Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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.
Remember that unpublished cover Geof Darrow drew for J. Michael Straczynski’s “Grounded” arc on Superman that we posted the other day? Remember Darrow saying to Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell that it never ran as a cover and that “it’ll never see the light of day” despite his “really nice guy” editor’s assurances to the contrary? Good news, Darrow fans: Both Darrow and DC confirm that the finished cover will appear in Superman: Grounded Vol. 2, on sale this Wednesday, Dec. 7. The crazy cat lady will get her time in the sun at last!
That was recently?
Oh yeah yeah. I liked it. I thought it was funny. It was this whole thing, Superman is on a walkabout, kind of rediscovering America. They asked a bunch of guys to do like—Kevin Nowlan was one of them and they said, you can draw whatever you want. Superman, that’s the thing. He’s rediscovering America. You just can’t show him in New York. So I thought about it. I thought, “Well, flying in front of Mount Rushmore, all this stuff…” I said, “I know!” I drew him having tea with this cat lady in this room, she’s like a little old lady and she’s serving him tea and cookies and he’s sitting on her couch having tea with her and there’s all these cats around and all these pictures of her family on the wall. I thought it was funny! That’s kind of America. They didn’t run it. The issue was supposed to run and they had to change it, it was Lois Lane-centric and they had pffft! I was like…and the editor was a really nice guy, he was very “We’re going to use it someday and blah blah blah.” But I don’t think they ever will, because I’m sure someone will say, “Wait a minute…”
[laughs] “Nothing’s getting hit!”
The other ones are pretty much what you’d thought they would be, him flying with clouds—and they’re all beautiful, I just thought mine was kind of funny. But it’ll never see the light of day.
—Hard Boiled and Shaolin Cowboy cartoonist Geof Darrow reveals his lost Superman cover to Inkstuds’ Robin McConnell. Looks like the Crazy Cat Lady is one villain not even the Man of Steel could defeat.
In all seriousness, though, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of McConnell’s career-spanning interview with Darrow, originally conducted and aired in February and recently transcribed in full on the Inkstuds website. Darrow has stealthily become one of the most influential comics artists in the English-language comics world — recent works by Chris Burnham, Brandon Graham, James Stokoe, Rafael Grampa, Nate Simpson, Ulises Farinas, and Sam Humphries & Steven Sanders all bear his imprint in one way or another — and McConnell’s interview is a treasure trove of anecdotes about Miller, Moebius, Métal Hurlant, The Matrix, and more.
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Michael Klein takes note of a caption box in Superman #701 that sets the scene in “Philadelphia, Pennsylvania … the South Side,” specifically, on the 500 block of S. 48th St. The thing is, the city doesn’t have a “South Side” — it’s South Philadelphia or, more commonly, “South Philly” — and even if it did, that block wouldn’t be in it. You see, the intersection of 48th and Larchwood streets is in West Philadelphia (aka University City, aka where the Fresh Prince of Bel Air was born and raised).
“Is this the comic book version of revisionist history?” one commenter asks. “Maybe you should have started in Texas.”
The misstep is, of course, one of the pitfalls that comes with setting a story in such a specific real-world locale. With Lex Luthor otherwise occupied, perhaps the geographical goof will fill the role of archnemesis in the “Grounded” arc, as J. Michael Straczynski and Eddy Barrows take Superman through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington. (I’m guessing the “South Side” caption will be changed for the collected editions.)
Okay, so Straczynski botched the neighborhood, but how did Superman #701 score with the other Philadelphia touchstones? Well …
“[Superman] stops at a diner for a ‘Philly cheese steak sandwich’ but is short on money,” Klein writes, “so the waitress allows him to work it off by cleaning the storeroom. He also thwarts drug dealers by setting their stashes on fire with his X-ray vision and talks a woman off a ledge. Standard stuff.”
We’ll have to wait until Wednesday to learn whether it was the term “Philly cheese steak sandwich” that drove the woman to the ledge.