Between his alternate history novels and his work with pulp heroes on the Masks series, Chris Roberson was the perfect choice to tell the tale of those same pulp heroes when government legislation targeting them is passed. Jai Nitz caught up with Roberson to talk about Captain Action, iZombie, and the future for the series.
JN: Did you have a Captain Action figure growing up?
CR: I was born in 1970, just a couple of years after the Captain Action heyday in the late 60s, so I missed that window. But I discovered him in an article about the Gil Kane-drawn Captain Action comics in Amazing Heroes when I was in middle school, and was immediately intrigued. Now, thanks to Ed Catto, I have both a CA and a Doctor Evil on my shelf!
JN: What’s your favorite spy-genre work? James Bond vs Jason Bourne vs Austin Millbarge & Emmett Fitz-Hume. Who wins?
CR: OUR MAN FLINT, hands down, no question.
JN: You know I think the world of iZombie. Now that it’s in development as a TV show are you involved at all? Would you approve of iZombie Captain Action costumes?
CR: I don’t have any direct involvement with the TV pilot, no, but I’ve been getting regular updates about where things stand. As for iZombie Captain Action outfits, absolutely! Who wouldn’t love to see Captain Action as a lovable wereterrier?
JN: You came to comics from the world of novels. How do you write a typical comic script?
CR: Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I RETURNED to comics from the world of novels. Comics were my first home, and my first language, and I only ended up a novelist because it was marginally easier to break in to prose markets (short stories and novels) than it was to break in to comics professionally. So if anything, was always thinking creatively in the language of comics and then having to translate it into prose, and now I don’t have to go through that step! But in terms of process, I usually start out in longhand, scribbling notes and questions to myself, trying to figure out the bare bones of the plot, setting, characters, and so on. Once I think I’ve got a handle on what should happen, I do page breakdowns, jotting down a few sentences for each page, figuring out how best to pace the action. Then I do all of the panel descriptions, which function like a one-sided conversation with the artist. And only after all those steps are finished do I start working on dialogue and captions, using as few words as possible to mortar up any gaps in what the art will be conveying.
JN: Codename: Action is a six-issue mini. Where you’re going with the first arc and do you have more planned?
CR: We ended up doing a five issue storyline this time out, instead of six, actually. It just worked out that five served as a more natural end point, and to push it to six would have meant too much padding. But after this, who knows? This storyline definitely ends in such a way that it sets up MANY more stories to follow.
JN: Talk about Jonathan Lau. He’s come a long way at Dynamite. How is the collaboration going from script to art?
CR: I’m sorry to say that I haven’t been able to communicate with Jonathan as much as I’d like, largely due to scheduling snafus on my end. As I said above, the work begins with a one-sided conversation, with me asking questions or making suggestions in the panel descriptions, and then Jonathan makes tweaks to pacing and layout stuff along the way in the line art, and sometimes the dialogue or captions are tweaked at the end to match. A very organic process, but one that I think has worked nicely.
JN: What’s next for you at Dynamite? What other projects do you have upcoming?
CR: The one that I’m most excited about is the new DOC SAVAGE series, which launches in December, with interior art by Bilquis Evely and covers by Alex Ross and John Cassaday. I am a HUGE fan of the character, and getting a chance to write him is a childhood dream come true. We’re doing a take that is very faithful to the original Lester Dent novels at the outset, but that gradually incorporates new elements along the way. And I’m having an absolute blast working on it!
Codename: Action #3 is available this month from Dynamite Entertainment.
Jai Nitz is a writer in his own right having written for Marvel, DC, Image and currently Dynamite on Grimm: The Warlock debuting next month.