Like I linked to earlier, Slate did a pretty in-depth profile on all things Extreme with Rob Liefeld, Brandon Graham and myself. However, the interviews with us were individually much, much longer. Inspired by Rob posting his third, I’m posting mine, complete and uncut.
Huge thanks to David Weigel for conducting the interview. Easily one of the best interviewers I’ve ever dealt with.
SLATE: My bias: I’m one of those people sad that the arc is ending so soon. I wanted 70 issues!
So, I’m fascinated, as it seems a lot of other people are, by the reinvention of these old Liefeld characters. How did you get the book, and what research did you do on the Extreme/Liefeldverse before starting to write? How were you approached, what was the pitch, what was the reaction?
What advice/rules were you given when you took over? (Liefeld had said that “the Extreme catalogue of characters has been patiently standing on the sidelines waiting for creators of this caliber to emerge and make great comics with them,” which seems awfully nice, and true.) Is there any kind of series bible?
Yeah, absolutely. I was ten years old when Image started, so I was pretty much the exact right age to lose my shit over Violator tearing Spawn’s heart out his chest, Savage Dragon getting his arm cut off or Shaft throwing a pen in a dude’s eye. I was loving what those guys were doing over at Marvel in New Mutants, Spider-Man and so on, but Image is where I completely lost my shit.Were you reading these original comics when they arrived in the 1990s?
Do you talk much with Liefeld about the character? I ask because you take Glory into these eras (like 1920s France) that are terrific, but were never suggested in the original book.
Ross and I see very much in line and eye-to-eye when it comes to our opinion on how women are portrayed in comics. In my original proposal, even before he was on board, a big thing was to portray Glory visually even more than a superhero — this is a warrior, born and bred. Perhaps the greatest to ever exist. She’s built to lead in times of peace and devastate in times of war. With Ross on board, we took this vision even further. I don’t give a crap about what someone pees with, who they sleep with, where their ancestors are from and so on. I don’t see why Mainstream American comics historically has — and I’m a fan of those comics. I think portraying women the way we portray Glory shouldn’t be some weird exception. The props we get for doing are kind of stinging — yeah, it’s cool people dig what we’re doing there, but it seems messed up to me that it’s 2012 AD and we’re still hung up on this. Yeah, things have gotten better, but it won’t be where I want it until people are judging characters just on that, their character, not their gentials, sexual orientation, race or whatever other qualifiers there are.The original character was always portrayed as a classic, 90s, pose-striking supermodel. (I don’t know if you’ve seen that site at which artists draw Hawkeye in the poses of various 90s sexy-superhero-ladies, but it’s very funny.) Your Glory looks that way, a bit, in the flashbacks, but in the contemporary and future portrayals she’s increasingly massive and monstrous. Is that Ross Campbell’s doing, or are you also trying to do something different with the look of the superhero female?
What other sort of books/stories/comics/material have you read that informed Glory?
Earlier this morning Comic Book Resources posted an interview with me spotlighting Hell Yeah and Glory, wherein I debuted Hell Yeah’s new series cover artist, Ricken, and discuss building toward the ending of Glory. I also get into my thoughts on Dave Sim’s Cerebus and even drop a few announcements.
A few things have changed since this interview was conducted:
1) Obviously, my Marvel work got announced - an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, leading into writing an ongoing Morbius: The Living Vampire series.
2) The Madman/Hell Yeah crossover illustrated by Michael Allred/Madman isn’t going to make it in the CBLDF Liberty Comics anthology, but will happen after he gets ahead on his Marvel work. That being said, I do have a NEW story with another artist I’ve long admired. More on that soon.
Here’s an excerpt:
BF: Glory as a creation was influenced by Wonder Woman. How do you go about making her as different from the Amazon Princess as you can?
KEATINGE: Regardless of her origins, our Glory isn’t a Wonder Woman pastiche. I would love to write Wonder Woman someday. I’m not doing my B-version of her now because the opportunity isn’t there. I want to write Glory. As the series goes on, I hope readers will see more and more of the distinction between both characters as they exist now.
Here’s an excerpt:
Campbell’s art and your take on the character seem to take her pretty far away from Glory’s bad girl roots — was that on purpose?
Yes, very much so. I don’t like repeating the past. Like I said before, the potential for comics is without limit. Why keep repeating the same types of stories? The Glory conceived in the ’90s wouldn’t be as relevant in the present, just like the Superman of 1938. Things get reinvented for the time.
Plus, we saw a great opportunity to bring in the kinds of characters we wanted to see in comics in general. I’m pretty disturbed by the term “strong women” as a compliment to characters — it suggests most women are weak. It’s bullshit. The women in my life are all “strong.” I have a mother, a stepmother, a couple of grandmothers and a bunch of aunts who kick a lot of ass. My maternal grandmother alone is in her late 80s and could probably outrun most people I know.
There’s a whole lot more, but it’s exclusive to CBR!
I set aside tonight to do a ton of interviews, but I thought I’d share this snippet from one of them where the interviewer was particularly harsh on Image Comics, circa 1992 and kinda sums up my feelings on comics in general:
I also don’t think as harshly as you do about the early Image stuff. Were they revealing truths about the human condition and making me reexamine my life? Not at all, but man, they were fun to read. They got me excited to create comics. I think that counts as ‘mission accomplished.’
I don’t expect every movie to be Wild Strawberries or every book to be Ulysses. Sometimes I want to get insight to the inner working of a soul, but sometimes I just want a couple of robots to beat the shit out of each other. I listen to classical music, I listen to Wu-Tang Clan, I listen to the Dandy Warhols, I listen to The Spookies, I listen to the Drive soundtrack, I listen to Serge Gainsbourg. I’m a dude who likes variety. I don’t want the same thing over and over. I just bought the third hardcover volume of Rob Liefeld’s X-Force in the same week I got Cosey’s new Jonathan tome. There’s a place for it all. I don’t think the early Image books promised something they weren’t.
This interview with Giant Killer Squid about GLORY, HELL YEAH and kinda BRUTAL was a lot of fun. I’m an especially big fan because of their use of this sweet Kanye West photo:
Man, there’s been a lot of Glory talk going around lately.
Comics Beat had some nice things to say, even if I don’t exactly agree with what he says my influences were. I was looking at Corto Maltese more than anything else.
Crazy times. Cannot wait for this thing to be a printed up comic book!
I talked comics with Tim O'Shea. Here's an excerpt.
Will you concede that when you say lines like “Hell Yeah is the direct result of almost thirty years of comics passion put into one book.” that you may be putting some pressure on yourself?
I’ve been reading comics in many different forms in many different genres my whole life. Every life experience I’ve ever had somehow informs the work I’m doing today. It’s not hype, it’s fact.
Besides, I think pressure’s a good thing. Poor work comes out when you’re comfortable. I am extremely hard on myself with everything I do. A small part of it is psychological condition. Most of it is never wanting to be boring.