A walking, talking creature made out of garbage, a foul-mouthed, motorcycle riding bounty hunter and a super powerful, super sexy space-faring cynic. Sounds weird? Well, you'd be absolutely right and that's exactly why these three strange beings take center stage in the upcoming appropriately titled six-issue miniseries from DC Comics' "Weird Worlds."
Every monthly installment of the anthological title tells a 10-page chapter of three separate stories, each written by one of three comic creators. Aaron Lopresti, well known in the comic industry for his artistic merit and eye-catching visuals on such titles as the biweekly "Justice League: Generation Lost," both writes and pencils his tale, introduing an all-new character to the DCU in his tale. Known as Garbage Man, as mentioned earlier, he is quite literally a man-like creature made of garbage. Meanwhile, writer Kevin Van Hook teams with legendary penciler Jerry Ordway for an intergalactic adventure starring the Main Man himself, Lobo. Finally, Kevin Maguire heads to unexplored areas in the far reaches of the DCU cosmos with the cute and deadly Tanga.
CBR News spoke with the three writers about the upcoming anthology, the title's three stars and their strange tales found in "Weird Worlds."
CBR News: Gentlemen, everyone knows that the hook of "Weird Worlds" is not just to explore some unseen parts of the DC Universe but to dig in to some left-of-center characters. What can you tell us about the origin of your work with your particular protagonist and how they'll play in the title?
Aaron Lopresti: When I created Garbage Man, I created it specifically to fill the void left by Swamp Thing in the DCU. I wanted to create a character that visually felt familiar and comfortable but at the same time was different enough to make its own way. Like Sludge and Swamp Thing, Garbage Man is a monster created by science gone wrong. There are always going to be surface similarities to the characters, but as always, what will make or break the character is who he is/was and where he is going and how he gets there.
What I'm trying to deal with in this story is the character's moral journey. Coming to grips with his mistake ridden past, which in turn magnifies the importance of the decisions he makes moving forward. Garbage Man is faced with complex issues from his past and stumbles into complex situations as he moves forward. He finds that simply seeking a cure and revenge is not the straight path he envisioned. I've got some really oddball and unique supporting characters that I think will really help define the book.
Kevin Van Hook: I like Lobo's general bad-assery. He's not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed--or is he? I play him as coming off a little dumber than he is. He's been around the block and he's good at what he does. He's selfish, crass, crude and overbearing, but I'm also showing a little bit of an honorable side to the guy.
Kevin Maguire: This character's been bubbling up inside of me for a long time, in various incarnations. A fearless, funny, forward-moving female character who's nothing short of a force of nature. I've always gravitated towards strong female characters. I like women. Call me crazy. I played around with all kinds of names for her but landed on Tanga because it was sort of in the ballpark of "manga," which it rhymes with, and "tango." That just felt right to me. It wasn't until after the announcement was made at NYCC that someone told me "Tanga" was Spanish for thong, which I have no problem with. In fact, I'll allude to it at one point in the series.
Costume-wise, she's gone through an evolution. I had her in a full space suit at one point. I'm sure most of those sketches will end up in an eventual trade paperback. I've always liked the elven look. That never changed. She was never going to be a tall, voluptuous blonde. She was always going to be a petite, perky brunette.
You once described Tanga as having Sarah Silverman's personality. How much did that influence your approach in writing this character?
Maguire: I used Sarah Silverman as something of shorthand to illustrate who she was. "Power of the Silver Surfer, personality of Sarah Silverman." I could have used Juno or Elaine Benes as an example. She's just a very outspoken, freewheeling kind of character. I think she's very funny, but that should come as no surprise since it's very much my sense of humor.
Aaron, you've mentioned before that some other monster-like creatures appear as well in your story. Can you hint at some of those characters?
Lopresti: The sociopathic scientist who created Garbage Man also created some other things that, through a series of circumstances, are set free. So there are plenty of strange things out there for Garbage Man to encounter. There is a beast/werewolf story in there, along with some other stuff. I will say I had a terrific zombie story that proved to be too long to fit into the format, so hopefully I will be able to revisit it later.
We just hit on the characters that readers will be seeing, but what can you say about the story you'll be telling with them? What can you tease about your plans?
Lopresti: Garbage Man was a ladder-climbing attorney whose misguided ambition directly led him down a path that ended with him becoming a monster. We will get bits and pieces of his past story, not necessarily in sequential order, as his memory slowly returns. He remembers one of his friends, Samantha Collins, who was his paralegal and seeks her out for help. There's more, but you have to read the story to see how it plays out.
Batman makes brief but sensible appearances throughout the first six-issue series. Batman and Garbage Man eventually will cross paths, with like-minded intent. In some ways, it is not unlike the events of "Swamp Thing" #7, but the outcome will be considerably different. The Garbage Man saga is much more involved than can be handled in six nine-page story slots. Most of the story will pay off in the second six-issue "Weird Worlds" series.
Van Hook: We begin with Lobo leaning against a wall, knocked on his butt with half of his skull blown away from a plasma rifle. That's page one. We learn he's on this space station to capture a mark, the guy that he's been hired to bring back in for a bounty. Once he gets hooked up with that guy--a four-armed, massive shape-changing alien--things really start to cook. There are double-crosses, space-traveling scenes and evil minions. Yes, minions. There's even a "buddy cop movie" vibe to part of the story.
Maguire: Well, I honestly don't want to say much about what actually happens in the book, because I want things to come as a surprise to readers. I will, however, talk about the storytelling process for this book. Before I started drawing page one, I laid out and fully scripted the entire 12 chapters. I wanted to know exactly where everything was going story-wise. If writing were drawing, this would have been the penciling stage. That way, when I'm drawing each chapter, I can add things that will foreshadow or reinforce story elements yet to come. Things that seem like throw away moments or one-liners may have relevance later on. After I draw each chapter, I re-write the dialogue with tweaks and improvements. This would be the inking stage. My hope is that people reading the story for a second time will be able to pick up things they didn't notice the first time around. Also, the entire story will take place from her point of view. There are no cut away scenes to villains plotting against her. The reader will learn things at the same time she does.
We know that both Aaron and Kevin Maguire have more to tell beyond the six issues of the limited series. Kevin, what about you? Are there more Lobo stories or more weird tales you look forward to sharing?
Van Hook: Yep, I have two full treatments in the drawer. Confession: There is no drawer, they're just digital files on my hard drive and in my Dropbox in the cloud and I'd love to tell them. One has much more of a horror tone, with Lobo having to bring in three particularly nasty folks on an earthly plane. The other finds him a bit powered down and hunted by everybody he ever crossed. And that's a lot of people.
Moving onto the artistic side of things, there's a lot going on. Kevin and Aaron, you guys are both writing and drawing your own story. What are you liking about this process?
Lopresti: Honestly, if I could swing it, this is all I would do. Writing and drawing is more work, but the freedom to make changes to a script as you are drawing the story is a great freedom. I have the ability to change something on the page if I decide it is not working the way I originally planned. A good comic is writing and art harmonizing to create the best possible graphic story. When I am both writing and drawing, I'm able to manipulate both aspects of storytelling as I need to, which always seems to lead to me creating my best work.
Maguire: Visually, I'm doing a layout style I've always wanted to try, which is that, apart from the occasional splash page, every page is four horizontal panels. I'm thinking of it very cinematically. This is my opportunity to make a movie. Plus, I'm making certain that every panel has a legitimate background. Sometimes this is outer space, or sky, but if it's an interior scene the background will be full. I'm also, for the very first time, working very closely with the colorist. I toyed with the idea of coloring the book myself. Yes, I am that megalomaniacal when it comes to Tanga, but I'm just too luddite to master the intricacies of Photoshop. It was at the time that I'd realized I wasn't going to do it myself, that I met an aspiring British colorist named Rosemary Cheetham. I sent her some pages to audition on and when they came back looking better than I'd imagined, I lobbied to get her the gig. This'll be her first published comic. I'm starting to learn there are things I don't have to put down in ink, that there are elements she could add that looks much better. I think that by the twelfth issue, we'll have our system worked out. But, yeah, designing monsters and aliens are so much more fun than drawing cars and strip malls. I never want to go back to Earth. I'm just enjoying what I'm doing now too much.
Kevin, what's it like working with Jerry Ordway on your story? What about his style do you like and how do you feel it compliments your writing?
Van Hook: I've been a fan of Jerry's since he was a fan. I used to see his work in "Comics Journal" when I was in high school. I followed his career as an inker and a penciler and loved his work on Superman. I met him briefly back in '94 during my Valiant Comics days. Very nice guy. I feel he's intentionally doing something different with Lobo. For me, it's got an almost British comics vibe to it. Maybe it's the way he's spotting the blacks or rendering or even the look of the aliens, but it kinda has a Judge Dredd look I think is very appropriate for this piece.
As a last question, going off the title of this book, what is the Weirdest World in the DCU in your opinion? Or, what is the weirdest tale you've ever read and why?
Van Hook: That's a tough one. For me, "The Legion of Superheroes" was weird. "The New Gods" were definitely weird. So was most everything Jack Kirby brought to the table in the 70s. The Moore/Bissette/Totleben run on "Swamp Thing" was supremely weird. I don't know if you'd count this necessarily, but I'm going to say one of the most engrossing weird stories was "Swamp Thing Annual" issue #2, where the Demon guides Swamp Thing through Hell. That was an incredible ride.
Lopresti: Kirby's original "OMAC" series. Talk about freaky. The synthetic woman in the box with her face and legs sticking out still gives me the willies. And he put it on the cover!
Maguire: I'm somewhat notorious for not reading comics anymore. My ignorance of the universes I work in is near legendary, so I don't feel qualified to answer that with any authority. But forced to provide an answer, I'd have to say Andy Helfer's old office would be the Weirdest World in DC.
"Weird Worlds" #1 ships on January 5, 2011 from DC Comics.