Invincible, Spawn, Rick Grimes from "The Walking Dead," President Barack Obama and Harry Potter - if this seems like an unrealistic line-up for a new Image Comics miniseries, that's because it is. Throughout the past week, Robert Kirkman and Image Comics released a series of teasers for "Guardians of the Globe," much in the same vein as Marvel's plentiful "Avengers" reveals, though there was clearly something a little, well, off about the "Guardians" roster. But today, the company revealed that this week's round of teasers was just a tongue-in-cheek precursor for the real thing, as the actual "Guardians of the Globe" team will be announced next week.
In an exclusive first interview with CBR News, Kirkman discussed his plans for "Guardians," a six issue miniseries co-written by himself and Benito Cereno and illustrated by Ransom Getty. He also spoke at length about riffing on the "Avengers" teasers, his current stance on Marvel and DC Comics, and why he thinks now is the right time for everybody in the comics industry to come together and have some fun.
CBR News: Robert, when readers saw the first "Guardians of the Globe" teaser featuring Invincible, most people assumed this book was really happening. However, after bringing Spawn, Rick Grimes, Barack Obama and Harry Potter into the mix, things got a bit questionable, to say the least. But there is a real "Guardians of the Globe" book coming out, isn't there?
Robert Kirkman: There is definitely a real book coming. It's going to debut in August and it's going to be a spinoff of "Invincible." Basically, Invincible is going out into outer space for "The Viltrumite War," which is a solid eight issues running from #71 - #78 where we won't see any of the cast of the "Invincible" universe. I don't want to cut away from the battle, because there is a lot of stuff going on - there's going to be a cool, self-contained arc in "Invincible" that will have a lot going on, and there are a lot of different civilizations and places to go to. The usual subplots of "Invincible" will be intact, but we'll be cutting to the leader of the Coalition of Planets on Talescria and what Allen is doing and the different battles that are going on in different places. I didn't feel like it was necessary to cut back to Earth to see what was going on.
To fill that gap, we're going to do a "Guardians of the Globe" introductory miniseries that will run for six issues beginning in August. It'll basically be everybody that's left behind on Earth for the most part. I haven't done a ton of team books in my career - I did "Ultimate X-Men" for a time, but there were times where I was held back and wasn't allowed to do what I wanted to do on that book, so this will be my first real [creator-owned] superhero team book and I'm pretty excited about it.
It's going to be a real series, and we'll find out the real cast next week. There will be a lot of characters that people will recognize from "Invincible" and then a lot of new characters, too. We'll be bringing in new superheroes that are more international - characters from Australia, South Africa, Japan, Mexico and more. We're going to try and make the team live up to its "Guardians of the Globe" name.
"Guardians" is set as a six issue miniseries right now, but is this something you'd consider expanding into an ongoing title?
For now, it's just to coincide with "The Viltrumite War." We're going to do this series to show you what these characters are up to during that time period, but I would very much like to continue this. I could see it continuing as a series of miniseries where we could do one wherever we need to, or it could spin off into a regular series. We're keeping that open.
Can you talk a bit about the team you've assembled to work on the series, with Benito Cereno as co-writer and Ransom Getty as the book's artist?
Benito Cereno has been writing the "Invincible Presents" books with Atom Eve and Rex Splode. The reason we're co-writing this is to have him help me stay on track and keep all of the characters straight, because he's something of an encyclopedia of "Invincible" knowledge. The book has been running for 70 issues now, and I remember everything, but every now and then there's a name of a character that I've forgotten, so it's good to have him there helping me out. He's an excellent writer and really knows the "Invincible" universe, so I think he's going to bring a lot to this book. It's also fun, because we're both doing plots and both working on some pages, but there are other times when I'll write an entire sequence myself and he'll write an entire sequence himself. It's a fun process, writing a comic book and having it be less work than usual.
The artist is a guy named Ransom Getty. He's worked for Marvel recently and he's done an Invincible pin-up and some Invincible drawings on his blog. I think he's a really talented guy with a cool style that people will like. He brings a new flavor to the "Invincible" universe, so I'm pretty excited to see what he does with the series.
As this takes place during "The Viltrumite War," is it safe to say that Mark Grayson won't be a part of "Guardians of the Globe?"
He'll be in the first issue just to set things up and show readers where everything falls in the timeline. Maybe he'll pop back in when he comes back from the war at the end. He'll be around, but for the most part, he'll be out in space for this.
The Guardians of the Globe are obviously the big superhero team in the "Invincible" universe. When you created the concept, was it on your agenda to eventually write a title focused specifically on the team?
Over the years, there have been a lot of cool characters that have been members of the Guardians of the Globe in the "Invincible" series, and I do kind of regret that I haven't had a lot of time to focus more on them in the series itself. I figured I would be able to spotlight them a little bit more. There are characters like Bulletproof who haven't really been developed at all in "Invincible," but we'll get to see more of them in this miniseries. Brit is going to be a big part of this series. He's had his own series that's run for a while and he's been featured in "Invincible" pretty heavily recently, so it'll be cool to see him in action some more.
Is this also an opportunity for you to go back into your own material with characters we haven't seen in a while like Tech Jacket, or even guys from "The Astounding Wolf-Man" who we might not be seeing after that title ends - is this a place where they can live on?
A little bit, but there won't be too much of that. There will be "Wolf-Man" characters that will appear. Tech Jacket will appear - possibly later, since he'll actually be in the "Invincible" issues fighting in "The Viltrumite War." Those characters are getting used, but not in an annoyingly big way. Just in ways that make sense.
The five or so characters we're going to see in next week's teasers are the real line up for "Guardians of the Globe." Clearly, you've taken a cue from the "Avengers" reveals that Marvel has been doing, and they've said that the teased characters aren't the only members of each team. Is that the same case here - is next week's round of teasers just a sampling of the full roster?
Yeah, there will be a lot more characters appearing in the series over the course of it, so it's just the same.
Look, these teasers - this week has been all about just trying to have fun, doing some cool stuff, getting a little bit of notice and getting the name of the book out there. Sure, I'm poking fun at Marvel a bit, but it's really all in good fun. When you get John Romita, Jr. and Stuart Immonen drawing books, I'm going to be there. I don't care who is writing it, I'm on board for that stuff!
I think that this industry - I don't want to say it takes itself too seriously, but sometimes it kind of does. I just wish that there was more of a community in comics. I think the industry being in the state that it's in, reading comics is kind of an exclusive club. We're all in this together and we all have a common ground in that we enjoy these characters and we love the medium of telling these stories in this way. Frankly, I wish people would lighten up. I think it's more interesting when Marvel and DC are poking fun at each other, and when somebody like Image can get into the mix, it's all the better. I wish there was more of that stuff.
Just to bring up an example - this cover-ripping debacle that's going on between Marvel and DC right now, that's a brilliant move on Marvel's part. The ring promotion itself was brilliant on DC's part. It's all cool stuff. DC used the ring promotion to promote a lot of lower-tier books, no harm in that. And it worked, but retailers didn't exactly sell all those books ordered. Marvel isn't trying to say, "You guys tried to screw retailers by tricking them into ordering all of these books that they won't be able to sell!" They're just trying to do something fun that helps retailers in the process. If those books do sit on the shelves, that's not good for retailers. If they can rip those covers and get a variant cover in return, that helps those guys out, puts more money in their pockets and allows them to order more Marvel and DC books. It's good for everyone, on the whole.
I'm really excited about what's going on at DC right now with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee taking over as co-publishers and Geoff Johns taking on a larger role with things, but I think Johns made a bit of a misstep, much as I love the guy, in announcing that they won't do any Marvel and DC crossovers now because of this cover thing. That's not cool! With "Siege" selling half of what "Secret Invasion" sold, and "Blackest Night" is doing okay but not selling as much as "Infinite Crisis" did, I think that a Marvel and DC crossover is something that the retailers could probably use right now. I agree that "Siege" is selling well - it was number one. I see people calling it a failure and I scratch my head. If only we could all fail so well! But I think that now would be a very good time for everybody to come together and be a little bit friendlier with each other. I think an "Iron Man/Green Lantern" book would be a pretty big deal, with all of the movie stuff. It's been a while since there's been a crossover like that. I think that's something that would get people excited.
We're all in this business to sell comics. The more comics we sell, the better off our retail community is. I certainly don't expect Marvel to be happy [about the "Guardians" teasers], but it's all in good fun.
What have you been hearing from the folks at Marvel and DC in response to the "Guardians" teasers?
I don't think anybody's losing any sleep over it. I don't think it's that big of a deal. The fans seem to be enjoying it. I've seen mostly positive responses. I've seen some people saying that it's sour grapes on my part, but sour grapes for what? I don't really understand that - I decided to do creator-owned books and I couldn't be happier. I'm not upset at Marvel. I just didn't want to work there anymore, so I stopped.
When did the idea to riff on the "Avengers" teasers come to you - was it something that you thought of right away when you saw them?
I'm a comic book fan, you know? I look at these teasers when they come through because I want to know what's going on and I like looking at new comic book art. When it went on for four weeks with a teaser every single day, me and the people that work here in the studio and people I talk to were saying, "Oh, did you see the new one?" It was a cool thing. I didn't think that [Marvel] would stop last week and that [the "Guardians" teasers] would just magically start. I thought these would be running at the same time for their fifth week of teasers! [Laughs]
You've been very involved in this kind of conversation between your manifesto on creator-owned comics and the Bendis/Kirkman debates at Baltimore Comic-Con in 2008. One of your big points has been making comics friendlier for kids, offering comics that aren't so grim and gritty and vulgar. Is "Guardians of the Globe" a book that younger readers can get involved in, or is it not particularly kid-friendly?
It's about as kid-friendly as "Invincible" is, sadly, but I am definitely working on something behind the scenes that fulfills that gap - hopefully, it'll be one of many things coming out from hundreds of creators that will fulfill that gap, because I still feel that this is something we need to do. [The project] should be announced before the end of the year. I'm definitely trying to work towards that and put my money where my mouth is. That's definitely one of my long-term goals, to produce something that my children will enjoy when they're old enough to not just try to eat a comic. [Laughs]
"Guardians of the Globe" #1, co-written by Robert Kirkman and Benito Cereno and illustrated by Ransom Getty, hits comic book stores in August. Check back with CBR next week as Image reveals the real roster of the superhero team.