Joe Casey Gets "The Black Plague"

Mon, July 17th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
David Moran, Guest Contributor

"The Black Plague" cover by Mike Mayhew
Joe Casey is sick and tired of writing superheroes! Bring on the super-villains!

Don't worry "GDLAND" fans, Casey and Co-Creator Tom Scioli aren't planning on bringing their critically acclaimed cosmic superhero epic from Image Comics to an end anytime soon; nor should fans of Casey's recent spate of superhero work at Marvel -- notably the "Fantastic Four: First Family" with penciler Chris Weston or his upcoming sequel to "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" -- lose any sleep either.

Casey will still be writing both those series.

But, in addition to all those projects, July sees the debut of "The Black Plague," a new super-villain one-shot penned by Casey, with art by Julia Bax, from Ross Richies' Boom! Studios. The book ships to stores next week, but attendees of Comic-Con International in San Diego this week have their first chance to check out the book at the Boom! Studios booth. CBR News caught up for a quick chat with Casey in advance of the books release.

"'The Black Plague' is a full-on super-villain book, but with a twist," Casey told CBR News about his latest project. "It really gives you an insight into that world of costumed criminals, underworld gangsters and hi-tech science terrorists. Actually, it started off as a pitch for a Marvel D-lister. Despite what I felt was a great take and a great story (not to mention a great artist lined up to draw it), the editor I was talking to didn't have it in him to pull the trigger. But I never like to let a good story go to waste, so I simply adapted it into this new milieu. And, this way, I have ownership in the character, so it all worked out for the best."

"The Black Plague" wound up at Boom!, Casey says, primarily because he and Richie share a number of mutual personal friends, and because they both seem to groove to the same types of comics.

"Ross and I have a few mutual friends in the business, so I figured it was just a matter of time before we hooked up on something. We have extremely similar tastes in comic books, and the kind of comic books we want to produce. There's a reason that everyone who works with Boom! have nothing but raves for the company. There's a lot of energy and excitement -- and business savvy -- and that's what I like to be around. The one-shot kicks things off and provides enough story material to launch an entire epic, should we choose to go that route. Both Ross and I think the character and the concept has got serious legs."

As far as influences for the new book goes, Casey, as usual, seems to have drawn inspiration from a deep and diverse well, fusing together elements from the world of crime and superhero fiction to come up with a concept that will offer a new look at both. "Lots of crime films, a few crime writers. All the usual suspects, probably. And a healthy love of comic books, obviously. When you do a book like this, you take advantage of the familiarity that diehard comicbook readers have for specific 'types' of characters. But, at the same time, it's easy to inject some originality into things. It becomes part of the fun."

When asked if "The Black Plague" might appeal more to fans of some of the more "experimental" projects that Casey's done in the past, such as "Automatic Kafka," "Wildcats 3.0" and "The Intimates," or to those who enjoyed his more "mainstream" superhero writing on "Adventures of Superman," "Uncanny X-Men" and "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes," Casey said that he didn't really think that "The Black Plague" could firmly be classified as falling into either of those two categories.

"I think 'The Black Plague' probably falls somewhere in the middle. I guess it's more in line with the kind of work I was doing on Vol. 2 of 'Wildcats' (with Sean Phillips). Maybe readers will think differently, but that's the connection that 'I' see with the other work that I've done."

So, in addition to introducing a whole slate of new characters for potential continuing future adventures, will "The Black Plague" one-shot also form the beginning of a new partnership between Casey and Boom! Studios?

Probably.

"Like I said, there's certainly more story to tell with 'The Black Plague,' as the end of the one-shot suggest," Casey said. "I'm also contributing to Boom!'s upcoming 'Pirate Tales' anthology. Tim Seeley is the artist on the tale I wrote. I came up with a specific storytelling technique to tell a fairly simply tale of treachery on the high seas, and Tim's gonna nail it. [As for my future with Boom!], I love the company, so I'd imagine there might be more original projects that will find a home there."

And although Casey says that he doesn't have any new work from either DC or Wildstorm for his fans to look forward to on the horizon, the scribe did say that he does have a number of projects in various states of development at the House of Ideas.

"A few projects are in development [at Marvel right now], some very cool things with some incredible collaborators attached. I've been really lucky in my recent Marvel work, having talents like Weston and Frazer Irving drawing these classic characters that I've loved since I was a kid. It's a good place for me after having some less-than-perfect experiences, art wise, at the House of Ideas."

And, of course, there's still plenty more "GDLAND" to come from Casey and partner-in-crime Tom Scioli once the series returns from its three-month summer hiatus in October.

"'GDLAND' Year Two will be our attempt to top Year One. Considering Year One included the origin of the universe, that's a big mountain to climb. But Tom and I feel like we're just getting warmed up with the series."

 
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