|CHRIS RYALL & CHRISTOS GAGE
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DF Interview: Chris Ryall & Christos Gage have brought Rom back to comics! What now? Revolution!
By Byron Brewer
Some of the hottest comic book news this summer is the return of the iconic Rom, Space Knight, to new adventures being published by IDW. On the book, already in stores with #1, are writers Chris Ryall and Christos Gage working in tandem with artist David Messina.
In issue #2, Rom is on Earth and under attack by an entire town full of Dire Wraiths. But these Wraiths are far more powerful than any he's ever faced before. How? Why?
To answer those questions and more, DF sat down with Chris Ryall and Christos Gage.
Dynamic Forces: Chris, IDW delighted a lot of longtime, very patient fans when it first announced that Rom was returning to comic books on Free Comic Book Day this past May. Knowing you are a huge Rom fan as well (is there anyone who does NOT know, lol), what did Rom’s return mean to you and how long had this been in the planning?
Chris Ryall: Honestly, I started asking the question in late 2005 when we first partnered with Hasbro on Transformers. “Yeah, I know you’re trusting this fledgling company with your Transformers franchise, but anyway, Hasbro once acquired Parker Bros. and PB owned Rom so can we can we?” And then it took a fair amount of time—well, a decade, by my calendar—for all signs to align but now that it’s here, that time doesn’t feel long at all. And however long it took, it was time well spent. Along the way and over the years, I started to think it might never happen, but Rom has always been my Everest. I was gonna keep climbing toward the summit no matter how thin the oxygen got. And let me tell you, with Rom officially back in the world, the air up here has never tasted so sweet.
DF: Rom is coming upon its second issue now and our hero has already come to Earth and is in search of the Dire Wraiths (… or are they hunting him?). But these Wraiths are apparently more powerful in some manner than those Rom has faced before. Can you hint at what that difference might be, and what new challenge will this mean for our seasoned Lord of the Solstar Order?
Chris Ryall: Well, the only thing I’ll say about the Dire Wraiths on Earth is that their abilities, methods and reason for being here are far different than what even Rom expected, and he’s been fighting them for over 200 years. Why is that? Well, that’s something Rom and readers will find out together as the series progresses.
DF: Christos, I know you too are a longtime fan of Rom and his universe. Please tell us about a story I heard concerning the old Rom big-bad Hybrid and how your use of that villain in a Marvel book brought you into contact with Chris, now your co-writer on this book. (I love these type of behind-the-scenes, human things among creators!)
Christos Gage: Well, I too am an old-school Rom fan from way back. I bought the first issue when it came out, and another memorable story was when Rom and the X-Men teamed up against the half-Dire Wraith, half-mutant horror men call Hybrid! So when I was writing Avengers Academy for Marvel, I decided to bring Hybrid back as a villain. Chris Ryall tweeted me to say how pleased he was. And from then on, we bonded over our mutual love for Rom. So when the time to bring Rom back from limbo finally came, it was destiny…you might say a Rom-com, where Hybrid was the meet-cute.
DF: During the initial “Earthfall” storyline, which continues in #2, Rom is on Earth. Will he be meeting any new characters that may be laying the groundwork for a supporting cast? If so, what can you tell us about them. If not, can you tell us about any (in a non-spoilery way, of course) that we might want to look out for in the future?
Christos Gage: Rom has already met Darby, a veteran struggling with PTSD, with whom he has much in common, and Camilla, a police officer who escaped a Wraith attack but looks to have been infected with something nasty as a result. As we go forward, we will be expanding the supporting cast as well…both the terrestrial and extra-terrestrial variety. Part of what’s interesting for us is seeing Rom, who has been a loner for a very long time, interacting with others.
DF: Chris, in addition to co-plotter/writer on Rom, you are also IDW’s Chief Creative Officer and Editor-in-Chief. IDW is in the process of uniting all its Hasbro-centric properties into a single shared universe. What place will Rom play in this reality?
Chris Ryall: Rom plays a central role in Revolution, beginning with the first issue of that series. And the one-shot that I did with Christos and artist Ron Joseph explains that role a bit more and also gives Rom a new villain. From there, the characters will all exist in the same universe but each title will still be its own thing. Rom occupies the paranoid, creepy corner of the Hasbro universe and that won’t be anything we mess with coming out of the event. I want people who like what they’ve seen in the first few issues to have some sense of what they’re in for going forward and not worry overly much about the title becoming “guest-star central.” Only if/when it makes good story sense.
DF: Sticking with the shared universe query, will we be seeing any other heroes (anyone from the Transformers to Action Man to M.A.S.K.) making appearances in Rom, will they be allies, and will Rom be guest-starring in any of those Hasbro-centric comics?
Chris Ryall: Yeah, again, you might see some other titles’ characters appear in the comic at times when it suits the story, but not just for the sake of it. Unless Snake Eyes fully becomes our “Wolverine” and we put him in every issue at all times (note: we won’t).
In point of fact, there was a character from another title who showed up in issue #1 who I haven’t seen talked about yet. It was a subtle cameo (beyond the more obvious one elsewhere in the issue), aimed only at the hardcore, deep-lore fans, but it’s there… it’ll be fun to weave in occasional nods and glimpses just to further reiterate the whole idea of a conjoined world like we have here.
DF: From the previews, it looks as if you selected the right artist for this book as David Messina is hitting these pages out of the park (such clean lines)! What do each of you think of his work on Rom thus far, and has David worked on the designs of any new characters for this book?
Christos Gage: I love what David is doing, and when we finally got to meet in person at SDCC I saw his enthusiasm for the book first-hand. He’s done such a great job of contrasting the bio-horror of the Wraiths with the clean, mechanical nature of Rom. I’m really glad the readers are responding so positively. And yes, David is designing new characters…including some Space Knights we’ll be seeing in a tantalizing, one-panel flashback in issue #2!
Chris Ryall: Agreed! I’ve long been in awe of what David does, having worked with him on everything from Angel to Infestation 2 to True Blood and beyond, so I knew what he was capable of. And yet he’s still managed to outdo himself here.
DF: Any teasers as to what we might have coming for us as readers going forward? Will we be seeing space as well as Earth adventures?
Christos Gage: We definitely want to do space-set adventures, but not until the book is established, so for the near term, any space-based stories will likely be flashbacks to the history of Rom and the Solstar Order. (Our upcoming Annual is one such tale.)
Chris Ryall: Yes, the Annual, due in January, will reveal Rom’s full origin; and along the way, in both flashbacks and in present-day, we’ll see additional members of the Solstar Order, additional threats, and lots of surprises and some tragedy along the way.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Chris Ryall and Christos Gage for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions. Rom #2 from IDW hits stores Aug. 24th!
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