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With the passage of time, pundits/critics frequently reflect upon past era creators (be it Golden, Silver or Bronze Age), quite often finding a newfound appreciation for certain folks. Sometimes I wonder why we have to wait for a creator to be no longer active in order to garner increased respect. For example, artist/inker/writer Karl Kesel is a creator, who while he has definitely received critical praise over his long career (dating back to 1984), I think his body of work warrants even more attention and praise. I was thrilled when I found out that Kesel relaunched Section Zero (his Gorilla Comics 2000 project with artist Tom Grummett that ended after three issues) as a webcomic at Mad Genius Comics. The news got even better with the revelation that Kesel and Grummett intend to develop new Section Zero content. I am a longtime fan of Kesel’s work–particularly his mid-1990s run on Daredevil #353-364 and Fantastic Four #56 (the latter of which we also discuss). My thanks to Kesel’s Periscope Studio studiomate, Jeff Parker, for putting me in contact with Kesel.
Tim O’Shea: How and when did you finally decide to resurrect Section Zero–and as a webcomic?
Karl Kesel: I’ve wanted to do a web comic for some time. The tipping point was when my wife and I decided to adopt a baby (we’re still waiting to get one!) and I knew I wanted some sort of legacy to leave my kid. I put together Mad Genius Comics, and hired the talented David Hahn to pencil a Johnny Zombie story. As that was posting, I thought: what next? I had a ton of ideas, but the one I kept coming back to was Section Zero. Tom Grummett and I had started it in 2000 through Gorilla/Image comics, and due to my getting divorced, it had been put on indefinite hold. It was Unfinished Business, and I thought the time was right to finish it.
Karl Kesel, the Eisner Award-winning inker who also has written comics like Fantastic Four and Harley Quinn, teamed up with Tom Grummett more than 10 years ago to create a six-issue miniseries called Section Zero for the short-lived Gorilla Comics imprint. Although the imprint wasn’t around long, several of the books, like Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Empire and Todd Dezago and Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, found life after Gorilla.
Section Zero, however, wasn’t finished and hasn’t been seen since–or at least not until this week. Kesel, who has a webcomics site called Mad Genius Comics, has started posting pages from the comic. Kesel and Grummett plan to finish the story, as he details in a post on the site:
So here’s what we’re gonna do: Tom and I are working on new Section Zero material now, squeezing it in around our day jobs. At the same time we’ll be posting all the previously published storyline— starting with today’s 5-Page Prologue, followed by 3 pages every Thursday. By the time all that’s posted, we’ll have a ton of new stuff ready. If you haven’t read these comics before, this is your chance. If you’ve already read them you’ll still want to check in because A) Richard Starkings, First Tiger at Comicraft, has insanely and wonderfully insisted on “freshening” the lettering for the book, so the pages have a slightly different look to them, and B) since re-lettering was being done anyway, I’m tweaking the script here and there. The changes aren’t major, just important. For instance: the Prologue originally ended with Kyoti musing about the upcoming 2000 US Presidential election. Considering how that election played out, I really wanted to make his comment a bit more pointed. Things like that.
I read the original miniseries and I think I even have a copy of the first issue signed by Grummett; it’s been awhile, but I remember it was a fun series. So it’ll be nice to get to see the conclusion.