Monday, June 18, 2018

Alan Grant Interview, September 2005

I conducted this interview with Alan Grant, writer of the "Resurrection 2005" relaunch of Evil Ernie, during the Fall of 2005. Ernie was at that time (and still is) a refugee of the liquidated Chaos! Comics universe, purchased by my employers at TalesOfWonder.com. I was an uncredited advisor and editorial assistant on the Ernie book, and Alan Grant was atop my list of suggestions to helm the title. It was eventually drawn by the late Tommy Castillo, and published as the four-issue EVIL ERNIE IN SANTA FE by Devil's Due.

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Alan, could you bring our readers up-to-date on your comics work during the past couple of years? You've recently returned full-tilt to 2000 AD, correct?

Not quite. I do write "Samantha Slade, RoboHunter" for 2000 AD, and I write "Anderson, Psi" and "Middenface McNulty" for the Judge Dredd Megazine. But for the past few years the majority of my work has been away from comics: I'm the only Brit scriptwriter on the hit Alliance Atlantis kids' TV show "Ace Lightning". I did the backstory for LEGO's "Bionicle: Mask of Light" animated movie. I wrote the Action Man (G.I. Joe in the U.S.) CGI movie "Robot Attak". My own creator-owned Britmanga character "Dominator" has been released on DVD and attracted serious investment offers.

My company Bad Press is gearing up to launch a new adult humour comic later this year.

I wrote the Brodie's Law series from Pulp Theatre, which has become an indie smash-hit.

Just remembered—I've done a couple of Lobo/Authority team-ups for Wildstorm, and am waiting the go-ahead on a new Lobo stand alone, with top Brit artist Greg Staples. And
I've just finished writing a 75,000-word Lobo novel, "Last Sons", set for release in the Fall.


You've written some of the most hardcore badasses and anti-heroes in comics - Judge Dredd, Etrigan the Demon, Lobo, not to mention your 13-year association with a certain Dark Knight Detective. After all the broken bones, mayhem and murder you've already inflicted on the world over the years, what's the creative appeal of a character like Evil Ernie?

I can sum it up in editor Mark Powers' words when he offered me the job: "The story's about a serial killer...but we think you can make it funny."

That's the kind of challenge I like.

To be honest, since DC canceled the "Lobo" monthly I feel I haven't had a real hardcore outlet for my type of story and character. I've really enjoyed writing Middenface McNulty, who's a 15-year-old mutant Scottish hooligan, raised on whisky and mayhem. And I love doing "Tales of the Buddha" for my new comic; it's set before the chubby one gains enlightenment, so his motto is: He Meditates! He Drinks! He Fights! But Ernie has opened up a whole new world of bad-ass humour for me.



Did you have any familiarity with the Chaos! characters or their universe before you were approached to write Ernie?

I knew them by name, but I have to confess that was all. I've since watched the Youth Gone Wild series on CD and thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautiful artwork.

Smiley, Ernie's sentient/psychotic button, can be a difficult character to get a bead on. Then again, you're the guy who turned Jason Blood's friend Harry Matthews into a talking pillow during your run on THE DEMON. Do you plan to bring some of that same absurd sensibility to Smiley, or do you have something else up your sleeve?

Oh yeah. He gets an arrow through his puss in part 2. I'm playing Smiley a little enigmatically, though: I mean, how does a button know anything about religion, magic and babes? He's always on at Ernie not to trust anybody—except the faithful Smiley—for fear of betrayal. Without giving anything away regarding future storylines, I wonder if Smiley has his own agenda..? I'll tell you one thing: he's a really funny character.



Tell us a little about the supporting cast you're developing for this story. Are you using any other characters from the previous Ernie comics?

Well, some of them are related. Doc Price's daughter Layna is on Ernie's trail. Convinced that it was largely her dad's fault that Ernie became a mass killer, she's determined to put him out of action forever. But it's possible that Doc Price tested his prototype Dream Machine on his own daughter, establishing some kind of mental link between Layna and Ernie. Anyhoo, Layna's a nice girl. I'm not surprised Ernie's fallen in love with her. He needed a substitute for Lady Death, and Layna's just as sexy. Layna has hired a PE to help with the hunt; if they catch Ernie, Rig gets the million-dollar reward. But Rig is another character operating to his own agenda.

Bad guys include Norman, a lawyer, whose disembowelling should cheer all those who've ever fallen foul of the legal fraternity; Kaval, an Indian skinwalker or shaman; and Forge, billionaire owner of a FastFood franchise.


Why did you choose Sante Fe as the setting for this story?

A few years back artist Kevin O'Neill and I hired a Cadillac and took our wives on a month-long tour of Arizona and New Mexico. After two weeks in various deserts, with no alcohol, we arrived in Santa Fe. Our wives tell us it's a beautiful city, with the most gorgeous Indian artefacts for sale.

Unfortunately Kevin and I got so drunk, all we saw of Santa Fe was the sidewalk, as we negotiated it on our hands and knees, occasionally vomiting on people's feet. I've always wanted to make it up to the city for my terrible behaviour, so now I've sent them Evil Ernie.



You seem to be adding a dash of existentialism to Ernie's psyche with this series. What's your impetus for this, and where do you see it heading?

I figure most folk are like me: I live my life day to day, year to year...and every now and again I wake up and say "Who am I? How did I get into this mess?" I figure Ernie's the same. He may be a killer, but he really, really wants to know why. Does he do it of his own volition, or is he a slave to his past, his emotions, or darker forces? I think it's making him a more interesting character. My wife, who reads all of my scripts, said after she finished Part 2: "I never believed I'd say this, but I'm starting to quite like Ernie. I mean, I hate him, but I quite like him, too!"

If it doesn't sound too grand an objective, I'd like to turn Ernie from being a fairly two-dimensional character who kills lots of people into a more three-dimensional character (who still kills lots of people).

A large measure of Ernie's motivation in the previous Chaos! Universe was tied up in his relationship to Lady Death, a character which Chaos! no longer owns. In your estimation, what now drives Ernie to do the horrific things he does?

That's what Ernie wants to discover in this series. Is it the severe violence he suffered in childhood? Is it because Satan—or God—is driving him? Or is it because he wants to do it...which would truly make him evil, instead of just a pawn in someone else's game.

Ernie still has a love interest—he's fallen for the voluptuous Layna, indeed he even presents her with a severed head as a token of his esteem.

And in potential future series, we'll delve back into the world of demonry.




Your take on Ernie finds him with an aversion to violence directed at children. What led you to develop this facet of the character?

It's a subject which has threaded through my entire career—I've written several stories about violence to kids featuring Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson (herself a violently abused child). I guess I had a fairly rough childhood myself, during which I learned that violence only makes things worse, it never solves anything. Specifically, my grandmother taught me to read (using comics, natch) at age 3. I could already write when I started school. But I was left-handed, which was a Sin of Sins in Scottish schools back then. Consequently, from the age of 4 I was belted on the left hand with a leather strap until I could no longer hold the pencil, and forced to write with my other hand. The fact that everything came out backwards, like Da Vinci's mirror writing, only earned me further punishment.

I've never set out to campaign against violence against children, but I hate adults who practise it with a vengeance.

Finally, Ernie had a pretty rabid following of devoted fans back in his heyday. What is it about your story that's going to bring these readers back to the comics stores to follow his new "adventures"?

It's gruesome, it's funny, and it's macabre. I've stayed true to the character of Ernie as previously defined so I'm not expecting any death-threats for messing him around.

Hey, it happens! When Doug Moench was writing Batman #500--when Bane broke Batman's spine--he got a latenight phone call. The voice said "If the Batman dies, so do you." Before Doug could say "It's only a comic, pal" or even "Do you really think a mega-wealthy company like Warners is going to allow one of its biggest-producing money-machine franchises to get killed?" the caller hung up.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Neil Gaiman's ETERNALS Review, May 2007

Gaiman and Romita Jr. Weave ETERNALS Into the Very Fabric of the Marvel Universe



Story: Neil Gaiman
Art: John Romita, Jr. & Danny Miki
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover(s): John Romita, Jr. & Rick Berry
Publisher: Marvel Comics

When an author of Neil Gaiman's caliber decides to focus his imagination on a heretofore "C-list" creation like Jack Kirby's ETERNALS, it's cause enough for the rest of us to pay attention. Gaiman's affection for Kirby's "aliens-in Earth's-past" series from the mid-1970s is palpable in this handsome collected edition of the 7- issue mini-series, and John Romita, Jr.'s masterly line channels Kirby's flair for kinetic action and "crackle" in his own inimitable style.

Gaiman crafts his story as a mystery, as the Eternals now live among us, unaware of their place in the grand design of the Celestials (the aforementioned "aliens-in-Earth's past", natch). How this situation came to pass, and why, provides the thrust of Gaiman's narrative, as he slowly peels away the layers of deceit that have shrouded the Eternals from their true nature. All of this is accomplished in Gaiman's signature style, using deceptively simple language to weave a clever and complex tale which, paired with Romita Jr.'s journeyman command of the visual "superhero" language pioneered by Kirby, come together to form a unique milestone in both men's careers.

Whether Gaiman succeeds in his updating of the Eternals is, frankly, up to Marvel and how they develop the new foundation Gaiman has laid for them. But know this: Gaiman has now cemented the Eternals as a very integral part of the Marvel Universe, and their presence must be addressed somehow, sometime.

This 256-page hardcover is prefaced with an introduction by television writer (and Kirby friend) Mark Evanier. Also included are reproductions of JR Jr's and Olivier Coipel's variant covers, the MARVEL SPOTLIGHT interview with Gaiman about his work on the series, JR Jr's character sketches (juxtaposed with Kirby's original designs) and select pencil reproductions, Gaiman's original proposal, and an overview of Kirby's original series by author and comics historian Robert Greenberger. It's available in two dust jacket designs, one by JR Jr. and the other by renowned fantasy artist Rick Berry.


This collection is a must-have for any admirer of Gaiman or JR Jr., but it's also a possibly-overlooked gem in the collection of Jack Kirby aficionados. If that's the case, don't let it be! Get yours today!

Jim McLauchlin Interview, November 2006

My best work so far, I think. Not only did it shine a spotlight on The Hero Initiative in its nascent days, but it dug into the real work they do to help the very real people who've needed it most. This originally ran on Newsarama, but it seems to no longer be present there.

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Jim McLauchlin currently serves as President of the The Hero Initiative, the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic-book creators in need. By creating a financial safety net for yesterday’s creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, or an avenue back into paying work, Hero offers a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.

McLauchlin has been a professional writer and editor for 17 years, logging an 11-year stint at Wizard Entertainment, where he was a senior writer and contributing editor for Wizard: The Comics Magazine, and then two years as editor-in-chief of Top Cow Productions. Jim is currently director of content for the fantasy sports site FSDashboard.com, and recently took time from his busy schedule to answer a few questions about Hero and its mission:



Jim McLauchlin


Jim, Hero Initiative was until very recently known as ACTOR (A Commitment to Our Roots). After five years, what was the impetus for the name change, and how does it contribute to Hero’s...well, initiative?

Long story short, a lot of the board members just wanted a name change, as the old name didn't really fit the best. Hindsight being 20/20, I agree. I was too eager to jump on an acronym, and A Commitment To Our Roots just rolled off the tongue too quick. People in the comics biz knew us very well, but as soon as we'd venture outside the "little village" of comics, people would get the deer-in-the-headlights look. The mission just didn't compute with the name.

The contribution is that it serves the mission of mainstreaming the cause and broadening the field. My ultimate goal is not to just circulate money within the comic industry, but to bring it in from outside. Inside, we just smooth out peaks and valleys. From the outside, we can bring in bucks, from folks such as Bill Gates, who endows charities with about $100 million a year. Right now, we're part of the "Microsoft Giving" program, albeit on a small level. But we're getting there, and a name that identifies better with who we are is a big help.

In addition to yourself and founding members Brian Pulido (of Eternal Entertainment) and Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada, Hero recently named four new members to its Board Of Directors. Could you tell us a little about them, and what they bring to the table for Hero?

Mike Malve owns and operates the Atomic Comics chain of stores in Arizona , and is our retail conduit. He's great for grass-roots opinions, as he's in his stores every day, talking to fans. He's also a brilliant, aggressive promoter, who can help us on a promotional end as well.

Beth Widera owns and operates the Orlando MegaCon, and she's a great convention resource. She deals with publishers, dealers, artists, and fans—the whole width and breadth of the comics field. She's also amazingly well-versed in live event planning, in everything from securing venues to dealing with caterers to getting insurance. She does all that with MegaCon, so she knows that end of the business, and is our resource there.

Steve Borock of Comics Guaranty, LLC is one of the most well-respected names in the high-end collecting community. He's a tremendous resource in tapping into that community, the older collectors and the hardcore collectors. I think those folks are especially interested in what we do, as it's that "target" of creators that Hero's program services are set up to benefit.

You also serve on Hero’s Fundraising Committee. What kind of fundraising activities do you have coming up that might inspire readers to open their checkbooks?

Well, how about our “Win Your Very Own George Pérez” Contest on which we’re partnering with you guys at TalesOfWonder.com, and which we’re announcing this weekend at Wizard World: Texas?

Jim, I’m just the writing robot around here; these guys don’t tell me anything! George Pérez, huh? Please continue.


George Pérez

That's right, George Pérez: Living Legend and Artist Extraordinaire of NEW TEEN TITANS, WONDER WOMAN, and JLA/AVENGERS fame (to name just a handful of highlights from the Man’s vast bibliography). You win, we fly George to your front door! If you're a store, congratulations, you get him for a signing appearance. If you're a fan, George comes to your house and takes you to lunch. Whatever. We find a way to make it work, and George will DO it—he's that crazy!

How do people enter the contest, Jim, and how does it benefit Hero Initiative?


Contestants can enter in two ways:

(1) Every purchase at TalesOfWonder.com enters the customer into the drawing. Each $1 spent will result in one entry. The more you spend during the promotion, the more likely your chance to win.

(2) Enter free by sending an email to contests@talesofwonder.com with “George Perez” in the subject line. Limit one free entry per person, per day. Include in the email your first name, last name and full address.

Tales Of Wonder will donate a percent of every sale through the web site to Hero Initiative.

The contest kicks off at this weekend’s Wizard World Texas, November 10-12, and will run through the end of December. The winner will be announced after January 1, 2007. Unfortunately for George’s international fans, this prize is limited to a winner within the United States.


I should also mention we're holding a "Marvel Then and Now" event at UCLA on Dec. 2 starring Joe Quesada and Stan Lee. It's an amazing, rare opportunity to hear Stan and Joe speak together, which should be a blast.

Sounds like a lot of great opportunities to contribute. In closing Jim, if possible (while respecting privacy rights, if necessary), can you provide us with any testimonials of Hero’s impact on the lives of creators in need, to help drive home the point of why the organization exists in the first place?

We do have a strict policy of revealing our disbursements only on the advice and consent of the folks on the receiving end of those disbursements. We're not here to air anyone's private business for public consumption. In a general sense, we've literally paid back rent when people were 48 hours from being evicted, paid electric bills when people were 24 hours from having utilities shut off, and paid for desperately needed operations that weren't covered by medical insurance.


Bill Messner-Loebs

Just a few folks to talk about—and again, these folks are only mentioned by name ’cause they're cool with it—include Bill Messner-Loebs. Bill's case is well-publicized. He wound up in a lot of financial trouble, lost his house, got swindled by a bogus real estate broker when he was looking for a much cheaper house, and he and his wife wound up homeless, moving from motel to motel, and halfway houses run by church charities. When Bill's plight was first brought to our attention—which I believe was late 2001 or early 2002, I'd have to check—Bill and his wife Nadine were living on one banana a day each. That's all they could afford to eat. It was insane. We've helped Bill out with cash, we paid for a storage locker where he and Nadine could temporarily stash their belongings, and we have been able to drive some new paying writing work his way. I know I was just able to steer a one-off cartoon-writing job his way. And I'm happy to say that Bill and Nadine have landed in a new home. It's a trailer, something rather humble, but they're very happy.

Armando Gil is a comics vet who wound up wiped out when an animation company he worked for went under, and he went unpaid. He didn't even have the money to renew his driver's license, and his car got impounded. He was working at a box factory, and couldn't get to work, and the downward spiral was really starting. We were able to get him some dough to get his car back, and he's been working steadily, albeit in a field that's not his first choice—not many kids grow up wanting to be box-makers. But we were able to steer some work his way, and he's wisely used that dough to reset himself in the art field. He bought a scanner, and finally got an Internet connection, which, face facts, is a business essential. We were able to help him land a new animation job that should get him a few thousand dollars in first quarter of 2007 as well.


Steve Gerber

Steve Gerber is a guy who we've helped who's been absolutely stand-up. Steve came to us looking for a short-term loan—just a loan, not an actual disbursement—when some work dried up on him and he wound up behind on bills. We gave him the loan, and he dutifully paid it back, even kicking in $100 as interest, despite the fact that we told him it was unnecessary. He insisted! He came back looking for loans a couple other times, and always dutifully paid 'em back, until the most recent instance, when he suffered some serious health problems. It was a smallish amount, so I asked the Disbursement Committee to just convert it to a disbursement, which they did. Steve's been doing some great work of late, as anyone's who's read HARD TIMES knows, and he has a new DR. FATE series coming soon from DC. Steve is a candidate for lung transplant surgery in '07, and will be laid up for at least a few months after the operation. We're looking to perhaps do some sort of Steve-themed fundraiser soon, maybe a FOOG, TOO! (or so I'm thinking of calling it), for those of you who remember the old FOOG.

We've even kept people alive. There was a moment at the San Diego ComiCon in 2004 that was surreal. An artist that we benefited came up to me to thank me for the help we had given him. He was shaking my hand, with tears streaming down his cheeks. He had been living on about $90 a week, and was eating one meal a day before he found us. He didn't know what to do, or where to turn, and he was ready to take his own life. He had literally written the suicide note when he stumbled across us. We were able to get him back on his feet, and he's alive today, doing much better. This man wants to remain anonymous, but there are many, many more as well, both public and private.

TalesOfWonder.com would like to thank Jim McLauchlin for his time in answering our questions, and for his (and George Pérez’s) dedication to this wonderful cause. For more information, visit www.HeroInitiative.org or call 310-909-7809.


Kurt Busiek Interview, March 2004

Kurt Busiek had been writing comics in relative obscurity for about 12 years when MARVELS was originally released in 1994. It’s been pretty much all high-profile from there, as Busiek has since gone on to helm fan-and-critic-praised runs on AVENGERS, THUNDERBOLTS, his own ASTRO CITY, and has just recently (along with legendary artist George Perez) polished off one of the most anticipated projects of the last 20 years, JLA/AVENGERS. TalesOfWonder.com reporter S! Brett Lord caught up with the acclaimed scribe on the eve of the release of the MARVELS 10TH ANNIVERSARY HARDCOVER for an exclusive interview, in which he reveals the all-important role denim played in the book’s visuals…


What, if any, opinion do you have of the place of MARVELS in the history of super-hero comics? I mean, there are some camps who consider it a "deconstructionist" work, like DARK KNIGHT or WATCHMEN, while there are others who credit it with heralding the "reconstructionist" period of the mid-to-late Nineties. Where does your assessment, as author, fall?

I don't know that I'm the guy to judge -- creators create, and we leave it to others to review the work, and to decide its place in history, if any.


That said, I think MARVELS is more "reconstructionist" than "deconstructionist" -- in fact, I think I coined the term to describe it. My feeling was that the value of decontructionism is that you get to take a genre (or whatever) apart to see what makes it work. But once you've done that, you've got to put it back together again and see what you can do with it, now that you understand it. I think that's what makes MARVELS strike a chord with readers -- we put the sense of wonder back while still hanging onto the humanity, and that turned out to be something readers were hungry for.

How did your collaboration with Alex Ross work on the book? Was this a "Marvel-Style", plot-art-script production, or a full-script endeavor? Or something else entirely?

It was a full script. I don't know that Alex has ever worked plot-style.

But we talked through the story from the start, and I did a series of outlines (all of which are in the 10th anniversary collection) so Alex knew what was coming even before I started scripting. And we both felt free to critique the work as it was being done -- Alex challenged me on the scripting, and I challenged him on the art, each of us asking for changes where we thought it would make the book better. And I think it did.

That was one of the most fun parts of doing MARVELS -- that we were both committed to doing as good a job as we could, and would spend hours talking over the smallest details, just to make it all as strong as we could manage. We hashed through everything down to what kind of fabric the FF's uniforms must be made of, to get those big Kirby wrinkles in 'em and translate to Alex's more realistic-oriented art while still looking right. We came up with denim, by the way.

Can you tell us about some of the extra goodies in the 10th anniversary book?

I don't know if I have a complete list, but all four of the proposals are there, as are all of the
scripts. Plus, we went into the story and dug out all those teeny-tiny newspaper articles, blowing them up (and sometimes writing them from scratch) to give people the ability to read them without eyestrain. That was a lot of fun, and I think readers will enjoy the results.

Add to that behind the scenes art and more, and it's a pretty impressive package. I can't wait to see a finished copy.

It was reported some time back that you were working on a MARVELS sequel with Jay Anacleto. How's that coming along?


It's coming slowly. Jay is meticulous, which means the pages don't exactly come in in a
flood. But when they do, they're stunning. So it'll take a good long while to get it all done, but it'll be gorgeous when it finally comes out.

Anything else you'd like to say to TalesOfWonder.com readers?

I'd just like to say thanks for buying so many of the comics I write -- it's a cliché to say it
wouldn't happen without you, but it's literally true. Without an audience, I've not only got nobody to tell my stories to, but nobody would pay me to write 'em. So thanks for twenty-plus years of support, letting me keep doing the best job I could ever imagine having. My wife, daughters and mortgage broker appreciate it too.

And there'll be more stuff coming, as long as you're there to support it...!


TalesOfWonder.com would like to thank Kurt Busiek for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit with our readers. The MARVELS 10 th ANNIVERARY HARDCOVER features never-before-seen bonus material – including Kurt's original series proposals, scripts to all four issues, sketchbook material by painter Alex Ross, an introduction by Stan Lee, and special commentary by Busiek, Ross, John Romita Sr. and Scott McCloud. This keepsake volume collects MARVELS #0-4, and clocks in at a whopping 400 pages.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mark Waid Interview, November 2005

I conducted the following interview with Mark Waid for TalesOfWonder.com in the fall of 2005, to promote the release of the third and final hardcover volume of his FANTASTIC FOUR run with the late Mike Wieringo.

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Mark, in the first issue of your run (V3 #60, or V1 #489 for the purists among our readership), you focus on an interesting facet of Reed's personality: his deep-seated, almost Peter Parker-esque guilt over the radiation accident that transformed his friends into "something other than human". What was your intention in following this line of thought, and did it pay off as you'd hoped?

Yeah, it really did. My intention, honestly, was just to follow up on a comment made by Editor Tom Brevoort that was almost those exact words spoken by Reed, certainly the sentiment. I wish I could take credit for that observation about Reed's motives, but that was Tom. A good editor is not to be taken lightly. And that we were able to bring it around full-circle in our last issue just made it work that much more sweetly.

Your Dr. Doom arc, "Unthinkable", saw Doom's hellish shift from the ways of science and technology to the ways of magic as a means to his ends. We've seen this touched on before (most notably in Roger Stern's DR. STRANGE/DR. DOOM: TRIUMPH AND TORMENT GN), but tell us a little about your own impetus for Doom's transformation into sorcerer. And did you have to call upon your friend Grant Morrison (who claims to be a practitioner of Chaos Magic) for research during this arc?

Ha! No, actually, at the time, I was seeing someone well-versed in the theories of magic and witchcraft and mined her brain pretty extensively. Still, what made it challenging--and, hopefully, what made it work if it worked for you--was that I wasn't trying to "sell" anyone on sorcery over science. I came at it from Reed's perspective exactly and was really using his POV to work out my own internal conflicts and issues over faith versus fact and the power of belief. The impetus for the story was simple; Doom is many things, but he's not insane, and one definition of insanity is always using the same methods to achieve your goals but expecting different results. It just seemed natural to me that Doom would think to himself, "Hey, I've never made a run at Reed using JUST MAGIC."

"Authoritative Action" saw the FF invade Latveria in the wake of Doom's defeat. This story originally saw print as the United States was gearing up to invade Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein. Were you attempting to draw any parallels between this FF arc and what was really happening in our world at the time, or was this just one of those coincidences that occur when pop-culture lead-time and real-time collide?


A little of both. My recollection is that it was only after some of the story was written that America actually invaded Iraq, and I was certainly able to use that series of events to give my story a little more gravitas. The arguments for and against invasion between Reed and Nick Fury really were taken from the discourse of the time (thank you, Fahreed Zakaria). It amuses me to this day, however, that not only are there some readers who seemed angry that I was making a "political statement," but that those who were most vocally upset were those who drew all the wrong inferences regarding my own political leanings. If you think you know how I personally feel about the Iraq invasion based on the Latveria story, you may be surprised.




LONG set-up, and then a question (I promise): "Hereafter" related the tale of the FF storming the gates of Heaven to retrieve the soul of their fallen teammate The Thing. OK Mark, fess up: first you bring on the DCU Apocalypse in KINGDOM COME, then you show us (in KINGDOM, the KC follow-up) Superman worshipped as a Christ-figure. Later, in your creator-owned EMPIRE, you devise a horrific twist on the Eucharist (or Communion), and then, in SUPERMAN:BIRTHRIGHT, you return to the Superman mythos an Elliot S! Maggin conceit, with Clark being able to see the "life aura" of living creatures. In short, you very often touch on religious/spiritual themes in your work. Why the apparent fascination?

That's a very good question, particularly given that I myself am not an especially spiritual man. All I can tell you is that, at the end of the day, all I really want to write about is human dreams and human goals, and no matter what we may all disagree on, we all are striving towards some personal vision of heaven.

That was a fun Spidey/Torch story following up "Hereafter", which one could guess was a precursor to your acceptance of the original scripting assignment on the forthcoming FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN series. You've since had to bow out of that project, but is Spidey a character you'd like a chance to revisit someday?


Maybe. To be honest, the only reason I took the gig to begin with was to work with Mike, not because I felt as if I had a million Spider-Man stories saved up inside me that were dying to get out. The challenge of Spider-Man is that he may be the best super-hero character ever, he's certainly had a huge number of spectacular stories told about him, and I don't know that I'm up to the task of matching them at this point in my career. It's one thing to take on the creative reins of a character or group that isn't super-popular--that's fun, because you can surprise readers into liking them--but, dude, NO ONE doesn't love Spider-Man already.

How was it playing in the "Avengers Disassembled" sandbox for the FF: DISASSEMBLED arc?


Kind of like watching a fireworks display on a TV screen. We were kinda present, but kinda not. The only impact it had on us was giving us a valid reason why the FF were the only guys who were around to save the day. Okay, one more thing--in retrospect, Avengers Disassembled gave us a very logical mechanism by which to "redeem" the FF in the eyes of the Marvel Universe. We'd actually planned to milk that thread a little longer, but when that opportunity arose, we ran with it.



You recently finished up your FF run with #524. I recall though, after you were fired/rehired part-way through your tenure, Marvel making mention of a project with which you were attached called FOURIGIN? Is this still a go, and if so when are we likely to see it materialize?

Sadly, I'm no longer attached to anything like that, as much as I'd love to be. Still, nothing's forever. Maybe Marvel will want something to tie into a Fantastic Four movie sequel. I do have notes and outlines and scenes written, but in the end, I just couldn't make time for it in the publishing window provided. Someday, maybe...!

You're still writing the monthly LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES for DC, but what's up next for you, now that you've got an open slot in your dance card?


Well, there's also HUNTER-KILLER from Top Cow, and one more issue of CITY OF HEROES from the Cow, as well, and I've just had another high-profile project approved at one of the Big Two, which we may announce in San Diego--stay tuned.

My Comics Industry Bona Fides

As my current job has undergone a makeover leaving me with reduced hours and income, I am seeking a possible return to my longtime career in comics retail to bridge that gap. Part-time work should meet that need, but I’m prepared to return to full-time for the right opportunity.

Publishers, pop-culture websites, and their editorial and marketing departments: this posting documents my professional history as a comics retailer, which informs my comics journalism & marketing writings, samples of which are also available on this blog.

**********

S! Brett Lord
678-733-3967
sbrettlord@gmail.com

PROFILE



Will Eisner "Spirit Of Comics" Retailer Award nominee & finalist, returning to the world of comics retailing, marketing, and/or publishing. My career spans 20+ years in multi-store & mail-order management, sales & marketing, organizational development, and team-building. I am a creative thinker & quick learner, who leads by example & encouragement, coupled with humor, enthusiasm for teamwork, and a sense of urgency in work performance & problem solving. I prefer to promote a "work smart" organization.

CURRENT EMPLOYMENT: Milkman, Shatto Home Delivery; Kearney, MO, 2016-Present

Driver of Shatto Home Delivery truck, delivering high-quality dairy products & locally-sourced fresh foods directly to consumers at their home. Learned & mastered use of integrated tablet logistics app & GPS system to direct me to customer homes, and quickly & correctly process orders. Obtained Class "E" Missouri driver license and maintained DOT compliance.

RELEVANT EMPLOYMENT:



Management Trainee, Hastings Entertainment; St. Joseph, MO, 2010-2012

Trained in all aspects of store operations in high volume book-music-video-game store with the goal of relocating to & managing one of Hastings Entertainment's 140+ locations. To that end, I hired & trained a store staff of up to 50 with a keen eye to grooming future department managers, monitored & raised store profitability, involved myself & store in local community, carefully monitored competition, and engaged strict corporate guidelines in control of payroll & shrink.



Warehouse Manager/Convention Lead/Director of Marketing, TalesOfWonder.com; Buford, GA, 2004-2009

As Warehouse Manager: download orders & schedule order shipments based on current & pending inventory; maintain & adjust company inventory database; order replacement stock; print customer invoices, lead warehouse team in pick/pack & order validation routines; receive & organize new & replacement merchandise, report shortages & damages to vendors; prepare & upload package weights & addresses to online postage vendor, print mailing labels & affix; deliver packages to USPS & UPS; prepare customized shipment notification e-mails for customers; answer inter-company e-mails & take phone orders.

As Convention Lead: prepare & oversee loading/unloading of convention stock & fixtures to/from moving truck; transport of stock & fixtures to/from convention location; lead on-site team in unloading of stock & fixtures and construction of convention booth; lead on-site sales team in performing sales & customer service during convention hours, including merchandise re-stocking & cash wrap operations; lead end-of-show breakdown of convention booth; prepare Excel spreadsheet breakdown of convention revenue & costs; prepare final bank deposit.

As Director of Marketing: perform marketing outreach to comics retail community for company-owned relaunch of Chaos! Comics characters Evil Ernie, Purgatori, and Chastity; editorial liaison with publishing licensee Devil's Due; prepare order solicitation text for Diamond Comic Distributors PREVIEWS magazine; advisor on creative team selection for Evil Ernie relaunch.



Store Manager, Coliseum of Comics; Kissimmee, FL, 2001-2002

Responsibilities similar to those detailed in the Heroes & Dragons entry below, and highlighted by successful & lucrative introduction of WizKids HEROCLIX game into company's product mix. Coliseum of Comics is regarded as one of the top retailers of comic-books & graphic novels in the North American "direct" (non-returnable) market.



Store Manager, Heroes & Dragons; Columbia, SC, 1994-2001

Assigned to maintain & track diverse product selection into store inventory, including graphic novels & Games Workshop games; display & organize department product for sales floor; order department merchandise, track sales and profit & loss, develop & regulate budgets; implement, maintain & regulate 250-400 customer database; provide courteous & competent customer service to established & new clientele; create, write, & edit DRAGON'S BREATH store newsletter; track accounts payable, regulate company cash flow; hire/fire, train & review employees.

EDUCATION

Graceland University, Lamoni, IA — Bachelor of Arts in Popular Culture, 1993

SKILLS

Retail Management, Customer Service, Retail Sales, Inventory Management, Inventory Control, Marketing, Merchandising, Scheduling, Loss Prevention, Coaching, Event Management, Writing, Editing, Social Networking, Twitter, Excel, Word, UPS

AWARDS

During my watch, Heroes & Dragons was a Will Eisner "Spirit of Comics Retailing" Award nominee (and finalist) in 1998 and 2001.