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DF Interview: Spending time with C.W. Cooke in Solitary
By Byron Brewer
What if Superman were in The Green Mile? What if that guy that made a deal with the Devil for immortality on The Twilight Zone was also a superhero?
Not questions from a now-deceased Watcher (R.I.P.) but instead a cutting-edge concept for a comic book by writer C.W. Cooke. Still in its nascent stages coming out of Kickstarter, Cooke is working hard to turn his dream comic into reality: an artist and publisher have already been secured.
Dynamic Forces caught up with Cooke, who still has the proverbial “day job,” and discussed his concept of “Orange is the New Cape!”
Dynamic Forces: Tell us about you and comic books. Were you a fanboy?
C.W. Cooke: I've loved comics since I was a little kid. Pretty much since I was 8 years old, I've been reading comics from Marvel, DC, and then Image, Dark Horse, and so on and so forth. Cartoons, toys and movies all based on the comics I was reading PLUS the comics I was reading.
DF: Since the book you are working on has been in Kickstarter, you must still have a life outside comics?
C.W. Cooke: Ha, yeah unfortunately. I have a day job, working in the insurance field. It pays the bills and helps me sustain, but writing comics is my passion and where I hope to eventually end up full-time.
DF: Tell us the concept behind Solitary. Is it an idea you have had for awhile?
C.W. Cooke: “Orange is the New Cape” is the new slogan, but the original elevator pitch was: What if Superman were on The Green Mile? It's been a comic book idea kicking around in my head since I was a kid making my knock-off Superman and X-Men and Batman and Spider-Man comics, and then from there the idea just grew and grew and changed. Originally it was a team of superheroes. Then it was one superhero. Then it was one immortal superhero. Then the idea of putting a man on death row who couldn't die was too amazing to pass up. And I've been working and forming and molding that one since.
DF: Who is your protagonist?
C.W. Cooke: His name is Tim Hill. He is a young man in prison and on death row for crimes he didn't commit (as most heroes who end up in jail are). He has super powers but doesn't know about his immortality at first. He is basically a sidekick to his dad who is also a superhero and things take a quick turn for the worse, leading to Tim's time in jail.
DF: Tell us about the story.
C.W. Cooke: Focusing on the above and more about Tim, when he's in jail and learns of his situation and his inability to die, that's when the book takes off. There will be brief flashbacks throughout the first arc, jumping back to the event that put him behind bars, but for the most part, the story focuses on Tim behind bars, being executed, dealing with his new existence and a large group of people behind bars who want him dead. The basic focus will be Tim and what his life is now and how he adjusts to his new situation.
DF: Describe the Kickstarter campaign. How did it go?
C.W. Cooke: Good. Over $6,000. It's been an amazing ride and the outpouring of fans and well wishers and just excited fans has been unbelievable. I never expected it to go as well as it has, but I love that it has.
DF: A lot of folks are using Kickstarter to begin comic careers, and a lot of pros use it for creator-owned. What do you think of this seeming trend?
C.W. Cooke: I believe a lot of it comes from necessity. I know that there are a lot of naysayers and a lot who might believe it's not appropriate, but having done it and gotten to a vast audience all over the world has been incredible. For me, the Kickstarter was from a need. I have a day job but it only goes so far, so doing the Kickstarter helps me pay the art team and keep the book running. It's an incredible thing to do and it's great. So if you're a naysayer, just know that Kickstarter can reach a LARGE audience. It's not all potato salad.
DF: So you have an art team?
C.W. Cooke: Yes, I do. Carl Yonder is the cover artist and man behind the curtain (he's been with me on this for a very long time), and Nando Souzamotta is doing the interior pages. Both are incredible and do wonderful work. Couple them with Greg and Fake Petre on colors and so many more, it's a great team.
DF: I understand you have a deal with Devil's Due to publish Solitary?
C.W. Cooke: Yes! Devil's Due is publishing it as a creator-owned series. It's my baby, it's my creation, they're helping me get it out there to an even WIDER audience and have helped me along the way with a lot of this (including getting me in touch with Greg and Fake Petre on colors). I submitted it to them, they picked it up, and we're cooking. The book is on the way to Diamond now and the Kickstarter helped make that happen.
DF: What is your long-term hope for Solitary? And for yourself in comics?
C.W. Cooke: My long-term hope for Solitary is to do this book as an ongoing series forever. I'd love to hit issue #400 and I'd love to keep going until I can't write it anymore. That's my hope. A real amazing thing would be if we get the audience to sustain the book for more than the first four issues. That would allow for me to explore the world and the story and to get the story told in full. Even if I have to cut it down from the hope of 400 issues, I'd really like to get it to about 4 full arcs. I have a lot of story to tell with Tim and the world of Solitary.
For myself in comics? I hope that the sky is the limit, I really do. I would love to write numerous creator-owned books and I'd love to work for any and all of the companies publishing through Diamond (DC and Marvel obviously, Dynamite, BOOM, Dark Horse, IDW, Bongo, Archie, and so on and so forth). I have so many stories to tell and have a great love of comics and want to share it with a large audience that only grows by the week and the year. I think I can do it, I just have to keep working and have to keep at it. No matter what happens, I'll keep moving forward.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank C.W. Cooke for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
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