Aaron Gillespie, writer of Purgatori #2, talks with Jim Zub about Pathfinder: City of Secrets #6, both on sale Oct. 29
AARON GILLSEPIE: What is your history with Pathfinder? Have you played and/or run the game? How much knowledge did you have of Golarion before you got this gig?
JIM ZUB: I’m an old school gamer and was quite familiar with Pathfinder when I took on the gig. Right off the bat I felt that Pathfinder had a really well thought out world full of possibilities. Getting the chance to build some new stories there has been a thrill.
The whole thing actually came about because of my ties to the gaming industry. I used to work at the UDON Studio as Project Manager, organizing and Art Directing client projects and one of our clients was Paizo back when they were running both Dungeon and Dragon magazines for Wizards of the Coast. Erik Mona was the Editor in Chief at the time and we struck up a friendship.
When I started really digging in to write comics and Skullkickers came out, Erik read it and really liked it. Paizo had moved on to start Pathfinder and he mentioned to me that if they ever did a Pathfinder comic he should give me a call. Almost a year later that’s exactly what he did. (smiles)
AG: How much direction to you get from Paizo? Are you left to your own devices or are you asked to cover certain storylines, characters or locales?
JZ: The Pathfinder team is really interactive, but not in an overbearing way. Working on the comic has been really smooth actually. They wanted to start the story off in Varisia (which is the typical starting area for most new campaigns) and I was happy to oblige. I would usually explain to them the overall character stuff I wanted to cover and then we’d brainstorm the setting and foes they’d have to deal with along the way. I really wanted the stories to work within their established world so, whenever possible, I’d use pre-existing material rather than just making up things for the heck of it.
AG: Are the game mechanics important to the writing of the comic? Do you keep an archetypes specialties and attributes in mind when plotting?
JZ: I never want the stories to feel ham-stringed by the game mechanics but I also want them to make sense given the relative power level of the party. I have stats for the characters and make sure that I don’t have them doing things they couldn’t feasibly do in the game. My hope is that players read the comic and see the kinds of cool things their own characters are capable of.
AG: The last story arc took place in the small town of Sandpoint. This time it’s the city of Magnimar. Will the party move on for the next arc? Korvosa maybe? Can I beg for Korvosa?
JZ: I’m not actually sure where the story will head from here. I’m stepping down from regular Pathfinder writing duties at the end of City of Secrets, so it’ll be up to the next team to decide where the group heads. It’s been an absolute thrill expanding the personality and history of the Pathfinder iconics and I hope whoever takes over has as much with it as I did.
AG: Any other projects you want to talk about?
JZ: I’m writing up a storm right now. At Image I have two creator-owned series rolling: Skullkickers (entering its last story arc in 2015) and Wayward (which just launched in August). Over at IDW I’m continuing Samurai Jack (issue 13 just came out) and recently launched Dungeons & Dragons: Legends of Baldur’s Gate. For Marvel I’m writing comic tie-in stories for the Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors cartoon. Last, but certainly not least, I’m co-writing the upcoming Conan/Red Sonja mini-series with Gail Simone for Dark Horse.
For more information on Pathfinder: City of Secrets #6, click here.]]>
Here is some process art for Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #3 out Wednesday. Pencils and inks are by Nathan Fox, colors are by Brad Simpson and letters are by Simon Bowland. And of course the comic is based on characters by Jack Kirby with a script by Joe Casey.
For more on Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #3, click here.
Here we have a first look at the covers and solicitations for January’s new Gold Key comics from Dynamite. Magnus: Robot Hunter by Fred Van Lente and Roberto Castro, Solar: Man of the Atom by Frank J. Barbiere and Jonathan Lau and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter by Greg Pak and Mirko Colak.
MAGNUS: ROBOT FIGHTER #11
Cover: Jonathan Lau Writer: Fred Van Lente Art: Roberto Castro
ON SALE DATE: January 14
THE BASILISK: It can’t be stopped. It can no longer be contained. It thinks it’s God. And it wants to murder everyone. With Magnus out of commission, who can step up and defeat the undefeatable? (Spoiler: No one)
SOLAR: MAN OF THE ATOM #10
Cover: Marc Laming Writer: Frank J. Barbiere Art: Jonathan Lau
ON SALE DATE: January 21
Ah, great. Just when Erica’s getting the hang of the Solar powers, she’s gotta deal with magic. Doctor Spektor is in town, to cause chaos and confusion, pretty much just because he can. Find out what happens when indefinite cosmic power meets untamable mystic might!
TUROK: DINOSAUR HUNTER #11
Cover: Bart Sears Writer: Greg Pak, Paul Tobin Art: Mirko Colak
ON SALE DATE: January 28
Turok tames the pterodactyls! He and his allies have taken to Sherwood Forest after Turok discovers the nefarious scheming of the British upper crust. Will Turok find friends in the forest…or foes? It’s high-flying archery and action from Greg Pak (Batman/Superman) and Paul Tobin (Bandette)!
Nancy Collins, writer of the Vampirella: Prelude to Shadows one shot, talks with writer Michael Uslan about Justice INC #3, both on sale now
Nancy Collins: Were you familiar with the adventures of Doc Savage, The Shadow and The Avenger before taking on the writing chores for Justice Inc?
Michael Uslan: Ooooh, yeah! I started reading the Doc Savage paperbacks when they came out in 1964. My brother bought ‘em and passed them down to me. My first-ever comic book script was for DC Comics’ The Shadow in the mid-1970s. One of the issues I wrote back then was “The Night of The Avenger,” which was the first time these two illustrious Street & Smith heroes met. In the 1980s, I had the chance to work with Walter Gibson, creative force behind The Shadow, and I asked him a million questions about the character, his origin and his tales. I started reading The Avenger paperbacks when they were first published and, of course, followed his DC Comics adventures as crafted by artists such as Jack Kirby and Joe Kubert, and the wonderful E.R. Cruz.
NC: What inspired you to revise the origin story of Richard Benson, aka The Avenger—described as the last “good ten-cent hero” of the pulp era?
MU: The Avenger appeared on the scene just as the pulps were fading fatally. I felt he never got the attention or notoriety received by Doc and The Shadow who has been published since the early 1930s. Even in the Street & Smith comic books of the Golden Age, The Shadow and Doc had their own titles, but The Avenger was merely a back-up feature … not too dissimilar to the DC Comics New Wave publications. Even in the 70s, the poor Avenger only had a four-issue run (plus my Shadow cross-over) at DC. In a sense, he’s been the Rodney Dangerfield of heroes (“I don’t get no respect!”).
Sooo … in this revival, the first and only time in 75 years the three great Street & Smith star heroes team up, I didn’t want to change his mythos, but just fill it out more. One way was to show how The Shadow and Doc Savage were tied into his origin story, filling in some blanks in what had been told originally in 1939. Even though this series is set in 1939, I wanted the character to feel contemporary in a sense … less like Frank Buck or Clyde Beatty or Nick Carter types and made him into a top level businessman and rich industrialist, elements I thought his character demanded to explain why he formed his group as “Justice INCORPORATED” rather than “Justice Society” or “Justice League.” Only a powerful Wall Street businessman would incorporate a superhero type group. SPOILER ALERT: That’s also the rationale as to why I wanted to have him at least in a couple of issues, wearing a costume that isn’t so drab and out-dated as his all gray leather traditional uniform, which I found very blasé and do believe it’s a reason younger fans have not been attracted to him in the comics.
NC: It looks like The Shadow’s love interest, Margo Lane, and Doc’s young cousin, Pat Savage, will be playing major roles in the story. Will we be seeing other reoccurring characters from The Shadow and Doc Savage in the series?
MU: Margo and Pat play a small but important role in the story. There was NO way, having only six issues of 22 pages each, that I could layout a story that required: the origin of The Avenger; the first meeting of three iconic heroes; three villains; a plot; sub-plots; red herrings; character arcs… if I also had to use all of Doc’s team (I do use Monk), all of Richard Henry Benson’s team, and all of The Shadow’s agents. If I had gone that route, our three heroes would have had terribly insufficient “screen-time.” If they all ever do decide to get together, they will have to rent Rhode Island to accommodate everyone for the dinner-dance.
NC: Most people assume Lamont Cranston and The Shadow are one and the same, but you have them being two different people. How did that come about?
MU: It’s no secret I prefer The Shadow as created and evolved in the pulps rather than the radio series. And in the pulps, I preferred the writing and canon crafted by Walter Gibson over other talented writers. Margo was an invention of the radio show, as was the notion that The Shadow was Lamont Cranston. Those who avidly read the pulps knew that The Shadow has coerced the real, wealthy Lamont Cranston into forfeiting his identity to The Shadow for the greater cause of good. It was the greatest single identity theft in history. In reality, The Shadow was Kent Allard, an extraordinary pilot and spy in The Great War. For the full shocking story, catch the trade paperback from Dynamite, The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights (plug!).
NC: How closely do you collaborate with your artist, Giovanni Timpano? And what do you think of the covers by Alex Ross?
MU: Giovanni and I are true partners in this venture. He’s in Italy and I’m in the USA but we send emails back and forth regularly. We challenge and support each other and I believe the end result will represent the best from both of us. He is very, very cinematic in his graphic storytelling. Take a look at the action-packed issue #4 and you’ll see jaw-dropping layouts running horizontally across two pages at a time in a style that, for me, evokes Steranko on SHIELD back in the ‘60s.
If I remember correctly, the one time I met Alex Ross, I bowed and did an “I’m not worthy” routine. His work is magnificent and I think his cover to Justice Inc. #3 may well be the cover of the year!
NC: Do you have any other projects fans should keep an eye out for in the near future?
MU: After I finish for Archie the earth-shaking “Farewell, Betty & Veronica,” I’ll be coming back in 2015 to do another historic mini-series for Dynamite that will blow fandom out of the water when they hear who it will star. I couldn’t be more excited!
For more information on Justice, Inc, click here.]]>
Michael Uslan, writer of Justice INC #3, talks with Nancy Collins about her Vampirella: Prelude to Shadows one shot, both on sale Oct. 22
MICHAEL USLAN: Where does Vampirella fit into the world of today’s women … or does she?
NANCY COLLINS: Despite her costume, Vampirella actually has a lot in common with today’s women. She is constantly being underestimated by those who can’t see beyond her physical beauty, is dedicated to making a life and identity for herself outside her family, and yet manages to have a sense of humor.
MU: Who would win in:
A. Wonder Woman vs. Vampirella
B. Bionic Woman vs. Vampirella
C. Red Sonja vs. Vampirella
D. Batgirl vs. Vampirella
NC: Well, given that Vampirella has the vampire’s power to hypnotize humans, she’d probably be able to put the whammy on the Bionic Woman, Red Sonja and Batgirl. Wonder Woman would probably be a tough match-up, since she’s an Amazon, as opposed to a human. I wouldn’t want to have to call that one.
MU: What is your typical writing process like? Do you begin with a detailed outline? How closely do you communicate with the artist during the process? What percentage of your creative process per issue is writing and what percentage is thinking?
NC: Yes, I have a fairly detailed outline, broken down into pages. I’ve communicated with Patrick a few times, but for the most part all I do is provide images of certain locations, clothing and props I’ve mentioned in the script. I’d say the creative process is 60% thinking and 40% writing.
MU: Describe the audience you’re writing for.
NC: I don’t write “for” audiences. I just tell stories I would have liked to read before I became a professional writer.
MU: Did you feel a need to read every Vampi story ever made before first writing this character? Why or why not?
NC: Hell, no. In fact, Dynamite editorial did not want me to. I researched the character online to figure out what changes had been made to her origins and supporting cast. I used that information to decide what to use and what to ignore in my take on the character. Continuity in comics is important, but often it ends up being the tail that wags the dog. I want to tell stories that propel the character forward while acknowledging the past, but not being slavishly tied to it.
For more on Vampirella: Prelude to Shadows, click here.
Jay Spence, writer of the Bad Kitty one shot, talks with Peter Milligan about Terminal Hero #3, both on sale now.
Jay Spence: What made you choose Terminal Hero as a title and how does it personally “translate” for you?
Peter Milligan: I think it’s risky having such a potentially depressing word as “terminal” in the title but it was important. Rory — the story’s hero — gets told he has terminal cancer right at the beginning and it’s this that drives the story. And I liked the idea of using the “hero”. Hero is a much bandied about word — especially in America, and I think it’s often misused. Rory does emerge as a kind of hero, but very different from the kind of hero that comics usually portray.
JS: How long does it typically take you to build an original project like this from first outline to the complete first draft of issue #1? Do you usually focus on one story at a time or do you tend to split your time among several projects in different stages of completion?
PM: It’s impossible to say. There’s no set time. A story usually has what you might call a “pre-history”: an idea, a passing notion, or maybe something that angers or happens to me. That could happen a long time before you get around to using those initial thoughts or feelings. But once it has coalesced into a story idea I’m pretty quick. If I’m starting a new story I try to have some concentrated effort. But the nature of writing is that one tends to be working on a few things at the same time. Sometimes it’s about finding a good period of time so you can do some serious thinking and mapping out.
JS: As a comic writer, do you feel you’re typically very thorough and exact with describing the action and framing from panel-to-panel or do you tend to be more vague and allow the artist to translate the details on their own?
PM: Talking to other writers and artists, I think I probably veer more towards the exact description of panels and pages. I do have an idea of how I want the page to look and read. But I’m always happy for artists to be creative — so long as they’re doing it to better tell the story, and not just for the sake of it.
JS: On most projects, what do you feel is the biggest challenge for you when working with the editor/artist to proof and adjust the art before it’s final?
PM: Sometimes the biggest challenge is time. As you know, if one person is a little late, for whatever reason, that can ripple down the chain.
For more on Terminal Hero, click here.]]>
Mark Rahner, writer of the Twilight Zone: Lost Tales one-shot, talks with Joshua Hale Fialkov about The Devilers #4, both on sale Oct. 15
Mark Rahner: I guess a series called “The Existentialists” doesn’t sound as exciting. (Still, don’t you steal that.) But why’s it important to have a skeptic in the mix?
Joshua Hale Fialkov: Part of it was just making sure that all sides were being shown, and, to poke a bit of fun at my own kind, in the atheists. George is all of the worst tendencies of atheists in a lot of ways. But, at the same time, he represents the idea of humanism. That if you act with love it doesn’t matter what you believe.
MR: As someone with a background in philosophy, I’m especially curious how the idea for The Devilers came to you.
JHF: It started as an idea that the guys at Dynamite were kicking around, and, I think after seeing how I handled morality and heaven and hell in I, Vampire they handed it over. I got to do something I’ve always loved about movies like The Exorcist and The Omen in that it mythologizes religion, turning it into a fictive universe.
MR: The main character’s an Irish priest. Can you explain his power – which is fairly well manifested by this issue?
JHF: Ah, the Demon’s Head. Probably my favorite piece of the book is that Malcolm can absorb demons and becomes a sort of super hybrid demon hulk. So, he becomes this powerful, uncontrollable abomination of satanic energy, but, theoretically channeled for good.
MR: I hear certain people can get just a little upset over depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. So you’re putting him in the comic a lot, right?
JHF: He’s doing backflips in issue 3, right? Part of what we’re doing is trying to not actually be offensive so much as using the religion as a jumping off point for the myth.
MR: What about this issue shows that all bets are off?
JHF: I love issue 4 just because it shows a missing piece of the puzzle that we’ve been dancing around the whole time. What happens to our ‘hero’ in this one is going to define the end game that’s fastly approaching.
MR: Since it’s difficult for me to ask non-spoiler questions about where the series is going, I’ll go the Amy Goodman route: Talk about where this series is going.
JHF: The apocalypse, of course.
MR: I’m a sucker for anything from Hammer’s The Devil Rides Out to The Exorcist to the ‘90s Brimstone TV series to The Conjuring. Do you have any favorite Satan/demon/possession movies?
JHF: I love Devil Rides Out and To the Devil a Daughter particularly. I’m doing my best channeling of those movies right here.
MR: What else is happening with you as a young mogul with various properties in development?
JHF: Let’s see … We’ve got The Bunker and The Life After from Oni Press kicking along, and Punks from Image which just came out, and the second issue is on its way. And a few more ‘seekrit’ projects on the way.
For more of The Devilers, click here.]]>
Michael Moreci: So, Duane, crime is obviously in your wheelhouse (and you do it so well). What made you bring Ex-Con to the comic space, as opposed to making it a novel?
Duane Swierczynski: Ex-Con started as a basic idea (a parolee leaves jail owing a brutal crime boss a favor) that Dynamite asked me to develop into a mini-series. So it was always meant to be a comic. But Ex-Con‘s influences were very much from the novel and movie portions of my brain — hardboiled Gold Medal paperbacks, 1980s crime flicks set in L.A., Jim Thompson’s grifter tales, late night Cinemax thrillers, David Goodis’s sordid love triangles. It easily could have been a pulp novel except for one thing: Cody Pomeray’s weird “gift,” which would have been tricky to do in prose. Plus, you really want to see 1980s L.A. in all of its garish glory. Artist Keith Burns rendered all of it beautifully. He was the best creative partner I could have asked for.
MM: As you know, I’ve worked with Keith Burns, artist on Ex-Con, in the past. He definitely has a very specific — and amazing – aesthetic, especially in the way he tackles the layout of a page. Did you find yourself writing toward his art at any point?
DS: Oh, absolutely. Especially as the series went on, I had a lot of giddy fun thinking, “Heh heh heh, I can’t wait to see what Keith will do with this one…” Fortunately, the Atlantic Ocean separates us, so it’s not so easy for him to show up and strangle me.
MM: I thought issue #1 was a tremendous start to the series–can you tease what’s in store for the series?
DS: Thanks, Mike — I really appreciate that. As for the rest of the series … well, part of the fun of a story like Ex-Con is to take a character and see how far you can push him. I think by issue #3 we’re pushing him across a very specific moral line, and by #4 we’re pushing him out of the country. God knows where he’ll end up in #5.
MM: Speaking of crime and it being in your wheelhouse, I’m curious as to how you attack the development of an idea. You’ve covered a lot of ground in your different works, yet you always make each new story fresh and original. How do you go about finding that unique angle that separates your projects, like you’ve done with Ex-Con?
DS: At the plotting/development stage, I have only one rule: come up with a story that I’ll be genuinely excited to write. Honestly, that’s it. If I’m not twitching with anticipation, then there’s no way I can expect a reader to be. A lot of the thrill, for me, is covering new ground (new genres, new situations, new locations) and pushing myself out of my comfort zones.
MM: Any plans for more original crime comics in the near(ish) future?
DS: In fact, there is — I’m very close to finalizing a deal on a creator-owned comic project that I’ve been working on for quite a few years now. But it’s too soon to say anything about it right now. I know, I’m a horrible tease.
For more on Ex-Con #2, click here.]]>
Dynamite Entertainment’s next trip into the Chaos! Comics line will be with Chaos: Smiley the Psychotic Button. Written by Mike Raicht (Dark Shadows) and featuring artwork by Juanan Antonio (Dungeons & Dragons), this 48-page one-shot special explores the origin of Smiley — the demonic entity affixed to the chest of Evil Ernie. The one-shot will featuring cover artwork by Chaos! artist Mirka Andolfo.
The Smiley one-shot answers the question: Just how terrifying could the origin of Evil Ernie’s peculiar decorative accessory be? When the answer involves Lucifer, mass murder, the struggle for control over Hell, and the tastiest meat patties that your hard-earned 99 cents can afford, the term “terrifying” may not actually be descriptive enough. In addition to the fear-fraught core story, this special double-sized comic includes a back-up story wherein Heaven attempts to counter Smiley’s blasphemous existence on Earth with the creation of its own powerful trinket: the Holy Pizazzinator.
Chaos: Smiley the Psychotic Button will be solicited in the November Previews catalog and slated for release in January 2015.