FOR TOMMY: MICAH WRIGHT
I first encountered
Micah through his website . He'd been
talking about re-launching StormWatch at Wildstorm. I duly reported
this only to have him plead for me not to, as he hadn't quite
realised that Wildstorm might not want him to talk about it
was indeed published, as was Back The Attack, a book of rejiggled
US propaganda posters satirising the current US government's
policies, and then Micah started to get some attention around
the place. Like Epic Comics.
of politics, drama and action is rather unique right now,
and it's a voice that more people are interested in exploiting.
After all, why get Michael Moore to write comics for you,
if Micah Wright is already here? And he's cheaper to boot.
JOHNSTON: From day one of StormWatch, you brought military
realism to superheroes. Do you think you went far enough?
Are there consequences of events that you've been unwilling
or unable to explore?
Topics I'm unwilling to explore? No, not really. I mean, we've
had a casualty on the team already, one permanently disabled
team member, and the pace of that will probably accelerate
as time goes by on the book. I'm just waiting to make sure
everyone REALLY likes the characters before I snuff them out.
Then I'll bring in the cherries and make you love THEM and
then gut them as well.
So... can we say a regular revolving team makeup? How do you
feel this approach affects the book - changes the structure
of, say, the traditional superhero or action-adventure story?
Well, comic book companies aren't really publishing efforts
any longer... the idea being that publishing comics isn't
a very good Return On Investment, the primary measurement
of a company's business. It's simple business: if as an investor,
I can put a dollar into a prescription drug company and earn
back $1.43 every year, why would I want to invest in making
$1.01 with Marvel, DC or Dark Horse comics? I think CrossGen
is a great example of that grim business logic at work. Soon
there won't be enough readers to support publishing as a primary
business model any longer... the investor wouldn't even be
able to make that $1.01! The comic book companies HAVE to
look at film and product licensing as their primary reason
for existence. I'd be willing to bet that Superman bedsheets,
toothbrushes and other assorted ancillary products made more
for Time-Warner last year than actual Superman comics. That
number will EXPLODE if a film ever gets finished. That's the
holy grail for comics companies now... and therefore, there
is NO WAY ON EARTH that DC would ever seriously think about
permanently killing Superman. I mean, when they did that back
in the 90's, everyone knew that it would be one year maximum
before he came back to life. It's just not conceivable.
Luckily, my book
is so new and the characters so unsettled that I can kill
them off every six months and no licensing company would scream
bloody murder that he's got Blake Coleman T-shirts in the
marketplace and I just killed the character.
Mind you, there are many people, non-comics readers, who think
Superman is still dead in the comics. They saw the story that
made the papers and never saw the follow-up. I was just wondering
if you write any built-in redundancy to characters. That you
create them for a story knowing that you might not want to
rely on their existence in future story lines in case you
get a little trigger happy? Do you create characters knowing
that others could take over for them in a story's role if
you decide to push them in front of a Baghdad bus?
Yeah, I never thought about that... there probably ARE tons
of normal non-comics readers who think that Superman IS still
dead. I find that rather sinister, actually... the idea that
millions of people just had their spirit crushed that little
bit more by being told that Superman was dead, then never
finding out that he came back from the dead. It's not like
they killed Firestorm or someone like that, there were four
Superman movies and two TV shows... people know the character...
and now many of them think he's dead.
Wow. That's kinda
sad. Thanks for bringing me down, Rich.
Well, I try to
craft characters who are entertaining. When I run out of entertaining
ways to utilize them, I kill them off. I killed Blake Coleman
because he was worth more to me story-wise dead than he was
alive. I took away the support network for my lead character,
Ben Santini -- his best friend, his only confidant, the only
person he trusted without reservation. We've seen the effects
that's had on Santini, and we'll see more. I try not to grow
too attached to my characters to the point where I'm not willing
to sacrifice them. I'm writing a story right now where someone
is going to go and it's very tough for me because they're
one of my favorites. But again, they're worth more to the
characters still alive if they're dead.
Until the bottom drops out of the cadaver market of course.
But looking at your recent propaganda-parody work, married
with the international outlook of StormWatch, if you could
create genuine, sincere propaganda, what cause or beliefs
would it serve? What would it say and how would it look?
I thought that's what I did! :) Seriously, fully half of what
I do is genuinely sincere: I -DO- believe that all foreigners
are evil and need to be put in camps in Cuba.
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