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DF Interview: Greg Pak talks Kingsway West, comic pre-ordering
By Byron Brewer
Writer Greg Pak, artist Mirko Colak and colorist Wil Quintana head out to the Wild West this November for a new, ongoing Dark Horse Comics series.
Kingsway West tells the story of Chinese gunslinger Kingsway Law who, upon release from prison, tries to track down his missing wife. But this is no ordinary Wild West, and he's faced not only with the grit and racism of the era, but with the threat of magic as well. It's an explosive mix of guns, magic and fantasy, as genres clash and Kingsway deals out justice the only way he can: hard.
In a seedy saloon down the way as the sage brush rolls, Dynamic Forces met with scribe Pak to get the 411. Here’s what we found out.
Dynamic Forces: Hey, Greg, been a while! Before we talk about your new book from Dark Horse Comics, tell us about this new system for pre-ordering comics you are trying to get started. Interesting.
Greg Pak: If you visit KingswayWest.com, you can pick a nearby comics shop from the drop down menu, type in your contact info, indicate how many books you want, and hit "Submit" to pre-order. Then when the books actually come out, we'll send you a reminder and you'll be able to pick them up and pay for them at the store you indicated. It's easy! Check it out!
The reason for setting up a thing like this is that indie comics live and die based on the number of pre-orders they get. It's just the way comics distribution is set up -- the number of comics printed is based on the number of orders comic shops place, so pre-orders from customers are absolutely critical in helping retailers gauge a new book's potential.
So if the idea of a Chinese gunslinger searching for his wife in an Old West overrun with magic appeals to you, please do check out KingswayWest.com and pre-order today!
DF: And what kind of difference could this make to the industry, do you feel?
Greg Pak: Well, it's just one website for one book right now. But if it works, there's no reason other folks couldn't set up a similar thing. Actually, my dream is that retailers and publishers come together to set up a big website that lists every upcoming book and lets folks pre-order with their local shops. That's too big an undertaking for a single creator like me, but it's what the current model of comics distribution really needs to maximize sales and expand the audience.
DF: OK, good enough. So where and when did Kingsway West come about? Any certain inspiration? Does not sound like your typical Western.
Greg Pak: I grew up as a Korean American kid in Texas who loved Westerns. And eventually I learned about the actual history of Asians in the West and my head popped off. I've been dreaming about a story featuring a Chinese gunslinger in the Old West for about 22 years. So thrilled to finally see it coming to life!
DF: Give us your perceptions of Kingsway Law.
Greg Pak: He's an outlaw, a product of the lawless frontier. But he lost everything because of his wildness. So now, after 13 years in prison, he's trying to stay out of trouble as he searches for his long-lost wife. But he's stepping out into a world overrun with magic, where the Chinese have become the scapegoats for the dangers that magic brings. So he'll have to make some hard choices here as a mysterious swordswoman comes looking for his help.
DF: Life in America is along the diversity trail these days. Is this book a reflection of that, and what does that mean to how comics are put together/who reads comics today, in your opinion?
Greg Pak: I've always written stories with diverse casts. It's the world I live in, so it ends up reflected in the books. That's why I created Amadeus Cho for Marvel ten years ago and why I've jumped on the chance to write books like War Machine and Magneto Testament and Storm over the years. Many, many great creators have been doing similar things for decades. But the exciting thing is that just in the past year or so, the readership for books like these has reached a critical mass and suddenly the companies are actively aware that diversity in creative teams and character rosters is a huge bonus. It's a great thing, and it helps everyone who works in comics. The bigger the readership grows, the more work for everyone.
DF: Greg, in real life, Chinese immigrants in the Old West were historically subjected to a series of persecutions culminating in massacres across the plains. Is this heightened sense of reality difficult to mix with magic and such fantasy concepts for you as a writer?
Greg Pak: At a certain point in the development process, my editor Jim Gibbons said something like, "I love this story, but can we take it one step further?" And I thought about that and realized he was right. My instincts as a writer are to combine deep emotional storytelling with big genre hijinks. And I realized that the themes and emotional storyline I was working on really wanted to go bigger genre-wise. It felt like epic fantasy. So why not take the logical step and put this Old West story into a world overrun with magic?
It actually fits beautifully with the very real themes that we're grappling with. Epic fantasy has always dealt with clashes between tribes and terrible persecutions and heroic struggles against outrageous injustice. Epic fantasy is also all about worldbuilding and exploring new ways of forming societies. All of that is right in line with Kingsway West’s exploration of the past and future of the American Dream.
DF: You’ve worked with Mirko Colak on Red Skull: Incarnate and Dynamite’s own Turok. Why is he the right artist for this book?
Greg Pak: I've loved working with Mirko and we've been talking about doing a creator-owned book together for years. He's got this great sense of texture and atmosphere that I just love -- everything he draws feels lived-in and real, which works so well for a Western like Kingsway West. And then he's gone absolutely bananas with the magical elements of the book. I just love everything he's doing.
DF: Greg, what other zillion or so books will be coming from your keyboard in the near future?
Greg Pak: Ha! I'm continuing to co-write Action Comics with Aaron Kuder and write Batman/Superman for DC Comics. And I'm writing the new Totally Awesome Hulk book that comes out from Marvel in the fall. And I have a Kickstarter underway right now for ABC Disgusting, a children’s book about disgusting things drawn by the great Takeshi Miyazawa, which I hope you'll check out at ABCDisgusting.com .
So I guess I'm keeping busy. (smiles)
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Greg Pak for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Kingsway West #1 hits stores in November!
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