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DF Interview: After hiatus, Eric Stephenson’s Nowhere Men returns in January
By Byron Brewer
There was a lot of excitement about a year or more ago, building around a new title from Image Comics, Nowhere Men. Six issues of the book rolled off the press and then, in mid-continuity, Nowhere Men was … nowhere.
That all changes come the new year when bestselling writer Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image and co-creator of They’re Not Like Us, teams with new artist Dave Taylor to continue the series into issue #7.
To get more on the story, Dynamic Forces sat down with Eric Stephenson. Here is what he told us.
Dynamic Forces: Eric, working in the comic book industry I believe I could answer this myself, but for the sake of shooting the elephant in the room, why are Nowhere Men returning almost a year later than originally planned.
Eric Stephenson: Well, a year is being really f*cking generous, honestly, because it’s been two years since the sixth issue came out and close to that long since we put the thing on ice. [Original series artist] Nate [Bellegarde]’s talked about this online a couple times, and I’ve mentioned it here and there, but the short version is, he was having some problems that kept him from doing the book. It’s a sh*tty situation, because Nate’s a great artist, a brilliant collaborator, and more than all that, a genuinely great guy, but the book wasn’t getting done and it was either let it die or get someone else in to carry on. The former option didn’t sit too well with me, so here we are.
DF: Your next answer probably will tie into the first question, but how as publisher of the very busy Image Comics brand do you even have time to write a comic yourself?
Eric Stephenson: You know, people ask this a lot, and it’s always kind of puzzling, because I do have a life outside the office. It’s not like I just come in here every day and then go home and sleep til the bell sounds for the next round. Most of my writing is done at home in the evenings or at the weekend, so unless I’m just really wiped out at the end of the day or whatever, it’s not really an issue. I have a social life and I like to listen to music and read and all that, but there’s never been a point when it didn’t all work out.
DF: When you return with issue #7, I believe, in January 2016, will it feel like the time has passed, will you treat it like a #7 or a #1? How will that go for readers old and new?
Eric Stephenson: No, issue seven picks up right where issue six left off. Issues 1-12 are more or less one story, so this is the second part of that.
DF: Even though Nowhere Men has a number of issues under its belt, for the uninitiated and/or the vaunted new reader, tell us a little about the title and what we may need to know come January please.
Eric Stephenson: Basically, Nowhere Men is about a mammoth corporation called World Corp, founded by four of the most famous scientists in the world — Dade Ellis, Simon Grimshaw, Emerson Strange, and Thomas Walker. They changed the world, but something got lost in the process — ambitions changed, paths diverged, friendships ended. As a side-effect to all that, some scientists in their employ aboard a top secret space station were infected with a mysterious virus and were quarantined. They hatched a plan to use an untested teleportation device to return to Earth, and from there, everything went horribly wrong.
DF: What does your coming arc involve?
Eric Stephenson: What happens next! Like I said, issue seven picks up where the last one left off, and without throwing too many spoilers into the mix, there’s a lot of fallout from issue six to be dealt with. A couple of new characters are introduced, we get a stronger sense of exactly what happened when the World Corp space station exploded, and for once, have almost everybody in the same place.
DF: And the protagonists are …?
Eric Stephenson: Many! The protagonists are many! One of the World Corp founders, Dade Ellis, more or less takes center stage in issue seven, and the founders are definitely a big part of the book, but we learn more about the space station survivors in this issue too.
DF: I understand Dave Taylor is the new artist on the book?
Eric Stephenson: Dave is the new artist, and as sad as I am not to be working with Nate on new issues, I’m incredibly excited to have Dave on board. I’ve been a fan of Dave’s art since the ‘90s when he did this book called Tongue Lash, and when he first reached out to me about Nowhere Men, just to say he’d like it, I was really kind of blown away. There’s not much cooler than having someone you admire say they like your work, you know? Dave was doing some work with Brandon Graham on Prophet at the time, but he mentioned that he’d love to work together at some point — also very f*cking cool — so after a couple of false starts with other artists and a couple attempts at getting back to work with Nate, the timing worked out so that Dave could actually join the Nowhere Men team. His style is different to Nate’s, obviously, but it fits the book really well. I love what he’s done so far, and I’m really excited to see how the book develops with Dave on board.
DF: Eric, any other creations coming from your writer’s keyboard in the near future?
Eric Stephenson: In addition to Nowhere Men, I also do They’re Not Like Us with Simon Gane and the other half of the Nowhere Men team, Jordie Bellaire and Fonografiks. The first trade of that came out over the summer and we’re just sending the 10th issue of that off to press now. It’s pretty different to Nowhere Men, in that it deals with a group of adolescents with special abilities like telepathy and super-strength and how they function in a word that’s more or less like our own. None of them can fly or shoot bolts of energy out of their hands or anything like that. All their powers are kind of extensions of things we can already do, or things that at least seem within the realm of possibility, but it’s their attitudes and their interaction with each other that drive the book along. It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I think it’s kind of a nice companion piece to what I’m doing on Nowhere Men.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Eric Stephenson for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Nowhere Men #7 hits stores in January 2016!
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