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DF Interview: Bigger Bang, Part 1: Writer D.J. Kirkbride brings the Bang
By Byron Brewer
Current science says our universe was created by the Big Bang. A second, bigger bang created the being called Cosmos. Destroyer? Hero? God? Even Cosmos doesn’t know the answers. So he roams a second universe, alone, trying to ease the great guilt of the destruction wrought by his birth.
Among this scenario we discover the world of Bigger Bang, a new limited series from IDW by writer D.J. Kirkbride and artist Vassilis Gogtzilas.
To get the 411 on this mag, Dynamic Forces met Kirkbride on an asteroid in a reality nexus near our neighborhood and discussed how this mini came into being.
Dynamic Forces: D.J., tell the uninitiated how you got involved in writing comics.
D.J. Kirkbride: I've been reading comics since around the time I could read. They've always been a part of my life, and I've always enjoyed making up stories, which I eventually started calling "writing." My first real foray into comics was in the long ago year of 2006, when I was invited to be the Assistant Editor on the first Image Comics' PopGun anthology. That was cool enough, but then I got to write a story, which was a dream come true! That led to anthology editing and writing for a while, usually with my co-writer Adam P. Knave. We collaborated with artist Nick Brokenshire on Amelia Cole, which became our first ongoing series thanks to the fine folks at Monkeybrain Comics. Since then, we also did a miniseries with artist Robert Love for Dark Horse called Never Ending and have a lot of concepts in the works.
DF: How did the notion for Bigger Bang come about?
D.J. Kirkbride: It started with artist and co-creator Vassilis Gogtzilas. I'd met and became a fan of Vass through the PopGun books, interacting with him as an editor. Later, Adam and I co-wrote a ridiculous story that Vassilis drew for an anthology called Titmouse Mook Volume 2. We'd talked about working together again for a while after, some things kind of starting and stopping or not quite making it to the finish line for one reason or another. A while back, he contacted us with the notion for a cosmic superhero, and a line drawing of a huge muscular caped guy floating in space. Adam was a little too swamped to join the party, so I went solo on the writing and developed a concept that'd involve a space superhero, trying to capture some fun space opera, over-the-top madness I half-remembered from the comics of my youth -- and interviews I'd read in this great and much-missed magazine called Comics Scene about comics I didn't have access to from my local drug store.
DF: Tell us about your protagonists. They sound quite unusual, even for superhero science fiction.
D.J. Kirkbride: Cosmos is the main protagonist, though he wouldn't call himself a hero. His birth caused a catastrophe in our universe that was felt all over the multiverse. He's no more responsible for his origins than any newborn, but it doesn't stop him from feeling guilt. He tries to escape his past by going to another universe, doing good with his incredible powers. There he catches the attention of a space tyrant named King Thulu. He also came about from one of Vass's visuals. He wanted to include a Cthulhu-like creature, whom he drew sitting on a throne. This was nothing I'd thought of at first when developing a superhero space epic, but how could something so cool not be a part of the book? Then he sent me a drawing of a flying space castle, so I worked that in, too. It became very fairy tale-like in a lot of ways due to Vass's artistic sensibilities, which has been a lot of fun. Rounding out the cast is one of King Thulu's top pilots, Captain Wyan. She's a green-skinned warrior with three eyes and a sense of honor that's kind of been suppressed by the circumstances of her life in Thulu's space kingdom. Through the course of writing the book, she became my favorite character. I don't want to spoil anything so ... I'll just leave it at that for now.
DF: So what is the storyline for this miniseries?
D.J. Kirkbride: Cosmos just wants to be accepted for who he is now, not where he came from -- but people have a hard time with that for instinctual reasons, just a gut fear of him. He plays the role of superhero in a fantastic universe filled with aliens and fantasy and the least scientific science we could cook up, trying to get people to see him as the good person he feels he is. Meanwhile, King Thulu lives for power and to control. But how can he control a being who is, to many, a kind of cosmic god? Wyan gets caught up in the middle of this, and ... action and adventure and drama and intrigue ensue.
DF: We are seeing more science fiction-oriented stories in creator-owned and other comic book series. Is this a genre in which you enjoy writing, and why?
D.J. Kirkbride: I do enjoy writing science fiction -- or science fantasy in this case, really. I'd love to write some real science fiction one day, but this ended up being very close to pure fantasy in an outer space setting. It's a blast to just let my imagination go off and see what happens. As we all know, science fiction is also a great way to tackle modern issues and ideas in a somewhat safer setting than pure realism, too, though. All the fantastical elements can be the spoonful of sugar and whatnot.
DF: How has the experience been working with IDW Publishing?
D.J. Kirkbride: I love the folks at IDW. I met our editor, Justin Eisinger, through the Amelia Cole print collections IDW puts out. He's been very open to reading my pitches, even though his main job is overseeing their line of books and graphic novels. He took a liking to the concept of Bigger Bang and really championed us. IDW puts out such quality books, too, from the creators and books themselves to a printing and design perspective. I'm very happy to be working with them on this series, and I hope the relationship continues and grows.
DF: Why is artist Vassilis Gogtzilas right for this book?
D.J. Kirkbride: Vass is the co-creator, so this comic is just as much him as it is me. Not only was the initial seed of the book from him and his art, but his powerful style and kinetic layouts set the tone and pace of the series. It's been a terrific challenge trying to keep up with him and conforming the story to his artistic sensibilities. One of our secret weapons is our letterer, Frank Cvetkovic, who I first worked with on Never Ending (and who works with my frequent writing partner Adam on another cool Monkeybrain series IDW collects in print, Artful Daggers). He's able to layout the text and captions very clearly, guiding readers along in really subtle and intelligent ways. It's a darn good and unique looking comic.
DF: D.J., would you like to see Bigger Bang become an ongoing? Is this a finite mini or is there more story to tell?
D.J. Kirkbride: This four-issue miniseries has a definite ending, but I'd love to do more if there is demand and time, absolutely. Vass and I touch upon a lot of concepts we could develop further, and the universes hinted at and glimpsed in this series contain such potential. We've kind of talked about some potential ideas, just kind of blue sky "what if" stuff. We do feel that we've created a reality where anything can happen, which is refreshing ... and terrifying.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank D.J. Kirkbride for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Bigger Bang hits stores in November. Coming up Friday: Part 2 of this interview with Bigger Bang artist Vassilis Gogtzilas!
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