INTERVIEW: "Batgirl and the Birds of Prey" Hunt Rebirth's Oracle
Although I’ve known him for a few years from frequent drop-ins at the BOOM! Studios booth on the convention circuit, I haven’t ever had the opportunity to interview Matt Gagnon, the company’s editor-in-chief. So I jumped at the chance to talk to him for ROBOT 6’s anniversary.
Matt Gagnon joined BOOM! in 2008 to edit its Farscape comics after working as buyer and purchasing manager for Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics. He moved up fairly quickly, becoming managing editor, then editor-in-chief when Mark Waid was named chief creative officer in 2010. This past year saw the launch of BOOM!’s ultra-popular Adventure Time comic book, as well as several other kids’ series as a part of the KaBOOM! line. The publisher also announced a new Hellraiser series and put out several original series, like Higher Earth, Freelancers (which Gagnon co-created) and last week’s Deathmatch, just to name a few.
My thanks to Matt for his time, as well to BOOM!’s Filip Sablik, who helped set it all up.
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d spend the first $3.99 on the first issue of 47 Ronin, a retelling of a Japanese legend written by Mike Richardson and illustrated by Stan Sakai. I saw a preview of this and it looks phenomenal. Next up is my favorite soap opera, Life With Archie #24 ($3.99), in which Moose contemplates running for the Senate and The Archies reunite. This comic is consistently well written and the stories really drag me in. I’ll slap down another $3.99 for Popeye #7, because I’m a Roger Langridge fan. And because I love a bargain, I’ll finish up with Freelancers #1, a new series from BOOM! Studios that looks kinda fun — and hey, there’s a variant cover by Felipe Smith, one of my favorite manga artists.
If I had $30, I’d revert to my childhood and pick up the Doctor Who Annual ($12.99) from Penguin. When I was a kid, the British comics annuals were the high point of the holidays, and I’m pretty sure I have a vintage Doctor Who one tucked away somewhere. It’s probably aimed at kids but that just means I can share it with my nephew and nieces.
The splurge item to get this week is the new box set of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This is Miyazaki’s longest manga by far, and the story continues after the movie ends. It’s going to be the same large format as Viz’s earlier box set, but the seven volumes are being bound as two this time. It’s $60, but I noticed Amazon is offering a steep discount, so I’ll add another splurge: Nickolai Dante: Sympathy for the Devil ($29.99), a story that ran in 2000AD. I saw artist Simon Fraser describe it at NYCC this way: “Nikolai Dante is a swashbuckling hero from the far, far future, the year 2666, where he is alternately working for and against the czar, and for his own family and against his family, and in the meantime trying to get as drunk and screw as many women as he possibly can.” Sold!
Both Peter Parker and Clark Kent have managed to build a career as a comic book superhero on the back of a journalism career, and as it turns out so have a number of comic book writers. Following in the footsteps of Paul Levitz, Mark Waid and Neil Gaiman, Ian Brill first came into comics in the early 2000s as a journalist writing for the likes of Publishers Weekly and Newsarama. He went on to become an editor at BOOM! Studios, and parlayed that into his first major comics-writing gig, Darkwing Duck. That series succeeded past most anyone’s expectations, and put Brill on a path to venture into comics writing full-time in 2011.
Earlier this summer, Brill launched the first major series of his own with the self-published Dracula World Order: The Beginning one-shot. Enlisting an all-star lineup of artists, Brill distributed the comic in grassroots fashion not unlike Sam Humphries’ Our Love Is Real. Brill is already hard at work on more stories in the Dracula World Order universe, and he’s also just been announced as the writer for the upcoming BOOM! series Freelancers, profiling a female duo of kung-fu bounty hunters. Comic Book Resources spoke at length with Brill about that series last month, so here we focus on his self-published work, his career trajectory and his thoughts on Kickstarter.