|"The All-New Atom" #21 and "The End League" #2 on sale now|
Remender cracks into the mainstream this week by taking over the writing duties on DC Comics' "All-New Atom" with issue #21. CBR News sat down with Remender to examine his start in comics while working on "The Iron Giant" to where he is today with new titles "The End League," (issue #2 on sale now) and joining Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin on "Punisher: War Journal."
You started out in animation with "Anastasia," as well as working on "The Iron Giant," and "Titan A.E." What did you learn while working in animation and how did it leed you to a career in comics?
Working in animation taught me I don't like going to work and sitting in a cubicle. It also taught me a ton about production and the importance of deadlines. It gave me the basic foundation to begin self-publishing comics. It also made it clear to me I needed to have a pure creative outlet where I could develop my own ideas and not someone else's.
|Pat Ollife artwork from "The All-New Atom" #21|
Ha--we came up with ol' Captain Dingleberry during our lunch sketchbook sessions. My buddies Harper Jaten and Rory Hensley and I would be so bound up from doing assistant animation work we would spend our lunch breaks sketching up the most ridiculous stuff we could think of.
We had Sir Richard Pumpaloaf inspired by a Zappa song; he imprisoned folks and transformed them into bread before molesting them. We had Sac Warrior of Choad, also very horrible; he had balls made of iron and a scrotum made of silly putty and he swung his manhood around like Thor's hammer. It was a lot of fun and we had fulltime jobs so it didn't need to be anything real or make any money. We self published the first full issues and sold like 5,000 copies out of the gate which opened my eyes to the real potential of doing comics for a living. I quit my job a few months later and produced another seven issues of "Captain Dingleberry." It was a great way to teach myself how to make comics.
|"The All-New Atom" #22 on sale in April|
Kieron is a great friend and collaborator. We work so well together, it's always a lot of fun. He's also one of my best friends so we've supported each other through some crazy times along the way. I wouldn't be where I'm at without his support and friendship.
What's new and fresh paths will you be taking the Atom on in "The All-New Atom?" What appealed to you about the title and how did you get the job?
[Artist] Pat Olliffe and I are spinning it in a very fast paced, classic sci-fi direction, sort of how the original Gardner Fox stuff was set up with a bit of "Fear Agent" thrown in. Classic fun esthetics merged with modern storytelling. I love the character; there are just endless possibilities for him if you put your mind to it. Anyone who read this arc and isn't a fan of he character is cold inside and full of poison blood.
I got the job in a poker game with editor Michael Siglain. Siglain was hopped up on goofballs and kept going "all in." Eventually, I told him if he wanted to up the stakes he'd need to put an ongoing book for me in the mix. He did and I was holding two of a kind, which beat the royal sampler he was holding.
|Pat Ollffe artwork from "The All-New Atom" #22|
It is a dream job. Matt and I are both fans of watching snuff films on the internet together late at night when our wives sleep in our cold, cold beds. We like the ones where horses kill men the best. So it was only a matter of time before we made comical books together. I was concerned that Howard wouldn't fit into our particular interest group but Matt put us all on the phone where my fears were alleviated. Bless his heart, Chaykin is a freak as well. I've always been a huge fan of his art and I knew I loved him as a man when he let Matt and I listen to him watching "2 girls 1 cup." Long live Howard Chaykin.
"The All-New Atom" and "Punisher War Journal," are not your first forays into mainstream superhero comics. You inked Kieron Dwyer on "The Avengers," and in previous writings you've expressed irks about people laughing off your pitches because you were an inker. What did you learn from this experience and how did it lead to your becoming a working writer?
|Ryan Choi sketches by Pat Oliffe|
Having been seen by a lot of folks as an inker when I worked with KD on "Avengers" was a bad thing. Sure, I'd written three creator-owned graphic novels at that point, but they were black and white indie books that only a few thousand people saw so that didn't help much. It became incredibly frustrating. It took me doing another pile of graphic novels before I broke through that perception barrier.
In your column Against the Grain, you wrote that after your wedding you had a bunch of pitches green lit. Getting married and having that giant vote of confidence must have given you a feeling that you were meant to be in this business. What was that year like for you?
|"Punisher War Journal" #19, Remender's first issue, on sale in May|
How did "The Last Christmas" come about and how much fun was it to work on? Reading that book, one can tell you, Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan and Hilary Barta had to have a boatload of fun on that book. It just came through on the pages.
I love all three of those goofballs. We had a ton of fun doing the book; it was all fun to draw and having Hilary Barta ink me is a treat. We did two series together and each issue just got better and better. Brian and Gerry are old friends so we all worked together super comfortably. We're talking about doing a new book but I'll have to figure out how to find time to draw it. I guess I do miss pencilling and inking pages.
|"Fear Agent" #20 on sale March 26|
I like the Last Days. The feeling of desperation brought on by finality. It's almost over and you have one more chance to end your life in a way you can feel good about-- Pow, immediate stakes and tension. Plus, it's aesthetically the most fun. Bombed out shells of cities, mutants and monster, nothing simple. I like bleak futures and can't stop writing about them.
What can your fans look forward to with the further adventures of Heath Huston?
June is going to be "Fear Agent" month at Dark Horse and we'll opening a new storyline, but between now and then we've got a metric ton of amazing stuff still happening in the "Hatchet Job" arc. The secret of Mara's involvement in the Dressite attack on Earth is revealed as she basically damns all the current Fear Agents in order to secure her revenge on the space pirates who killed her family. Heath and Charlotte are dealing with the expiration of her new husband and the revelation in "Fear Agent" #19 that Charlotte kept Heath in the dark about his daughter's existence. It's a big slopping pile of high adventure and heavy drama in deep space.
|Jerome Openapages from "Fear Agent" #20 (published art will be in color)|
What do you remember about creating Heath Houston? Why do you think "Fear Agent" is so popular?
The first spark for "Fear Agent" came from looking at a sci-fi cover Tony Moore had done for Rob Zombie. I was working at the same time with mark Rickettes and Hilary Barta on a sci-fi book and had my head in the Wally Wood/Frank Frazetta mode as well and when I saw Tony's [work], it made me crazy how much I loved it and how much better he was at drawing it then I was. We got on the phone and I threw out "alien exterminator" and off we went. The name "Fear Agent" came from two CDs next to my computer, "Fear" and "Agent Orange."
|"The End League" #3 and #4|
"The End League" has your fansenthralled yet only two issue has been released. What is the schedule for this book?
It'll be bi-monthly for the first four issues as we get ramped up. The first part of a book is always tough. You're tearing ideas out of thin air and trying to develop them into a world that folks want to learned more about. We figured we'd give [series artist] Mat [Broome] all the time he needed to pour as much love as he wanted into the pages. We'll be going monthly as of issue #5, more news on that soon.
You're been playing with this comic in a somewhat "Watchmen"-like context, but with clearer superhero archetypes in this superhero apocalypse setting. How long have you been developing this idea?
|"The End League" artwork by Mat Broome|
Where did you grow up? You've lived in San Francisco and Portland. What comics did you read growing up and how did they influence you as a writer and an artist?
I grew up in Phoenix prior to the urban sprawl explosion. It was a nice place to live back in the '70s and '80s. It's since become a behemoth of TGI Fridays and Wal-Marts. It breaks my heart as I have a lot of love for what that city used to be.
As a kid I loved superhero comics, skating and going to shows. I gravitated towards the skateboard art scene of the '80s and that got me into drawing. I still remember the first Pushead drawing I copied out of Thrasher magazine. Eventually, Thrasher opened my eyes to [artist] Robert Williams, who lead me to a new world of art as I discovered underground comics and eventually the Juxtapose scene. A Robert Williams article in Thrasher is the reason I became an artist. Everything I drew for years was aimed at trying to be like Robert Williams.
Any chance you'll return to writing and drawing a book?
Yes. In the next couple of years, for sure.
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