This week was, apparently, all about the interviews on the mothership. And, for that matter, very much about the interviews for upcoming DC projects. For example, Keith Champagne talking about the latest Countdown spin-off, the audience participation slugfest book Arena:
Let’s say you’re not reading Countdown (and if you’re into DC, you should be!) and you’re just in the shop looking for a good time with your comics. Pound for pound, Arena is absolutely the most fun you’ll have with a comic for four consecutive Wednesdays in December. Everything you need to understand the bigger picture is contained in the first issue. Each issue is double-sized, it’s weekly, and it’s a freight train of a story.
I think it will surprise people. A lot of people are saying, “Oh no! They’re just capitalizing on 52 with another spin-off!” But it’s more than that. It’s a bit more than that. It’s something you can read for six issues, and if you didn’t read 52, it still works… I’m trying to keep it in its own little corner of the DC Universe. If outside events intrude, it is only to acknowledge that outside events are happening. As an example, when Cale first encounters Wonder Woman again? She goes, “Oh! Did you bring your little Amazon war with you?”
Or how about Keith… sorry, I mean Eric Powell discussing his upcoming stint as Action Comics artist for the Bizarro World arc?:
The opposite thing doesn’t sum up Bizarro to me. He would be a woman if he were really an opposite, wouldn’t he? He’d also have to be a black woman, too. And a lesbian. A communist. Be really weak under a yellow sun. So yeah, a gay black lady communist without eye beams. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a gay black lady communist without eye beams. No, I see it as more of a distortion. A mockery. Bizarro would be a mockery of Superman in my eyes.
Not that it was all about DCU stuff – the Vertigo line got some interview love when artist Amy Hadley showed up to tell us about her Madame Xanadu series:
I actually didn’t think much about working in mainstream American comics until the mainstream approached me. I’d done some sample pages for a couple Marvel titles before this and it really opened my mind to how many awesome comics there were out there, when all I’d ever read was manga. So I’m sort of ashamed to say that before then, I was pretty closed minded at the idea… I do feel pressured, definitely, and I guess my main goal from those expectations would be to prove that what I do can be done in Madame Xanadu, and done well. I hope that my art and storytelling style will work with fantasy and action and attract an older audience of both genders. So my approach is to be the best kind of me I can offer, and not allow myself to be overwhelmed by thoughts of how I fit in.
Hell, you even had editors showing up to tell us how they know a book is successful. Mike Carlin! You’re up!:
Sales are the definition of a success we strive for. Though we can and do have books that are creative successes that don’t garner the sales we hope for or they deserve. Best thing to have is a commercial success and a creative success… But we’re never the people that can define that combo… For my money, selling the number of copies a month these 4 to 5 issues do, is a success. As far as complaints and buzz go… Everyone knows that if folks are talking (good or bad) they’re at least paying attention andthat’s another way I look at success.
Compare and contrast that publicity offensive with Marvel’s relatively poor showing this week (No, previews for Thor don’t count), and you can see that DC have clearly won the wordcount war this week. That said, any week that has a new Kyle Baker interview means that there’s no contest for the talking sense award:
I’m working for Image, and I’ve come to the conclusion that when you’re doing stuff for the comic book market…there are almost like two different comic book markets now.
The first is the bookstore/Barnes & Noble market, which where (in a Barnes & Noble), you’ll see a lot of Harvey Pekar, a lot of Robert Crumb, Dan Clowes, Persepolis, and a lot of manga.
And that stuff does great there, but (not so well) in the comic book stores. Vice-versa, the stuff that does well in the comic book stores – take, say, whatever the best-selling comic book was last year, Civil War or something like that – it’s not going to do as well in bookstores! I know it, I know it’s not getting as much shelf space as Dan Clowes in a Barnes & Noble, but it does great in a comic book store.
So, with Image, you know…why fight it? I made that mistake with Plastic Man. I did a comic for an audience that wasn’t there. I did a kid’s book, and then it was sent out and read by old men who hated it. So this time, I’m just going to do one for the boys. (laughs) I’m going to draw it in a realistic style and blow shit up and have some hot chicks.
I liked Plastic Man, Kyle… If that means anything…
Chris Arrant provided some of the most interesting stories on the mothership this week, with three new interviews in his Up & Coming series, spotlighting new creators. In addition to interviews with Star St. Germain and Ryan Roman, Chris also spoke to Macon Blair, who succinctly put the dilemma of all new creators starting out on the table for everyone:
I write every day but usually just for a few hours after work, and sometimes it’s hard to get any momentum up before bedtime. I try and take advantage for the weekends but there’s usually movie stuff to do and that eats up a lot of time too. Not to mention my bare knuckle shark wrestling league two nights a week, so yeah, the end result is it takes longer for me to turn a script around. But the dayjob does not affect me at all creatively, mostly because I’m kind of daydreaming around the office all day anyway and I can’t wait to get home and hammer out these new scenes I’m thinking about or whatever. I’m certain I’ll never have much tangible success as a writer until I can devote something closer to eight or nine hours a day to it.
And yet I can’t devote that much time to it until I’m tangibly successful at it and that’s the rub, as the man said.
Smart man, that “the man”.
Equally smart, if less “up and coming”, is Brian K. Vaughan. With Y: The Last Man finishing in a few issues and Ex Machina slowly chugging along, he popped up to talk about his latest comic book work – taking over from Joss Whedon on Dark Horse’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer:
When Whedon says jump, I say, “Off which bridge?” I just love his writing and his stories are really important to me… [but] Joss is an effin’ taskmaster! When he sends me his Runaways scripts, I usually write back a short note telling him how much I loved it and how perfect it was, and when I send him my Buffy scripts, he writes back a nice note saying how much he loved it… and then includes ten pages of detailed notes explaining how I can make it better. And the annoying part is, he’s always right!
Well, aside from that whole “apparently killing Scott this week” thing over in Astonishing X-Men, that is…
Finally, for those who find interviews too lacking in the picture department, the ‘Rama also had interviews with previews of some upcoming indie books this week. For your entertainment, then: Lobster Girl! Halloween Man: Superdeformed! Infinite Horizon! Proof! And Scorn!
And just because Marvel obviously heard me call them out at the start of the column, here’s a story that’s appeared as I was typing these very words: Runaways’ Adrian Alphonsa to draw the soon-to-return Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. That’s right, people – Apparently I make the news happen. Fear my wrath, or I’ll cancel your favorite book.