Exclusive interview with author "David Towner"
Originally from Alaska (Chugiak-Eagle River), David Towner is an American entrepreneur, comedian, writer and filmmaker. Prior to pursuing his business and entertainment ventures, he served as a US Army Paratrooper with missions in Somalia, Haiti and Cuba. Towner is most known for his quirky feature film, “Our Scripted Life,” which was released in 2020 and was downloaded half a million times in the first three months. The film was the public introduction to Towner's character Roscoe Turner, a hillbilly from Kentucky who offers his own brand of unsolicited wisdom. Towner is also the creator and head writer for the graphic novel series, Aztec Warrior God, which has gained millions of fans around the world. He is married to model Brandi Mendoza. The couple has triplet girls, born in 2017, and reside primarily in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Aztec Warrior God is an exciting, action-filled superhero franchise created with modern audiences in mind. The story is crafted to appeal to broad, multicultural audiences with strong messages of equality, tolerance, racial and social harmony, environmental responsibility and compassion. While the characters are traditional superheroes, capable of using their powers for destruction, they practice restraint, diplomacy and seek intellectual solutions to problems before resorting to violence. The franchise features indigenous characters from every region of the world and a female-centric, ensemble cast, with eight of the 13 ensemble characters being women.
Tell is a bit about your background.
I was raised in Alaska in a military family. I followed our family tradition and enlisted in the Army as a paratrooper. While I was deployed around the world, I spent my downtime writing screenplays in various genres. After my military service, I started pursuing business opportunities which, fortunately, were successful and offered me the opportunity to purse my hobby of writing more ambitiously. I have written everything from jokes for touring comedians, screenplays and sketches, many of which I have turned into short films. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to spend more time writing and less time focused on my businesses. Ultimately, my goal is to be 100% focused on writing and directing by 2025.
When did you begin working as a writer?
I decided in my early 30s that I was not getting any younger and I just set aside time and spent several years putting my ideas into scripts. Shortly after, I started implementing some of my ideas into short films and sketches. In 2020, I was fortunate enough to release my first feature film, a low budget, experimental comedy called “Our Scripted Life” which has developed quite a following. We had over 500,000 downloads in the first three months after release.
Tell us a bit about your new book, Aztec Warrior God.
Aztec Warrior God has been in various stages of development since 2009. The origin story is rooted in Aztec Mythology, but I didn’t want to tell the story of Aztecs prior to the arrival of the Spanish. That story has been told. My objective was to create a modern superhero series with indigenous characters from multiple regions but capitalize on the rich mythology and complex history of the Aztecs to establish a self-contained universe that could compete with existing comic franchises. The origin story is a catalyst to introduce other indigenous characters and get my story to 2021. Eventually, the core characters emerge from the underworld and collaborate with other tribes. The series is an episodic graphic novel franchise with one novel being released every three months. Each series of four will be issued as a compilation hardcover.
What was the genesis of the book?
I spend a lot of time in Mexico but was not intimately familiar with the history of Aztecs. On one trip, I had a few days of spare time and decided to join a local expedition. I became fascinated with the culture but mostly with the mystery of how this massive, advanced empire of over seven million people seemed to vanish overnight. My writer’s brain took over and I created the entire series in my head. The nature of my story created an essential release date of August 13, 2021 which is the 500th anniversary of the fall of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. I felt a sense of urgency in 2018 and started looking for artists in Mexico who would have familiarity with the culture. Unfortunately, two years passed with no luck but in early 2020, I hit the jackpot with brother and sister team Diego Lopez Mata and Carla Andrea Lopez Mata. We were in a time crunch but luckily, I had the first novel completely written. They were able to illustrate the entire project, working around the clock, in 10 months.
What surprised you most about working on this project?
The most surprising things have been the misconceptions of Aztecs. Most of these misconceptions come from the reality that the stories of indigenous people have always been told by their conquerors. Most people refer to Aztecs as a tribe or race, but the reality is that the Aztec empire was a strategic alliance of several different tribes. Most people think that the Spanish defeated the Aztec in battle. The reality is that the Spanish did very little fighting. The recruited local indigenous people who were already at odds with the Aztecs to do most of the fighting. The Spanish killed way more Aztecs with disease than they did on the battlefield. Most people think of the Aztecs as brutal cannibals who were obsessed with human sacrifice. That legacy has some validity, but they were much more. The society was very progressive. Women had equal standing and could own businesses, serve in the military and be leaders. They had public art councils. They had extremely advanced architecture and agricultural innovations. As misdirected as they were, their innovation and social advancement deserves to be recognized.
What would you like readers to take away from reading Aztec Warrior God?
In addition to the pure entertainment value of my story, the Aztec Warrior God series includes many factual events about indigenous people. I hope that people become inspired to research and value the history, teachings and contributions of indigenous people around the world.
You’ve developed quite an amazing social media following. How did that come about?
I am very fortunate that my project appeals to all demographics and geographies. Some people love our art, some love the indigenous history, some love the empowerment of women and people of color, some love the multi-culturalism of my stories, some are comic and superhero fans who feel that my project is filling a void. Major comic publishers have been trying to find new ways to recycle 70 year old characters but the well is drying up. Fans are becoming frustrated and even offended by some of the creative decisions that are being made with the iconic comic franchises. 2021 is a very good time to have a quality comic series with unique characters and a modern message.
What new projects are you working on?
Currently, I spend most of my time writing future chapters of Aztec Warrior God, but I have a few screenplays that I am hoping to produce in the next few years. One is a Haitian based drama called “The Fisherman”. I am also starting a sequel for “Our Scripted Life”. I have about seven polished screenplays that I hope to get to as well.
For more information, visit www.aztecwarriorgod.com