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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!
Q’s by Optimous Douche!
@’s by 27’s Charles Soule!
Hey, comics fans. Optimous Douche here. This week I had the chance to sit down with Image comics scribe Charles Soule about his new title 27” Why have so many luminaries been taken away from this world prior to the age of 30? The easy answers are drugs and depression, but why 27, why not age 28 or 29? And why write a comic book about it all? Let’s find out…
CHARLES SOULE (CS): That's the great thing about the legend of the "27 Club." You can write a story about it set in the world of gonzo pornography, in the very highest echelons of the Catholic Church during one of its craziest periods, or even on a high-tech nanotech-skinned submarine exploring the barely-understood world beneath the waves. As a concept, it's versatile as all get out, and I expect to be visiting all of those worlds in the inevitable sequels that will stretch the concept to its breaking point. This time around, though, I chose the world of music.
OPTIMOUS DOUCHE (OD): A quick Wikipedia search shows that 27 has indeed been a bad age for famous people, so can we assume your title 27 is the story of entertainment juggernauts like “Seaquest”’s Jonathan Brandeis, Czech porn star Lea De Mae and Pope John Paul the XII?
OD: For our younger readers, let’s scare them! Who are some of these famed individuals?CS: The 27 Club members I talk about are folks like Hendrix, Cobain, Morrison... I'm a musician myself, and I grew up immersed in all sorts of rock and roll legends and lore, so I was able to incorporate a bunch of the little things I'd learned over the years. There's a reference in Issue 3 to something Ozzy Osbourne once did that still makes me cringe just to think about it.
OD: Are you talking about the bat thing? See kids, back before medical science discovered rabies and MTV discovered that people would actually watch rockers sit in their living rooms and yell at their family, Ozzy Osbourne played music and did…other stuff on stage like eat bats.CS: Not the bat thing. This is worse, in my opinion - although the bat thing is pretty bad.
OD: I’ve read issue 1 and have yet to see the vestiges of the famous rockers you mentioned, what is your 27 about specifically?CS: "Jokes" aside, 27 is about a guitar player, a famous guy named Will Garland. He turns twenty-seven and his life begins to fall apart. Most significantly, his left hand stops working due to a nerve disorder, so he can't play. He's got to keep that secret to protect his fame, and so he visits all sorts of doctors to try to get help. They can't do anything, so he starts seeing shamans, witch doctors, faith healers - anyone who'll take his money in return for a promise of a cure. They have a different take from the "regular" medicos - they don't see a nerve disorder at all. To them, it looks like Garland is cued up to be the next member of the 27 Club. From there, the book is about him trying to beat the curse and live to see twenty-eight. It's a tense, creepy, emotional story about what it means to create art, what lengths people will go to for fame, and what they'll do to keep it. Fun stuff.
OD: Fun is very subjective. It was actually pretty damn intriguing though. During Will’s “procedure” with the very demonic looking Dr. Swinthe, we are bombarded with some pretty disturbing imagery…lots of talk about cats…care to explain?CS: The number 27 is just the beginning. In trying to answer why all these folks die at that age, we go behind twenty-seven and see that the number nine is also deeply associated with creativity. The nine Muses, for one, and of course, two plus seven equals nine. Not that the book is all about numerology - it's really not - but I liked the idea that creativity might have a sort of god, or personification, and that entity could have its own ideas about how to dole out the creative spirit to people...and when to take it back.
OD: So let’s talk about after the “procedure.” Will’s hand is healed, but he is also now saddled with an amplifier in his chest that seems to turn his hand on and off. As we know Jimi Hendrix went shirtless a lot and there was no amp. Is the procedure different for each member of the club? Oh, and does Will’s amp go up to 11?CS: Will's a special case, actually. He was originally supposed to die at twenty-seven, just like all the other guys, but that spirit of creativity I mentioned took a special interest and decided to make a sort of science experiment out of him. Of course, when cosmic entities start screwing around in your life it tends to put you through the wringer, and Will's no exception. All he wanted was to be able to play again, and it's looking like that's getting farther and farther away.
And Will's amp goes to 27 (really).
OD: Will doesn’t look a gift amp in the mouth and continues to fiddle with this newfound device of musical freedom until…a series of ethereal being tell him otherwise. Can you whet our appetites for issue 2 with at least a brief clue on these other spirits?CS: I hope this article has a spoiler tag! But just briefly, the nature of the gizmo in Will's chest is more complex than just something that makes his hand work again for brief periods. It can do much, much more, and the ghosts that show up at the end of Issue 1 are directly connected to that. Issue 2 starts to broaden the picture, and really gives you a sense of what Will's going to be dealing with. It gets pretty kickass.
OD: Fair enough…sorry…I usually dig about three to five questions past an artist’s comfort zone. I read you’re a running a contest to herald the release of 27. Can you give us the inside skinny?CS: I'll give you the inside husky-size! I decided that it would be cool to build a puzzle into the book - just something to make the experience a bit more fun (and after all, isn't that what comics are supposed to be?) Each of the four issues has pieces of a code hidden within them on specific pages. The pieces aren't so disguised that you'll never be able to find them, and if you think about some of the book's themes we've talked about, the pages to check out should be pretty obvious. Anyway, the code can be translated into a set of instructions (although you need to read all four issues to get the full code). I'll know the first person who figures it out and follows the instructions - it'll be very obvious - and I want to reward the reader dedicated enough to put in the time by buying them a plane ticket to the comic con of their choice in the subsequent year. It's kind of a goofy little thing, but I'm excited about it. More details/rules about this are up at my blog, and I really hope people get into it. I want to shake the hand of the winner at a cool con next year!
I will say, though, if people want to do this, do your best not to grab the codes off scans, all right? Do what you gotta do, I suppose, but this thing isn't Image-sponsored or anything like that. It's all coming out of my own pocket, and believe me, I'm not a multinational publishing entity with dough to burn.
OD: Very cool! Charles, thanks for giving us the Criterion look behind 27. I always like to let creators pimp any other projects as a walk off. So any other irons in the fire? Pimp on!CS: Absolutely! In addition to 27, I write a series of OGNs for SLG (aka Slave Labor Graphics) entitled STRONGMAN. The first was out in 2009 (and was very favorably reviewed by your own Ambush Bug), and the second will be out in February. The full title is STRONGMAN VOL. 2: OAXACA TAPOUT and I'm very proud of it. It's an action book about an over-the-hill masked Mexican wrestler who's trying to pull his life together - basically, he wants to kick some people in the head before he dies. In the first volume, the guy cleaned up New York City, and in this second one he's going back to Mexico to single-handedly end all this drug war business. It's a blast, and the first 22 pages are available as a preview at the SLG site.
Plenty of other stuff after those - hopefully more 27 and STRONGMAN, I'm in the process of closing a deal for another cool creator-owned thing I'm very excited about, and maybe some Big 2 work down the road. We'll see - if you guys keep reading 'em, I'll keep writing 'em! (Uh, please keep reading 'em - it's mind blowing that I get to put these books out, and I would really, really like to keep doing it!)