INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Jim McCann‘s name is going to be popping up in Marvel Comics more regularly starting toward the end of this month. First up is the May 26 release of the writer’s Dazzler one-shot, followed by the June 3 launch of his Hawkeye & Mockingbird ongoing monthly series. I recently got to discuss both projects in an email interview. It’s never dull for me to chat about Marvel characters with a writer who clearly both enjoys and does his research. My thanks for McCann’s time.
Tim O’Shea: For folks that are afraid the Dazzler one-shot is a nostalgia romp, far from it–in fact the story comes out of the recent Necrosha event. Can you talk a little bit about it?
Jim McCann: Dazz has a bit more heat & attention on her post-Necroshia, both with the fans…and with her enemies! Specifically Mortis, a.k.a. Lois London, her long-absent half-sister, who has massive anger issues and a very strong desire to kill Dazzler!
I wanted to give Dazzler a strong nemesis and family, two things all great characters need, and found both in Lois. They avoided the fight in Necrosha, but, as the cover & solicit says, THIS is the fight, the Necrosha Aftermath for these two!
O’Shea: In reading your recent interview with CBR, I was pleased to see issue 38 (when Archie Goodwin and Paul Chadwick took over) left a lasting impact on you. Did you go back and reread the original series before writing this, or did you intentionally avoid looking at her history too closely–for fear of it influencing the tale you wanted to tell?
McCann: GOD I LOVE THAT ISSUE! Sorry, I have to yell that every time I think of it, like Cartman singing “Come Sail Away”. I dream of owning a Chadwick page from that issue.
As for re-reading, I did a lot of research because I wanted this book to build on Dazzler, Lois, and a few other surprise characters from that original series, but I wanted the events to play out naturally so that those who haven’t read her series from back in the day don’t get an info dump. They can pick it up and read a great (if I may say so) Dazzler story, while the existing fanbase will pick up the Easter Eggs dropped in for them (and for me).
O’Shea: Do you have a favorite artist or writer from the original Dazzler series?
McCann: Of course, there’s the foundation laid by [Tom] DeFalco and John Romita Jr., but the team of Danny Fingeroth and Frank Springer was magic. Goodwin/Chadwick may have been behind my favorite issue, but this issue is actually dedicated to Frank Springer.
Now, after people see this, some fans may be saying Kalman Andrasofzky, Ramon Perez – who split the main story, Francesca Ciregia –who does the epilogue, or Robin Ha- who is doing a pin-up, are among their favorites!
O’Shea: If sales are strong enough, you’ve made it clear you want to write more Dazzler, would artist Andrasofszky be interested in doing more Dazzler as well?
McCann: I do! I would proudly work with anyone on this art team for a follow-up project!
O’Shea: On to Hawkeye & Mockingbird–Some new series with classic comic characters intentionally start from scratch, ignoring the past. You capitilize on the past to a certain extent with Hawkeye and Mockingbird? What is it about the character’s rich history that appeals to you the most?
McCann: It’s a strange beast with HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD. I’m making this a fresh start for them both (since they have gone through so much, they NEED one), yet the foundation is built on their history. They are THE couple for me, and I think fans will see why from the start of this series. There is literally NO OTHER couple like them, and there are no other characters like them individually. They are brash, hot-tempered, all-business, wise-cracking, trouble-making, bad-asses all at the same time. They can switch emotions on a dime, which is how real people act. They are the most realistic characters in my mind from a personality standpoint. They laugh, love, fight, and cry. And they always hit their target. What more can you ask for?!
O’Shea: Speaking of the characters’ histories–Clint and Steve Rogers were very close–will we be seeing any of Steve guest-starring in the series?
McCann: You’ll see Clint, Steve AND Bucky in a very important scene for this series in the first issue!
O’Shea: Having NOT been Hawkeye for awhile and being a different kind of hero, does that influence/impact how Clint approaches his methods as Hawkeye? Also, he was using different kinds of weapons when he was Ronin, does that influence pop up in the arrows he develops? Do you have a favorite arrow you’ve concocted for Hawkeye? What kind of weaponry is Mockingbird packing these days?
McCann: Clint is Clint, regardless of his costume. But, like he has in the past, sometimes Clint Barton forgets he’s best when he’s Hawkeye. This series finds him having made that realization, firm in his belief that he is FINALLY the man he has worked his entire life to be. And now, where does he go from there? How does he use the knowledge and the skills he’s developed and honed since coming back from the dead, combined with this sense of being and centered, to be the best Hawkeye the world has ever seen? You’ll find out.
My favorite arrow is in the first issue—you can see a sketch in the online sketchbook of this scene: Hawkeye uses Pym Particles to make three arrows explode into 300 arrows, raining down from the sky. LOVE that scene!
Bobbi gets an upgrade too. David Lopez has designed some awesome new weapons for her, we have some new bo-staff tricks up her sleeve- literally- and she’s packing some serious heat!
O’Shea: I always was mystified by the period when Barton was Goliath (but also intrigued), what did you think of that period in Barton’s career?
McCann: I think it was much like the Ronin period. Clint can get lost and suffer esteem issues from time-to-time. With Goliath, he didn’t think he deserved to stand next to super soldiers, androids, and gods. So he developed a character literally larger than life. With Ronin, everything he came back to post-House of M was gone. The Avengers were gone, Cap died shortly after, and he was lost- feeling no sense of direction. Ronin was more than a costume, it- like Goliath- was a mental choice to help Clint cope with what was happening. Ultimately, in both cases, he realized that he is his best when he’s Hawkeye. And now he’s back to stay!
O’Shea: What’s the biggest challenge of trying to tell action tales, while still working in some “civilian life with Clint and Bobbi” moments?
McCann: It’s not so much a challenge to me because I LOVE making those worlds collide- bringing the drama into their action scenes and blowing up their quiet scenes with some deadly forces. It keeps me, the characters, and the readers on their toes. This whole series is about how those two lives- civilian and super hero- collide and how—IF—they can co-exist.
O’Shea: How enjoyable has it been for you getting to work with the World Counterterrorism Agency as one of the series’ dynamics?
McCann: Beyond thrilling. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d get to create an agency.team/set-piece for the Marvel U. Yet here we are, with new members, familiar faces, a headquarters, a logo … The new W.C.A. is legit!
O’Shea: You utilize the social media tool Formsrping, does it help you keep in touch with your fanbase? Do some of the questions your fans ask sometimes give you the ability to look at your work in a new perspective?
McCann: It’s always fascinating to see the wide spectrum of opinions and questions the fans have about anything. I love hearing from fans—it’s one reason why I asked for a letters page in HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD. I use Formspring, Twitter, Facebook, and my forum on Jinxworld all to try and keep in touch with fans, listen to what they have to say, and give them a chance to see what my approach is. I think social media is vital these days for a writer, an artist, a publisher, and even individual series or OGNs to survive and increase a fanbase and recognition. In fact, as I move more into this writing world, I found it necessary to try and centralize that in my own website: www.jimmccannonline.com Come by and visit!
O’Shea: Looking at this Dapper Man promo material is it too early to discuss that project?
McCann: It’s not at all too early! It’s an OGN coming in October from Archaia and is co-created by artist Janet Lee. She’s bringing an art style that is really starting to get some attention in its uniqueness. That style fits this book in a way that no one else could, given that this is a fairy tale. Take one part Peter Pan, one part Where the Wild Things Are, add some steampunk, throw in some Clockwork Universe theory, and 314 identical looking well-dressed men, and you have RETURN OF THE DAPPER MEN!
O’Shea: Anything else we should chat about that we’ve not covered yet?
McCann: Dazzler? Check. Hawkeye & Mockingbird? Check. Return of the Dapper Men? Check. How amazing comics are & thank you to every fan that buys my books and spread the word about these projects? There. I think we’ve covered it all…for now!