to overcome it all to make their dreams a reality but to do that, they have to be a unified front.”

Fabian Lelay and Claudia Aguirre spoke with DoomRocket contributing writer Stefania Rudd about We Are The Danger, music in comics, and why this book could only be published by Black Mask Studios.

We Are The Danger

Cover to ‘We Are The Danger’ #1. Art by Fabian Lelay and Claudia Aguirre/Black Mask Studios

1. What is the story behind ‘We Are The Danger’ and where did it originate?

Fabian Lelay: The idea of We Are The Danger bore from nostalgia of my indie music days when I still managed a band from back home. After that, I tried to develop it for a licensed property — unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), that didn’t happen. The story became so precious to me and I knew that I couldn’t just shelve it, so I decided to make it happen. After enlisting the help of Stephanie Cooke as an editor, we got to work. Issue #1 is due out on May 30.

2. Music is the driving force behind ‘We Are The Danger’, which shows how it can be (and often is) a unifying force for people. Not only do you feature these individual characters, you’ve placed them in a band, essentially crafting another living thing inside your story. How do you balance all these different personalities yet bring them together as a singular unit?

FB: I feel that the plot being what it is, having a unified goal and a single adversary, it was easy to make it all happen. They’re brought together by the music and as the story progresses, it gives our characters a chance to learn and grow along the way. On a personal note, formerly being in a band environment really helped me get into the mind frame of the characters.

3. Being in a band can create all sorts of drama. Once you bring the book’s eponymous group together, how do you intend to craft the ensuing melodrama? How do you wish to depict life in a fledgling rock band?

FB: I personally wanted to stay away from the “band members in-fighting” storyline, as it has become kind of a trope. With how the world is today, I think a little bit of hope through the characters is needed. They still have drama to deal with but it’s coming from a different band. They need to overcome it all to make their dreams a reality but to do that, they have to be a unified front.

4. What bands would you cite as influences when you were creating ‘We Are The Danger’?

FB: A lot of the influences were from my old circles back home with a dash of western bands such as Paramore, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, No Doubt, Warpaint, to name a few.

5. The main character, Julie, is Filipino and speaks the language. Fabian, how important was it for you to create a character that embraces her heritage and culture?

FB: Extremely important. A culture’s depiction in media determines what most people perceive of it. Growing up we’ve been depicted in a pretty unflattering light and thankfully nowadays, we’re slowly starting to get a better portrayal of the culture and the people themselves. I want to do the same in my own medium.

We Are The Danger

Interior page from ‘We Are The Danger’ #1. Art by Fabian Lelay, Claudia Aguirre, and Taylor Esposito/Black Mask Studios

6. How did you determine Black Mask Studios would be the best fit for publishing this book?

FB: Publishers that offer stories like this are very limited. Black Mask has a diverse library and I saw the potential of We Are The Danger to join that long list of titles. They gave me the freedom to tell the story that I wanted to tell which meant everything to me.

7. What do you find is the best way to communicate music in comics, a medium that isn’t necessarily known for its aural appeal?

FB: I think everyone would agree that music is tightly knit with our emotions. You can hear it in the lyrics of the music we love. Their words often come from experience. So in comics, it’s all about body language, facial expression, character monologues to grab the reader. I want to make them feel what the characters are feeling. When the band is playing, my hope is that people will be able to almost “phantom hear” something fitting to what is shown on the page and based on their connection to the characters.

8. Claudia–Your coloring is vivid and bold, which fits nicely with Fabian’s art. That this is a series surrounding a teenage rock band, where a certain amount of energy must be conveyed, how do you utilize color differently than you would with other projects?

CA: With these kids, I definitely chose a bolder, brighter palette to match their energy, enthusiasm, and talent! I usually like my palettes very muted, with desaturated colors and a pinch of bright contrast. I know this wouldn’t work with a high energy cast like ours, so my use of color is definitely brighter, bolder to match this fantastic story.

9. If you had a band, what instrument would you play, what would your genre of music be, and what would your band be called?

FB: I actually would have loved to be a singer if I didn’t get into comics but my stage fright was just too strong back then. Zipper would’ve probably been the name of the band I would’ve formed.

10. Any plans for a We Are The Danger-based mixtape?

FB: There’s so many songs I’d love to put in it, but we’ve started one. It can be found on Spotify.

‘We Are The Danger’ hits stores with a vengeance May 30.

Check out our advance review of ‘We Are The Danger’ #1 here. An exclusive preview of the issue can be found here.

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