The Suddenly Ubiquitous Joshua Williamson

The Suddenly Ubiquitous Joshua Williamson

Pulled from

by Shaun Manning, Staff Writer  

Wed, September 22nd, 2010 at 1:58PM (PDT)   |   Updated: September 22nd, 2010 at 3:55PM

Williamson is currently writing for DC Comics, Kickstart and more

Joshua Williamson, a relative newcomer to the industry, is suddenly very busy. A writer who has contributed to “Superman/Batman,” the “Fractured Fables” anthology, and some DC Comics specials as well as creating “Necessary Evil” at Desperado, “Dear Dracula,” “Overlook,” and “Johnny Monster” at Image, by the end of 2010 Williamson will have added two original graphic novels, a meeting between Supergirl and Damian Wayne, and a Hulk family drama to his bibliography. CBR News spoke with Williamson about his new projects, in particular the Leed Moder-illustrated and Darwyn Cooke-covered “Mirror Mirror” and “Endangered,” both from new publisher Kickstart, as well as “Superman/Batman” #77 and his installment of Hulk's “Smash Files.”

“Mirror Mirror,” an original hardcover debuting November 20 (both in comics shops and, due to Kickstart's distribution program, Walmart), focuses on the fate of the magic mirror from the tale of Snow White and the perpetual dangers it represents. In Williamson's story, the mirror has been shattered and entrusted to several guardians, but now someone is trying to put the pieces back together. “There are a lot of fairy tale modern remakes out there, but this is more of a distant sequel that focuses just on one aspect that I’ve always felt was ignored in the Snow White fairy tale… the Magic Mirror,” Williamson said. “The Snow White legend is referenced in flashback and a few different Grimm Fairy Tales are also used throughout the story, because it’s revealed that the Grimm brothers' fairy tales were written as clues to hide the broken mirror pieces. So our heroes are looking at the told fairy tales to find the mirror pieces.”

Williamson told CBR that he was always bothered by the fact that the Snow White story never resolved what happened to the magic mirror after the wicked queen is thwarted. “In a lot of ways the mirror was just as evil as Snow White’s step mother. It could be viewed that the mirror was manipulating things the whole time,” the writer said. “That’s the idea I ran with here. The Magic Mirror was the real bad guy of the fairy tale and after Snow White was saved by Prince Charming, Snow White destroyed the magic mirror with a big sledge hammer.”

"Mirror Mirror" examines the untold tale of Snow White's Magic Mirror

Snow White then charged a secret society called the Huntsmen with protecting the shards, according to Williamson's lore. "They are for sure the good guys. There are multiple secret societies introduced in this story but it’s the Huntsmen’s job to protect the mirror pieces,” he told CBR. “By the time our story starts, most of them are dead, having been betrayed by one of their own.

“One of the Huntsmen, Prince Mason, has been around the mirror pieces for too long,” Williamson continued. “He has slowly begun to be manipulated by the mirror. He is losing his mind and literally getting cracks in his skin.”

Perhaps reminiscent of the Grimm brothers themselves, the hero of “Mirror Mirror” is Owen Grim. “Owen Grim is a playboy sort of kid who just wants to travel and have a good time. He lives for the party and doesn’t want to be stuck in a classroom,” Williamson said. “In some ways Owen is a con artist who has conned his way around the world using his parents' good name. Owen’s parents, a pair of adventurers, were members of a secret society called the Huntsmen and, when they are betrayed by another member, their roles are passed down to him. Owen is hesitant to get involved, but throughout the story realizes that this is his true calling.”

Joining Williamson on the book is artist Lee Moder, who was brought onto the project by Kickstart and Jimmy Palmiotti, who is editing some of the new publisher's titles. “The finished hardcover is going to look awesome,” Williamson said regarding Moder's work on “Mirror Mirror.” “Since his work on 'Legion of Super Heroes,' Lee has been one of my favorite artists. Lee worked really hard to make our deadlines and turned in some absolutely incredible pages. A story likes this needs to have an artist who can convey action, excitement and humor. Lee did all of those things and more. I can’t wait for people to see his work in this book.

“I’m really proud of this book and Lee is a huge reason why. Also it can’t hurt to have a cover by Darwyn Cooke.”

More of Lee Moder's art from "Mirror Mirror

Williamson's other Kickstart book, “Endangered,” sees two brothers take an adventure to the stars to rescue their father. “It’s a lot like 'The Last Starfighter,' where there is an epic battle going on in space but nobody on Earth knows about it,” Williamson said. “Earth is just a small blip in all of space so we only have one representative and that’s Captain James Donner, who is an amazing space pilot and hero. He has kept his job as Earth’s protector a secret from everyone on earth except for his son, Chris. So when Captain Donner gets kidnapped Chris tries to help him.”

This, of course, is all news to Chris' brother Mikey. “Chris and Mikey are two rival brothers in their mid-to-late teens. Chris is the good, smart kid, while Mikey is the rebel. Not only does Chris know about his father’s secret life but he also has been training to take his Dad’s place in the future. Chris is getting ready to leave for college when his dad’s ship shows up to teleport him off into space to take up his dad’s role - but it accidentally takes Mikey along as well,” Williamson told CBR.

“Mikey is pissed that his dad kept the space hero life a secret from him and he thinks he’d do a better job than Chris. So that brings the two brothers into conflict.”

Captain Donner's abductors are a race called the Decay, who have managed to exterminate most of their adversaries. “The Decay are the ultimate evil in the universe, a cancer that created itself to make space ill,” Williamson said. “Their leader is a creature named Ruin, who, like all great cosmic bad guys, is big and mean and obsessed with destroying everything,” Williamson said. “The only thing that can stop the Decay are the Ximeno.”

The Ximeno, sadly, are nearly extinct, and the brothers will find themselves teaming with and protecting one of the last of this species as they search for their father. “The Ximeno are creatures of light that the universe itself gave birth to, they embody all hope in the universe,” Williamson said. “The Ximeno have all been killed off by the Decay except for one girl named Caysea. Now that the Ximeno are almost all dead, the universe has become a very dark place. All the Ximeno had incredibly strong light powers, Caysea was learning to control and use these powers to defeat the Decay but her trainers were killed before she could finish.

"Endangered" deals with a space war Earth has no idea is happening

“Caysea was being transported to a hide-out by Captain Donner when they were attacked. Captain Donner allowed himself to be captured so Caysea could get away. Now it’s the boys’ job to get Caysea to safety. Caysea feels there is a lot of pressure is on her to save the universe and isn’t handling it very well.”

The artist on “Endangered” is Juan Santacruz. “He is awesome and the detail is amazing. He really went over the top with things I didn’t expect,” Williamson said. “I was worried at times that it would be too loaded but he really got the job done and surprised me. He has done a few things for Marvel and here he is doing the best work I’ve ever seen him do.” “Endangered” arrives in stores December 29.

In addition to his own original projects, Williamson maintains a presence at the Big Two, notably with his upcoming issue of “Superman/Batman” #77, which gives its titular heroes a rest to focus on Supergirl and Robin, Damian Wayne. “It needed to be done. A team-up between Supergirl and Damian was long overdue,” Williamson said. “When it was suggested by my editors I jumped at it because I immediately saw the potential for a great story between such opposites. AND! Because of this departure, this is the first time in a while that the title has taken place in current continuity.”

The story deals with Supergirl handling some of the grimmer aspects of superhero work and heading to Gotham for some assistance. “Supergirl has seen a lot of bad things, especially this last year with 'World of Krypton' and 'Blackest Night.' She is slowly getting over some of it but the crime she sees haunts and reminds her of all that she has seen this last year,” Williamson said.

“Supergirl isn’t used to dealing with murders and crime scenes, so she goes to talk to Dick Grayson about it and maybe get some help but runs into Damian instead. At first she is hesitant to get help from Damian but changes her mind.”

More art from "Endangered" by Juan Santacruz

This is not to say, however, that all runs smoothly. “They hate each other. Well, 'hate' is a strong word, but they really don’t get along. They bicker at each other constantly and, especially Damian, try to get under each other’s skin,” Williamson said. “But for the sake of this mystery they try to put things aside and save the day.”

The artist on the issue is Alé Garza, who has lent his kinetic style to the ongoing “Supergirl” series in the past, as well as series like "Fathom," "Gen13," and "Batgirl." "After I was finished plotting I found Alé was drawing it and I knew that he loved drawing Supergirl and Robin, so I made sure to include a lot of scenes that would work with his strong suits. Excitement, humor, fast-paced fight scenes and just enough grittiness,” Williamson said.

“The story is a bit on the darker side, but I think people will like what Alé did with the more sinister scenes. When people see Ale’s pages they are going to be blown away by what he brought to the table. Among the many characters in the issue, Ale draws one member of Batman’s rogues gallery and it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite interpretations of the character.”

At Marvel, Williamson will be writing a short Skaar backup for the “Incredible Hulks,” part of the new “S.M.A.S.H. Files” features starring members of the extended Hulk family, which begin in issue #614. “It takes place after Skaar’s and the Hulks' big battle in 'Incredible Hulk' #611,” Williamson said of his story. “Banner is trying to figure out what to do with Skaar, if Skaar is ready for the coming Dark Son.”

The Hulk's world has been a wild place ever since 2006's “Planet Hulk” story arc, but with “Fall of the Hulks” and the current “World War Hulks,” there are now several gamma-powered behemoths ready for multiple flavors of smashing. “It’s awesome,” Williamson said of the current status quo. “The Hulk is my favorite Marvel character and I’ve loved what Marvel has done with him these last few years, especially Greg Pak. I always buy the Hulk books, but a few years back I had fallen behind a bit, until Pak took over and started 'Planet Hulk.' So like everyone else I was blown away with how good the book was and the direction it was going. Ever since then I haven’t missed a beat.

"Endangered" and "Mirror Mirror" are two of the first titles from new publisher Kickstart

“A million Hulks running around just increases the story telling potential in my opinion. The Hulk has always been a character that just wanted to be left alone, and that’s becoming more and more of a challenge.”

Williamson's Skaar story will focus on the familial relationship between Bruce Banner and the Son of Hulk, as well as the parallels between their stories. “So much of the Hulk’s personality is based on his relationship with his own father. I mean, c’mon, Bruce Banner killed his Dad after confronting him about killing his mom. Skaar tried to do the exact same thing! Where the two of them go from here will be very interesting.”

“Superman/Batman” #77 featuring Supergirl and Robin is on sale October 20, “Mirror Mirror” hits stores November 20 and “Endangered” arrives December 29.


Joshua Williamson's Interview for MIRROR, MIRROR!!!

Joshua Williamson's Interview for MIRROR, MIRROR!!!

MIRROR, MIRROR Still Holds Secrets Beyond Snow White's Tale

Pulled from

By Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor
posted: 16 September 2010 10:59 am ET

Did you ever wonder what happened after the end of your favorite movie? Where the characters ended up, and where those powerful items they had were passed on to? That’s the story in the upcoming graphic novel Mirror, Mirror from Kickstart Comics.



In Mirror, Mirror, the hunt is on for the fragments of Magic Mirror used in the Snow White fairy tale by the evil Queen. If you remember, the Magic Mirror answered any question that it was given – the hard truth whether the Queen liked it or not. But since the events of Snow White, the mirror has been shattered and its pieces hidden across the globe; it’s too much power for one person, according to a secret society called the Huntsmen. But now in modern times, someone’s out to get that mirror – and the power that comes with it – no matter who stands in their way.

Set to debut in mid-November, Mirror, Mirror was created and written by up & coming comics writer Joshua Williamson, who did the Image series Dear Dracula and Unncessary Evil, as well as several projects for DC Comics. The book is being illustrated by comics veteran Lee Moder, as well as an attractive cover by Darwyn Cooke. For more, we talked with Williamson about this inventive spin one of our most heart-felt fairy tales.


Newsarama: Joshua, what can you tell us about this book Mirror, Mirror?

Joshua Williamson: Essentially it’s National Treasure meets the Grimm Fairy Tales. It’s written by me, with amazing pages by the great Lee Moder and all wrapped up in a great cover by some guy named Darwyn Cooke. It’s a family adventure book that I think anyone can enjoy.  

At the end of the Snow White fairy tale we never heard what happened to the Magic Mirror. In Mirror, Mirror we learn that the magic mirror was manipulating the evil step mother to cause everything bad that happened. After the fairy tale was over, Snow White destroyed the mirror and scattered all the pieces throughout the world to stop it from ever being put back together. There is a secret society called the Huntsmen whose job it’s been to protect those pieces. Even the Grimm Brothers were members who wrote their fairy tales as clues as to where the pieces were hidden and how to find to them again.

But now a member of the Huntsmen has betrayed them and is starting to rebuild the mirror using these clues. The newest member, Owen Grimm, is trying to stop that from happening.


Nrama: How much after the story of Snow White does Mirror, Mirror take place? Is it in modern times or some far away time?
Williamson: It’s all in modern times, with a few flashbacks to the original fairy tale with a few tweaks and to the history of the Huntsmen.

Nrama: Will any of the characters from Snow White be in this, besides the Magic Mirror of course?

Williamson: Aside from the quick flashbacks it’s pretty much only the Magic Mirror... but that doesn’t mean there isn’t someone related to a character from Snow White.


Nrama: The readers are seeing all this from the point-of-view from a guy named Owen Grimm. What's he like?

Williamson: Imagine if Indiana Jones and Lara Croft got married and had a kid. And this kid turned out to be a total screw-up.

Owen is a lot like Leonardo Dicaprio in The Beach. He just wants to travel the world using his parent’s money and connections to have a good time. He isn’t interested in relics or treasure hunting. The whole world is out there to explore and he doesn’t want to spend it in a classroom, museum, library or some cave.

When we first meet Owen he is hanging out on a Yacht in France with a bunch of women in bikinis having the time of his life. He gets pulled into this adventure and has to learn to deal with living up to his parent’s name and saving the world.

He is a risk taker and fast talker. Sometimes jumps without looking and thinks that life doesn’t have to be complicated but rather very simple. He’s a “lady in every port” type of guy, but at the same time is a bit of a con artist who pissed off a bunch of people all over the world.


Nrama: What is Owen up against in his quest to piece together the Magic Mirror?

Williamson: Aside from his own ego, he has Prince Mason who betrayed the Huntsmen and his solders but he also has to deal with the traps!

In order to protect the mirror pieces the Huntsmen devised traps in hidden locations all over the world. Now that Mason is searching for the pieces, Owen has to beat him to them, which also means facing the dangerous traps. To even get to these traps, Owen must use his head to figure out the clues hidden within the Grimm Fairy Tales.

Owen also has issues of living up to his parent’s names. They were famous and loved by everyone, but people have always looked at Owen like a screw up, including himself, so he has to learn to overcome that and get the job done.   


Nrama: Why does Prince Mason want the mirror?
Williamson: Mason wants it because knowledge is power. The Mirror, even if cryptic, knows all and could reveal all the world’s secrets. With that kind of information Mason could have, vengeance, riches, fame, power and immortality. BUT to be vague... the Mirror knows one large piece of information that Mason wants answered and will do anything to get it.

Nrama: Is there magic in this world?
Williamson: I wouldn’t say there was no magic, but it’s like Indiana Jones, where it’s all very real with hints of something supernatural building below the surface until it explodes.
For the most part the fighting is done with fists, wits and guns.


Nrama: What led you to creating this story, Joshua? Have you always been a fan of the Snow White fairy tale?

Williamson: Yeah, I’ve always been a fan of Snow White, but I was always obsessed with the Magic Mirror. It’s such an important part of the fairy tale and yet not much has been done with it since.

Disney did this TV special for Halloween about the Disney Villains back in the early 80’s that was hosted by the magic Mirror where he talked about the importance of villains. The Magic Mirror said “A hero is only as good as its villain.” A villain is there to test the hero and make the world a better place. Even at a young age that really spoke to me. This is what began my interest in villains and eventually lead me to create my comic, Necessary Evil. BUT ever since then I’ve always wondered what happened to the magic mirror. It intrigued me.  After some research on the originals of the mirror, I decided it would be fun to do a story about it being broken and people trying to find the pieces in modern times.


Nrama: For this you're working with a real comics veteran in Lee Moder. How'd you get hooked up with him, and Kickstart for that matter?

Williamson: Lee Moder is the man. I couldn’t be happier.  The book looks amazing! I can’t talk enough about how much I love Lee’s work and working with him.

One day Kickstart called me and said “We’re thinking about getting Lee Moder. What do you think?” I about passed out. It’s been an honor.

You have to understand I’m a DC nerd so of course I love Legion of Super-heroes. I’ve been following Lee’s stuff since his run on that which of course lead me to his work with Geoff Johns on Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E.S.. Everything he has done like Painkiller Jane and Dragon Prince I have followed him and loved. It was a shock that I got to work with him.



Lee took my heavy script and made it into magic. He really did some amazing things with scenes I was worried about and made them work. He really nailed the look of what I wanted. Now that he is finished with the book I miss getting pages from him everyday. Hopefully we’ll get to work together again someday.

Kickstart optioned a book of mine that I did with Image called Dear Dracula to be made into a film. While we were working on that they approached me about pitching some graphic novels, I pitched a few things here and there and actually another book got picked up first. Last year I was having lunch with Samantha Olsson, the managing editor, during the Long Beach Comic-con when I mentioned Mirror, Mirror. She immediately responded to the idea and we went from there. Samantha has been great to work with and has put a lot of work into the book. I can’t wait for people to see the final product. The hardcover is going to be amazing.


Newsrama HERO COMPLEX Interview with Marc Bernardin

Newsrama HERO COMPLEX Interview with Marc Bernardin

Comics & Commercialism Get Send-up in HERO COMPLEX

Pulled from

By Chris Arrant posted: 14 September 2010 03:02 pm ET

By Chris Arrant
posted: 14 September 2010 03:02 pm ET

Related Images

In a world of super-heroes, super-zeroes and super-wannabes, even a hero can’t get it right all the time. In the upcoming graphic novel Hero Complex, a super-hero named Captain Supreme is down on his luck after some risky investments and needs a place to stay. Showing that these bad economical times can hit every segment of society, Captain Supreme is forced to move back in with his parents – and is forced into attending his high school reunion. And that’s where the real bad news begins.

Hero Complex comes by way of the enterprising writing team of Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin. The duo have done several original series and graphic novels, as well as flirted with the superhero mainstream such as their current run on the DC/Wildstorm series The Authority. Joining the pair is Javi Fernandez, a relative newcomer to comics who illustrated a BD album in France titled Le Testamentd’un Excentrique. Bringing these all together is a new comic company with a long history in comics: Kickstart Comics. Although the comic publishing is new, Kickstart’s parent company has been a major production company for comic book movies such as Wanted and TV shows Wolverine & the X-Men and Painkiller Jane.

For more on this super-sized one-shot of a super-poor superhero, we talked with the writing pair that dreamed it up.

Newsarama: What can you tell us about Hero Complex, guys?

Adam Freeman: It will change the world. No, seriously.

Marc Bernardin: Well, it’s about a very complex hero, natch. See, we haven’t learned anything since our Monster Attack Network days -- it’s all right there in the title. Up next: Angry Billionaire Inventor.

Nrama: I’d buy that.

Freeman: Hero Complex is a really fun ride that works on a few different levels. For straight comic fans or folks new to comics it plays as a fun, adventure tale with a twist. For comic veterans it not only plays off of familiar men-in-tights tropes, but also pokes fun at the larger business of comics and commercialism.

Nrama: 2. I see from the gorgeous Amanda Conner cover that our hero is named Captain Supreme – what's he like?

Bernardin: He’s a Giant Effing Boy Scout. Seriously: He believes in a reality where men and women are judged by their deeds, not their words. He does the right thing even when no one’s watching. He won’t take a reward because, well, justice is his reward. He’s a white-bread hero in a pumpernickel world.

Freeman: And because of his ethics, he is branded a loser, gets no respect and is dirt poor because in reality, crime does pay. Stopping crime doesn’t. The other heroes in Constellation City have figure out how to play the game. They fight crime but also have publicists and endorsements...and cash.

Nrama: Not far behind Captain Supreme, it seems, is a sidekick – what's his name, and what's his story?

Freeman: Geniac is a non-powered guy that graduated from fanboy to sidekick.

Bernardin: He’s the sidekick in every sense of the word: He watches Captain Supreme’s back in battle, he handles all the accounting and pays the bills on their secret headquarters and studio apartment, and he buttresses his Hero’s ego when it needs buttressing.

Nrama: What are Captain Supreme’s powers?

Bernardin: Captain Supreme, as his white-breadness denotes, is very Superman-y as far as his powers go. Or, actually, more like The Tick: Take nigh-invulnerability and add flight.

Freeman: Throw in a little Captain Marvel too (Shazam, not the cosmic one). He is intentionally slightly generic as a throwback to the golden age when super heroes...just were.

Nrama: I never saw Superman have to move back in with the Kents; but in the promo material I see that Captain Supreme does. How does this happen?

Bernardin: Poor money management, horrible business sense and a total lack of image consultation.

Freeman: While other heroes are cashing on merchandise and licensing rights, Captain Supreme (with one of the worst names ever) is in it purely for the “do gooding.” Unfortunately that doesn’t help him hold a day job or pay the bills.

Nrama: Someone smarter than me said "you can't go home again"; so what is Captain Supreme up against when he's back home?

Freeman: The most annoying parents on Earth, friends that never left their small town, and his high school crush. They have branded their son/friend a loser because he has no job and no money. He takes his lumps because he knows to expose his secret identity would put them in jeopardy.

Bernardin: Essentially being a failure without being able to tell his parents why he’s a failure. See, unlike Clark and the Kents, Captain Supreme is still in the Heroic Closet. So a visit home is like a symphony of nagging from his well-meaning but ill-informed folks.

Nrama: For this you're working with artist Javi Fernandez, who is pretty new to the comics’ scene. What's it like working with him?

Freeman: The young kids today with their Internet and scanning and Tweeting. We have yet to meet him or even speak to him. All we know is that Jimmy found him, he is new, he is awesome, and made every single deadline. He worked like a machine and turned in some amazing work.

Bernardin: It’s a lot of “’s another email with a dozen pages in it. Oh, okay, wow. So, this is how it’s gonna be. We’re just gonna be stunned by how easily this guy gets both the character humor and super-heroics. Fine.”

Freeman: Unfortunately, we probably never will work with him again because in the grand tradition of artists that start with us, they explode and leave us in the dust. We are the artist farm team.

Nrama: You get them ready for the big leagues.

How did the ideas that became Hero Complex come about?

Freeman: We are always trying to approach stories from new angles. You may think you know this world, or this theme, but how can we twist it – ala Monster Attack Network. Giant monsters aren’t new. The FEMA-like organization that deals with them is.

Bernardin: At the same time we both got invited to our 20th high school reunion and it occurred to us: going back to your high school reunion as a superhero would be the biggest “hometown boy makes good” story ever.

Freeman: But what if, for some poor guy, even that wasn’t enough. If Superman can’t go back and gloat, what does that say about the rest of us?

Nrama: Although you’re a comics team of many years now, you’re teaming with a new publisher on the scene: Kickstart. How did you two get involved with Kickstart Comics for your project?

Bernardin: We first got into bed with Kickstart about four years ago. It was a hot, sultry night in Cabo. A little Sammy Hagar, a lot of tequila. A crowded bed, sure, but still fun.

Nrama: Here we go...

Freeman: They are the production company behind Monster Attack Network set up at Disney with Dwayne Johnson and Andy Fickman attached. We have been developing several projects across all platforms with them so when they decided to get into publishing they came to us, we pitched, and they liked.

Nrama: They had a lot to like, with the track record you guys have been doing. In recent years you've put out a slew of new comics, from Monster Attack Network to Highwaymen and Genius. It seems most creators aim to just get on at Marvel or DC on work-for-hire – so why are you two pushing so many new ideas into the marketplace?

Freeman: Two factors, honestly. First off, with the exception of The Authority over at WildStorm, no one will give us those big characters to play with. We’ve done a few one-offs and anthology stuff but there is a very small group of writers that get to do the X-Men and Spidey and Batman. We are not in that club so we basically went the “indie film” route. Sony and Warner Brothers won’t let you helm their big budget explodo movies? Ok, we’ll make Reservoir Dogs and El Mariachi to get noticed. We would love to contribute to those cannons so hopefully the editors at DC and Marvel will take notice and give us a shot. Until then, we have no shortage of stories we want to tell.

Bernardin: We love the Big Honking Heroes that Marvel and DC have to play with, and we fully intend on sullying them appropriately. But it took us a while to get to comics -- and now that we’re here, we’re going to take every opportunity to tell the kinds of stories we’ve always dreamed of. Some of those will involve people in tights. Others won’t. But comics is the rarest of mass media in that there are so few barriers between what creators want the work to be and what readers hold in their hands. An editor or two, sometimes a publisher -- and that’s it. Try that in the movies, or TV, or even theater. Doesn’t happen. Comics is freedom, and we’d be fools to not take advantage of it.


Newsrama BAD GUYS interview with Phil Eisner!

Newsrama BAD GUYS interview with Phil Eisner!

"Event Horizon" Screenwriter Kickstarts Comics W/ BAD GUYS

Pulled from

By Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor
posted: 01 September 2010 10:55 am ET

By Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor
posted: 01 September 2010 10:55 am ET

Related Images

When Earth has been invaded by alien forces and the world’s super-heroes were the first to be killed, who are the last line of defense for humanity? Super villains.

In the upcoming graphic novel Bad Guys, some of Earth’s biggest bad guys find themselves the only thing standing between aliens and the end of Earth as we know it. Written by screenwriter Phil Eisner (Event Horizon, Mutant Chronicles) and illustrated by Agustin Padilla (G.I. Joe: Origins, Oracle), Bad Guys is being released as an original graphic novel by upstart comics company Kickstart. Kickstart, who got its start in the film business and was behind the success of Wanted film, started a comics company with a unique vision to release twenty-four OGNS per year to both traditional comic stores as well as major retail chains such as Wal-Mart.

With Bad Guys set to be released on October 18th as a hardcover to comic stores and in November to retail chains, we talked with Phil Eisner, who wrote and created the story about this unique project and his induction into the comics world.

Newsarama: What can you tell us about the story of Bad Guys, Philip?

Phil Eisner: The quick version: Aliens from another dimension invade earth, kill all our superheroes, and start stealing all our water.  The only ones left who can stop them, are the super-villains.

The long version... the long version will be available in Oct. and retail for around 15 bucks.

Nrama: [laughs] Can you tell us how the aliens wipe out the entire superhero population? Villains have been trying that for years, unsuccessfully, in other books.

Eisner: With a really big gun.

Actually, there's more to it than that.

Come to think of it, there's not.  But it is a really, really big gun.

Nrama: Superior firepower. Okay, so the heroes are dead and buried – leaving the super-villains to stand up for their homeworld. Who are the standouts in the super-villains who are left behind?

Eisner: That's like asking which of your children is your favorite.

Which works for me, because I'm all about pitting children against one another, until only one remains, das Überkind.

I chose Femme Fatale as my narratrix because she's got a very human reason to be a villain. Fate does whatever she wants, when she wants... unless she loves someone.  Fate's jealous of Femme, and destroys anyone she loves, utterly and completely.  It's made her bitter and lonely, and makes her easy to empathize with.  

This contrasts sharply with Zen, the leader, who's the love child of Hannibal Lector and Kwai Chang Caine, and not humanized at all.  Which makes him tremendous fun to write.  The world is burning, and he's utterly indifferent.  

Melvin's another favorite.  He's a walking wall of muscle and as gentle as a lamb.  He's also killed more than 50 people.  But that wasn't him... at least, he doesn't think it was.  He's confused on the issue.

Nrama: What are these aliens like that Earth is up against?

Eisner: They're exactly like all the aliens on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but without the forehead prosthetics.

Nrama: How did the ideas behind Bad Guys come about, and develop into the comic that's coming out soon?

Eisner: I was thinking of writing an action movie.  Action movies are all about the villains.

And since they're the most interesting part -- your hero has to be "generic" enough for the audience to identify with, but the villain has no such constraints -- then how much more fun it would be to write an action film with no heroes?  Just broken, messed up, violent misanthropes who happen to be our only hope.

The superhero element came next. Comics, for the most part, present morality in terms of black and white. Specific stories are very nuanced, obviously, but the good guys are ultimately good and the bad guys are ultimately bad. And you need that kind of hyper-real setting to pull this off.  

Plus, in a real world story, I couldn't make them REALLY evil.  I couldn't have homicidal maniacs on the crew.  The comic book reality gives enough distance that we can enjoy them playing Wii while the world burns.

I also wanted to have fun with superhero stereotypes.  There's the speedy guy, the stretchy guy, the strong guy, the guy with the gear.  But they're twisted.

Nrama: For this,  you're working with artist Agustin Padilla, who has some extensive comic credits from Captain America to Star Trek comics. You've seen your movie scripts directed by some big names, but what's it like to see your words translated to pictures by an artist like Agustin?

Eisner: Awesome.

Pretty damn awesome.  There have been some panels that have absolutely stolen my breath away.   There's one -- our "brick" is called The Executioner, and his weapon is a headsman's axe -- and because we were really going for a PG13 vibe, there was a concern how to show the Executioner doing his thing.  Augustin did it in a silhouette that leaves everything to the imagination -- and is all the more disturbing for it.

Nrama: Bad Guys is being coordinated by the new comic publisher Kickstart as well as Kevin Spacey's film shingle, Trigger Street Productions. How'd you get involved with these two companies to do Bad Guys?

Eisner: So I come up with this idea for this superhero movie, called Bad Guys.   And I told it to Carter Swan, exec at Trigger Street.  And he said, "That would make an awesome comic book."  And I said, "But I want to write a movie."  

And he slapped me, and called me a whining little bitch, and threatened to write the comic himself if I didn't.  Then he called in Dana Brunetti.  You don't mess with a man who has Kaiser Soze on speed-dial.

So I said I'd write it, and he and Dana pitched it to Kickstart.  I loved what Kickstart had done with Wanted -- so the hardest thing for me, really, was feigning disinterest long enough to get paid to do something I'd have done for free.

I'm kidding.  I don't do anything for free.  I'm making Jason Netter pay me by the word for every email interview I do, which is why these answers are so very, very long.

Nrama: Then lets keep it going; You've worked mainly in movies – movies I've seen most of – but this is your first comic. Can you tell us about your comics interest, and what prompted you to want to do a comic?

Eisner: I've 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 boxes, sealed in plastic.  I have the original print runs of Dark Knight 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.  

Nrama: Before I let you go, I have to ask --- are you related to cartoonist Will Eisner?

Eisner: Regarding Will Eisner.  I wish.  When I was a kid, someone gave my dad a copy of The Spirit, because of the name.  It was the only comic book in our house until I was in middle school.  
I loved it.  I remember this one story, not about the Spirit at all, that followed an ordinary man through his day.  All he wants to do is sit quietly in his chair and read the paper.  Not gonna happen.  His kids run around, shouting.   His wife berates him for being such a weak loser.   His boss abuses him at work.  

On his train ride home, he stumbles upon the Spirit fighting some robbers in the caboose.  And he sees the engineer unconscious in the middle of the fight.

Which means that no one is in the engine to stop the train.

So this balding, small man -- of course he wears thick glasses -- goes to the front of the train -- has to climb on the outside of the coal car -- almost falls off  -- and pulls the brake at the last second, as the train barrels into the station.

The train crashes, but no one is killed.  And in the aftermath, Dolan asks The Spirit how he managed to slow the train from the caboose, and The Spirit confesses, he didn't.  He has no idea who pulled the brake.  

They find no one in the engine.

And we end with this sad, little man at home, sitting down in his chair.  Only this time, when his wife starts to nag and his children start to tear ass, he shouts "BE QUIET" at the top of his lungs.  

In the final panel, he's reading quietly, puffing on a pipe, with his children and wife leaning out from around a corner, staring at him with respect, their mouths zipped tight.

Still one of my favorite stories.


RIFT RAIDERS Interview with Mark Sable

RIFT RAIDERS Interview with Mark Sable

RIFT RAIDERS Kickstarts a Trip Through Space & Time

Pulled from

By Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor
posted: 31 August 2010 10:06 am ET

What does it take to travel through space and time? A lot of work and preparation for starters, but don’t tell that to a trio of orphaned teens who find out their parents have been abducted by a time traveling madman. To find their parents wherever – and whenever they are, these three partner with a strange man who’ll provide them information if they steal rare antiquities for him.

That’s the story in the upcoming original graphic novel Rift Raiders, written by Mark Sable and illustrated by Julian Tedesco. Sable has been on a creative tear as of late, doing creator-owned work like Grounded, Fearless and Hazed while also doing work at both DC and Marvel. His last big project was the limited series Unthinkable from BOOM! Studios, and in this new project he’s reteaming with the artist of that, Tedesco, to tell this unique tale.

If the story isn’t unique enough yet, just look at the company who is putting it together. Longtime movie production company Kickstart has ventured into the world of comic pubishing, enlisting editors Jimmy Palmiotti & Larry Young to publish twenty-four graphic novels a year. No single issues, just straight-to-trade and they’re not only going to comic stores but also your local Wal-Mart, one of many retail chains the publisher has partnered with for a dedicated section.

For more on this, we talked with Rift Raiders creator and writer Mark Sable.

Newsarama: On your blog you described this as “Goonies meets Time Bandits”, but I see no Babe Ruth candy bar in sight. How would you describe the book, Mark?

Mark Sable: There’s no Baby Ruth and no Sloth, but the woman from Throw Mama From The Train and Joe Pantoliano make an appearance.

Seriously, I compare Rift Raiders to Goonies because of the tone, and Time Bandits because of the scale and scope of the adventure.   

Rift Raiders a fun, teen time-travel adventure story about kids who think they are orphans, but learn their parents are alive and scattered throughout time.  In order to rescue their parents, they have to strike a deal with a shady character who has them steal mystical artifacts in return for revealing their parents location.

Nrama: What would you say the big theme is here - what are you trying to show the reader?

Sable: There’s not really some heavy theme here, like messing with history is bad or anything like that.  I do think though, that Grounded and any of my work that deals with teens, it’s about parents needing to trust their kids enough to be honest with them.

Nrama: At the center of all this is a teen named Dodger. What’s he like?
Sable: When our story starts, Dodger is sort of your every-teen, with one exception.  His parents claim to be archeologist, but they never take him on his digs or share the finds they supposedly keep hidden in a secret vault.  So he’s dedicated his life to becoming the world’s greatest thief – just so he can uncover his family’s secrets.  Of course, he gets more than he bargained for when he finds they’re not just time treasure hunters but time travelers.

Nrama: I hear Dodger's not the only teen who has some misplaced parents - who
are the others?

Sable: There are three other “orphans” who Dodger finds after their parents are seemingly killed in accidents where no body was ever recovered.  

Myles is the only one with a work knowledge of history and the group’s moral compass.  If he’s the angel on Dodger’s shoulder, Sikes is the devil – a kid who could care less about finding his parents and who’s just in it for plundering the past.  

But my favorite is Layla...she’s a veteran time traveler with the ultimate combat training – having been taught by everyone from the Shaolin Monks to Wild Bill Hickock to Muhammad Ali.

Nrama: In the preview you gave us, someone grabbed Dodger's parents after the
time belt broke - who are they?

Sable: The gauntlets that grab the parents belong to the Casimir.  He’s the big bad of the book, and is also seeking mystical weapons from throughout time, but to reveal any more would involve major spoilers.

Nrama: How'd you come up with the premise of Rift Raiders, Mark?

Sable: It came from mashing up Time Bandits and Oliver Twist in my brain.  I love Time Bandits, but I did my definitive work on little people when I did my midget western, “They Shoot Ponies Don’t They” with Chew’s Rob Guillory and Tom Mauer in Popgun Vol. 1.

Plot wise, I borrowed a bit from Oliver Twist.  Instead of orphans being recruited to steal from Victorian Englishmen, they are recruited to steal by a Fagan-type character known as The Fence.  You never quite know who he’s working for – the kids, the Casimir, both or neither.

Nrama: For this, you're reteaming with your Unthinkable artist Julian Totino Tedesco. What was it about that project that united the two of you to continue on with this new project - a long one - with a new publisher like Kickstart?

Sable: I was so blown away by what Julian did with Unthinkable that I would have worked on him with anything.  When Kickstart asked for artist suggestions, Julian was my first and only choice.  People have compared his work to Joe The Barbarian’s Sean Murphy, and I think he’s a breakout artist.

What’s great is...although Unthinkable is my favorite published work, Julian’s art on Rift Raiders is on an entirely different level.  Without sacrificing the level of detail in Unthinkable, the action is just so much more dynamic in Rift Raiders, and the characters are even more expressive.  I purposely wrote Rift Raiders with the intention of giving Julian’s work more room to breathe, and as a result it’s a showcase book for him.

Nrama: How'd you hook up with Kickstart Comics to do this book?

Sable: Kickstart was and is a successful production company before they were a publisher, and had expressed interest in Hazed and Unthinkable.  I developed a great relationship with Samantha Olsson and Jason Netter, and we’ve been looking to work on something together for a long time.

Any time there’s a new publisher, especially one with Hollywood roots, there’s always skepticism.  But from both a business and creative perspective I couldn’t be happier with everything Kickstart has done.

A lot of their press has been focused on the fact that they have a distribution deal with Walmart – something almost every publisher has wanted to do but has been unable to.  That’s part of a larger approach of making books accessible to readers who might not have tried comics.  I’m beating a dead horse with this, but we need to grow comics’ readership if we want to see the medium thrive.

What I think is cooler, though, is that they haven’t forgotten direct market retailers.  At the direct market shops, they'll be offering hardcover versions of Rift Raiders instead of the softcover version for big box stores.

Nrama: You've done a lot of comics, but I believe this is your first original graphic novel - the others have been serialized first. Am I wrong? If not, what's it like writing for this longer uninterrupted format?

Sable: Hazed, my sorority satire from Image, was also an OGN, although it wasn’t originally conceived that way, which Rift Raiders was.  I grew up on serialized comics and love writing them, but I prefer doing an OGN, where I can tell a self-contained story with a beginning, middle and end without artificial breaks every 22 pages.

Nrama: You've said Rift Raiders is completely done on your end - so what else are you working on?

Sable: A lot...although I unfortunately have to be vague about some of it.  I have a Teen Titans special with the aforementioned Sean Murphy coming out this fall, and hopefully a Marvel story or two.  I’m doing another book with Kickstart that hasn’t been announced, and I just finished a screenplay for a very cool director.  

I think the two projects I’m most excited about are collaborations with Salgood Sam (Sea of Red), who I did a Comic Book Tattoo story with, and Paul Azaceta (Amazing Spider-Man), who I haven’t done a big project with since Grounded.  There’s no bigger compliment to me than when an artist wants to work with me again.