Pulled from www.spunkybean.com
by EJ Feddes November 23, 2010
We’re wrapping up our first round of Kickstart Comics coverage with an interview with Mark Sable, writer of Rift Raiders. We’re talking about his new book, about the differences between writing your own creations and working on established creators, and more
MARK: I started with a creator-owned book from Image called Grounded with artist Paul Azaceta that was released in 2005-2006. That led a bunch of doors being opened for me in both comics and film. DC Comics noticed me and I got to write things like Supergirl and Teen Titans, Image gave me the green light on two more books, Fearless (with PJ Holden) and Hazed (with Robbi Rodriguez)…and I suddenly had the ability to pitch to Hollywood as well.
A pitch for a TV series eventually became Rift Raiders. When Hazed - a dark comedy about sororities that’s as far away from Grounded and Rift Raiders as possible was published, a number of companies were interested in optioning it. While Mandalay wound up with it, I developed a good relationship with Jason Netter and Samantha Olsson at Kickstart, which at the point was a production company that had only dipped their toes in comics.
When they started talking about the possibility of becoming a publisher, Rift Raiders fit their business plan and my creative philosophy. Which is producing accessible, self-contained books that are not limited to the superhero genre and getting them in as many hands as possible.
MARK: Yes and no. I think sometimes there is an expectation that a creator won’t put his heart and soul into a company-owned character because they don’t earn it. Or that they won’t work as hard or as quickly on their creator-owned work because they are not getting as much up front money.
I try to write company owned characters as if they were my own, and create books as if I were getting an amazing page rate
That said, there some things you have to take into consideration when dealing with either type of character. With my Marvel and DC work, I try and respect the continuity (which is a way of respecting the audience) without being a slave to it. I also try and respect the work of the creators that have come before me, (because there is an unfortunate tradition of people raping, killing and resurrecting other people’s creations), while trying to tell a unique story where others have tread before.
With my creator owned work, I think the challenge is the lack of limitations. I don’t want to break all the rules just because I can, and without editorial guidance I have to reign myself in.
But ultimately, it’s all about serving the story well. I’m always trying to tell the best story possible so readers will want to come back for more.
EJ: Who are your influences as a writer?
MARK: It’s probably easier for me to name which writers AREN’T an influence (although that might not be the best career move).
The no brainers are Stan and Jack, who not only created most of the medium’s most memorable characters, but dared to create something new rather than simply build on the work of others. I marvel at Alan Moore‘s craftmanship and his ability to move seamlessly between genres – I’m amazed that the same person could create Watchmen, From Hell, and League of Extraordinary Gentleman.
As for those creators who are more active now…Mark Waid, James Robinson, Brett Lewis, Brian K. Vaughn, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, Matt Fraction, Christos Gage…their work inspires me (at the same time it makes me jealous). I feel awful because I’m sure I’m leaving some big name out.
What I look for in a writer is a unique voice, and strong storytelling – particularly strong stories that are dense rather than decompressed.
EJ: You’ve worked with Julian Totino Tedesco before, on Unthinkable. Did you write Rift Raiders knowing he would be the artist? And if so, did you write things into the story because you know he’d make them look amazing?
MARK: The concept was in place before I knew Julian, but the script was written (and re-written with him in mind). At first, I played to what I thought his strengths were from Unthinkable – drawing incredible detail. So I tried create little period-piece vignettes to showcase every conceivable time and place I could fit in an 88 page graphic novel. Some things I thought he’d draw incredibly include giant Zeppelins, Steampunk Exoskeletons and reptilian humanoids who evolved in place of man.
But I noticed two things very quickly from Julian’s character designs and the first few pages. He was experimenting with a looser style, with these incredibly expressive characters who seemed to move across the pages with an incredible dynamism. So instead of trying to overload him with detail I tried to give him more space than he had in Unthinkable, and let him have fun. I couldn’t be more pleased with his results.
EJ: Oh, it’s an amazing looking book. The end of Rift Raiders leaves the door open for more stories — would you consider a sequel?
MARK: If Julian, Kickstart are open to it, and readers are into it – absolutely. I have no shortage of ideas for multiple sequels. But I want to stress that it was written with a beginning, middle and end so that readers will not walk away feeling they haven’t gotten their money’s worth.
Right now though, I’m focused more on creating new work, for Kickstart and others.
EJ: Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
MARK: I plan on having 2010 go out with a bang. From DC, I have a book called Teen Titans: Cold Case. It’s a double-sized (but not double-priced) book about the first meeting between the Teen Titans and Flash’s Rogues Gallery of villains. The art is by Sean Murphy, who has been blowing people away with Grant Morrison’s Joe the Barbarian.
My first published work from Marvel will debut within a week of Titans. It’s a What IF? Spider-Man story asking (and answering) the question what would have happened if Spider-Man killed Kraven the Hunter? The art is Paul Azaceta, the first time we’ve worked together (outside of covers for Unthinkable) since Grounded
Paul and I are following that up with a creator-owned book called Graveyard of Empires. It involves Marines fighting zombies in Afghanistan and it looks like we’ll be putting that out through Image. There’s lots more in the works I can’t talk about yet, but hopefully all this will whet readers appetites until I can say more.
EJ: Oh man, that all sounds awesome. We’ll have to talk again when these books come out. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us!
I’d like to thank everybody at Kickstart for being so great all week – they’ve all been really fun to talk to, and we appreciate everybody taking the time to answer our questions. They’re good people, and they’re doing really good stuff here. Check out their Facebook page then go pick up any or all of their books – I had so much fun reading these books, and I think you will, too. Provided you like things that are awesome, of course.
Pulled from www.spunkybean.com
by EJ Feddes November 21, 2010
Our coverage of Kickstart Comics continues this week, as we interview Bad Guys writer Philip Eisner. Eisner is a screenwriter by trade, with credits like Event Horizon and Mutant Chronicles, but he also really knows his comics. Also, and this is a first in my short career as an interviewer, I think he threatens my assassination. It’s a pretty great interview.
EJ: Thanks for stopping by. You’re known as a screenwriter, and this is your first comics work. What motivated you to try out a whole new medium?
PHILIP: I collected from 1985 to about 1998. Had to quit, cold turkey. I was up to about $250 week, and that was before the slipcased $100 editions of Sandman came out. I culled the chaff from my collection, but still have about 8 wooden boxes, sealed in plastic. I have the original print runs of The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen; the original appearance of The Elementals in Justice Machine. Damn near all of Sandman, including no. 1. A lot of the Marvel Epic imprint that Archie Goodwin edited — I loved Alien Legion, and the craziness of Moonshadow and The Bozz Chronicles.
Now I just pick up the bound hardback volumes, 3-4 times a year. They’re expensive as hell, but it’s very expensive for me to even pass by a comic book store, much less go inside.
So I’ve always wanted to do a comic. I just never had an idea where it made sense to do the comic first. Most of the time, I’m writing for hire on the movies, or I’m writing ideas on spec, and I’ve never heard of a spec market for comic scripts.
EJ: I loved the way the rat and the scorpion would show up at key points in the story – was it scripted that way, or is that something the artist added?
PHILIP: That was me.
I wanted to do a variation on the old “Frog and Scorpion” joke — how can you trust someone, when it’s to their advantage, if not their nature, to screw you over? Which is the situation our “heroes” are in, to a certain extent.
I also wanted a way into the “aliens” ship, and I dislike omniscient point of views. Rat and Scorpion gave the reader a specific way in, as well as having a little story of their own, to prevent those scene of John From becoming purely expositional.
EJ: Some of the characters in Bad Guys seemed to have elaborate backstories that we saw in glimpses. Did you come up with more history for any of them that didn’t make it into the book? And would you ever revisit any of the characters, either in prequel or sequel form?
PHILIP: We didn’t get into Tina as much as I would have liked — an 80 page graphic novel must be even tighter than a feature script. Tina’s that fast ALL THE TIME, at least as conceived. You know that one relative you have, who talks real slow, and you just wish they’d get to the point? For Tina, that’s the entire human race. She’s BORED out of her mind. I was going to play with her being a drug addict, taking massive amounts of opiates and benzodiazepams just to approach normal speed. We just didn’t have the page count to do it.
And The Russian. It would be a ball to play with a character who’s the truth behind the legend of the guy I won’t mention because he’ll bite my face off, but begins with “D” and rhymes with “Blackula.” And he’s in an excellent position to come back, to face his never ending battle against ennui.
I think our three survivors are all good for more stories. And I’d love a prequel for Melvin.
I love Melvin.
EJ: Usually when a writer sets up a new superhero universe, you can kind of go down the cast and see who each character is “supposed to” be. This guy’s supposed to be the Hulk, that one’s supposed to be the Joker. But the cast of Bad Guys really are originals, as opposed to stand-ins. Are there any comic or movie villains who really inspired you?
PHILIP: They’re original, certainly, but fit within comic book archetypes: Black Knight is a gadgeteer, like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne. Melvin is a “tank,” like Colossus, or Ben Grimm, or Juggernaut; only insane. Tina’s a speedster like The Flash. The Geek… well, he’s got the body of Reed Richards, but not his brain. Which makes sense, because if nothing hurts you, you don’t need to be smart. Unlike Zen. Zen’s the brain, like Lex Luthor, but was also inspired by Mark Salzman’s novel, The Soloist.
Femme Fatale’s a little harder to pin down. She’s the “magic girl” like Jean Grey, but her power’s very subtle, until the big kiss…
I guess the short answer is, when you’ve been consuming comics as long as I have, there’s going to be plenty that’s familiar to readers. The trick is spinning the characters 90 degrees. Kinda of like John From. We could have made the villains of the piece an alien species… but how many times have we seen that? As Tina would say, “Bored bored bored bored bored…”
EJ: If you were making a big budget Bad Guys movie, who would you cast?
There’s a LOW budget version?
That’s a dangerous question to ask a working screenwriter.
Any answer will piss off any actor I don’t mention. It will also piss off any potential director, because casting is — for the most part — their responsibility, and they don’t need the writer mucking it up.
And this would piss off all the producers — Jason Netter and Samantha Olsson, and Dana Brunetti and Carter Swann.
And the next thing you know, Keyser Soze has killed me, my family, my friends, my friends’s friends, and my cat.
And you, for asking me the question in the first place.
That said, the advantage of casting Michael Clarke Duncan as Melvin is, he’s physically large enough to do the role without resorting to special effects.
Come to think of it, the same goes for casting Johnny Knoxville as The Geek.
EJ: And now I’m frightened. Finally, do you have anything else coming up that you’d like to tell us about, or am I unwittingly putting myself in danger again?
PHILIP: I’ve worked in the film business too long to talk about anything that isn’t in production. Until the director says “action,” nothing’s happening.
But there is a whole lot of nothing going on, and I look forward to talking to you about it when it becomes “something.”
EJ: Well, we’d be happy to talk to you anytime! Good luck with the book, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that Melvin prequel.
Bad Guys is in stores now, and it’s great. Check it out, and go find our friends at Kickstart Comics on Facebook.
Pulled from www.spunkybean.com
by EJ Feddes November 19, 2010
We’re continuing our coverage of the Kickstart launch with another interview. This time, Hero Complex writers Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin took the time to answer our questions and talk about their great new superhero comedy.
EJ: What brought the two of you to Kickstart?
ADAM: We asked the agency to be reunited with our birthparents…
MARC: You can only look at your own face on a milk carton for so long. Seriously, Kickstart is the production company that’s shepherding our Monster Attack Network graphic novel through the Disney gauntlet — we trust the way they’ve handled things on that end, so when they said they wanted to make comics, we raised our hands.
EJ: How did the two of you become a writing team? How does that work – do you divide plot and dialogue, or is there a kind of hive mind in effect?
ADAM: We have known each other since 5th grade, so as both friends and professional partners we have all the same references. If I make a puke sound he knows I’m referring to that kid Maurice in grade school that threw up Cheese Doodles every day, so yeah it kind of is a hive mind.
MARC: Which makes Cheese Doodles something of a touchy subject. We plot together — over the phone, email, IM — but we write separately. I’ll do a chunk, send it to Adam, he’ll do a chunk, send it back to me, and so on.
EJ: Can you tell me about your influences? I got a strong Giffen/DeMatteis JLI vibe from Hero Complex (which is about the best compliment I can give), without it being imitative of their exact approach. Is that a book that you have some love for, or am I just subconsciously writing Captain Supreme / Booster Gold fanfic?
ADAM: I can’t think of a specific comic that I would cite as an influence on “Hero Complex.” In fact, for me personally, I find it very hard to name specific influences. If you’re doing original work from the heart I think your influences are a complete amalgamation of everything you take in. Comics, novels, film, TV, music and so on. I mean I am a huge fan of certain creators’ work — from Brian K. Vaughn to Robert Kirkman, but I can’t say I see any of their work in ours.
MARC: Ben Edlund’s Tick books — and animated series — have always been favorites of mine. They’re just filled with comic gold, while still maintaining the integrity of both the hero and his adventures. And, for that matter, Ghostbusters, which manages to be hilarious while also functioning as a perfectly valid supernatural mystery. It was very important to us that Hero Complex operate on both of those levels.
EJ: Artist Javi Fernandez has some really nice “acting” moments. The nine-panel grid where Captain Supreme applies for a loan is a good example. Was that something you asked for specifically?
ADAM: We just wrote it as a funny scene — a goofy combination of verbal and visual jokes — and Javi ran with it.
MARC: Javi consistently surprised us. For a guy we’ve never met, who lives in another country, he absolutely nailed the character moments. And those are everything in a humor book.
EJ: How hard is it for you to transition between comedy and drama? Hero Complex and Monster Attack Network are really, really funny, while a lot of your other work is just intense. How do you go from something like The Highwaymen to Hero Complex with the 24/6 and “Nat King Mole”?
ADAM: Marc and I have very wide and eclectic tastes — in everything we like. I love Kubrick, I love Woody Allen, I love Zack Snyder and Judd Apatow. Same with music: everything from classical to big band to hip-hop to rock. I just have always been very open to all different things. Hell, I love all kinds of food from Indian to Italian to Thai. Marc is the same (except for the food). Why limit yourself when there as so many people out there doing amazing work in every field? I am proud of the fact that the same guys who wrote a (hopefully) funny book like Hero Complex also wrote a gritty LA gang story like Genius and a monster story, a western, a buddy action-comedy. They represent all of our interests.
MARC: He’s right. I won’t eat mushrooms or curry. It is what it is.
EJ: The scenes with Dorian at his high school reunion feel very emotionally genuine. Did you have any traumatic reunion experiences of your own to draw from?
ADAM: Marc is the guy everyone loves. I am the guy who you either like or hate. I refused to go to our reunion because the handful of people I want to catch up with I already have, either in person or through Facebook. And the rest were pretty much assholes to me. Do I sound bitter?
MARC: I went to our reunion; we graduated from the same high school, in the same year. And it wasn’t so much traumatic as it was completely disappointing. You get this image in your head — put there by pop culture — about what a reunion is supposed to feel like. And reality fell amazingly short. It was like going to a wedding without a bride and groom, and where you sorta recognize all the people — except that they’ve all gotten wider and balder.
EJ: Are there any plans to revisit the Hero Complex universe? (Please say yes.)
ADAM: If readers, and Kickstart, want it, sure. I like these characters. It’ll be a challenge, though, because the hero has made his journey. I hate when a comic or film with a great premise that the hero rises above tries to recreate that magic. “You mean Rocky is stupid and poor again? Oh my gosh, how did that happen…”
MARC: We very consciously tried to deliver a complete story here. But I’m sure we could find new ways to ruin Captain Supreme’s life…
EJ: Awesome – well, I’ll be looking for your next projects, whether or not they involve Captain Supreme. Thanks for stopping by!
Hero Complex, like the rest of Kickstart’s great lineup is on the shelves now.