Through the Mail Slot

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Hey, folks. I’ve been under the weather for much of the last six months, and trying vainly to keep up with deadlines, so there hasn’t been much time/energy left over to blog. But I’ve built up a bunch of e-mails to answer, so let me take advantage of a quiet Sunday afternoon to deal with some of them.
Starting off, from JAMES:

Since you ended up revealing that Kang may never become Immortus in AVENGERS FOREVER, do you have any personal theories about the true identity of each character might be?
Did you intend to leave things open to the possibility that Tony Stark would become Kang? There’s certainly a precedent as outlined in my theory on Kang’s origin here:
…Kang’s origin?
Or Vance Astro being Rama-Tut given both were living in the same time period of 3,000 and both retained docu-chips of the Heroic Age?
I’m not sure if you’ve written any clues since due to having lost my sight in the interim:( but would love to know your thoughts:)
To be honest, James, I didn’t think there was any mystery as to who Kang really is—even when Stan was floating the idea that Kang and Dr. Doom could be the same person, it didn’t make much sense. Kang, at least as I write him, is just what we saw when his history was first explained: A guy living in a future so well-run that there’s no adventure any more, so he creates a time machine and goes off in search of it, becoming the greatest conqueror the universe has ever known.
His motivation is dead simple: He was bored, and he wanted a challenge, wanted to forge a grand legend. So he did.
That’s all I need to know. I don’t much care who his 20th (or, now, 21st) century forebears are—particularly because over a thousand years, family trees branch out so much that he could be descended from von Doom, Richards, Stark and a dozen other figures. Or none of them. It doesn’t seem to affect, to my mind, who he is or why he does what he does, so I was always more concerned with what he’d do next more than where he came from.
As for what happened in AVENGERS FOREVER, that wasn’t meant as a revelation that there are unknown secrets to Kang’s or Immortus’s origins—merely that Kang, by sheer force of will (and with the ambient aid of the Forever Crystal, no doubt), wrenched himself away from his destiny, forging a new track. Immortus was still Kang, but via a different time-branch than this Kang is now following. They have the same pasts they always did; they just now have divergent futures.
But of course, it’s up to Marvel to say what’s so and what ain’t—this is simply how I viewed it at the time.
From RICK:

Since you were a friend of McDuffie’s and the Milestone crew, I just wanted to ask, what’s DC going to do with Static?
This character and his book already had problems before it was even published:
Diversity in the DCU
Rozum leaving has added even more problems (also, there’s some good discussions in that thread that apply to why an excellent book like XOMBI failed).
I’m not sure Robert L. Washington III is a big enough name to keep the book from sinking. I’m a fan of RLW, but can’t you push for Geoff Johns or Morrison to write it? Maybe you could suggest that to DC?
DC usually has a habit of killing characters off (especially in big events) when their solo series crash and burn. And if Static manages to escape that sort of fate, it’s still more than likely the character will never receive another book again if this one tanks this badly.
Sorry, Rick, but being a friend of Dwayne’s doesn’t give me any inside information of DC’s plans, or any influence over them. I have no idea what their plans for STATIC are, nor can I push them to put the already-hugely-busy Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison onto the book. If Geoff or Grant wanted to write it and had the time, they’d probably have been writing it right from the start, and if they don’t, me suggesting it isn’t going to make them change their minds or open up their schedule.
Were I editing the book, I’d probably have given it to Bob Washington, because he co-created the series and is a good writer with a great sensibility for that sort of story. But I’m not, and that doesn’t mean that whoever they tapped to replace John—Marc Bernardin, I believe—won’t do a good job. And Scott McDaniel’s a terrific artist who brings a ton of energy to whatever he does. I worked with him on TRINITY and loved it.
So at this point, I’d just see what comes.
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From PERRY:

Kurt, I’m desperate for some good news about the return of ASTRO CITY. I keep checking your site periodically (no pun intended), but of course you haven’t posted there since April. I know you got caught in the demise of Wildstorm, and then probably further delayed because of all the attention focused on the big relaunch this month–but please tell me that DC isn’t stupid enough to let it languish indefinitely!
What would really make my day is if you told me you and Brent have worked so far ahead during this interregnum that A.C. will publish weekly for a while when it finally does come out. But I know I shouldn’t be greedy… 😉
Am also wondering about that “American Gothic” kind of book you announced…any plans for that to see the light of day, or is it a dead letter now?
Taking it in order:
No, ASTRO CITY’s not going to languish indefinitely, and yes, Brent and I have been plugging away at it, piling up pages to make sure we can have the book run monthly when it does come back. And yes AMERICAN GOTHIC (now called THE WITCHLANDS) is still in the works. It’s just all taken a lot longer than we originally expected.
Part of it was the demise of Wildstorm and the reorganization and relaunch of DC, yes, but part of it happened even earlier, during the business reorganization that happened when Paul Levitz left the company and DC went for a long stretch without a publisher. During that time, we made big plans to relaunch ASTRO CITY as a monthly and to launch AMERICAN GOTHIC alongside it, so I’d have two monthly books standing side-by-side at Wildstorm, and that’d be the core of my writing career for the foreseeable future. But the business details of all that took forever to work out, because it was happening while DC was working out bigger and more complex business issues themselves. Just the sort of thing that happens, from time to time.
Trouble was, while I was waiting for all this stuff to work out, I still needed to stay busy, so I wound up reviving BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, which had been put on the back burner a few years earlier, and agreeing to do KIRBY: GENESIS with Alex Ross at Dynamite.
And once I was committed to those, naturally, the business deals all worked out and presto!, I suddenly had twice as much work as I could comfortably handle.
And on top of that, I got sick—a resurgence of the detox-related fatigue problems that stem from my bout with mercury poisoning, and the assorted side effects that come with it.
So I spent months trying to meet too many deadlines, and if I was fully healthy, I might have managed it, but since I wasn’t, things just went really slow.
And finally, we decided this just wasn’t working, and reorganized things a little.
We put THE WITCHLANDS on the back burner for now—it would have been nice to have it debut the same month as ASTRO CITY, but I just can’t feet four sets of deadlines at once, not right now. Used to be I could, but I was younger and healthier, and these are more challenging books.
And I’ve got enough done on CREATURE OF THE NIGHT that Jean Paul Leon can keep drawing for a while without me needing to turn in the next script.
So right now, I’m working on ASTRO CITY and KIRBY: GENESIS, and that’s going to be my main workload until K:G is finished. Once that’s done, I’ll finish off CREATURE OF THE NIGHT. And once that‘s done, we’ll get THE WITCHLANDS up and rolling again, so I’m only trying to meet two sets of deadlines at any one time.
We’re far enough ahead on ASTRO CITY at this point that we should be able to make an announcement in the not-too-distant future about when it’ll be back (but the word “weekly” won’t be in it, I can tell you that!), and the rest will come along as time and schedules permit. I hope that counts as good news—and I’ll stick in one of Alex’s gorgeous upcoming covers to sweeten the pot!
This is getting a little long, so click on the link below, for more…

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Through the Mail Slot

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A little blog mail’s stacked up, so I should deal with it, starting with this picture (and note) from Isidore…
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Hello, sir. I’m a fan of Superman and a digital artist…I just wanted you to thank you for Superman: Secret identity. The story that you wrote is certainly the best Superman story ever told.
You were so inspiring to me that i made a picture out of your writing. This one is dedicated to you, sir.
Thank you so much!
And thank you, Isidore, for the very kind words, gorgeous illustration! Anyone who wants to see it full size can check it out at Isidore’s DeviantArt page, along with the other cool art he’s got there. Nice stuff!
And now, from Peter…

I’ve been a big fan of yours since the mid-90’s, and I’m always looking forward to reviewing your stuff. (I write comic-book reviews for Spanish sites and magazines.)
I’ve liked Astro City: The Dark Age (though to be honest, I much preferred the brilliant in-between specials, and I’m really looking forward to more done-in-one stories) but there’s one thing that is driving me crazy: The redacted original proposal in the back of the last issue.
I am a big fan of BTS stuff like that, and it was a nifty extra. Still, I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now, and although I think I got most of the Marvel references, there’s some I can’t make out. Mostly in issue 4, I’ve not been able to guess what are you talking about in the first paragraph, who “the new *******” or which big story is happening alongside the climax.
Any chance you can give us a hint about it? Or about the other redacted names? (I get #1 is all about the Punisher, #2 is about the gang war in Miller’s DD and #3 is the Dark Phoenix saga, though I’m missing some of the details.)
In any case, thanks for the cool stuff, and keep it up.
Sorry, Peter, but if we were going to tell you what was behind those black markings, we wouldn’t have blacked them out in the first place. I will say that we diverged so far from the original plans by then that there really isn’t much left underneath—the first three books are very different from what they’d be if I’d done the story at Marvel, but the fourth one is even moreso.
I apologize if it kept you from sleeping. That wasn’t our intent!
Next, we’ve gone from Secret Identity to Astro City, and now, Matt’s got some comments on Power Company

Just a note to say that I finally got to read Power Company. I wasn’t sure what to think of it when I first saw it. I was afraid it would be like many books put out by the big two where they seem like they want to try something new but end up being very gimmicky.
It reminds of some of the group books I liked back when… similar to early JSA, and independents like Sentinels, Crusaders and DNAgents when I was growing up. It has what I love; character development, action and actual thought behind what makes the superheroes super in their powers as well as psyche. It involved it’s own mythos, yet interacted with the DCU. If you can take this the right way, it’s almost good to have it be a shorter run, like a tasty morsel. But I hope to see more of the characters if possible So, thanks for doing it!
Very glad you liked it, sir.
Here’s a note I’ll leave anonymous…

Hi. I have recently finished reading all the Astro City comics. I never read them all until now. I am sorry that I waited this long to do so. I love your stories, and characters. Please continue this great work. I like the storyline of Royal and Charles Williams. That’s my favorite.
I have been working on a project of my own. It is a superhero story. I don’t want to tell more because the story means a lot to me. I would like to know if someday I could pitch the idea to you. I know for a fact that you would appreciate the story. I would like to know what would be requirements to pitch the idea and who to contact. I wanted to talk to you first because of the stories you write. Any help would be appreciated.
I am looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your time.
I’m thrilled you liked Astro City so much. But alas, I’m not the right guy to pitch stories to.
I’m a writer. I don’t buy stories from other people. I sell them. So in the first place, I’m not the guy to pitch stories to because I can’t do anything with them. I have tons of my own story ideas, and those are the stories I want to write. The person who should write yours is you. And the people to pitch stories to are editors and publishers, people who can actually hire you to write the stories you want to tell, and publish them once you have. They’re who I pitch stories to, and they’re who any writer needs to pitch stories to.
In the second place, I’m not the guy to pitch stories to because, like many other writers, I avoid reading or hearing unsold stories for legal reasons. As I said, I’ve got lots of my own ideas, and I don’t want to run the risk of having someone think I swiped their idea. If I’ve had a story idea in my files for twenty years, and someone pitches me a story that’s sorta like it, what do I do? Do I scrap my story idea for fear someone will think I stole it from them? I don’t want to have to do that, so it’s safer all around to just avoid reading unsold stories.
Sorry not to be more accommodating, but I hope you have very good luck in developing your story into something you can write yourself—and sell to a publisher.
And to wrap up, from Pat…

So, Kurt, when’re you gonna give us some more Dreambound? It was such a bizarre little group that I loved it. Plus, I really want to know how Swashbuckler got the slash on his neck? And how in the heck a dead guy dreaming can be resurrected?
C’mon, Kurt…pleeeeeassssse!
P.S. Some Tomorrow Woman would be good, too.
I did work up a Dreambound mini-series, in the wake of Trinity, Pat, but it was—as you might expect—a very odd project. It was far more a fantasy series about these super-powered oddballs who were trying to find a way to make their dreams come true, and not really very superhero-y at all. As such, the artist I wanted to draw it wasn’t interested, because there wasn’t enough action, and I wasn’t that interested in doing it without him. Plus, while I think something like that might have worked at Vertigo, I suspect at DC proper it would have had disappointing sales.
I tried coming up with other ways to make it work—at one point working up a whole intertwined set of mini-series featuring the Dreambound, Tomorrow Woman, Konvikt, Vartox, Intergang, the Odd Man, Live Wire, Commander Steel and more, and at another turned it into a freakish superhero series called The Odd Men—but while it turned into a superhero project that could have been really fun, it wasn’t what I really wanted to do with the Dreambound, which was that quirky little fantasy series about making your hopes and dreams come true. Plus, it never really gelled into something that I thought would last long enough to tell the story I wanted to tell.
So I think I’ve probably let those characters go, and if anyone else at DC wants to pick them up, it’s fine with me. A bunch of the ideas I came up with, I still want to use somewhere, so I’m folding them into Astro City, in various ways—when you see the Dream House, that’ll be a big clue—and I think the only one I’ll really regret not being able to do is Primat’s packed-house pop concert at the Hollywood Bowl. But now that I think of it, maybe there’s another way I could get at the ideas in that, too…
As for Swashbuckler, all I’ll say is that he was buried near San Francisco, and he has that scar on his neck because he “died” by being beheaded. That ought to be enough to figure out who he was. Or was intended to be, at least. You never know, with comics.