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Because NO ONE asked for it – I interview myself about my upcoming comics projects!

JAMES: Wow, James, thanks for sitting down to talk about all the awesome stuff you have coming up!  I’m a huge fan!

JAMES:  Please don’t gush.  You’re making us look desperate.

cover art for GENERATION HOPE #13 by Ibraim Roberson

JAMES: Fair enough!  First off, you were just announced as the new writer of GENERATION HOPE, Marvel Comics’ new young X-Men characters.  What can we expect from your issues?

JAMES: UNBRIDLED ENTHUSIASM.  Also, the teaser obviously lets you know that I’m bringing Sebastian Shaw (longtime X-villain, immortalized by Kevin Bacon in this summer’s X-Men First Class movie) into the mix.  But he is NOT the only X-character matriculating into Gen Hope…

But the number one thing I want people to know is that we are working hard to make this book easy to jump on to if you haven’t been reading it (or any X-men stuff).  I sincerely believe in making comics accessible to new readers in every issue.  But there will also be several big pay-offs to stories that have been building since  Kieron Gillen (the O.G. Gen Hope scribe) started the book.

I know that sounds like a tricky balance, but it really isn’t.  New and old audiences will both enjoy a scene that has previously established information – as long as characters are having an emotional response to the idea/event/etc. – and, most importantly, one that forwards the story and develops the character.

JAMES: So you’re saying there will be more focus on character, and less on tights and punching?

JAMES:  Yes and no.  Punching is still an emotional reaction.  But so is kissing, crying, betrayal, quitting, manipulating, and even… sacrificing your life.   The first story has a lot of action, but is ultimately setting up a lot of the emotional turns that will change everything for the team around issues #16 & #17.  Also, the book is gonna get a lot more hormonal.  The way any teenage story should be.

JAMES: Yikes! Changing topics – you’ve been shamelessly promoting (read: begging for support) your first creator-owned comic’s Kickstarter campaign.  What made you decide to do an “Apocalyptic Buddy Comedy” about the Rapture??

The Life & End Times of Bram & Ben art by Remus Brezeanu

JAMES:  Well, rather than get into my whole relationship with theology and religion – I’ll say there was a period a few years ago where I became fascinated with feature films made by televangelists.  Most of these were about “The End Times” (The Rapture, the Antichrist, etc.) – and starred B-or C-list names like Corbin Bernsen, Casper Van Dien, Jeff Fahey, and even Mr. T.

My biggest problem with these (okay, one of my biggest problems) was that – though the idea of the Rapture is that ‘good people’ are taken to Heaven and the rest of us jerks must live out a ‘tribulation’ to test our ultimate fate – almost all the characters are essentially still good Christian people.  That is NOT an interesting story!

Look, we’re never going to get difinitive proof that any religion is ‘true.’  But isn’t the much more compelling (and hilarious) Rapture story one about people who absolutely don’t believe in a religion getting hit with the reality that they blew it?  Seriously – WTF would you do?!?  

JAMES: So this isn’t a “pro-Rapture”, cautionary comic?  Like those weird, scary CHICK Tracts?

JAMES:  No.  But it’s not necessarily an “anti-Rapture” comic either.  In my mind, it’s no different from saying “what if you woke up and found out GHOSTS were real – and how are you going to deal with them?”   There are people who seriously believe in ghosts, and those who don’t.   I’m just interested in creating a fictional world where the “is there/isn’t there?” question answers itself in a HUGE fashion – and then tell a story that explores the reactions of people who totally bet on the wrong outcome.  

JAMES: So why a self-produced comic?

JAMES: Honestly?  Because I don’t think any other medium would let me tell this story.  The simple fact that there are jokes happening near people’s religious beliefs means that 95% of storytelling avenues would be terrified of helping me get this out into the world.  And to be honest, I have no idea how much of an audience there may be for this book.  But I know that I’d be excited to read it, and so would (a fairly diverse spread of) plenty of people I know personally.

more interior art by Remus Brezeanu

The truth is,my friend and collaborator on this (Jim Festante) and I may very well lose a lot of our own money on this. But I believe in what we have planned so strongly that I’m willing to risk it.  But I do hope that those who would like to read a book like this show support early with the Kickstarter campaign.  It’s going to make a huge difference as to our ability to get the book out quickly and at the level of quality we think it deserves.

JAMES: Well, I’m sure people reading this are at least willing to trade a $2 donation for a digital copy of the first issue!

JAMES:  I’d hope so.

JAMES: Anything else coming up we should know about?

JAMES:  Yes!  Actually, before either of those projects coming out – the issue I wrote for ASTONISHING X-MEN #43 will come out in October!   I am beside myself to have the opportunity on a book that was previously helmed by Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis!

I do have a bit of bittersweet news to break about the issue, though – the awesome Nick Bradshaw was ultimately unable to draw the book (at the last minute)!  He had the misfortune of getting hired onto the new Wolverine & The X-Men comic written by superstar Jason Aaron.  I’m sure he feels demoted.   Instead, the book is graced by the phenomenal DAVID YARDIN – who has mostly been churning out crazy dynamic COVERS for the last few years.  So it’s a great treat to have him doing some beautiful interiors again!  Additionally, pages which take place… elsewhere will be illustrated by the seemingly un-link-able GABRIEL HERNANDEZ!

The story itself gives a big bright spotlight on two of my favorite X-ladies, Emma Frost and Danger.  This story was deliberately designed to harken back to Joss Whedon’s initial stories with Danger.  I promise you, the story will make perfect sense (and be a blast) even if you haven’t read those issues.  But if you have, we’re both tying up some unresolved parts of his run and developing her character further.  I’m VERY EXCITED about this one.

Also I’ve got a soon-to-be-revealed project with the fantastic FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA(!!!) which will be a VERY big change up for my work at Marvel – but I couldn’t be more honored and excited to be on it 🙂   More on that in just a few weeks!

JAMES: This is probably way too long.

JAMES:  Yeah.  I doubt anyone’s still reading.

 

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SAN DIEGO COMIC CONIt’s that time of year again!  The biggest comics (and movies, and games, and toys, and television, and merch, and art…) convention in the US, San Diego Comic Con. (If you don’t want my thoughts on the matter, you can skip down to the ‘Business Time’ bit.)  But, I think I now preferr to call it NERDI GRAS as someone brilliantly titled one sub-event.

I used to live in New Orleans, I can’t tell you how accurate that parallel is.  A million out-of-towners descend on a small city and wreak havoc, run up huge bar tabs, dress up in all kinds of crazy costumes, while strangers try to give everyone a bunch of trinkets, ephemera, and promotional items that 90% of people will throw out within a month.  IT’S GREAT!

I’m tempted to say the only major difference is there is less debauchery and nudity at Comic Con, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m just not going to the right events and after-parties.

In the words of Flight of the Conchords, ‘It’s Business Time’

If you’re looking for me at Comic Con, I only guarantee one appearance – I’ll be SIGNING AT MARVEL’S BOOTH on THURS 7/21 from 6-7pm & SAT 7/23 from 5-6PM.   Please come by and say hello and get something signed!  Other than that, I’ll be seeing panels for my own entertainment & edification, shopping, and stalking Alan Davis & Mike Allred.

I’ll also be glad-handing a few editors to try and find a home for the new project I teased in the last post.  The book’s working title is THE LIFE & END TIMES of BRAHM & BEN, a collaboration with friend & writer JIM FESTANTE and fantastic (German!) artist named REMUS BREZEANU.  Among other developments, I’ve reformatted the first few pages into something I’m really tickled with:

I have loved those fire, brimstone, and damnation mini comics that conservative evangelicals hand out.*  (CHICK Tracts, if you’re not familiar.)  I have wanted to re-purpose their aesthetic for a long time, and this is the perfect project to do it.  Now, this project was/is designed as a standard comic.  But 85% of our first 7 pages fit pretty perfectly into this format, so I thought it’s worth trying to catch attention.   If nothing else, I know my editor Jordan White will get a kick out it.  He’s had his own fascination w/ them.

But if you’re going – let me know!  TWITTER ME any fun stuff or good meet-up opportunities.  And I hope you all have a safe, fun, and sexxxy NERDI GRAS.

*  *  *  *  *

*To clarify, this is not intended as a mockery of Christianity.  Just of these absolutely terrifying comics that people hand to young, unsuspecting children at parades.  (As was my introduction at around 7 years old.) To be fair, I was raised Catholic (which they equate with Masonry and devil worship).

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