Marguerite Bennett, writer of Swords of Sorrow: Red Sonja/Jungle Girl #2, talks with writer Ron Marz about John Carter, Warlord of Mars #10, both on sale August 26th!
MARGUERITE BENNETT: I loved the framework of the story being told--is there something you enjoy particularly about one-shots, in comparison to chapters of larger arcs?
RON MARZ: I don't think I enjoy writing one-and-done stories more than longer arcs, mostly because I enjoy the longer arcs too. The one-and-dones are just a different flavor on a menu. You stretch slightly different writing muscles on them compared to longer stories. The single-issue stories force you to focus as a storyteller, there's no room for vamping or indulgence.
MB: When working with your creative team, how did you come up with the storybook style for the parable that is told?
RM: Since the issue was going to focus on Tars Tarkas, and in a larger sense on Mars itself, I wanted the story to be visually different from what had come before in the series. Tars is a larger-than-life character, literally, so I felt like the storytelling should reflect that. So I decided on the splash-page format, with the sequential framing sequence to provide contrast. And, honestly, I wanted to give our artist, Ariel Medel, a chance to show off what he could do with the larger format.
MB: Are there any stories like this from your own childhood that made a particular impression on you and your work?
RM: Not anything specific that I can cull from memory, but in general, I was thinking a lot about Kirby spreads and splashes. Jack's big imagery always jumps off the page at you, especially his '70s-era stuff where he could really embrace that big sensibility. The other thing I was trying to convey to Ariel in the script was the illustration history of John Carter, everybody from Joe Jusko and Frazetta, all the way back to Frank Schoonover. I wanted each splash to be worthy of that tradition.
MB: The idea of worth and those worthy to wield certain weapons or command certain nations appears throughout a variety of genres in comics. In your own opinion, what traits make a hero worthy of the title?
RM: There's probably a pretty long checklist that could serve as the answer to that question. But I think the short answer is selflessness. For me, heroes are heroes because they put others in front of themselves, the safety of others, the happiness of others. There's no such thing as a selfish hero.
Check out JOHN CARTER: WARLORD OF MARS #10, now on sale, and enjoy the rest of the preview below.
Ron Marz, writer of John Carter, Warlord of Mars #10, talks with writer Marguerite Bennett about Swords of Sorrow: Red Sonja/Jungle Girl #2, both on sale August 26th!
RON MARZ: I think one of the necessary aspects in a "team-up" kind of story is drawing a contrast between the main characters, and you're doing a great job of contrasting Sonja and Jana. Was that something you set out to do, or a natural consequence of the story?
MARGUERITE BENNETT: Thank you kindly! I think it began as natural, and then as I worked, their balance and harmony became a theme that then became sort of the primary thesis of the story. It intensifies as it goes along-- Sonja is worldly, Jana sheltered; Sonja is flirty and confident, Jana innocent and uncertain; Sonja has a quick temper, while Jana is patient. They balance each other and bring out good qualities in one another. Jana solves problems by asking questions, but is backed up by Sonja's capacity for action, and Sonja's affection for Jana bolsters Jana's own confidence.
RM: There are a number of multi-panel spreads in the issue. Did you specifically ask for those in the script, or are they something Mirka Andolfo brought to the table?
MB: I am a sucker for double page spreads and splashes, unfortunately. There are always about 2 or 3 of each in my drafts, though they often get edited down. I feel like I'm always going to be a reader first, and I delighted over double page spreads as a fan. I love comics as works of art, especially when they play with the medium. There's no equivalent in novels of a double page spread or splash. In movies, the image doesn't suddenly change dimension and expand into a massive new wide-wide-widescreen. I am grateful for the artists who are so patient with my infatuation with structure.
RM: Can you talk a bit about how Mirka's art fits your vision for the story?
MB: Mirka is a DOLL to work with, honestly. She brings such buoyancy and charm and zaniness to the story. From the beginning, we just wanted this to be pulpy, campy, and fun, and she adds such a sweetness and sincerity to the characters, especially Jana. You know from the start that this is going to be a fun, quippy little story. It reminds me a bit of the opening song from "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"--
"Nothing with kings, nothing with crowns;
Bring on the lovers, liars and clowns!
Nothing portentous or polite--
That's what pulp is to me.
RM: There's a bit of a fourth-wall breaking moment in the issue, though I won't spoil by being more specific. What prompted you to include that kind of wink to the reader?
MB: It was a chance to make a joke I could never make in any other circumstance, in any other comic, or with any other company. If that opportunity was never going to pass my way again, I wanted to pounce while the pouncing was good! We're irreverent in this book. What we love, we tease.
RM: Can you tease us a bit about the conclusion coming up in issue #3?
MB: The third issue is our most straight-shot adventure. We've got battles and chases and mysteries in the hearts of mountains. Still fun and frolicsome as far as "the fate of every living thing on this island hangs in the balance" can be, I hope.
Make sure to check out SWORDS OF SORROW: RED SONJA/JUNGLE GIRL which is now on sale, and check out the rest of the preview below.
With the Red Sonja / Conan series going strong, Byron Brewer sat down with writer Victor Gischler talks about how things will wrap up for the Dynamite / Dark Horse series. Cover Art by Ed Benes.
BYRON BREWER: Victor, in November this exciting re-teaming of iconic barbarian favorites will reach its climax. Did you tell the story you intended to tell, or did the characters take over – as they often do – and take it in another direction?
VICTOR GISCHLER: I always know the characters will have something to say along the way, so I sort of include a little wiggle room into my thinking, but for the most part, the story went where I wanted it to go. My aim was to start simply and then let things build. I think I came pretty close to the target I was aiming for.
BB: How would you size up the wizard Kal’Ang as a big-bad. Pretty awesome?
VG: No. Not really awesome at all. He’s specialty of herbal magic in combination with the blood root causes Sonja and Conan a bad time but ultimately the big problem is … oops … no spoilers.
BB: I know that in the November issue finale, a rather unexpected foe awaits Conan and Red Sonja. Can you give us any hints toward the ID at all?
VG: Ah, see this is sort of a continuation of the question above. It’s probably too much of a giveaway to say something about “unfinished business” but … UNFINISHED BUSINESS.
BB: Was there a character in this great opus whose voice was harder to find?
VG: Not really. I took a slight liberty letting Conan do a bit more than grunt, but nothing overboard. These are strong characters, and they really assert themselves.
BB: How has it been working with artist Roberto Castro?
VG: Readers seem to definitely enjoy his work, so I think he was a good pick for the book. He knows how to put you in that world in a very vivid way.
BB: Besides Conan and the She-Devil with a Sword, is there any character in your mini you would like to see receive a solo shot?
VG: Not really. As I suggested before, Conan and Red Sonja are the kind of characters that demand your attention. Supporting cast is just that. Supporting cast. They live (or die) in service of Conan and Sonja’s story.]]>
With the upcoming release of Grumpy Cat #1, Byron Brewer sat down with writers Ben Fisher & Ben McCool and editor Rich Young to talk about the new series. Cover art by Steve Uy, Ken Haeser and Tavis Maiden.
BYRON BREWER: Grumpy Cat has been popular since her photos hit social media in 2012. Can you give us a little background into her growth and staying power as a franchise?
BEN FISHER: I think Grumpy Cat found herself directly in the sweet spot of a Venn diagram where cuteness meets cynicism. The more she insults you, the more you just want to scratch her behind the ears. The fact that Grumpy Cat continues to enjoy such widespread popularity is a testament to how much her adorable bitterness resonates with all of us.
BEN McCOOL: The Internet adores kitty cats, although they’re typically presented as furry bundles of unconditional love. Grumpy, like a real-life Garfield, makes mockery of this depiction—she’s delightful in her own unique way, but not in the slightest bit happy about it! I think this charming irony further fuels Grumpy Cat’s ever-growing popularity.
BB: Dynamite will be doing a variety of publication developments featuring Grumpy Cat. Tell us about this first book, coming out in October.
Ben F: The October issue will be the first in a three-issue comic book series, each containing multiple stories from a fantastic stable of creators.
RICH YOUNG (editor): Each issue in the first series is going to feature three short stories, each written and drawn by different creative teams. Issue #1 will feature stories by the two Bens here, as well as another story by Royal McGraw. Artists will include Steve Uy, Michelle Nguyen and Ken Haeser, all giving their own artistic spin on Grumpy and Pokey. It’s making for some cool variation style-wise and some really fun shorts! The trouble those two can make and get into is something else…
BB: Writing this type of book must present a unique challenge. How has that been overcome?
Ben F: The challenge to writing Grumpy Cat is also the best part: we’re tasked with creating the world around her as well as giving life to a whole cast of supporting characters, both new and old. It has truly been a joy to have played a role constructing the Grumpy Cat universe.
Ben M: Here, here! These stories are *so* much fun to write, and to see the characters grow and evolve as each story progresses is both exciting and rewarding.
BB: Almost everyone knows Grumpy Cat’s disposition (what a face!), but what about her brother Pokey? Can you tell us about his character?
Ben F: Pokey is the yin to Grumpy’s yang. He’s good-natured and generally just wants everyone to get along and enjoy life to the fullest. He isn’t easily insulted (a useful trait considering his sibling), but he’s not unintelligent either. Of course, he’s no match for his sister’s wit …
Ben M: Pokey is shaping up to be a brilliant addition to this world—his pluckiness and sense of adventure sends Grumpy’s life spinning in all manner of new, bizarre and fun-filled directions!
BB: We know that Grumpy Cat is the official “spokescat” for Friskies. Will we see any behind-the-scenes looks at some of her “acting endeavors”? I would imagine on set she has the ego of Miss Piggy. (smiles)
Ben M: Funnily enough, I attended Grumpy Cat’s birthday party last year! It was…fascinating. Also, fantastic! I received an email invitation from Friskies (likely due to my ongoing social media onslaught of kitty-related shenanigans) and I got to meet the miserable moggy herself. She was strangely charming—dare I say, an absolute delight! Although deep down, I’m sure Grumpy was scowling at each and every attendee at the party… “You call this a birthday party?! Meh. Next year I’ll arrange it myself and show you how to really throw a celebration–!”
BB: Finally, tell us about the talent that will be bringing us this initial and highly unusual book in October.
Ben F: Ben McCool and I are writing, along with Royal McGraw and Elliott R. Serrano. We’ve teamed up with a fantastic collection of artists like Steve Uy, Michelle Nguyen and Ken Haeser. We genuinely can’t wait to bring you an all-new (and hilarious) way to experience our favorite grump.
RY (editor): The talent on the book is really outstanding, both on the writing and art side. I think fans of Grumpy will really find it fun and entertaining. As far as publishing plans go, Dynamite will be publishing the three issues and then collecting them all into a neat little hardcover collection which should be in stores in time for the holidays. Future editorial plans beyond that will be decided in the coming months.
I should also mention we’ll be launching a Grumpy Cat comic strip website in September that will be updated with new comic strips each week. When enough material is complete, we’ll also collect the online strips in print. Look for more details on that soon.
For more information on Grumpy Cat #1, click here.]]>
Writer Gail Simone discusses Swords of Sorrow #3, on sale now. Cover art by Tula Lotay and Emanuela Lupacchino.
BYRON BREWER: Issue #3 of Swords of Sorrow is on sale. Have you been surprised at the fan reaction and critical acclaim this series has garnered thus far?
GAIL SIMONE: Oh, yeah, surprised in the best way. I’ve been in lots of crossover events, I’ve helped plan some, but I’ve never spearheaded a big company-wide crossover myself, and holy crap, it is a LOT of work and so many things can go wrong!
My respect for the Geoff Johns/Brian Bendis-types who have done so many of these is off the charts at this point.
But we went at this with a clear goal, I wanted everyone to have fun. The writers, the artists, the readers…so many of these things are so dour and dreary, and I figured, if we’re going to have Red Sonja and Dejah Thoris in the same story, I want it to be as fun as possible. I asked the individual writers of the tie-in books (we call ourselves the Shevengers) not to try to match the tone of the main book, but to write the story they would want to read.
So we got horror from Nancy Collins, fun adventure from Marguerite Bennett, and a Victorian mystery from Leah Moore. We didn’t feel bound by a house style or by artificial story beats. We wanted to romp through the various pulp worlds, and make it fun.
It’s a delight that people have responded so well. We have read over and over again in the reviews that it’s the best of the summer event comics. That’s pretty gratifying!
BB: We know that you have been busy with the main SoS book as well as guiding everything from behind the scenes. But thus far, if you had to pick out a teaming of heroes or one issue of a tie-in as something you really enjoyed, what would it be?
GS: Well, this is a little embarrassing, but it was huge fun for me to write Red Sonja fighting Tars Tarkas and Woola, that just made me grin for days. And I’ve got a bit with Vampirella and Purgatori that just feels epically snarky.
Of the various tie-ins, I’ve been enjoying them all. G. Willow Wilson and Erica Schultz did a really enjoyable Masquerade/Kato one-shot, and there’s something terrific about Dejah Thoris and Irene Adler in the same book. But they’ve each been a blast, so huge thanks to the writers I mentioned already, plus Mairghread Scott, Mikki Kendall, and Emma Beeby. Mixing these pulp eras is huge fun for us all.
BB: What can you tell us about SoS #3 in a non-spoilery manner?
GS: The first two issues focused on our trinity; Sonja, Vampirella and Dejah. This issue spotlights a lot of the pulpiest of our cast, with fun WWII characters and some surprises. I love writing characters from that era, as you may know from Lady Blackhawk in Birds of Prey.
The other fun thing is, cities are being smooshed together…you can be in New York and your neighbor is a Martian from Helium.
I have more fun than I should be allowed to have, really. I have spoken with so many writers and they are SO JEALOUS that I get to write this event. To them, I say, “HA!”
BB: I cannot believe you were able, with all you’re doing, to work in Eva, daughter of Dracula, into this adventure!
GS: She’s a really fun character! One of the issues of a book like this is, the cast is so big, you can’t show everyone’s supporting cast, so you have to wonder, where is Tarzan? What is the Green Hornet doing?
But with Eve, being the daughter of Dracula fits in beautifully. I read her mini and it tied in very nicely…our version of Dracula doesn’t like the idea of anyone ELSE screwing with his world, and a rare and unhappy truce is formed.
Just pick it up, this issue has ads for soap, radio drama, horses indoors, cars driving over people, pyramids, and people undressing in crowds. It’s a good, squalid time, and more fun than one comic should be, frankly.
BB: Thus far has artist Sergio Davila been delivering what you need?
GS: That poor guy!
He’s such a brilliant, caring artist, and we have over two dozen regular cast members, and he just nails them all, they don’t all look alike, they have different body language. He wrote me this beautiful letter that I treasure, English is not his first language, and it’s about how much sheer fun he’s having. I keep asking if I need to tone it down, and no, he LOVES the challenge.
Dynamite has really done right by me with artists, I am hoping this isn’t the last time I get to work with Sergio. But I hope he gets a break after our last issue and goes to lie on the beach somewhere!
For more on Swords of Sorrow #3, click here.]]>