Why tell the story of Count Dante?
Who was Count Dante? That's a tough one.
Reliable details of the life of the real Count Dante (yes, he was a real guy) are hard to come by. His name was John Timothy Keehan. He really was a martial arts personality in the 1970s with a flair for the dramatic. He really did operate a chain of dojos, style women's hair, wear a cape, own a pet lion. There really were the so-called Dojo Wars of Chicago. But as Sidney Brown says in issue 1 of Count Dante: The Unauthorized (But Sort of True) Story of the Deadliest Man Who Ever Lived, "J.T. and the truth didn't always travel together."
But when Keehan died mysteriously May 25, 1975, at the age of 36, he left more questions than answers. And a story that was never finished.
I first encountered Dante reading an old 1970s Batman comic where his iconic red and black ads promised I, too, could learn the world's deadliest fighting secrets. For FREE. I don't know how many times I'd seen the ad before that day and thought nothing of it. But this time, I started looking into the grimacing man behind the halftone image on the tanned funny book page. What I found was ... well, incredible. Cocreator and writer J.C. Barbour and I were hooked. That's when we decided to finish the story.
To answer that question above -- Why tell the story of Count Dante? -- well, in simplest terms, we wanted to give John Timothy Keehan the spectacular ending he never got. Count Dante: The Unauthorized (But Sort of True) Story of the Deadliest Man Who Ever Lived is that ending. And it's our love letter to that brief time in 1970s when everything was kung fu and a man could make a name for himself with his fists and a good story.