When issue #100 of Vertigo's hard-edged crime series "100 Bullets" hit shelves in April 2009, its arrival marked the end of ten years of work for writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso. Begun in August 1999, "100 Bullets" is one of the very few series to feature the same writer/artist team for its entire run -- a fact that doesn't escape Azzarello in the run-up to a July 11 event bidding farewell to the gritty, violent saga.
"It's a funeral," said Azzarello, correcting me when I described the upcoming "100 Bullets: Last Shot" event as a "party."
"Okay, it's a wake, maybe," he laughed. "We did this book for nearly ten years. 100 issues with the same team -- that doesn't happen very often."
While Azzarello said he misses the book and the daily routine associated with it, he doesn't plan on jumping into another 10-year saga anytime soon.
"I will never do that again," he said. "Yeah, it's stable, but it's a big, big commitment to write something serialized for 10 years. ... Maybe something that would only take two years of our time, tops -- something quick and dirty."
When it came time to end their 10-year journey, however, Azzarello said there was some thought to extending it -- but he and Risso quickly decided that concluding the story was best. And when all was said and done, the grand finale unfolded just as he planned it ten years earlier.
"I didn't start writing it until I had an ending. From day one, I've known where this was going," said Azzarello. "[But] about a year before it was set to end, Vertigo came to me and said, 'If you don't want to end it, you don't have to.'"
"I talked to Eduardo about that and we both decided that everything was set up and all the dominoes were there, so let's just knock 'em down," he explained.
As for the next step, Azzarello said he wouldn't rule out the possibility of spin-off series featuring some of the "100 Bullets" cast -- the few that are still alive, that is. ("There's not many left ... but I'm not going to say it will never happen," he said.) Longstanding rumors that the series will be adapted into a video game, though, aren't likely to be realized. After the previous game developer that optioned the series fell apart, there's been little movement on that front.
"It's a really seductive name for a video game, but if you try to stay true to the story of '100 Bullets,' it's not a very good video game," said Azzarello. "[The '100 Bullets' game] was nothing I was ever looking for, but when the opportunity arose, we thought, might as well see what happens."
"Television -- there's an idea!" the author exclaimed. "That's all I'll say. Television... or maybe something that's not just TV."
Quickly moving on, Azzarello offered his own take on where "100 Bullets" stood among its peers in the comics world -- and what he's missing the most from the series.
"For its time, it was probably one of the most mainstream comics out there -- nobody flew, no magic, no vampires," he explained. "I'm definitely missing the characters. I lived with these guys for 10 years."
And that, according to Azzarello, is why he's treating Saturday's "funeral" for the series like the passing of a good friend. With booze, a pianist and torch singer, and art by Risso and series cover artist Dave Johnson adorning the walls (later to be auctioned off for comics charity The Hero Initiative), there isn't likely to be a dry eye -- or glass -- found in the place.
"It's going to be an Irish Wake -- let's just say that," laughed the writer.
You can find out more information about the July 11 "100 Bullets: Last Shot" event at The Hero Initiative website. Tickets are selling fast, so make sure to jump on 'em while they last. Volume 13 of the "100 Bullets" paperback collections also hits shelves this week, featuring the final issues of the series.
What do you think about the end of "100 Bullets" -- and the idea that it might be headed to television? Let us know in the comment section!