The intro from our really kind of ridiculously long conversation at Ain't It Cool News....
Dark Horse Comics editor/writer Scott Allie -- whom I've known and occasionally worked with over the past 15 years -- dropped me a line a few weeks ago. He was wondering if I'd submit some spoofy backup comic strips for consideration in the letter-column pages on future Dark Horse "Serenity" books. ** (My editing of a semi-defunct website collecting "Firefly" fan webcomics -- or, as I like to call it, "the single nerdiest thing I've ever done in my life" -- probably had something to do with his offer.)
Anyway. I also suggested we do a Q&A for AICN, mostly because I wanted a sneak peek at what Scott was working on. The backup comics may or may not happen, for all kinds of reasons. But the Q&A totally did, and it accidentally went on for two hours. So here you go.
Dark Horse is putting out two new Joss Whedon-supervised "Serenity" comics this year. You'll find some preview art below. Coincidentally, the two comics deal (in very different ways) with characters who died in Whedon's 2005 "Serenity" film.
"Float Out," due in June, is written by comedian Patton Oswalt, who pitched the story to Whedon while guest-starring on "Dollhouse." Among other things, it's a 24-page collection of memories about wisecracking pilot Hoban "Wash" Washburne -- and it's notable for being the first "Serenity" comic-book story that isn't set entirely between the TV show "Firefly" and the movie. Like the characters in the story (who aren't necessarily the characters you'd expect), we're moving forward.
Due this fall, "The Shepherd's Tale" is an original graphic novel written by Zack Whedon ("Terminator," "Dr. Horrible") from a detailed outline by his brother Joss. It reveals space-preacher Shepherd Book's past, it's structurally fascinating and surprising, and from what I was allowed to read, I'd guess Ron Glass is powerfully sad he didn't get to play this story onscreen -- it would have been one of the great episodes of "Firefly" had Whedon gotten a chance to film it.
Artistically, the books represent a major departure from the more straightforward look of the first two "Serenity" comics miniseries, "Those Left Behind" and "Better Days." "Float Out" artist Patric Reynolds has a rough-hewn, expressive style that Allie describes below as "sort of Kent Williams-style art." And "The Shepherd's Tale" gets a gorgeously high-contrast treatment from the great Chris Samnee ("Capote in Kansas") that acts as a stark counterpoint to the moral grays in Book's life. Allie says he and Whedon wanted "to get away from the precise look we'd had in 'Serenity' comics. And that's what we got with these two guys."
Again, I've known Scott and worked with him off and on for 15 years. It's been fun to watch him go from being the poor bastard who had to try and keep Dark Horse's hilarious-but-unwieldy "Instant Piano" afloat to the guy who edits comics that include Whedon's "Buffy" and "Serenity" titles, "Hellboy," "Conan" and "The Umbrella Academy," among others. He's also built a comics-writing career that ranges from his mid-'90s self-published horror anthology "Sick Smiles" (to which, full disclosure, I contributed), to "The Devil's Footprints," "Exurbia," "Star Wars: Empire" and "Solomon Kane."
We talked for a ridiculous amount of time about "Serenity," "Buffy," Joss Whedon, Evan Dorkin, fan management, future publishing plans, the recent "Buffy" cover fiasco, how licensing works, Gerard Way, the negated "Dollhouse" comic, and the hilarious trainwreck that was "Instant Piano."
____________Mike Russell Journeys To The Center Of The Whedonverse With Dark Horse Comics' Scott Allie! (Ain't It Cool News, March 22, 2010)