Posts Tagged ‘Irredeemable’
Heyo everybody! Jonny here. It’s no secret that here at High Five! we love us some BOOM! Studios. Recently I was given the opportunity to interview artist/writer Peter Krause whose work includes pencils for Irredeemable, The Power of Shazam!, and sundry 90s Star Trek comics. Published below is my Q&A session with Mr. Krause, conducted via emails and interwebs:
High Five! Comics: Thanks again for the interview. We always have fun interacting with industry people and getting human faces/personalities for the books we enjoy reading every month. When did you start reading comics?
Peter Krause: Somewhere around 9-10 years old. We had a drugstore around the corner from where I grew up in south Minneapolis, and comics were stocked on a spinner rack there. That’s what I spent my allowance money on–comics. I always bought Superman or World’s Finest. My brother bought Legion of Superheroes and Teen Titans. Later, I discovered Marvel comics. Spider-Man and Daredevil became my new favorites.
HF!C: Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do, and most of us stumble in to a job that works for us. Where on this spectrum did comic illustration fall for you? Was it something you dreamed of doing as a kid, or something you fell into?
PK: Oh yeah, I dreamed of it. In grade school, I became good friends with two other guys who also drew all the time. We’d hang out at each others’ houses after school, draw and trade comics. But drawing comics for a living remained a dream. My parents always encouraged my drawing, but somehow I didn’t ever think I’d make a living with my art. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in studio arts and also a degree in journalism. My first freelance job after school was a writing gig. It wasn’t until Lisa and I got married that I reconnected with my love of drawing comics. After several years of working with smaller companies–including a self-publishing stint–I got my first freelance assignment with DC.
HF!C: You’ve been in the business long enough to have been influenced by some of the Silver and Bronze Age artists. What can you tell us about your influences (inside, and outside of comics), and what artists have been most important to you?
PK: The most obvious influence is Curt Swan. I was a Superman fan–first and foremost. Curt drew the Superman I grew up with. When I was showing samples at conventions, Curt Swan’s name was brought up in comparison. Not that I was as good as Curt, mind you. But the influence was there. Curt was a Minnesota guy, like me, so maybe there was something in the water! Other favorites from my childhood were Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, Carmine Infantino, John Buscema. And of course, Steranko. Steranko just completely blew our minds! We’d never seen anything like his stuff before!
HF!C: Do you have an artistic philosophy?
PK: Always make your present assignment a bit better than the last. And don’t be afraid to fail–failure leads to learning.
HF!C: When I read your 90s work I notice a stark (and pleasing) contrast from the exaggerated, often abrasive imagery that was so popular at that time. Did you feel any pressure then to mimic that style?
PK: Ultimately, I think you draw the way you have to draw. Not that you can’t learn from others, but I was attracted more to the solid, Alex Raymond approach to storytelling. I remember Frank Miller saying that chasing trends is a fool’s errand. That can apply to your art as well.
HF!C: Were there any offers between “Power of Shazam” and “Irredeemable” that you turned down?
PK: I did turn down some things, but it wasn’t like comic editors were beating down my doors. I’m not sure that “Power of Shazam!” was seen as a success at DC–Jerry Ordway has commented on that in his Modern Masters book. I did get a few smaller assignments from DC–I’m sure that was Mike Carlin’s doing. But I was getting some interest from local ad agencies and production houses to do storyboards and marker comps, so I turned my attention to that line of work.
HF!C: “Irredeemable” is a year old now. How has the critical and commercial success of the work impacted you or your career?
PK: I can easily say that the last 15-16 months have been the busiest of my drawing career. I still do some storyboard work–the pay is just too good. When you put a monthly book on top of that, it makes for many hours at the drawing table. The Eisner nominations–“Best New Series” and “Best Continuing Series”–were a bit of a shock. What impact that has on my career is too early to say. But Mark Waid has been very supportive, and my editor Matt Gagnon has worked around the rest of my drawing assignments. And since I’m giving out kudos, Andrew Dalhouse’s colors have been great.
HF!C: “Irredeemable” has given you a unique opportunity to create characters from scratch. How much of yourself is in these characters?
PK: When we started working on “Irredeemable”, Mark gave me a rough outline of the characters we needed to design. I actually followed up with some more written details on each of the characters as I saw them. I’d hate to say that there are aspects of my personality in each of them–that’s what our imaginations are for. But we have striven to make the characters human with real flaws–some of which have had fatal consequences. And some of the characters I identify with more closely than others.
HF!C: Do you have a favorite character, and is it because you love or hate that character?
PK: Qubit and Kaidan are my favorites. Qubit because he’s a bit obsessive and kind of a straight-line thinker–I’m a bit too much like that myself. Qubit is the closest character we have to Reed Richards–but perhaps without the moral certitude Reed has. Reed Richards has always been one of my favorite comics characters. Kaidan appeals to me because she likes being part of a team, and also is a bit unsure of her worth. She’s at heart an optimist, and maybe a bit naive. All those things make it easy to root for her. And as you will see in one of the upcoming issues, she discovers another aspect of her powers. I think Mark has big plans for her.
HF!C: In issue #9 of “Irredeemable” we saw a good deal of role reversal. Tony seemed fragile and human, whereas The Paradigm became much darker and almost sinister. Has your perception of the characters changed as this project moved forward, or have you and Mr. Waid maintained a consistent vision?
PK: I think the Paradigm/Plutonian conflict has not been inconsistent, but it has brought out hidden aspects of the heroes’ personalities. I think the Paradigm is wrestling with the “ends and means” dilemma, and that’s pushing them to a place where they are a bit unsure. But that’s a place where we can tell a lot of cool stories.
HF!C: Before we go, is there anything you’d like to plug, promote, or otherwise talk about?
PK: I’m on a bit of hiatus, as my next issue of “Irredeemable” will be #16. The incredible Diego Barreto will be drawing issues #13-15. I’d just like to thank everyone for supporting the book. If you haven’t read it, please give “Irredeemable” a try!
Congrats to Peter Krause, Mark Waid, and the rest of the creative team/staff at BOOM! Studios for their much deserved Eisner nomination. Irredeemable #13 is in stores now (sadly lacking Krause’s art, yet pleasantly featuring fine pencils by Diego Barreto). Many thanks to Peter Krause for taking time out of his schedule to mingle with us internet nerds.
What can I say about Mark Waid that I haven’t already said? When he took a job as editor in chief at BOOM! Studios I assumed Mark was settling down after a long career in comics with a fun job that would eventually end in retirement. I knew he was writing stuff like The Incredibles, but I felt little reason to care. Oblivious to the “Mark Waid is Evil” ad campaign I picked up Irredeemable #1 purely on spec. “Sure,” I thought, “I like Mark Waid.” The ensuing 9 issues were some of 2009’s best reading, a feat that managed to catapult this late comer into the High Five! Comics’ top 5 of the 2000s list.
By the first page of Irredeemable we are immersed in to the world of The Plutonian. Once humanity’s great saviour now the scourge of the earth we are introduced to “Tony” as we witness the terrifying and merciless butchering of a former team mate along with his family. Devastating entire cities, murdering those closest to him, and generally acting like a premium grade douche bag, the once hero now villain parades in a bath of blood not seen since the days of Miracle Man #15. Oh, but there’s more. Not content simply to horrify his readers, Mark Waid crams romance, family, relationships, humanity, and every form of interpersonal drama imaginable into this masterpiece. Arguably, the true brilliance of Irredeemable has been that every panel of every page matters. Clothing, expressions, gestures. Don’t blink, you’ll miss something cool.
True, I can’t give Waid credit for the most innovative concept ever. But, what nobody can deny is that this is one of the decade’s most well plotted, and well paced stories, period. Waid is a master of structure and Irredeemable gives his strengths every opportunity to shine. Think of everything you love about your favorite TV drama. This does that and it does it as well or better. Waid has constructed what may be the most concise and high powered superhero comic of the last decade and for nine months I finished each issue exclaiming, “Dammit why don’t I have the next issue in my hand right f***ing now?!?!” Here at High Five! we anxiously anticipate what BOOM! has in store for the Plutonian and his former friends as their humanity reveals not just who they are, but a little bit of who we are as well.
Even as a good guy, Max Damage is a dick – and that’s what makes Incorruptible awesome. The long-awaited (at least by us ) follow up to Mark Waid’s Irredeemable – which features the Plutonian, a Superman-esque hero, going very, very bad – Incorruptible is the story of a villain going straight. Mild spoilers ahead, folks.
But Max Damage barely knows where to start. He kidnaps a cop so he can get his very own Jim Gordon, he stops sleeping with his underage sidekick, he turns his henchmen over to the police, he torches 4.2 million dollars. Instead of, you know, donating it to a children’s hospital or something – Max may have decided to switch sides, but his motives for the change thus far seem damned self serving, which to anyone who’s been reading comics for more than 10 seconds is a sure sign that someone’s a villain at heart.
So far, it seems that all Max understands of being heroic is simply to do the opposite of villainy; the classic motivations for heroism elude him. Indeed, his choice to switch sides seems rooted in his animosity for the Plutonian. Whatever side the Plutonian is on, Max is on the other. Still, Max is acutely aware of the fact that he may be the only person on the planet with a chance of stopping or at least staving off the Plutonian’s rampage.
Incorruptible isn’t a redemption story, at least not yet. Max wanted a world he could be a bastard in, but with the Plutonian rampaging, there might not be a world at all before long (see: Singapore). But Incorruptible doesn’t simply re-hash Lex Luthor’s “If Not For You, I’d Be Beloved!” sentiment, or drop us onto Earth-3. Max may have decided that it’s time to take a stand against the Plutonian, he may have decided that in order to do so he’s got to renounce petty villainy, but at heart, Max isn’t selfless enough to pull off the full hero act.
Than again, neither was the Plutonian. Maybe our heroes need to be a little selfish. You know, so they don’t snap and kill us all.
Incorruptible, like Irredeemable, and Empire before them, is Mark Waid at his best, dissecting the nuances of superhero/supervillain psychology with an understanding of the genre that eclipses many other writers. Incorruptible is a great ride, whether you’ve read Irredeemable or not. Check out the preview below and pick up the book this Wednesday.
Here at High Five! Comics, we’re known supporters, readers, and sometime stalkers of Mark Waid and the crew at BOOM! Studios. We appreciate anyone with an “!” in their name, Waid is a great talent, and frankly, almost every title these guys are putting out right now is great.
BOOM! is debuting two new titles this week: The Anchor and Uncle Scrooge. Maggie already talked about Uncle Scrooge so I’ll simply remind you that it’s way fun and worth checking out if you have kids or if you loved Duck Tales as a kid.
I’ll be honest, I’ve been kinda excited about The Anchor since I read its preview in Irredeemable #5. To be fair I typically go out for quasi-Christian mythology based fiction so, the idea of God’s ogre sitting at the gates of hell fighting demons sounded interesting to me. The Anchor is conceptually straight forward: good monster beating the crap out of bad monsters. Phil Hester gives a few nods to an old-style comic writing in the dialogue and the narrative manages to be fun without getting too campy. Brian Churilla’s art is stylized and interesting, and it’s bloody as hell. It’s too soon to declare this a must read, but it has the potential to be a pretty rad epic with Biblical themes and monsters smashing bigger monsters.
Also out this week is the next issue of 28 Days Later which Rob has been following with consistent interest.
Last week, BOOM! gave us Irredeemable #7 which was f**king awesome and the first trade of Muppet Robin Hood was released. BOOM! is solid with its licensed material and this is no exception. I love the Muppets and Tim Beedle does a super job of taking everything that ruled about the Kermit Universe and plays it like a maestro with beautiful accompaniment by Armand Villavert Jr’s art. The best part about licensed stuff is you can totally hear the characters’ voices in your head when you read it. Oh, and it’s actually good. I was expecting a phoned in easy dollar (I’m sure Muppets sell themselves at this point) but what we see is a quality bit of work that got me wanting to bust out and rewatch my copy of “The Muppet Movie”.
All in all, we have a solid week coming up from BOOM! as they continue writing fun and interesting titles. Oh, and just for funsies, go ahead and check out the first five pages of Uncle Scrooge right here, right now!
“… another testament to Waid’s skill as a writer; nothing is wasted.”
-Greg Rucka, February 2009
I love comics. I find the stories, characters, legends, mythology, drama, and the inexhaustible “OH S**T!!!” moments to be thoroughly compelling and most importantly: entertaining. That I feel this way is hardly surprising; I am writing for this blog. Also obvious are the talents of our beloved authors who create these fine works of literature. Any connoisseur has their favorite author. Bendis, Moore, Morrison, Ennis- all of these come to mind. Some of us love a solid story about capes (Bendis or Johns), some of us love to see the boundaries of the medium stretched (Moore), and some of us just love to have our minds blown by convoluted stories of higher reality (Morrison- and before you give me crap for saying he’s convoluted: yes he is, I love his work, but he did write Seaguy).
While I’m sure most of you are thinking of someone I should have put on that list, I doubt many of you are surprised at my choices. But, let’s be honest folks: these guys are more than slightly one dimensional. Before you rush to post angry comments, stop and think about it. I’m not talking about the characters they write for, or the scope of the events they depict so passionately. What I mean is this: when you read Moore you know that paranoia, dystopia, and god-hood are probably involved. Reading Morrison? I guarantee that you’ll read about a higher reality, that it will make a lot of sense until the last third of the story when you’ll have to re-read 15 pages to figure out what the hell happened. Johns or Bendis? Classic capes all the way. Are the stories good? No question. But, I’m sure you know the basic premise, scope, and range of the issues you’ll be reading before you open the book.
Again, wait before the angry comments asking, “What about….” I’m not interested in exceptions and I’m most definitely not questioning the talent of these authors. My point stands: artists of any medium are usually good at one thing and they stick to it. But that isn’t why I’m writing this post. What I really want to talk about is an author capable of working in more than one style. I want to talk about Mark Waid. My intense respect for this man may be less than mainstream, but let’s take a minute to look at the remarkable range of technique Waid uses with confidence and ease.
First let us tackle the obvious: Kingdom Come. Any modern comic library without this work is incomplete. No question about this. If you like superhero comics and you don’t own a copy of Kingdom Come then I question why you’re reading a comics blog. If you ever questioned why DC places so much importance on Superman you’ll find your answer here. Plus a whole hell of a lot more. Many characters are beautifully re-imagined, the intense story is delivered with surgical precision, and you’ll come to realize that Mark Waid understands superheros better than you ever will.
Keeping with precision story craft and impeccable understanding of character we see another great Superman tale: Superman Birthright. Birthright was important as more than just a modern imagining of the Man of Steel. Here we see not only a graceful depiction of the Godfather of superheroes (I mean Superman folks) but also a powerful consideration of Lex Luthor. I think this is the only TPB my wife and I both read in one sitting on the same night. I read Birthright, then made her read it after me, and it dominated our conversation the rest of the evening.
While many love Waid for his vision of the future- many take issue with his bold usage of Silver Age style. Not characters. No, I mean style. In works like JLA: Year One and Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold Waid actually makes us feel like we’re reading something written in the 1960s, and more importantly we LIKE that he’s doing that. In these works you get more than dystopia or horror. You get something lacking in most modern comics: fun. How many authors would dare to have Martian Manhunter explode his head in an attempt to elicit laughter from a fledgling JLA? And how many would do that two years after writing something like Kingdom Come? I guarantee that many of you read Brave and the Bold and thought: lame. And if you feel that way I guarantee that you’re under 35. I’d further argue that if you’re over 35 you take my side on this one. Mark isn’t just campy or juvenile. He’s taking the same deep understanding he has for Gold and Silver Age characters and he’s applying it to Gold and Silver Age storytelling. Love it or hate it you have to admit that takes skill.
Next we consider something outside of the classic cape stories. A work Gregory Rucka has described as “…inspired, remarkable for it’s depth and ambition” we look at Potter’s Field. This is a classic whodunnit. Released on the Boom! imprint you’d never guess this was written by a man with unparalleled understanding of characters from DC and Marvel. Potter’s Field is remarkable not only for it’s intrigue and mystery but also for it’s gritty and fallible characters. There is no humor, there is no justice. Only mystery, compulsion, and atonement. If you didn’t read the spine you’d never peg this as Waid. (incidentally this book was given to us by the author in exchange for a Green Lantern ring which makes it even more awesome.)
While my favorite Waid stories are his creator owned works like Potter’s Field and Irredeemable– arguably his most epic, ambitious, subtle, and nuanced work to date- it is his crystalline understanding of characters and genre coupled with masterful pacing of story that makes this man a winner. Whether you enjoy Waid as much as I do is irrelevant. What is undeniable is his rare ability to write so well without using the same hat trick over and over. Somehow the dichotomy of being great at one thing vs mediocre at many things doesn’t seem to apply to Waid. I, for one, love him for that. Plus he writes a deliciously cantankerous Twitter feed. My colleagues like to recommend a drink at the close of a post. Waid, you get a strong ale held aloft with sincerest respect. Feel the Power of Rock & Roll.
I finished issue # 6 of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable this week. This is not a review of that issue. This a review of the entire series so far. You need to start reading this book right now.
Waid opens this series with pure terror. We’ve got a basic Superman-esque character – strength, flight, invincibility, laser eyes, super hearing, etc – named the Plutonian and he’s gone totally fucking crazy. Not crazy like Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys. No, Plutonian’s killing everyone he ever cared about and their families (including babies, gasp!). And by everyone I don’t mean his aunties and cousins, I mean all the super-powered good guys and bad guys alike. He’s pretty much unstoppable. I was terrified.
The Plutonian’s senseless, endless massacre continued through several issues, blinding me with shock and awe. But by issue #4 the effect began wearing off and I started to wonder when some actual character development might occur. I found myself thinking, “Yeah, I get it. Homeboy’s powerful and fucking evil. C’mon Waid, when do we get to know what’s up?” As I mused this question Comic Con 2009 rolled around and I managed to meet Mark Waid. [As an aside this brilliant author is ridiculously underrated and I was able to harass him with fandom and nerdery at length. Awesome for me, but seriously people – this guy wrote Kingdom Come, show some love!] So here I am at Comic Con standing in front of the Boom! booth talking to Mark Waid and I ask how many issues Irredeemable will be. To my surprise I was told this is an ongoing series meant to establish a full universe. Hmm. Seriously Waid? You’re staking the Boom!U on this?
Then issue #5 arrives. Conveniently it’s only 99c. (brilliant marketing, Boom!) Aside from a brief introduction where “Tony” the Plutonian talks about super evil shit we don’t see much of our bad guy. This issue is almost entirely devoted to Plutonian’s former team-mates, which is great, because so far they’ve been important, but mysterious. By the end of the issue I was interested in more than the gore and horror of #1-4.
Enter issue #6. Now we’re really getting in to some deep shit for all characters involved. These people had been there from the beginning, but this was the first time I was forced to really think about them. Feeling out of the loop, I decided to re-read #1-5 to remember what they’d been doing so far. Lo and behold! You brilliant mad-man, Mark fucking Waid! All of this time I had been so distracted by the flashy, shocking rage of the Plutonian that I’d missed just how much had been going on. Given what you learn in issues #5 and #6 you realize just how nuanced and interesting Tony’s former team-mates were from the beginning of the series. Bread crumbs of character development had been carefully laid out in the trail that’s lead us to this point in the story. I cannot wait to see every issue of Irredeemable and all of the spin-off series we’re bound to have for the rest of these characters.
Basically, Mark Waid is proving once again that he’s absolutely brilliant and deserving of the accolades typically reserved (and deservedly so) for minds like Morrison, Rucka, Ennis, and Bendis. Maybe people dislike Waid because he comes off formulaic. But what gets neglected is that this is a guy who takes a formula that by all rights should be the most tired thing in all of comics and somehow makes it fresh and exciting to read. Reading Waid is like rediscovering comics again. Irredeemable is no exception and shows Waid at his finest. Seriously people, the first trade is only $9.99. Go read this comic.