Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
It’s been nearly two years since Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta first discussed the Image miniseries Graveyard of Empires with me. This time around we’re looking at the project through the rear-view mirror, given that the 128-page trade collection will be released May 1 (Diamond code MAR130502, ISBN 978-1-60706-739-9), featuring a new short story written and drawn by Azaceta. The collaborators were ambitious with this project, which pits U.S. Marines in present-day Afghanistan against the Taliban … and a sudden influx of the undead. It’s interesting to learn the interaction that the creators had with military veterans in the wake of the miniseries’ release, as well as their decision to dedicate the collection to Tim Hetherington.
If you haven’t read Graveyard of Empires, you’re in luck, as Image Comics and comiXology have made the first issue available for free.
In addition to chatting about the upcoming trade paperback, Sable takes time to chat about his current Kickstarter project with Salgood Sam, Dracula: Son of the Dragon. Azaceta also reveals his plans to write more stories when his schedule allows, as well as his upcoming Conan work with Brian Wood.
Tim O’Shea: We first spoke about Graveyard of Empires back in 2011. Now in 2013, the trade paperback is about to be released. How good does it feel to be at this point with the project?
Mark Sable: It feels great. Graveyard of Empires started out as a three-issue miniseries with 22 pages each, grew into four issues with 124 pages of story. In an age where Big Two issues are now 20 pages and often decompressed, that’s like six issues’ worth of content. We wanted to make the trade worth the wait that expansion caused, so we’re not only including the original story and your usual extras like sketches, but an all new short story written and drawn by Paul. It makes his comics writing debut, and I have to be honest, it scares me that he’s going to put me out of a job.
On Wednesday, Kickstart Comics (not to be confused with Kickstarter) will release Duplicate, the new graphic novel from writer Mark Sable and artist Andy MacDonald. The publisher describes the project as follows: “A seemingly ordinary family man sees his doppelganger and realizes he’s a clone. But not just any clone. A duplicate of the world’s deadliest secret agent. A decoy designed to spend time with The Agent’s family and otherwise provide cover while the spy is off saving the world.”
In addition to answering my questions about Duplicate, Sable was kind enough to share a slew of exclusive unlettered preview pages, which you will find at the end of the interview.
Tim O’Shea: Given that your publisher Kickstart is not one of the Big Two, I was pleasantly surprised to see they have priced your 88-page original graphic novel, Duplicate, at $8.99. Are you hoping the price point will give indie-comics fans more incentive to give the story a try?
Mark Sable: I hope most readers will check out the book for my story or Andy MacDonald’s art, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t hope that the price point would be an extra reason to take a chance on the Duplicate. It’s Kickstart’s first foray into a full-size OGNs after doing digest-sized books like Rift Raiders (my previous OGN for them with Julian Totino Tedesco). I think in an economy like this, with 20 page single issues costing $3.99 or more each, having a complete story arc for $8.99 is our chance to compete with value as well as quality.
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 start with Alpha Flight #1 ($3.99). I had mostly positive feelings about the prequel issue with the only negatives being a mixture of “that doesn’t look like Sasquatch” and some anxiety born from being used to disappointment from Alpha Flight books. Neither of which has anything to do with the people creating the next eight issues, so I’m looking forward to this in a way that I haven’t since John Byrne left the book. Next I’d grab Flashpoint: Grodd of War #1 ($2.99), because an all-out Gorilla Grodd comic sounds awesome. And then I’d give Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths #1 ($3.99) a shot to see how well IDW can manage two Godzilla comics at a time. They certainly managed the first one well. Finally, I’d pick up Mickey Mouse #309 ($3.99) because it’s a globe-trotting adventure with a ton of guest-stars, including my favorite: The Phantom Blot.
I rarely get a chance to interview two collaborators for a project, but welcome to my latest fortunate rarity. Writer Mark Sable is back at Image Comics, collaborating with Grounded co-creator and Amazing Spider-Man artist Paul Azaceta. The two creators were kind enough to contact me for a joint email interview. As noted when this project was first announced: “In Graveyard of Empires, when a young lieutenant arrives at Combat Outpost Alamo, a remote outpost in Afghanistan, he learns a new kind of insurgent math. It’s said that in war, when you kill one insurgent, you create ten more by angering his family and friends. In this story, when you kill one, he comes back from the dead to infect ten of your fellow Marines . . . Graveyard of Empires #1 (APR110400), a 32-page full color horror/survival comic that will appeal to fans of The Hurt Locker and THE WALKING DEAD, will be available for sale in a comic shop near you on June 15, 2011.” Sable and Azaceta also provided Robot 6 with a six-page preview from the first installment of the three-issue miniseries. Frequent readers of Talking Comics with Tim may notice that as of late, I have given the interview subjects a chance to ask Robot 6 readers a question. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sable took this opportunity to invite folks to ask him questions in the comments section. He has committed to answering any and all questions, as his schedule permits, so by all means ask him all that you want.
Tim O’Shea: You two clearly went with an eye-catching, iconic first issue cover. Care to discuss how you arrived at that cover?
Paul Azaceta: Thanks. I knew right off the bat that I didn’t want a complicated cover. I wanted something that stood out and going with something simple and graphic was the way to go. I can’t say where exactly I got the idea for the skull with the poppy flower but when it hit me I knew I had it. I drew a quick little sketch for Mark and he suggested adding the helmet. Actually, the harder part was carrying that idea on with the other covers. But that was my inspiration, simple graphic covers.