What’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER?
Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book -EWS. What’s comic book –EWS? Well, it’s our hodge podge of everything not reviews here at AICN Comics. Sure you can find out the @$$Holes’ critical opinions of your favorite books every Wednesday at AICN Comics. But here, you’ll find special reports such as previews, interviews, special features, and occasionally news gathered here from our online brethren at Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. Sure those guys are the best at reporting news as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness.
Bug asks the Q’s
and Zachary Quinto provides the @’s
on Archaia/Before the Door Comics!
Hey folks, Ambush Bug back again with another interview swiped from the bowels of the beast known as the San Diego Comic Con. This time I got a chance to talk with Zachary Quinto of HEROES and STAR TREK fame. He’s starting a new comic book publishing company called Before the Door Pictures and they’ve teamed up with one of the fastest growing comic book companies out there, Archaia, to put out the first two of many comics to come from this union. Release dates aren’t set in stone yet, but Archaia and Before the Door are feverishly working to get out what looks to be some cool and original product. Let’s check out what Mr. Quinto has to say.
ZACHARY QUINTO (ZQ): I didn’t grow up reading comic books, but I’ve discovered them through my work, as you mentioned. Due to that connection, I’ve come to read them and admire the artistry, the story-telling, and the passion with which they’re created. My producing partner, Corey Moosa, is a lifelong fan, and has been a big part of my education in this world. And I’m learning more as we go.
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): I guess one would assume you were into genre stuff from your choice in roles (HEROES & STAR TREK), but that's not always the case. Are you a regular comic book reader?
BUG: What about the comics industry appeals to you?ZQ: It’s all about story. And we’re interested in telling challenging stories in many different mediums. Comic books are a medium that feels more ready to take risks and stand by the vision of the creators. Archaia, in particular.
BUG: Why did you choose Archaia as the company to go with in producing these comics?ZQ: We met with a lot of really smart publishers, but it ultimately came down to going with our gut. Stephen Christy was a big part of that – he’s intensely passionate and ambitious. These are qualities that reflect the essence of Before The Door and represent the direction in which we see ourselves moving as a company.
Archaia is building up. We’re starting with them at a time of growth, and that appeals to us. Plus – they have amazing books: MOUSEGUARD, THE KILLER, ARTESIA, and others. And their great new partnerships with Henson and Rodenberry speak to that growth. Those things add up to them being the perfect publisher for us at Before The Door.
BUG: What made you want to start up your own production company with Before the Door Pictures?ZQ: Several reasons: to create opportunities that gave me more control over my acting career, by developing my own projects, instead of waiting for them to come to me. To collaborate with people I’ve known for years, but now have the opportunity to work with on a professional level. To work with my longtime friends and producing partners – Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa. We’ll have much more to announce very soon regarding the company. We’re just getting started.
BUG: Can you tell me a little bit about MR. MURDER IS DEAD? Is it a miniseries or ongoing? Who’s the writer and artist going to be on this title?ZQ: MR MURDER IS DEAD is amazing, and it really fits with the idea that we are dedicated to doing great stories in the right medium. All I can say is that it’s a stand-alone graphic novel that touches on hard-nosed noir and the old detective comic strips of the thirties and forties. It’s a genre-bender that really flips the classic detective story on its head. Victor Quinaz created and wrote MR MURDER IS DEAD. I’ve know Victor a long time as a friend and storyteller, and he’s definitely one to watch. It’s a great story, but has a lot more on its mind than crime. We aren't revealing our artist yet, but Chris Burnham did an awesome sneak peek cover for us that we premiered here at Comic-Con.
BUG: Tell me about LUCID. Who’s behind that one?ZQ: LUCID is a 4-issue limited series created by Michael McMillian. He’s a fantastic writer and has one of the biggest personal comic book collections I’ve ever seen (you might know him from his work as an actor – he’s currently amazing on TRUE BLOOD as the young evangelist minister). His story in LUCID is about Matthew Dee, a descendant of John Dee, who was the real Queen Elizabeth’s court magician. The story is an action-packed fantasy drawing inspiration from James Bond, Arthurian legend, and modern American mythology. It’s a real thrill ride. Artist forthcoming.
BUG: Are these comics meant to be launch pads for future films/TV series or stand alone stories?ZQ: Our goal is to make great comic books. These are our first two comic projects, and we’re excited about them living in this medium. If other things come down the road, we’re open to that, but the goal here is for us to create and foster great comics first and foremost.
BUG: What do you bring (experience wise or personally) to Before the Door and its productions?ZQ: Nearly ten years as an actor, professionally, and all the relationships that come with that. A passion for producing and creating. And Neal and Corey and I have known each other for half of our lives – so there’s an implicit trust there that goes beyond the company. Exciting work is coming.
BUG: Last chance, why should folks check out Archaia/Before the Door’s MR. MURDER IS DEAD and LUCID?ZQ: These are ideas that come from new writers to the comic world. We love these stories. You won’t be disappointed.
BUG: Thank you for taking the time to chat, Mr. Quinto.ZQ: Thank you.
Archaia/Before the Door’s books, MR.MURDER IS DEAD & LUCID, are in production right now and are coming soon to finer comic shops near you!Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over eight years. Check out his short comic book fiction here and here published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS on his ComicSpace page. Bug was interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics. Look for more comics from Bug in 2009 from Bluewater Productions, including the just-announced sequel to THE TINGLER for their VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS ongoing series in stores September 2009 (but you’ve gotta order it from this month’s PREVIEWS – order code: JUL09 0737 to get it!).
Hey folks, Matt Adler back again. At long last, we come to the conclusion of the interview that made the Clone Saga look like a walk in the park (but hopefully with a more satisfying resolution). In Part 3, Tom talks about raising Kaine, whether Aunt May will die (again), whether Mary Jane has a bun in the oven, his view of the ramifications of “One More Day”, if Spider-Girl will tell you where the new Clone Saga is going, and his relationship with Joe Quesada.
Part III of Matt Adler’s talk with
THE CLONE SAGA’s Tom DeFalco
MA: Now, looking at the preview art that’s been released, I see a couple of interesting things. First, on one page, we clearly see that the damaged Peter Parker clone Kaine shows up. How do you see him as a character?
TD: I see Kaine as the guy Peter Parker could have become if he hadn’t had a sense of responsibility. Kaine never had a break. He was cursed from the moment he first opened his eyes. He came out scarred. He’s been considered a defective from the first moment he opened his eyes. And he was supposed to die, but didn’t. So I have a lot of sympathy for Kaine, which probably explains why I use him so much in SPIDER-GIRL.
MA: On another page, we see Aunt May in some physical distress, and then in a hospital bed, which would seem to follow with the storyline that culminated in the classic AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400. Is it safe to say you couldn’t remove that story element from the Clone Saga, that it was so important?
TD: I will say that those scenes are part of our story. And I will also say that anybody who gets a chance should read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #400 by Marc DeMatteis. I maintain that is close to his best work; his best work has yet to be seen.
MA: The last one that I was curious about: we see Mary Jane rush out of the hospital room, and into the bathroom, and we then see her wiping her mouth, which would seem to indicate that she got a little sick. Now, we know what her condition was in the original Clone Saga; care to comment?
TD: Well, if we already know, we know.
MA: So basically it is kind of following that?
TD: I didn’t say that. (laughs) I just said, if we already know what’s going on, then we already know what’s going on.
MA: Ok, so maybe this is one of the classic DeFalco fakeouts, then.
TD: Classic DeFalco fakeouts?! I’m shocked and appalled you would even suggest such a thing! Me?! Me?! Come on!
MA: Ok, so what were some of your favorite moments from the original Clone Saga?
TD: It’s hard for me to say. The people I worked with were great, but the situation was horrible, and because of the contract I had, I was unable to quit projects. I had a contract with Marvel, and my contract said Marvel could basically stick me wherever they wanted. And they paid very well for that privilege. So it was either stick with it, or give up writing comics. Luckily I had things outside of comics that I could have fun with, and the contract ended around 2000 or 2001.
MA: Now, you know from reading WILDGUARD how much Todd Nauck likes designing costumes and stuff like that, and he said he’d be opening to doing redesigns on this series. You think there’s anything visually-wise in the Clone Saga that could use updating? What about the Scarlet Spider costume?
TD: We talk with Todd, and we may update some things visually, but it’s gotta be recognizable to those who remember it, and yet has to appeal to those who never experienced it.
MA: Have you guys given any thought to the Ben Reilly Spider-Man costume?
MA: Say no more! I know that’s spoiler area! (laughs)
TD: Yeah, that’s spoiler area! (laughs)
MA: So this story is the writer’s cut of the Clone Saga, right? It’s what you would’ve done if there hadn’t been all that interference?
TD: Yes, but in many regards Howard and I are different writers now, so hopefully it’ll be a little better than what we would have done all those years ago (laughs)
MA: Some people have Spider-Girl in some respects as “what you would have done” in terms of how the Clone Saga ended up. Should people be looking to that in terms of this new story, or does it completely diverge?
TD: You mean will SPIDER-GIRL give you hints as to how this thing is going?
TD: It will give you some hints, but not others.
MA: So we haven’t seen all the tricks up your sleeve yet.
TD: Gee, I hope nobody ever sees all the tricks up my sleeve. I believe it is my job to set you up so that you are convinced you know what is going to happen next, and then for me to pull a sleight-of-hand. I think I’ve been lucky because thankfully, I work with intelligent artists who come up with better ideas than I do most of the time, and we can often catch people by surprise, hopefully in a delightful way.
But I’m still trying to get good (laughs). And I actually believe that you give me a couple more years, and I’ll actually learn how to do this stuff right. And I’m serious about that; I think I’m just a few years away from really having a good grasp on how to do comics the correct way.
MA: In all seriousness…
TD: I am serious!
MA: Ok, well, day to day, when you’re working on the comics, what do you focus on in terms of, “This is something I want to do better”?
TD: I don’t think I will ever be perfectly happy with my dialogue. I don’t think I’ll ever be perfectly happy with my plotting, or my characterization. I think I can do a bunch of diverse characters, but I think I need to expand that repertoire. I have been cursed and blessed by being surrounded by people who have amazing talent. Stan Lee, the unbelievable idea factory; Mark Gruenwald who used to come up with these BRILLIANT concepts—
MA: I can’t tell you how much I loved his run on QUASAR.
TD: Yeah, just the stuff that he could come up with. And I always looked at him and thought, man, I will never in my life come up with ideas as good as that. And Marc DeMatteis, who, a lot of times, I would read his dialogue—and it was sheer poetry. And it would just frustrate the hell out of me that I couldn’t come anywhere near his level of poetry, and I’m talking about his regular dialogue! Even his silent pages are poetic to me. And I look at so many guys, that I think “Oh man, this is so much better than I do, and this guy does this so much better,” and I gotta just keep working and practicing, and working and practicing.
MA: Ok, you’re doing this story in 6 issues. The original Clone Saga was…God knows how long. 3 years, how many issues, I don’t know. But as long as that dragged out, and many of the parts might’ve been superfluous, there seemed to be one element of it that maybe benefited from the time over which it played out. And to me, that was Ben’s character.
Because I felt like the time that they had to play it out…you look at stories like “The Lost Years” [the years between the original clone story and the Clone Saga], and building up his relationship with Peter, and how they were able to give him his own supporting cast at the Daily Grind.
And you know, with a lot of “double” stories, where the hero meets his double, 90% of the time, the double comes across as a weak or inferior copy of the original. Not an equal to him. But the unique thing to me about Ben was, he came across as an equal to Peter. He wasn’t just a knock-off, he wasn’t just an imitation. And I think that’s why people accepted him as Peter’s brother, almost. To the point where you almost felt if not for the 20 years of history preceding, it really didn’t matter which one of them was the “real” one because they were both “real” in that sense. If you get what I mean?
TD: Good! That’s what we were going for.
MA: So my long-winded question with that is…given that, given how, at the time at least, it took 3 years to build and develop all of that to the point where we were outraged when he was finally killed off…can you do that in 6 issues?
TD: I hope! We are going to do these stories, and we hope that we can get all of that in. Each issue will in some ways stand on its own, and be part of a greater whole, which is the way I do things anyway. We’re going try to get everybody to love Ben the way people came to love him back then. Will we use a shorthand in 6 issues because we don’t have 60 issues? Yeah. But we’re gonna try our best.
MA: Ok, let me ask you about a couple of characters I’m pretty sure we WON’T see in this update. Spidercide?
TD: To be honest, I barely remember him. He just doesn’t fit into the story we’re trying to tell.
MA: What about Traveller and Scrier?
TD: They were kind of a side route. So we’re trying to get rid of all of the side routes.
MA: I think I remember you saying that they didn’t really fit with Spider-Man, given their mystical natures.
TD: Well, I think anything can fit with Spider-Man. But ultimately we found out that they were not mystical characters. They SEEMED to be mystical characters but later on we discovered that they weren’t.
MA: But I think I remember reading that Marc DeMatteis’ original intent with the characters was that Traveller was going to be some kind of guy from hundreds of years in the past, and Scrier was supposed to be some kind of near-immortal entity, or something like that?
TD: Well, when I ultimately did the story that revealed who they were, I checked with Marc, and I don’t recall that he had any ideas in that regard.
MA: Ok. Now, when did you come up with the idea for Mary Jane’s pregnancy, which was revealed during the Saga?
TD: Before we started it.
MA: So were you intending to have Spider-Man with a family and a child as an ongoing thing?
TD: Um…read the limited series.
TD: That question is answered in the limited series.
MA: Now, what about the back door that you’ve long talked about, as the way that you were going to establish that Peter Parker was the One, True Spider-Man? How was that going to work?
TD: Well, I’d have to have the books in front of me…
MA: I think it was something involving Seward Trainer, right? Like his test equipment that was used to establish Peter as the clone was rigged?
TD: Yeah, well Seward was working for the Jackal.
MA: And they’d basically been messing with Peter Parker’s head.
MA: One of the topics of debate among people who worked on the Saga was whether there should be a married Spider-Man, and some have said that they wanted to permanently replace Peter Parker with Ben Reilly, in order to get back to a single character. Was that your original intention with the Clone Saga?
TD: No. The people who have said that were not among those who originally started the project.
MA: Obviously this is something Marvel has come back to over the years, most recently with “One More Day”. Do you agree with the people who say Peter Parker has to be single?
TD: It depends on how you view Spider-Man. Tom Brevoort recently said that the Spider-Man series is all about youth. And he’s the editor, so he gets to call the shots. Now, when I was the editor of Spider-Man, I thought the series was all about responsibility.
MA: And what greater responsibility could you have then a family?
TD: Right. So I think that if you’re playing that the series is about responsibility, that allows you to have him get married, ultimately allows you to have him have a baby, because the more responsibilities you pile on the character, his life and the series become more interesting.
MA: Do you differ with the people who say if he’s got a wife and a child, the real responsible thing would be for him to hang up the webs?
TD: I think therein lies the conflict.
MA: Does it make him an irresponsible guy to continue going out and fighting supervillains even with those responsibilities at home?
TD: We have people who do that on a regular basis. They are called policemen; they are called firemen; they are called soldiers, sailors, air force people. They put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public. Do I think they are being irresponsible to their families by doing that? Absolutely not. I think that we see heroes every day around us, and I’m sure that the wife of a cop doesn’t want her husband to get involved in gun battles with drug dealers, but if he’s got to do it, he does what he has to do. That’s basically where I’m at.
MA: What’s your relationship like with Joe Quesada?
TD: He is and has always been a fan of SPIDER-GIRL. He liked SPIDER-GIRL when we first came out! He has always been very supportive. I’m going to tell you something that shouldn’t be a secret, but everybody seems to miss it; an editor-in-chief does not have to go out of his way to get rid of a comic book. All he has to do is snap his fingers. So, every once in a while, I hear people say things like “Joe is trying to kill the book,” or Joe is trying to do this, or Joe is trying to do that. Joe doesn’t have to try to do anything. His will is law. He’s like Odin. (laughs) So what Joe spends his time doing is figuring out how to save books. And probably the books that people are accusing him of trying to kill! And Joe works very hard trying to figure out how to help books. Joe loves comics. And I wish him the best of luck, because he has a very aggravating and frustrating job. I give him a tremendous amount of credit on how available he is to the fans. He does a regular column, and he goes to a ton of conventions. He’s out there, and I just give him a tremendous amount of credit.
Also, I just want to say, the nice thing about this Clone Saga project is, two of the assistant editors…
MA: Michael Horwitz?
TD: Michael Horwitz and Tom Brennan. Tom Brennan is my editor on SPIDER-GIRL. And I want to say, he is so supportive and just so wonderful to work with. He is just great.
MA: I think some people beat up on him a bit just because he happened to be the editor at the time that the regular series was cancelled.
TD: It’s the economy. The economy, the economy, the economy. Here’s the bottom line. Comic book stores were under-capitalized even when this was big business. I cannot even imagine where the hell they are now. One of the problems we had with SPIDER-GIRL, during the heyday, before the economy crashed, was a lot of stores, if you weren’t there Wednesday afternoon, you didn’t get your copy of SPIDER-GIRL. And I think right now, the stores are cutting back so drastically that everybody’s terrified. So a lot of the lower tier titles are getting hammered.
MA: Alright Tom, that’s pretty much all the questions I have for you, but I just want to take a moment to thank you for spending all of this time; you’ve been extremely patient, and I really want to thank you for sharing your time and wisdom with us.
TD: Thank you, Matt!
MA: That’s it folks! Stay tuned for our interviews with Clone Saga co-writer Howard Mackie and artist extraordinaire Todd Nauck!
In most places, Matt Adler goes by the name his mother gave him, but occasionally uses the handle "CylverSaber", based on a character he created for the old Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight game (one telling hint of his overweening nerddom). He currently does IT and networking support for the government of Nassau County, NY, but his dream is to write for a living, and is in the process of figuring out how to get publishers to give his stuff a look. In the meantime, he passes the time by writing for AICN, CBR, and a few other places. He also formerly wrote for Marvel Spotlight magazine.
Bug steals 5 Minutes of Dan DiDio’s Time
What is up, folks? It’s Ambush Bug again. I’ve got a quick interview with Dan DiDio that took place after his “Sunday Conversation with Dan DiDio” panel, which coincidentally took place on Sunday, the last day of the Con. It was a laid back panel and Dan did a good job of making it fun, keeping the tone light and the pace brisk, though the panel began on a heavy note as Dan announced that his mother had passed away two days before the Con started. Dan got choked up talking about his loss and how great it was to be among people who love comics during this hard time.
Quickly the conversation shifted to topics such as the weirdest place you’ve bought comics, the first comic you bought, and what comic you would give to new readers. Despite a lot of the criticism DC has received lately, the feel from this year’s con in my opinion seems to be that DC is on their way back up. Dan admitted that there were a few stumbles over the last year, but said that they have learned form those mistakes and are coming back strong. With the product they’ve been putting out over the last month, I would have to agree. After this panel, you couldn’t help but cheer DC on and respect DiDio for his enthusiasm for what’s to come for DC.
I had a chance to have a quick chat with Dan after the panel. He’s a busy guy, so I wasn’t able to get too in depth, but I did try to squeeze as much from the fast talking EIC as I could. Here’s what Dan had to say…
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Thanks a lot Dan for taking the time out to talk, I know you’re really busy.DAN DIDIO (DD): Sure, no problem.
BUG: There’s a lot of really exciting things going on right now and I know you can’t really play favorites, but what’s the one thing that’s got you the most excited?DD: It’s not the one thing, it’s the everything. Do you know what I mean? We’ve been preparing and planning for this thing for quite a while and we’ve looked at different franchises and tried to figure out ways to make them work better and we tried to build off of them and hopefully expand the universe in the process. What’s exciting to me is the fact that stuff is working. THE BLACKEST NIGHT is working. The SUPERMAN stuff is really clicking well. The BATMAN launch has worked the way we’d hoped it to be. And we know we have plans in place so it gives us inspiration thinking that when we’re attacking things like JUSTICE LEAGUE and TEEN TITANS we know we’re on the right track. So that’s what gets me going.
The other thing that I really like that we’re doing and it really gets me more excited is the fact that so much of what we’re doing has new ideas and new concepts. The whole multi-colored Corps is brand new to the DC Universe. Grant is bringing all of these new villains to Batman’s world. There’s a freshness there. So there’s a lot of new ideas and concepts coming in and I feel like we’re freshening the pot a little and I think the people are reacting to that. They’re seeing something that feels new and alive. And it’s not just rehashing just the same things over and over again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s also good to have new stuff be put in too.