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DF Interview: Mark Waid, Empire: Uprising answer the question: What do you do AFTER you’ve conquered the world?
By Byron Brewer
He started out like any other super-villain worth his salt: Golgoth wanted to rule the world. And by jove, the bugger DID it! That was Empire, a complex saga by creators Mark Waid and Barry Kitson.
Lo, over a decade later, comes the sequel, Empire: Uprising, which tells us what happens to would-be dictators AFTER the fighting is done – and they are victorious. You won’t believe it!
To learn more about this series, already having released a handful of issues, Dynamic Forces spoke with scribe Mark Waid about Golgoth, his problems and what is going on in this “science-fiction Game of Thrones”
Dynamic Forces: Mark, before we begin, tell us the story behind the creation of the Empire saga which dates back so many years.
Mark Waid: Barry Kitson and I co-created Empire over 15 years ago. It started, at least in my mind, as a slightly more darkly comic notion – about a villain who wins only after he realizes, to his horror, the implications of victory -- but once we starting ironing it out, it became very much a science-fiction Game of Thrones.
Barry and I self-published the first two issues through Image back in the day -- before Image was the juggernaut it’s become -- and then re-launched through DC for a total of six more issues. Unfortunately, even having been nominated for an Eisner Award, the series was allowed to go out of print. Barry and I finally reclaimed the rights, and it’s become a cornerstone of my own Thrillbent.com digital publishing company.
DF: How did the decision come to launch the current series, Empire: Uprising, and how did it wind up at IDW?
Mark Waid: Barry and I launched this much-anticipated sequel (seriously, he and I have been asked “When will we get more Empire?” at every convention for the past 15 years!) at Thrillbent as a digital comic last year, but there was a great deal of interest from publishers in doing a print version. Barry and I entertained several offers, but IDW felt like the best fit for us. Currently, Barry creates two versions of every issue -- one to be serialized on Thrillbent in our landscape, screen-filling format, and one to be later printed at IDW in a traditional comics format.
DF: I am intrigued with the concept of Golgoth, a seeming Doctor Doom-like villain who actually DOES conquer the world! Tell us a little about him, as a concept.
Mark Waid: He’s the closest I’ve yet come to writing a classic Shakespearean-level figure of tragedy. Ten years ago, Golgoth longed to rule the world and began building his power. Three years ago, he became aware of two indisputable facts simultaneously: one, that there was no way he could lose, and two, he no longer wanted the job as it meant he’d be forever surrounded on all sides by enemies and would never be able to enjoy his victory.
DF: ‘… The head that wears the crown,’ lol. So time has passed. What problems does Golgoth face now, in Uprising?
Mark Waid: For the first time since his victory, about two years ago, there are hints of a rebellion brewing -- and it seems to be led, or at least aided, by Lohkyn, once one of his prized advisors, now exiled from Golgoth’s Citadel. Worse, at the end of the first series, we hinted that even though Earth had been subjugated, there was an imminent threat of alien invasion -- and those wheels are turning. Golgoth’s facing peril on all sides, and while having him in power is terrifying, at least he makes the trains run on time. Taking him out of power will throw civilization into chaos.
DF: Tell us about some of your other cast members briefly.
Mark Waid: There’s Xanna, his Minister of Assassins -- and she’s inadvertently learned things about Golgoth that she’s not supposed to know, things that if Golgoth found out she knew would be the death of her. There’s Des, the Minister of Information, who is likewise holding data that, once analyzed, could undermine the Empire. There’s Valpurgis, the Minister of Religion, who will soon become the ultimate heretic. There’s Lucullan, Minister of War, who believes himself to be Golgoth’s closest advisor (which may not be true) and who works hard to make everyone believe he’s smarter than he truly is.
And then there are the aliens. The precognitive aliens. They’re coming.
DF: What has it been like, working for such an extended period with artist/co-creator Barry Kitson?
Mark Waid: As creatively fulfilling as you can imagine. Barry and I have the same priorities and the same vision when it comes to creating comics, and our partnership thrives. If not for Barry, I might quit doing comics altogether, that’s how restorative working with him can be.
DF: What other productions will we see coming from the IDW/Thrillbent partnership?
Mark Waid: Several! We’ve already been publishing Insufferable by myself and Peter Krause, the series that answers the question, “What if Batman’s partner Robin grew up to be an ungrateful ass and a loudmouth celebrity?” And we’ve just recently announced the print publication of The Eighth Seal by James V. Tynion IV and Jeremy Rock, maybe my favorite thing Thrillbent’s yet produced -- a tale that mixes horror and political intrigue in a way I’ve never seen.
DF: And besides almost every comic from every publisher, what is coming new for Mark Waid?
Mark Waid: Still forging ahead on Avengers from Marvel and having a blast. Still producing Strange Fruit from Boom! with J.G. Jones. And, of course, enjoying myself on Archie. All that, and I’ll be launching more creator-owned content on Thrillbent.com later this year -- come check us out!
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Mark Waid for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Keep watching DF News for more on Empire: Uprising!
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