[Friday afternoon at NY Comic Con, Vertigo announced two new series by writers on the rise at DC - Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire. We had an opportunity to speak to both of the creators about their titles in separate interviews, and both of those conversations follow below.]SCOTT SNYDER UNITES WITH SEAN MURPHY FOR VERTIGO's 'THE WAKE' After the announcement yesterday that he's writing Superman next year, Scott Snyder revealed yet another new series he's releasing in 2013.
Snyder will unite with artist Sean Murphy for The Wake, a new limited series from Vertigo. Approximately 12 issues in length, the series is described as an "underwater, sci-fi epic."
The writer, who's already writing Swamp Thing and Batman for DC and American Vampire for Vertigo, has already announced at New York Comic Con that he's launching an unnamed Superman ongoing series next year with artist Jim Lee.
It's a heavy load for the young writer, who's only been writing comics for just over two years. But DC has shown confidence in him, particularly after his relaunched Batman series became the best-selling title in DC's New 52. His Vertigo series American Vampire is also one of that imprint's best-selling titles, second only to the Fables comics.
Murphy and Snyder worked together last year on an American Vampire spin-off mini-series titled Survival of the Fittest. According to Snyder, they've been wanting to work together on something else ever since.
According to DC's description, The Wake is "set amidst the claustrophobic yet beautiful and sweeping ocean-scapes," where "a discovery is made that will reveal a secret mythology."
Snyder told Newsarama that the underwater adventure is set in a world that is "sort of post-apocalyptic," and that The Wake will introduce "new heroes and new monsters."
Newsarama talked with the writer to find out more about the series, which Murphy and Snyder hope will turn into more comics in the future.
Newsarama: Scott, it's quite a week for you, having the first issue of "Death of the Family" coming out, then announcing both a Superman project and this new Vertigo comic. What can you tell fans about The Wake?
Scott Snyder: I can tell you that I'm incredibly excited for it, and also that I'm doing it with Sean Murphy, who's a really close friend at this point and is also one of my favorite artists working in the industry. We're co-creating it. And it's something we've been talking about for over a year. It's just been tricky finding the time to do it. And now that we both found some free time this year, we thought this would be the perfect place to introduce it.
Nrama: How would you describe the story?
Snyder: It's essentially a sci-fi horror stories. It's maybe 12 issues. It's a maxi-series. with sort of an interesting story structure that I don't want to give away. It focuses on a big revelation that happens under water. It's sort of a deep-sea sci-fi horror epic, with elements of post-apocalyptic storytelling to it as well.
That's as much as I want to give away about it, without spoiling anything for anyone, other than just to say Sean is killing it in the design already.
Nrama: You can't even tell us about the main characters in it or set up the premise at all?
Snyder: I don't want to give it away! I want to save it.
Let's just say, there are going to be new heroes and new monsters. And hopefully you'll like them.
Nrama: So right now, since you're writing both Superman and Batman as well as Swamp Thing, I think people would say you're at the top of your game, so to speak. Yet you're also still writing these non-superhero titles, with American Vampire and now The Wake. Is it important for you to have the creative outlet offered by these Vertigo books while you're also writing the sort of "work-for-hire" books in a shared universe?
Snyder: For me personally — I won't speak to other writers; I know there are a lot of debates and stuff where people say how important it is to do creator-owned — but for me, my own personal feelings about are that they're both essential to me as a writer. I couldn't do one without the other.
I need something that, for me, is a place I can go to really push and experiment and try out things that could be darker or wackier or all kinds of stuff that sort of exist outside some of the limits of the defined universe in mainstream superhero comics.
But at the same time, as much as I love that and it's where I can hone my voice and try new things, working on the characters like Superman or Batman or so many other characters that I have ideas for. It also keeps me excited about the industry. Each one is a dream come true to write, and it invigorates me. Writing within those constrictions and trying to do things that push you as a writer and that, more than anything, speak to your personal interests, is a challenge that I think makes you a better writer in the long run, not to have complete, total freedom all the time too. You know?
That's part of the challenge of working in mainstream comics. It's incredibly invigorating at times, to take these characters that you've loved since childhood, and try to do stories that are going to get people excited because they love the characters, but that also are going to speak to the things that you're worried about personally, because they speak to you in an intimate, frightening and inspiring way, and on a whole different level.
Nrama: Getting back to the story of The Wake, I'm digesting what you said about this being an underwater, post-apocalyptic comic, and it occurs to me how important the artwork is going to be for something like that. How much does Sean's style and what he's contributing, how much of a role does it play as you try to bring about this post-apocalyptic, underwater world?
Snyder: It's tremendous. I mean, a tremendous importance is on Sean and his abilities and his work here. This is really something where I give him a lot of room to create.
He's one of the best world-builders of anyone within the industry. I learned that working on the American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest mini-series with him, where he would incorporate elements into the context of the story in the background. It would end up not just fleshing out the world and making it incredibly real, but adding to the story too, and the characterization.
So I knew he'd be the perfect person for this, where you need to create a believable world at the bottom of the ocean, or in a sort of post-apocalyptic environment. In that way, I think of his work in Joe the Barbarian and in Punk Rock Jesus. And his ability to create worlds that are completely wild and so grounded and livable and feel like you could walk in and inhabit them because of how rich they are on the page is something that I admire about him all the time.
And certainly, his work here is just blowing me away.
Nrama: I know this is a limited series, but is there potential for more stories in this world? Or is it really just a beginning, middle and end and that's it?
Snyder: No, there's definitely potential. We talk about it all the time. We have a lot of stories for the world we're creating here. We just wanted to be able to do it in a way here where we had sort of a single story that we could do to set it up and see what people thought.
JEFF LEMIRE TALKS NEW VERTIGO SCI-FI ROMANCE, 'TRILLIUM'The future and past intersect in Trillium, the newly announced Vertigo limited series by writer/artist Jeff Lemire.
As the creator's current series Sweet Tooth comes to an end in December, he announced at New York Comic Con that he'll follow up the comic with a new limited series called Trilium that combines science fiction with romance.
The 10-issue series tells the story of two characters: Nika Temesmith, a space-based botanist in the year 3797; and William Pike, a war-scarred explorer in the year 1921.
According to DC's description of the comic, Nika, in the future, is "researching a species of strange plant-based life forms on a remote science station near the outermost rim of colonized space." And William, in the past, leads "an expedition into the dense jungles of Peru in search of the fabled 'Lost Temple of The Incas,' an elusive sanctuary said to have strange healing properties."
And somehow, across time, they fall in love. Yet their love will bring about the end of the universe. DC calls it "the last love story ever told."
Lemire, who is also currently writing Animal Man and Justice League Dark for DC as he finishes up Sweet Tooth, first got attention in the comics industry for his writing and drawing on the indie title Essex County.
For Trillium, Lemire will again work with his frequent collaborator, colorist José Villarrubia, but Lemire told Newsarama he also intends to incorporate his own watercolor painting into the new series.
Newsarama talked to Lemire about the project, discussing the story's themes, the dearth of female leads in sci-fi stories, and his approach to the art in Trillium.
Newsarama: Jeff, what was it that made you land on this type of story for your next project?
Jeff Lemire: When I knew that Sweet Tooth was winding down, I wanted to start thinking ahead to what I'd do next, because I don't really like to be between projects. It's not a comfortable place for me. I always like to have something to work on every day. So I knew I wanted to line up another Vertigo project pretty much right away after Sweet Tooth.
So I pitched a few things to Mark Doyle, my editor. It was stuff that I liked and I will probably go back to at some point. But Mark and Karen Berger pointed out that a lot of stuff that I was pitching seemed familiar. It seemed like they were themes or things that I'd done before.
And Mark challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and try to do something completely different from anything I'd done before. And that got me thinking.
Science fiction is a genre that I've really wanted to explore. I guess Sweet Tooth is sci-fi, but when I say sci-fi, I mean deep space, more traditional, hard science fiction.
I knew it would be something really challenging and really different from everything else I've done before.
So I knew I wanted to do a sci-fi book, and I knew I wanted to do a book with a female lead because I hadn't done that yet. You know, I just kind of combined a bunch of different things I was interested in at the time into a story. It's a story about exploration.
And also, the big thing for me was to do a love story, because I feel like that's a genre that's really unexplored in comics. There are only a couple of really great love stories that have been done in comics. And I thought if I had that as my emotional base, then combining it with the science fiction elements would make it something pretty unique.
Nrama: I know it's a limited series. But do you have an idea of how long it will be?
Lemire: It's a 10-issue series. The model I was kind of going off of was the, you know, Spaceman and Daytripper and Joe the Barbarian and those more recent books at Vertigo. They were a bit longer. They weren't mini-series, like five or six issues. They were a little bit longer but also self-contained. And books that, when they're all done, can be put into one nice, big, collected edition.
So it will be 10 issues for sure.
Nrama: Knowing the story has William Pike in the past, and Nika Temsmith in the future, and knowing that you often latch onto certain themes in your work... have you figured out yet what the overarching theme of this will be, even if there are several themes involved?
Lemire: To be honest, it's kind of hard for me to talk about the project so soon, just because I'm still winding down Sweet Tooth. As we're talking, I'm still drawing some of the last issue of Sweet Tooth. So beyond the outline stage, I haven't really dug in and really started to develop the story beyond that stage yet.
So I think a lot of that stuff is undecided and will come out as I start working on it more concretely.
For sure, at its core, it's a love story. It's a story about two people, two characters that have been wounded in their past in some way, and haven't been able to get over that. In one character's case, the wounds are physical, and with the other, it's more emotional scars that they're carrying around.
So the story's about how these two characters come together and work to heal each other. At the same time, they're caught up in this, hopefully, compelling and thrilling science fiction story as well that keeps the momentum going. And lots of fun, sort of exciting elements.
Nrama: It sounds like, to me, that one of its potential themes is humanity's search for meaning. It seems like you're saying that the search is (and always will be) part of human nature, both in the past and in the future who are searching. Or am I reading too much into this idea of exploration?
Lemire: No. Yeah, it's a book that's about exploration, and is about humanity's quest for knowledge and quest for secrets and the things that are sort of the underlying things that we don't know about the universe.The story is split into two narratives, where we have two brothers in the 1920's who have both just gone through World War I and came out of that, one of them physically wounded and the other one pretty messed up emotionally. They're both kind of on this quest to find some meaning in life after going through this horrible experience in the trenches of France. So it's sort of about the great era of 20th Century exploration.
And then in the future storyline, with this female scientist, we kind of get the end result of mankind's sort of quest for knowledge and exploration. She's at the out-most region of space.
And what she finds there obviously links back to the past and sort of opens this big can of worms that causes space and time to fall apart around all of them.
And they have to decide if their relationship is more important than reality itself.
Nrama: You mentioned World War I, and that war really does seem to go along with a search for meaning, since it wasn't a war with an objective that gave the war great meaning, you know? I know you've always had an interest in World War I, but what is it about that era that interests you, and why did you think it fit with this idea of these broken people?
Lemire: Yeah, that era and that war really fascinate me for a few reasons. I think just purely from a selfish visual standpoint, it's pretty compelling stuff to draw, you know? The trench warfare and stuff.
Nrama: Right, and the gas masks.
Lemire: Yeah, it's just so visually gripping and so raw. It's something that I think really fits my style.
And as horrible as it was, the whole experience the soldiers had living in the trenches is something that's just so awful, that it's compelling as an artist to depict.
Also, being a Canadian, it holds another fascination, because Canadians had a really big part in World War I and France and stuff. So I grew up reading so much about that era and our country's involvement in it. So exploring that part of my own country's history is something I'm really interested in.
Nrama: Is William Pike from Canada then?
Lemire: Yeah. In the original pitch, he was going to be an English explorer, but now he's a Canadian.
Nrama: You know, I love sci-fi too, but going back and reading a lot of the "fathers of science fiction," one of the things that really is lacking is females of the future, because I think when sci-fi was first emerging, women had a limited role in society, so it's hard to find women in a lead role in those old classics.
Lemire: Yeah, yeah.
Nrama: Why did you make the choice to have a female lead in Trillium, and in particular, the character from the future?
Lemire: Yeah, well, there are a few different reasons, to be honest. Really, a lot of my work so far has been about men. You know, Essex County is really about fathers and sons, and so is Sweet Tooth in a lot of ways. So it was part of what Mark said, to get out of my comfort zone and force myself to do something I'm not as comfortable with.
So for me, that meant taking on a new perspective. And trying to write more of a female perspective, I thought, would be something that would be challenging. It would push me in new directions.
And it's also, just like you say, you know, a lot of the sci-fi I love isn't so much the space opera-y, kind of Star Wars stuff, but more like Arthur C. Clarke and Larry Niven and Robert Heinlein and all the, you know, Isaac Asimov and the fathers of sci-fi. And a lot of that stuff is, like you said, man's exploration, literally. It's always men in space.
I thought it would be a lot more interesting to have a female perspective.
And just from a visual standpoint, I'm so used to drawing men, and I thought it would be a challenge to force myself to get better at drawing women. The only way to do that is to force yourself to draw them all the time.
Those are all different things that went into that decision.
Nrama: Your fans are familiar with your art style, but you do tweak it quite a bit depending on what you're drawing.
Nrama: How would you describe the way you're drawing Trillium?
Lemire: Well, it's pretty exciting, because whenever I finish any big project, like now I'm finishing up Sweet Tooth, it's always a good time for me to sort of step back and put a critical eye on my artwork and sort of assess my weaknesses and my strengths. It's a good time for me to look at things I'm doing that I'm not really enjoying, or the things that I am enjoying about my work.
It's also a fresh start where I can shift my style a little bit and move in directions that I want to go.
One thing I've been playing around with in Sweet Tooth a little bit here and there, and also when I did the cover for Underwater Welder, was watercolor painting my own stuff.
That's where I see my art going, sort of in that painted style.
Trillium will have two or three different narrative threads running together, so it will be a good place for me to explore different styles. I want to do a different visual style for each of the narratives. And one of those will definitely be fully painted by me. And then the other two will probably be things that I develop with José Villarrubia, who will be working with me again. And we'll come up with a color palette and stuff.
But you know, just in terms of drawing style, too, I think it's a good chance for me to experiment with different things and try some new things as well.
Again, it's so early in the process that I'm really just toying around in sketchbooks still and designing the world. You know, the space suits and the space ships and all that stuff, which is really fun. And I think the style hasn't really been found yet, but I'm getting there.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!