Shelf Life: Week of "Voodoo" - Part 1

Mon, August 29th, 2011 at 4:38pm PDT | Updated: September 2nd, 2011 at 10:21am

Comic Books
Ron Marz, Columnist

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WELCOME TO "VOODOO"

Welcome to an entire week of "Voodoo." Hurricane Irene knocked out my power and flooded my basement yesterday -- the power could be out all week -- but thanks to a generator at home and wi-fi at Barnes and Noble, we'll still find a way to bring you this daily series. I hope.

I realize "Voodoo" has flown under the radar a bit, and that's partially by design as we've tried to keep specifics under wraps for fear of spoiling story elements. But it's also the nature of doing a book that's somewhat removed from the kind of spotlight that characters like Batman, Superman and Green Lantern receive. Since Voodoo, the character, is new to the DC Universe, we made that a central aspect to her story. There's a sense of mystery about who she is, and what she wants, and we'll peel back the layers of her story as the series unfolds.

I don't think it's a secret that I was brought onto the project later than a lot of the New 52 creators. I received a call from editor Brian Cunningham, whom I knew from his days at Wizard (and also from him being a big New York Giants fan, which makes Brian good people in my book). He offered me the book, and gave me some general direction, but made it clear that nothing was written in stone. I said yes because I was intrigued by the character, but also because I think the DC Comics relaunch is a hugely important initiative for comics as a whole. We desperately need new blood in the audience. We need to cater to new readers and lapsed readers, as well as hold on to current readers. A clear starting point -- 52 new #1 issues -- is a hell of a first step. But, of course, ultimately the success depends on the execution, not solely the initiative.

I wrote up a quick pitch document that was more broad strokes than issue-by-issue specifics, then met with Brian and Executive Editor Eddie Berganza over breakfast to hammer out more details. What came out of it is, most definitely, a book that fits into the Edge category. We're pushing the envelope even more than I expected, and I think we'll surprise some readers. Maybe even shock them, though it's very much in service of the story we're telling.

Our Voodoo is not the exact same character you knew from "WildC.A.T.S" or even her own Alan Moore-penned mini. She's recognizable, certainly. We retained a lot of elements from her character, but added some new wrinkles. We retained her stripper backstory, and came up with a viable reason for that aspect of her life.

At its core, "Voodoo" is an espionage story set in a superhero universe. And those superheroes, including Superman to Batman and a particular Green Lantern of my acquaintance, will play important roles in the series. It's sexy, it's violent, and I think it's smart too. I told my editor that if I did my job properly, half the audience would think Voodoo is a hero, and half would think she's a villain.

Something else that's part of my job is making issue #1 accessible not only for DC fans, or Wildstorm fans, but for absolutely anybody, even somebody who hasn't read a comic in years. That kind of accessibility is the least any creator owes the audience.

Today, you get a look at my script and Sami Basri's layouts for a set of pages from "Voodoo" #1. I'm the last guy who wants to give away too much about a story. I much prefer the reader experience a story without spoilers, without knowing where things are going. But I also realize you have to bait the hook in order to catch some fish.

These pages give a glimpse into the writer-artist collaboration, even if they happen to be on opposite ends of the world (I'm in New York State, Sami is in Indonesia). You can see how Sami translated my words into his pictures, bringing the characters to life in the process.

Over the next few days, you'll get a look at Sami's finished pencils, then the inks, color and letters for the final page. Hopefully it'll give you some insight into how a book like this comes together. Today, I'll let these pages speak for themselves. Tomorrow, we'll start digging into why we did what we did in terms of storytelling. I'm proud of what the whole team is doing on "Voodoo," so I hope you'll give us your attention this week... and your $2.99 when the book hits shops of Sept. 28.

Ron Marz has been writing comics for two decades, and thinks it's pretty much the best job ever. His current work includes "Artifacts," "Witchblade" and "Magdalena" for Top Cow, "Voodoo" for DC and his creator-owned title, "Shinku," for Image. Follow him on Twitter (@ronmarz) and his website, www.ronmarz.com

TAGS:  shelf life, ron marz, dc relaunch, voodoo, sami basri, dc comics, new 52, dc edge, bhts-voodoo

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