Today, Valiant Entertainment continued down the road to its launch with the announcement that artist Cary Nord is now exclusive to the publisher. The first creative talent to sign such a deal with Valiant, Nord is currently the artist for Valiant's "X-O Manowar" ongoing series written by "Surrogates" creator Robert Venditti, hitting stores in May.
In order to shed light on Nord's exclusivity and what it means for the company, CBR News spoke with Valiant Publisher Fred Pierce and Executive Editor Warren Simons about the announcement, how Nord will be contributing to the publisher's plans moving forward and how Valiant's overall preparations are coming together as its big launch day approaches.
CBR News: Fred, Warren, what does Cary Nord being Valiant exclusive mean for his involvement at Valiant beyond his role on "X-O Manowar?"
Warren Simons: He's helping to define the aesthetic of what Valiant books look and feel like. He's helping to define what X-O looks and feels like. He's really an extraordinary storyteller. His rendering's just gorgeous, he's an incredibly talented penciler. Having him help launch "X-O Manowar" and really planting a flag in the ground for what Valiant books look and feel like -- it's a great honor to work with him. He's an incredible talent and we're happy to have him.
Fred Pierce: When you have a talent like Cary, it really raises the bar for everybody.
Simons: And Cary's going to stay on "X-O" for the long haul, as time permits. There's certainly the possibility he'll move on to other Valiant titles in the future.
Is the announcement of Cary's exclusivity a signal that you're also pursuing similar deals with some of your other creative talent?
Pierce: It's something that we want to be able to do when the schedule permits and the talent's available. It is something we're looking into with a lot of the talent. Companies often do this, just to protect themselves in terms of the line. We need to do that because we want the look and feel for the book and the look and feel of the universe to really work well. When you listen to the fans and the retailers, the response to the talent we've presented really makes us want to make sure we have a permanent relationship with them.
How do you think bringing on Cary as a Valiant exclusive artist will help Valiant to grow as a new company?
Pierce: I think when you have somebody of Cary's talent working for you on a monthly book, it makes everybody look at your line. Valiant is a new-old line, so we want to make sure we're looking forward, that the readers are looking forward, that the retailers are looking forward, that Diamond is looking forward to what we're doing. Cary makes that statement. That's really what we're looking for -- what is it that will make people turn to the Valiant page and make sure, with all the great books that are out there, that ours is one of the great books they're going to order? That, with all the choices the fans have, they'll take an extra few bucks out of their pocket for us, too, in addition to what they've been buying all along. Cary does that.
Simons: As an editor, it's great to have the opportunity to work with the extraordinary roster of talent that I have. The writers and artists and inkers and colorists that we have really are among the finest in the industry. Those guys and gals are tremendous and having Cary involved is great.
The "Summer of Valiant" is fast approaching -- are there any updates you can give us about the status of the books?
Simons: It's going exceedingly well. Everything's moving right along, all of my guys are hitting their marks. It's really coming out as well as I could have hoped. Issue #1 of "X-O" is going to the printer as we speak. We've scheduled the guys accordingly, we've built really intelligent, good schedules for them. The most important thing is that the books are great and they ship on time.
Looking forward, what other plans do you have for the company and what else is coming down the line in anticipation of the Valiant launch in May?
Pierce: Cary being exclusive -- the statement that it's making is, we're here to do quality stuff. We're here to do quality work, and we're making sure that we deliver on the promise. I was at the original Valiant, and Cary's the guy today who makes the same statement as those guys did.
Our orders for Free Comic Book Day were very high. One of the reasons was because of Cary's art. We'll be at C2E2, speaking to the retailers, speaking to the fans, speaking to the artists. Artists have the choice of working wherever they want to work, and if a guy like Cary's in the club, they want to join the club. ["X-O Manowar" writer] Robert Venditti will be at C2E2 -- we're going to have Robert and a bunch of the guys do signings whenever we can. The beautiful thing about our industry is that everybody knows everybody on some level. You know Cary, you know Cary's work or you know somebody who loves Cary or loves Cary's work. Of course, if Cary's with us, other artists will be with us.
Simons: Cary's an extraordinary talent, we're lucky to have him here. We have a great roster of freelancers who are doing extraordinary work for us. The first issue of "X-O Manowar" is 29 pages long. Cary put his heart into it, he drew the hell out of it and I think it shows. The opening seven page sequence is just an absolute beast. He spent hours and hours perfecting these pages. We're very happy to have him up here, he's a rare talent in the industry. He's the tip of the spear in terms of what Valiant books will be artistically, and we're very happy to have him.
"X-O Manowar," written by Robert Venditti with art by Cary Nord, hits stores May 2 from Valiant Entertainment.