CM Punk made his Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo return to a standing room only audience, where he discussed his ongoing Marvel Comics series and why Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's "Preacher" is "one of the best stories of all time."
"You've got to get way past the first issue [of 'Drax']," Punk stated. "A lot of people will read a first issue of a comic book and kind of judge it based on just that. Mine is such an all encompassing story that you've got to get past the first issue before it really picks up and gets interesting. I'm laying the groundwork here."
Last year, Marvel tapped the Chicago native to work alongside Cullen Bunn and Scott Hepburn to tackle the new ongoing series. Currently at issue #7, the overarching plot of the series is focused on Drax hunting Thanos, the Mad Titan, in order to kill him once and for all. While that's a story that's been told before, the creative team on "Drax" have given it a new spin, approaching the series as a road novel, with the titular character on a galactic road trip. So far, Drax has gotten into brawls with characters like Terrax (a former herald of Galactus) and the dragon Fin Fang Foom.
Punk says he grew up reading the original Jim Starlin version of Drax, which he described as being written as a stupid, Hulk-like character. This version, debuting in 1973, was a human named Arthur Douglas whose family was attacked and killed by Thanos. Seeing an opportunity, the Eternal known as Kronos took Douglas' soul and placed it inside a powerful new body that became known as "Drax the Destroyer."
The newer, knife-wielding Drax that Keith Giffen and Mitch Breitweiser introduced in a limited series back in 2004, was completely foreign to Punk. So for his story he said he decided to focus on stripping the character down in order to develop him past his "I'm Drax and I can smash things" characterization.
Speaking of Bunn, Punk said he's blown away by how many other projects his co-writer is working on.
"He writes, like, 16 titles a month. I don't really know how he does it. I'm doing this one and I'm sweating and he's just, 'Whatever,'" Punk said. "We're working with artists, and me and Cullen are bouncing ideas back and forth, so it's become much more of a collaboration instead of just me putting an idea down on the page and him having to dissect it."
Talking about his writing process, Punk added that he's always trying to learn new things from people, whether they're comic book creators, fighters or anyone else.
"Anybody I roll with, or box with or spar with, I'm always like, 'Teach me something,' because I can learn something from everybody. Everyone in this audience can teach me something that I don't know, and vice versa. I think that a lot of people in the world limit themselves and don't do that."
The conversation shifted to AMC's upcoming adaptation of Ennis and Dillon's "Preacher," which left Punk to declare the Vertigo series as the epitome of what a comic book can be.
"I don't like calling it a graphic novel, because you're trying to put a spin on something and make it digestible for someone who doesn't read comic books," he said. "It's a fucking comic book. To me, it's one of the best stories of all time. I'm actually rereading it right now. I reread that every year."
Going back and rereading his favorite books, like "Preacher," now that he's writing comics is really helpful, Punk explained. Now, he'll pay attention to things like the panel count and how many words you can put on a page without drowning out the art.
"But yes -- I will be watching 'Preacher.' Obviously, AMC has done a great job adapting 'The Walking Dead.' I'm just nervous [about 'Preacher']. But I'll watch it. I watched 'Daredevil' on Netflix, and the first couple episodes I was like, eh. But I kept watching it and it grew on me, eventually."