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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.
Longtime readers of this column know that I relish the chance to interview beyond the typical creative interview dynamic of writers and artists periodically. So soon after I found out SCAD Atlanta Adjunct Professor and Professional Colorist Nolan Woodard was part of the Thrillbent’s Insufferable creative team (along with writer Mark Waid, artist Peter Krause and Letterer Troy Peteri), I reached out to him for an interview. We also delve into his BOOM! Studios work (including Incorruptible, Irredeemable, Planet of the Apes) and other aspects of his creative pursuits
Tim O’Shea: How early in life did you realize you wanted to be a colorist?
Nolan Woodard: I never really sought to specifically be a colorist but it’s been no surprise to anyone who knows me. When I was twelve or so I’d use Windows 3.1 Paintbrush to make digital drawings, lots of Aliens and Terminators. Then in college where I was introduced to Photoshop 3, I ate up the digital courses. By the time I graduated and landed a job in advertising at Wieden+Kennedy, I was learning Photoshop on a scale I previously didn’t know existed, doing retouching and color correction on their Nike, EA and Starbucks accounts. When the time came for me to follow my heart and get back into comics, coloring was a no-brainer.
In an ideal world, all comic book editor-in-chiefs should experience working at a comic book store. Such is the case with current BOOM! Studios EIC Matt Gagnon, who spent a spell as buyer and purchasing manager for Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics. Gagnon recently took some time to discuss BOOM!’s transition away from the Disney properties and toward KaBOOM! books like Peanuts and Adventure Time, as well as creator-owned works such as Roger Langridge’s Snarked. The bulk of this interview took place well before Newsarama’s report that Mark Waid’s Irredeemable and Incorruptible were both drawing to a close this May, but Gagnon and I spoke of it briefly after the news broke. I will be curious to see what big news BOOM! will have in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this interview. Me? I wish I was a young writer, so that I could get Gagnon to send me a Mark Waid script.
Tim O’Shea: What were your priorities when you took over the EIC role, and how successfully did you achieve what you set out to accomplish with the BOOM! line?
Matt Gagnon: I was—and continue to be—focused on maintaining the level of execution that the fans expect of us and we expect of ourselves. Before I became EIC I had already spent two years as Managing Editor, building a style and a system of how we make comics and fulfill the promises of what we solicit. Not to oversimplify our principals, but at its core we’re all about publishing great comics and shipping them on time. This July will be my 2 year anniversary as EIC and I feel like we’ve only been getting better and better.
Back in 2008 when I came to the company, one of my first goals was to make sure the trains were running on time. We’ve been very consistent since then and I’m extremely proud of the reputation we’ve garnered. It’s a testament to the insanely talented team we have here at BOOM! and the dedicated network of talent we have involved in our comics. We’ve been recognized by Diamond and our retail partners for two years in a row with the Best Publisher Award (under 4%).
Anybody who knows me knows that I have high expectations of myself and my team. I want to maximize every opportunity that we have. I don’t just want to do Planet of the Apes comics; I want to do the best Planet of the Apes comics, you know? The same goes for Hellraiser, 28 Days Later, Adventure Time, or anything else that we publish.
Creatively, I’ve always had a vision for our line and I’m proud of all that we’re accomplishing. We continue to achieve our goals every day, every time we send another issue to print that we’re proud of. But there’s always more to be done and bigger goals that we’re working toward. You can never rest on your laurels.
The New York Comic Con officially opened its doors this afternoon, but comics publishers and distributors have been releasing announcements leading up to it all this week. Here’s a round-up of news from today, as well as some that hit earlier this week.
• DC Comics, who were having a pretty good week already, announced two creative team changes for the New 52. Ann Nocenti of Daredevil and Longshot fame will write Green Arrow starting with issue #7. She spoke to Comic Book Resources about her approach to the series: “I have a particular way of writing a comic. Comics are short. They are only twenty pages, so you can take a year of comics and that can be your opera, and the opera can have a lot of different passages in it. I kind of believe every issue should be a single story, just a complete story. But there is a momentum that forms like triptychs over it, and then it forms your big overtures, and then the whole thing ends up kind of operatic. I also want a beginning, middle and end, a classic short story approach to every single comic. What I do is I try to figure out, what is the kick in this comic, what is the main feeling I want to get, and everything in the comic has to serve that.”
• And Marc Bernardin (Monster Attack Network, The Highwaymen, The Authority) will take over the writing duties on Static Shock beginning with issue #7. “As a fan and as a writer, one of the great things about Static isn’t just that he’s a new hero, it’s also that he’s a young hero,” Bernardin told CBR. “He will make the mistakes of youth and, even though the New 52 is resetting a lot of heroes to their early days as do-gooders, there’s nothing quite like the fumblings of a teenager.”
BOOM! Studios has announced a four-issue crossover pitting Mark Waid’s fallen superhero the Plutonian against his nemesis Max Damage in an epic tale spanning Irredeemable and Incorruptible.
The story examines how the Plutonian, the world’s greatest superhero turned mass murderer, and Max Damage, the reformed supervillain become adversaries. It kicks off in December in Irredeemable #32, by Waid and artist Diego Barreto, and continues in Incorruptible #25, by Waid and Marcio Takara, before concluding in Irredeemable #33 and Incorruptible #26.
“This is the crossover we’ve been waiting to tell,” BOOM! Studios CEO Ross Richie said in a statement. “We get to peer deeper into Max Damage’s origins. These two iconic characters have been powerhouse adversaries since the first issue and we are thrilled to add to the mythology of both of these great series.”
Read the follow announcement below:
The digital comics scene continues to be a bit of a mishmash.
Every week, I get an e-mail from comiXology listing all of its new issues for the week, but the order seems to be somewhere between alphabetical and random. Viz Media also does a nice job of letting me know what’s new on its app. Graphicly sends a chatty e-mail featuring a couple of titles, but the company doesn’t put them front and center in its app, so I have to go looking for them (and it’s not the most intuitive interface). And while I know the iVerse folks have been busy, they don’t update their blog or (as far as I can tell) send out e-mails. This is all my way of saying that while the following may seem heavy on comiXology content, that’s not because I’m biased — it’s because comiXology has more titles and is doing a better job of promoting them.
That said, I thought it would be helpful to sift through this week’s offerings and pull out some good weekend reading.
A couple of classic series are debuting on comiXology this week. Having attended both the Vertigo panel and the Bill Willingham spotlight panel at C2E2, I was interested in seeing more of Fables, so it’s a happy coincidence that Jack of Fables #1 is up there for free. It’s just as clever as the main series, and Tony Akins’ supple penciling is a treat for the eyes. (One of the things I enjoy about Fables is that there is plenty of eye candy for the ladies as well as the guys.) Sometimes the free samples are kind of mingy, but not here: This is the whole first issue of Jack of Fables, and if that whets your appetite, Issue 2 is up there for $1.99.
Also new this week, although, sadly, not free, is Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s Batman and Robin. The first six issues, comprising two complete story arcs, are up this week.
Courtesy of our friends at BOOM! Studios, we’re pleased to bring you an exclusive first look at the covers to several of their April-shipping titles. This is the first of three rounds, as they sent over a bunch, so let’s start off by taking a look at the “Waid-o-verse” titles, Irredeemable and Incorruptible.
Take a look at the covers and the solicitation info for both titles after the jump!
Next Wednesday, December 16, BOOM! is launching a brand new series, Incorruptible–written by BOOM! Editor-in-Chief Mark Waid and drawn by Jean Diaz. As described at the BOOM! site: “Last April BOOM! Studios showed the world that MARK WAID IS EVIL with the smash-hit series IRREDEEMABLE. This December, BOOM! shows the world that Mark Waid is now… INCORRUPTIBLE! Super villain Max Damage had an epiphany the day The Plutonian destroyed Sky City. When The Plutonian turned his back on humanity, Max Damage decided to step up. Now Max Damage has changed his name to Max Daring and turned from his formerly selfish ways to become… INCORRUPTIBLE.” So Waid has gone from IRREDEEMABLE to INCORRUPTIBLE–meanwhile the whole time he has also been BUSY, but not too busy to answer a few questions about the new series.
Tim O’Shea: Did anyone in BOOM! management (yourself included) try to talk you out of naming Max Daring’s female underage sidekick, Jailbait?
Mark Waid: Thankfully, no. They know a good idea when they hear it. I like the name because it pretty well instantly conveys what kind of a lowlife the pre-reform Max was.
O’Shea: A guy going from evil to good, in terms of character dynamics you can’t just flip a switch and become a permanent do-gooder. Will his struggle to do right rather than wrong be a frequent theme in the stories?
Waid: Max is a little more resolute than that, and VERY taciturn, so it’s not so much a constant “The Temptation of Max Daring” going on (or if it is, he’s not telling us). Yes, he will be tempted to stray from the heroic path, but the recurring theme is more about how hard it is to live a black-and-white life in a world full of grays.