Big City Magic: Lieberman talks "Street Magik"

Fri, August 25th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

For those of us living in big cities, it's fairly easy to be anonymous and simply blend in. You can get lost in the sheer mass of people and you can easily miss that which is going on around you.

Imagine there's this one particular hobo that you walk by daily. You notice him, but you immediately forget him. You might even drop some change in his cup from time to time, but you don't give him a second thought. But what if it turned out this man was the most powerful wizard on earth? Then what if you discovered you had extra normal abilities of your own and this man was the only one who could help you understand and protect you from the dark forces out to destroy you? Would you trust this random vagrant? More importantly, would you be able to trust yourself and your own sanity?

This is the basic premise of "Street Magik," a new original graphic novel to come this October from Dynamite Entertainment. The book is written by Luke Lieberman who's joined by Kevin McCarthy on script and Rodney Buchemi on art. CBR News spoke with Lieberman earlier this week, who introduced us to the characters that inhabit "Street Magik."

To start with, there's that hobo we mentioned. "The Hobo is named Ronan - he is ancient beyond reckoning and his entire demeanor is an illusion. Ronan is both the hero and the villain in some ways," Lieberman told CBR News.

Sketch of Ronan by Rodney Buchemi. Click any page to launch the preview.
"But the story is really about Jake, who is a tough, level headed kid with a lot on his shoulders; he gets the rug pulled out from under him.

"He would never make it through if he didn't have Faith. She is a street musician and also a bit more. A smile, a hug, an oracle. Faith helps Jake soldier through."

Lieberman said one of the basic themes he'll be exploring in the pages of "Street Magik" is the ideas that looks can be deceiving, and your first impression of a person doesn't fully paint the picture of who they are. Clearly, that's the case with Ronan, whose outward appearance doesn't indicate exactly what he's capable of.

As for the characters in the book, this really is Jake's story and he's feeling very alone in the world right now. "He has alot of responsibility thrown onto his shoulders, his father is dead and somehow he is the member of his family that is expected to be strong," said Lieberman. "He has to hold everyone together. Family is everything to him and he is very centered in it. He is very protective of his kid brother.

"He is being robbed of his own childhood because he has to grow up so fast. When he discovers his own abilities and the dark force that is hunting him, it only makes his life more complicated. The villain is not above using his family to cause him pain.

"Ronan has a different path, in many ways he is both the hero and the villian. I can't go into it because I'd be giving to much away - but for Ronan this is about redemption."

The idea for this book first came to Lieberman while he was a student at NYU in New York City. Being surrounded by so many people in Manhattan helped inspire this story. Lieberman said, "I saw a unique hobo and started creating a little myth of my own - what if it was all a ruse? What if he was actually thousands of years old? What if he was the gatekeeper to a secret underground realm in New York?"

Lieberman himself is primarily used to writing film scripts, so Kevin McCarthy was brought in to help take Lieberman's story and turn it into something for comics. "What Kevin brings to this is an objective outside eye - he wasn't afraid to cut out stuff he didn't think was needed," said Lieberman. "I trusted him because I liked some of his previous work and he obviously knows what he is doing.

"He took the script and adapted it, then I would work it over and essentially redraft it. We were always about 20 pages ahead of Rodney."

Rodney Buchemi is the artist tasked with bringing Lieberman's story to life. "I knew he was right for this when I saw his sketch of Ronan - it was different than I had imagined, and described the character - but his version was better, more interesting - so we went with his," said Lieberman. "It was a bit of a challenge to work with someone in Brazil because all the locations were in New York and I wanted to be authentic. I ended up scouting the locations in the script and taking a lot of photos for Rodney to use as reference."

The book includes a foreword written by the legendary Stan Lee. Lieberman said Lee's been a mentor to him and has known him ever since he made a documentary about him during his days at NYU called "Stan Lee: Storyteller." "Stan has been a huge influence - not on this particular story, but he taught me how to write. He taught me to see through the eyes of my characters, that they were the most important element in the story," said Lieberman. "That is what keeps people turning the pages, because they want to see what happens to characters they care about. He taught me how to focus on the core issues in a story and not get distracted with a lot of fluff."

Finally, for those of you knew to Lieberman's work, he was happy to introduce himself. "Well, I grew up in comics; I used to have them in plastic sleeves, pined like wallpaper all over my room. I went to NYU for film, then came out to LA to intern for Stan a spell.

"I branched out, started doing my own thing, now everything Red Sonja touches goes through me. I edit the comics, I'm a producer on the film as well. I am writing some more Sonja mini series, and have some other properties churning through the Hollywood machine.

"I love the creative process of storytelling. I also love to entrepreneur - that can be really creative, too. Ultimately I would like to get back to directing films, which is my first love."

Look for "Street Magik" in the current Previews catalog and in stores this October.

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