Author: Tyson Durst

Interview: P. Craig Russell

Interview: P. Craig Russell

The passage of time sometimes seems like a dream when reflecting back, which is appropriate when you realize that it’s been 20 years since Neil Gaiman, along with a host of brilliant artists, first introduced the world to The Sandman and created a series that is considered required reading by many.

10 years ago, Gaiman released The Sandman: The Dream Hunters, as a prose novella and a standalone story that could be read without prior knowledge of the earlier volumes, with illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano. Final Fantasy fans may be familiar with Amano for his design contributions to the popular videogame series.

This Wednesday, DC is marking the 20th anniversary of Sandman with the first of four issues of the comic adaptation of The Dream Hunters by P. Craig Russell, an artist whose career spans over 30 years across various publishers and genres in the comic industry. The first issue of The Sandman: The Dream Hunters comic adaptation will feature a regular cover by Yuko Shimizu with a variant cover by Russell.

P. Craig Russell is also no stranger to collaboration with Neil Gaiman as a contributor to the original Sandman series. His most recent work was the graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline from Harper Collins, which is also due out as an animated feature in theaters next year.

I recently spoke with Russell about The Dream Hunters, Neil Gaiman’s confessions of originality, and the art of adaptation.

ComicMix: For those who may not have read the original prose story, what is The Dream Hunters about?

P. Craig Russell: It’s an original story told in the style of a Japanese fairy tale. It’s the story of a fox who falls in love with a young monk. She falls in love with him and his soul is stolen by a rich onmyōji, who is sort of like a wizard, and the fox then takes her revenge on the onmyōji.

If you haven’t read it, it’s a beautifully written story and I just found out for the first time in Neil’s notes that he just wrote for the first issue of Dream Hunters that the story he told in his afterword to the original book, was that this was based on an old Japanese fairy tale which, in fact, it wasn’t. He made it up entirely.


Interview: Todd McFarlane on the State of Comics

Interview: Todd McFarlane on the State of Comics

Yesterday, the first part of my interview with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane focused on issue 185 of the long-running comic and the changes in store for readers as he returns to active creative duty with Whilce Portacio and Brian Holguin.

Since part one ran, it has been announced that the shipping date has slipped a week and the issue, complete with previously unannounced variant covers, will now be in stores on October 29.

In the second part of our discussion, we chatted about approaching the big 200 mark, the comics landscape overall today and what it might look like in the future, as well as a few Spawn-related surprises.

ComicMix: With issue 200 on the horizon and the “end of Spawn” being teased, will Spawn continue past issue 200?

Todd McFarlane: Yeah, [Issue] 200 we’re already planning for. We’ve thrown enough ripples out already and that people will sort of go ‘whoa’ and have to pay attention to keep pace with it. And 200 will allow us to get to one of the big notes and it’s all sort of a Pandora’s Box; you close one door and another one opens. We’ll have a nice compelling story for 200.

CMix: The comic landscape has changed and continues to change in a lot of ways with all kinds of different formats on the shelves and walking into bookstores now with full sections devoted to trades and original graphic novels, as well as the rise of webcomics and digital formats on the Internet. What are your thoughts in general on these trends and new directions in comics as a medium?

TM: The medium of comic books, which is a combination of words and pictures, I don’t think that medium is ever going to go away. I believe what will evolve over our lifetimes and it’s been a slow evolution, is the delivery mechanism. Is it possible that some day everybody who reads a comic book will turn on a computer? I guess, but it’ll still be words and pictures, it just happens to be in digital form. The basic form of what a comic is will never die. The delivery mechanism, to me, is less important. If people want them in trade paperback, in book form, on their computers, on the back of cereal boxes, I mean, whatever, but it’d still be a comic book. So I’ll let the consumer tell us where they want to get their fix on this medium and then we’ll hopefully not be too far behind the curve and we can give it to them.

CMix: Do you see the monthly pamphlet format headed for extinction at some point as some people have suggested?

TM: It’s possible as long as someone can offset it with another business model that gets it to the consumer. Again, as long as you give people an option as to where they can get it. Change for change’s sake doesn’t make much sense. At some point, there might be an economic tipping point where you look at sales and see you’re selling 51% or more doing something a new way rather than the old way so you start putting all of your resources behind the new way like the transition from VHS to DVD at Blockbuster where [DVD] was 5% and then 10% and then it took over. If we’re going to go in that direction, I sort of see it being the same as other business models where it’ll simply be a slow transition.


Interview: Todd McFarlane on ‘Spawn’ #185

Interview: Todd McFarlane on ‘Spawn’ #185

Spawn is now a teenager in the world of monthly super-hero comics, sixteen years old and counting since 1992 when creator Todd McFarlane moved out of Marvel’s House of Ideas to help form Image and launch his own flagship title.

In 2008, Spawn is trying to reinvent itself and attract more readers and interest in an era when attracting new readers for superhero monthlies is a big hurdle for anybody.

In issue 185, due out on Wednesday, Todd McFarlane will return to the book with Whilce Portacio taking on main art duty to kick off a new storyline called “Endgame”. Brian Holguin, a Spawn veteran, will be working with McFarlane on story and script.

With promises of new directions and changing how people look at the book, issue 185 is its own milestone with three confirmed covers by Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, and Greg Capullo, along with its own website that’s been teasing readers for the past few weeks.

As Spawn closes in on a major milestone of 200 issues, I had the opportunity to chat with McFarlane over the phone about his return to Spawn, where the book has been, and where it’s going.

ComicMix: Spawn 185 kicks off a new storyline called “Endgame”. What is “Endgame” about?

Todd McFarlane: It’s a jumping on point for readers to get in on the ground level and not have to have a lot of backstory. That’s it, just sort of saying “hey, we’re going to come in here and dust some stuff off and make it accessible and start pushing it and creating new stories and situations within the Spawn mythology that hopefully you haven’t seen in the first 184 issues.” 

CMix: Where do you want this new story arc to take the Spawn comic book and how does it fit into the overall story and mythology of those past issues?

TM: In the big mythology, it becomes sort of the next step in trying to neutralize the two big forces that have always been in the book which are Heaven and Hell. And again, the idea behind it has always been this man put in between these colossal forces. And is there a way for man to come out on top and not be beholden to any force? If you read the book, I’ve not made it a “good versus evil” in the classic sense of it and so we’ve said in the book and when people have asked, that in this mythology, Heaven and Hell are essentially the same thing; it’s just one guy has a better PR firm. But they both want the same thing: the souls and domination and to annihilate the other guy.

Which is why Spawn has not necessarily been about breaking away from Hell to go work for Heaven; he just wants to break away from it all and be a free man, pushing towards that big concept.