His name is BlueSpear, Tokyo's Super-S watcher and protector with a mysterious origin wielding the legendary azure spear that gives him his name. First seen in the pages of Andi Ewington and Eddie Deighton's "45," BlueSpear is just one of many characters touched upon in a world full of super-powered beings known as "Super-S," where James Stanley, a man on the brink of parenthood, takes it upon himself to conduct explorative interviews of those affected by the super-beings that roam the planet. On his travels, Stanley interviews Akira Tomikawa, brother of the legendary Japanese Superhero BlueSpear -- but the interview created more questions than it answered, and left readers clamoring for more.
This July Ewington and Deighton, joined by artist Cosmo White, give readers some much-needed answers to those questions while adding a full-on backstory to one of "45's" more enigmatic figures in an all-new original graphic novel published by Com.x. Featuring a variant cover by Ryan Sook, "BlueSpear" is the first in a trilogy of graphic novels further exploring the world of "45." Ewington, Deighton and White took spoke with CBR News about the upcoming OGN, the change in visual format from "45," their joint collaborative process in bringing "BlueSpear" to life and the future of the "45" universe.
CBR News: "BlueSpear" is a continuation of the story begun in your OGN "45." What's the general plot of the book and how will it follow-up on the basis provided in "45?"
Andi Ewington: "BlueSpear" follows its namesake hero, unaware he has been targeted by an XoDOS hit-squad led by the formidable 'Lotus.' XoDOS have designs on the legendary 'Spear' that he carries, and will stop at nothing to obtain it. The reason for this isn't fully revealed, but across the planned first trinity we gradually uncover this dark, overarching plot. I had already hinted at this in several of the interviews within "45," so hopefully fans will appreciate going back to the OGN to connect all the clues!
The original BlueSpear interview in "45" was with the hero's brother. While we found out quite a bit about BlueSpear, readers did not find out much about what transpired under the water. What new information can readers expect to get from this new story?
Ewington: I'm pleased to say that in the opening pages you'll see exactly what happened to Yuji under the water and how he was imbued with the power of the 'Spear.' We haven't given you everything mind you, for example the origin of the 'Spear' isn't revealed, we've got to have some secrets for a possible follow-up! Also you'll see more of how XoDOS operate and get a better feel for this mysterious organization.
Eddie Deighton: As Andi mentioned, we do 'visualize' the origin in this book, but we didn't want to dedicate the entire issue to it. Both of us felt that, if you read Yuji's interview and the first few pages of this standalone, that should be sufficient for you to jump on to this character's story-arc. Even though this is BlueSpear's book, we do fill in a fair amount of information that was alluded to within "45." It was important that it was more about expanding the entire 45 world, not just one character.
What I like about the plans we have for this trilogy is that the average comic reader who maybe wouldn't have embraced the visual and writing style of "Forty-Five" should be able to pick up this book as a separate entity and enjoy it. And hopefully, we'll be able to entice them into picking up the original story!
One of the most interesting aspects of "45" as a graphic novel was its presentation as a prose-style interview as opposed to panels. Will "BlueSpear" follow the same format, or have you come up with a new format to tell his story?
Ewington: It was right this time to present the one-shot in a format that's familiar to readers, so I'm delighted to say that you'll be savouring panel upon panel of comic art in the traditional form -- though who's to say I won't explore a different route in future.
Deighton: "45" was unique in that it would have been very difficult to convey the story in standard comic format, hence the route taken in terms of the style of the book, but with BlueSpear we are able to explore his story in a style much more consistent with what you would define as 'normal' comic format. There are far fewer characters for us to play with in this story-arc and it doesn't centre around an interview/transcript structure -- it's exposition and action throughout, all conveyed through sequential art.
As fans of "45" know, BlueSpear was the subject (though not the interviewee) of one of 45 interviews centered around Super-S. Why was BlueSpear chosen out of all the stories to continue?
Ewington: A large part of the reason was how well he was edited between Eddie and myself during the polish of "45." We reasoned that because his 'Spear' was so powerful that it was inevitable that he would have come under XoDOS scrutiny. I already had an idea for a follow-up subplot within "45" and left enough hanging in several key interviews that we could use as jump-off points, we just needed that first big push. As Eddie and I expanded upon the character of BlueSpear we both quickly realized that here was the platform we needed to kickstart everything.
As writers, what appeals to you about BlueSpear's character?
Ewington: BlueSpear is an enigma you can't help but want to know more about. Also I love how his powers seem to be constantly developing, if you take a regular superhero you pretty much know everything there is about him or her and their capabilities. With BlueSpear he has a whole ocean of abilities and powers to choose from, some that we haven't even discovered ourselves yet! He's also a flawed superhero -- his strained relationship with his brother Akira is testament to that -- and something we touched upon in "BlueSpear."
Deighton: Personally, I like the emotional depth and mystery surrounding the character. This is a classic hero that has had powers imposed upon him from a young age and, because of the way they have transformed him, he can't actually fit comfortably back into society, even though he's adored by his own people. Add to that the dysfunctional family element and you have the scope for a multitude of story angles. I also love the fact that he's imbued with both the powers of the ocean and a weapon of unknown origin, which means we, as writers, can constantly evolve his abilities so that the reader doesn't know how he'll deal with a situation from one minute to the next. Of course, he does have weaknesses too, which we touch upon in this book.
Additionally, I love Japanese culture; its history, technology, manga, films, etc., and this book gives me an opportunity to play in that culture a little.
Although "45" was a self-contained story, many of the interviews had clear links to each other. BlueSpear was one that didn't seem to have a clear link to another interview. That said, will there be callbacks to other interviews in "45?"
Ewington: That's the plan. There are some telegraphed links that are begging to be explored further, others are a little more subtle (I'll give you a clue, there's one in the Nathan Miles-Miller interview.). Not all of these will be directly linked to this particular trilogy series, but there'll be enough for the reader to feel some questions have been answered.
Deighton: That was the ironic thing about BlueSpear; as we were finalizing "Forty-Five," we discovered that he, as a character, was inextricably linked to quite a number of the characters and one of the main sub-plots, even though it wasn't hinted at in his transcript. You'll discover at least three reference points in this book that should make you want to go back and re-read certain characters' interviews.
"BlueSpear" is the first of many explorations of the "45" world - who do you plan on covering next?
Ewington: Well, the plan is to continue the story with X in the next book, I've already co-written this script with Eddie Deighton and Rob Patey and as we speak 2000AD artist Lee Carter is putting digital pen to digital paper. Then we're straight into SkyLine, already Eddie and myself have got some really cool scenes in mind, I hope it's going to leave readers breathless!
Deighton: As Andi said, X is the next off the starting block and we've approached his story slightly differently to the way we did BlueSpear, in that I think he appears in almost every single panel of the book and his story is told in a slightly more linear fashion. You'll also see more characters from the 45 world introduced as we set the story up for the big 'showdown' in SkyLine.
Cosmo, how did you get involved in "BlueSpear?"
Cosmo White: I'd met Eddie and Andi before, and knew them to be friendly chaps, so when I bumped into them at the Bristol Con I took the opportunity to renew our acquaintance. BlueSpear needed an artist, and Eddie was kind enough to think of me. Comic cons really can be a great place to meet people and make plans.
In terms of reference, there was really only one image of BlueSpear in "45." Was it challenging coming up with more detailed designs for the upcoming series?
White: Calum [Watt's] work on "45" was so beautiful that it was less a matter of coming up with extra detail, and more to do with retaining the feel of the original art. Once I felt I had a sense of the original art's sleekness, the details were icing on the cake. Also, and often, despite all your planning, characters can evolve as you go, so it doesn't pay to be too inflexible! In fact, I'd love BlueSpear to continue, as I have some definite ideas about his ongoing evolution... Actually, that's the thing about BlueSpear; as his powers and appearance change and grow, he can be different things to different people.
The original "45" contained single images next to text interviews. How has this book's shift back to a more traditional sequential format challenged you as an artist?
White: That format (maybe the nearest comics has to a documentary-style drama) was an efficient and chilling way of telling a thrilling and information-dense story which would otherwise have probably required many, many pages of sequentials, and probably still wouldn't be finished today! BlueSpear's story is a lot more kinetic, and I think benefits from being entirely sequential. The sequentials also gave [Ewington and Deighton] tight control over the pacing of the story. However, it would be interesting to try a mixture of the two formats, wouldn't it, Eddie and Andi?
As an artist, what do you find appealing about BlueSpear's character?
White: The contrast between his streamlined form when aquatic, and his solidity when in his monk's outfit. Each mode (and I'm sure there are many others) has its own palette and quality of line; so there's a constant changeability to the character which keeps him interesting to draw.
Can you give us an idea of your collaborative process? From start to finish, how does the concept get to the printed page?
Ewington: Eddie and I are fortunate that we have sympathetic writing styles, I don't think you can really tell something Eddie's written to something I have. When we started "BlueSpear," I would write a few pages, hand it to Eddie, he would hand it back a week later, we'd make joint amends and continue the process again. It's really fun watching the script develop like this! Though you have to have thick skin in places, some scenes you really want, in reality just don't work, and you have to accept that your co-writer may have a better solution. The easiest part for me was the art. Cosmo is really astute in translating our scribblings and turning each page into something special. Both Eddie and I would pour over each panel to make sure of continuity and believability. Very rarely we had to go back to Cos and ask him to change something, more often than not Cos would come back to us with a better suggestion! This is collaboration in it's purest form, I love it!
Deighton: When we first started writing "BlueSpear," we discussed what, and how much, we wanted to achieve with the book and the key story elements that were essential to include. I let Andi flesh out a preliminary draft -- it is his world I've allowed to become involved in, after all. I then went through and added my own scenes and dialogue and made suggestions and we continued to refine the script from there. All fairly mature, really! I think our writing relationship works so well because we both understand that there need to be sacrifices for the sake of telling a coherent story, and neither of us is stubborn or conceited enough to simply insist on putting something in just for the sake of it.
Once we had a first draft that we were happy with, we sent the entire script over to Cos, who would then respond with any concerns or suggestions on layout and we would make further adjustments from there. This collaborative process went on throughout the entire production of the book. It was important to me that all parties involved enjoyed working on the title because -- who knows? -- it may turn into a series some time in the future!
White:As [Eddie and Andi] point out, it really was a constant process of collaboration and refinement; which is excellent, as working without input can be a bit of a lonely process. Despite their modesty, [their] script was very efficient, and on the few occasions when I was compelled to make faint grumbling noises, our combined solutions often added greatly to the page in question. [Eddie and Andi] are very generous with their panel layouts, in that they only really mention them at key points, and were happy to bounce alternate layouts back and forth. It's the best way to work!
"BlueSpear" debuts this July at Comic Con International: San Diego from Com.x.