Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Interview Time--Jonathan Maberry

 In March it was announced there would be a prequel to the series written by Jonathan Maberry, "Marvel Universe VS The Punisher," of which I was a big fan, titled, "Marvel Universe VS Wolverine". Having enjoyed the Punisher's tale so much I spoke with the author via email about it, I also asked if I could have the pleasure of interviewing him about this new series. He said yes and we conducted this interview toward the end of March. As we approach the release of "Marvel Universe VS Wolverine #1" tomorrow I thought this would be the perfect time to post the interview! Click after the cut for the interview.
DAVID: First, how did you feel about the public's reception Marvel Universe Versus the Punisher?

JONATHAN MABERRY: It was very encouraging.  I got a ton of emails as well as posts on Twitter and Facebook about it.  Before it hit there was some reservation and confusion from people who thought it was either a retread of Warren Ellis’ Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe or Marvel Zombies.  Then when they read the story it was clear to everyone that it wasn’t any kind of retread.  And it’s not a zombie story.  If it has a thematic relative then it’s George Romero’s original The Crazies, which is an influence I will openly admit.  Another influence was Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which a book Matheson himself introduced me to when I was a teenager (way back in the 1970s). I’ve gotten another ton of emails asking for more of the story.

DAVID: I enjoyed Marvel Universe VS the Punisher, it had a good mixture of darkness and grit mixed with some humor injected by the appearance on characters such as Deadpool, will this prequel also incorporate some humor to help break up the otherwise dark subject matter of a world decimated by a virus?

MABERRY: There’s a totally different tone to this story.  There’s humor, but it’s Wolverine’s very dry, very caustic humor.  And there will be some jokes wired into the tale.  Overall, though, the tone of this is far darker.  Less like a noir thriller and more like a classic horror story.

DAVID: I found it interesting this prequel features Wolverine, but then I recalled that when we saw all the characters Frank Castle had hunted down in the original series I don't believe I saw Wolverine, had you intentionally left him out to leave open the possibility for a story like this?

MABERRY: We saw ‘part’ of Wolverine in the original.  In issue #2 of the first series Frank encounters the Hulk, who is wearing Wolverine’s hand on a necklace.  How that came to be is part of this story.
            But there were a lot of doorways left open to future stories all through Marvel Universe vs the Punisher.  Not everything is what it seemed.  None of it will be retconning, either.  We left those seeds planted deliberately.

DAVID: I know you don't want to spoil too much of the story, but as it is a prequel I imagine it will be taking place around the start and middle of when the plague that hit, seeing as Marvel Universe VS the Punisher took place after the virus ruined the world?

MABERRY: The story kicks off right as the plague starts.  So we get to see it when it’s nature and scope are still unknown.  The Punisher limited series told the story from a big picture perspective, jumping around to tell bits and pieces over five years.   We’ll be there for the story as it unfolds hour by hour and day by day.  And there is a LOT of story to tell. 

DAVID: What made you want to use Wolverine--other than of course he is a popular character and I imagine fun to write?  Was it the fact that his healing factor made it possible to write about him as someone immune to the virus--although I'm just assuming you're making him immune, for all I know the story is about him slowly fighting it off and losing at the end.

MABERRY: Wolverine was a natural choice, and again this is something we had in mind when doing the first series.  He is an ultimate warrior type…not the kind to sit on the bleachers and watch, and not the kind to go down easily.  Plus, his voice is unique.  Hard-bitten, cynical and yet romantic.  He hasn’t lost all of his idealism, though its buried under layers of emotional and psychological damage.  He can still be emotionally hurt, and we explore what happens when he sustains the kind of hurts his healing factor can’t repair. As for immunity…we’ll see.  After all, Deadpool also has a healing factor and we know that he succumbed to the plague.

DAVID: How is it working with the artist Laurence Campbell? Marvel Universe VS the Punisher looked great with Goran Pavlov's art, can we expect equally good-looking things this time around?

MABERRY: I worked with Laurence once before on one of my first projects for Marvel, PUNISHER: NAKED KILL, for the MAX line.  He has a raw, stripped-down style that allows mood and the play of light-and-shadow to tell much of the story.  It’s very much like Goran Parlov’s style, at least in the way he’s doing the art for this series.  The books will be excellent companion pieces.

DAVID: Does this story set up Marvel Universe Versus the Punisher too, or tie-in directly some way with that story?

MABERRY: The story takes place inside the larger framework of the Punisher story, but it’s neither a re-telling nor a set-up.  We don’t cover exactly the same ground, either, even when exploring some of the same incidents.  We’re approaching this as if this is the first time we’ve told this story, and we’re doing it in a way that will allow new readers to step in.  At the same time, the readers of the first series will get a much deeper view into the world of the Cannibal Predator plague.

DAVID: What are the chances of us seeing more stories set in this timeline? Does it depend on Marvel Universe VS Wolverine doing well, or if you have any more stories you want to tell?

MABERRY: Oh, there’s always that possibility.  I’ve discussed several possible storylines, each of which was primed by scenes (or panels) in the Punisher series, and further primed by this series.  There’s such rich meat here that we could tell these stories for years without really covering any of the same ground.  This is a war, so imagine how many ways there are to tell the story of a war.  Look at all the fiction that came out of World War II and Vietnam.  We have that kind of storytelling latitude.

DAVID: I saw your interview about how you enjoy bookstores on your website. I too am a big fan of bookstores, be they independent or part of a chain. What are your thoughts about Borders shutting down more than 200 stores?

MABERRY: It’s a great loss.  Borders has been championing the sale of comics and graphic novels for years.  Besides, the hit to the publishing world is echoed by additional hits to the general workforce (lots of people worked in those 200 stores), real estate, taxes in the towns where the stores were located, and more.  It’s a kick in the ribs while the economy is still trying to get up off the mat.

DAVID: What other projects are you working on that you can talk about, comic-related or other-wise? For those of us only familiar with your comic work what would you like to share about your prose material? For example, I noticed a new piece of work by you is coming out soon titled, "King of Plagues" that is the 3rd in a series.

MABERRY: Right now I’ve got a pretty full plate.  I have three novels coming out this year that I’ll be touring in support of: first up is THE KING OF PLAGUES, third in my Joe Ledger series (which has been optioned for TV); then in August DUST & DECAY debuts, which is the second in my series of post-apocalyptic zombie novels for teens.  The first in that series, ROT & RUIN, has word a slew of awards and is nominated for a Bram Stoker, a YASLA and others.  Then in October, I have a standalone zombie thriller coming out, DEAD OF NIGHT. I’m also editing a vampire anthology, and I have stories coming out in a variety of anthologies including “Flint and Steel” in GI JOE: TALES FROM THE COBRA WARS, “Saint John” in THE MONSTER’S CORNER, “The Wind Through the Fence” in DEATH BE NOT PROUD, “The Death Song of Dwar Guntha” in BARSOOM: THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF JOHN CARTER OF MARS.  And I wrote an essay for TRIUMPH OF THE WALKING DEAD, a nonfic book about Robert Kirkman’s comic and TV series.
 As for comics, at the moment I just finished the last issue of CAPTAIN AMERICA: HAIL HYDRA and am actively writing MARVEL UNIVERSE VS WOLVERINE.  I’ve got some pitches in for future projects, so we’ll see what happens!

Thanks To Jonathan Maberry for taking the time out to do an interview!

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