Dark Horse Builds Characters-Emerald City ComicCon Review

Moderator: Jeremy Atkins
Panelists: Greg Rucka, Michael Oeming, Bryan Glass, Curt Pires, Frank Barbiere, Jai Nitz, Adam Warren, and Matt Kindt.

We join our creators for an in depth look at their characters and what makes them tick.

The Run Down:

Veil cover

First off we start with Veil by Greg Rucka, the artist is Toni Fejzula. Greg Rucka “(Veil is) a strange story about a strange woman who’s strange.”  Issue two (released on April 2, 2014) has more about her story, who she is, where she came from and more about the character in general.  Do not read if you’re afraid of rats!  Apparently Rucka has a “rat problem”, he never realized he likes to write about rats so much, there are rats everywhere in every issue.  “Toni Fejzula is doing outstanding work with this book, some of the best work I have seen him do.”  An audience member asked “Does the beat down start soon?”  Rucka: “Yes! And go for the ankles, if that doesn’t work out go for the knees.”. Rucka said that Scott Allie (Dark Horse Editor -in-Chief) put him in a metaphorical headlock to work with Dark Horse.  Greg wanted Veil to be objective and he didn’t want it to be a “spanking book”  he is now excited with the way Veil has been going and said “(He’s) Very excited about a death in issue four!”  An audience member asked: “What was the most difficult thing for you to write?” Rucka: “Veil is definitely up there, I literally made a language for this book.  Ideally we want it to be to the point where people can decode it.”  “This process has been very challenging and rewarding.  It’s dangerous when you get complacent, you need to scare yourself.  It’s very important to upend your (writers) toolbox every once in a while and try out something new.  This is my first real horror work, I don’t really think of stories in terms of genre.  The first time I realized this was a horror story was when I was at the Dark Horse does horror in New York!  I don’t think I’m very good at scaring people.  The best I can do is disquiet people, comics are very difficult to do horror in!”


VictoriesThe Victories is written and drawn by Michael Oeming. It’s a unique perspective on superheroes.  It came from Oeming’s therapy and how it was related to these characters.  The entire thing (is going to become) one full story. Oeming said that when he writes it’s literally “by the seat of your pants where things just happen.”  “Dark Horse is the only publisher that will let me (write this story).  I’ve been exercising demons and this is kind of like my version of therapy.”  He says he wrote this to see “why superheroes act the way they act, which was a hard pitch to explain.  Anxiety issues, eating disorders etc (are all covered).”




 Empowered is written and drawn by Adam Warren, the Internal Medicine (pictured to the left) is a one-shot story (released March 26).  Adam wants to do a sprawling version of one-shots with more artists and a larger scale.  Empowered is a story in the mind of damsels in distress.  “Brandon Graham was the inspiration for Adam Warren- “I saw his work and it got me back into going into comics, I was very excited to pitch my story to him.” Adam said “working with another artist can take your work in different directions and places you wouldn’t think of.”






Furious is written by Bryan Glass, the artist is Victor Santos.  An experimental drug rehabilitation program gives the main character superpowers and a clear mind, Glass stated that the character’s thought process was “I will redeem my life with these powers.”  This story is a reflection of how we treat our celebrities “we build up our heroes and then we laugh as we destroy them right before our eyes” Glass described when he was explaining where he got the inspiration for the story.  Glass said with Furious he wants to “explore inner characters’ tragedies”.  “Furious wants to explore her fame and wants to inspire and help people with her superpowers.  Unfortunately, the first time the media sees her she is beating two molesters, and the reporter pans out to see her standing over these two covered in blood.  They then dub her “Furious” which is completely against what she wanted to be portrayed as.”  Furious is a five-issue mini-series with issue number four slated for release on April 30.



White SuitsWhite Suits is written by Frank Barbiere, the artist is Toby Cypress.  Barbiere started out by saying “(I’m) so happy Dark Horse took a look and wanted to publish this book.  It’s about a gang of criminals that disappeared but then reappear killing crime bosses.” White Suits is being released as a four issue mini-series. Barbiere “The shorts really helped me build the issues and the story.  (This process) has been really teachable for me.  I just emailed Toby on a whim and he accepted drawing this comic.”





Dream Theif is written by Jai Nitz and the artist is Greg Smallwood. In typical Jai style, he starts out with a joke saying “The rest of these comics are just so dark and down.  My comic is about justice and good stuff, which is why my story has murder!  Our main character wakes up with dead people all around him because he gets possessed by ghosts when he sleeps. Which happens to me all the time! No but, when I pitched this to Dark Horse I didn’t have anything to hang my hat on.”   “Greg and I truly have a 50/50 process where we sit down and discuss the story and break it down to build it back up together.  Everyone on the team at Dark Horse really helped me out.  To start out we had quotes from friends that were talking up this book, which helped a lot.  Dream Thief 2 (Slated to release in June)  has more murder, more drugs, and more mayhem!  “I am really grateful to share this on the level that we are able to”Jai said in closing.




Pop is written by Curt Pires, the artists is Jason Copeland. “Pop is about manufactured pop-stars that are made to appeal to you.  The main character escapes before she is due to be sold.  The first real person she meets is a local stone who’s about to kill himself.  (This story is) a look at all the awful stuff about this culture but in the same light if you were Justin Bieber in a hotel room with a brick of c****** you might just want to be doing that too!”  Pop will be released on August 27th!





 Mind MGMT is written and drawn by Matt Kindt. Matt described his work-“It’s about spies with mind powers!” Issue number 21 is on sale April 23, 2014.






Audience member- “Do you struggle with the continuation of stories when you’re doing a one-shot?”

Jai- “One thing we struggle with is finality, like with characters like Batman, he will never end.  The good thing about creator owned is that I can kill whomever whenever I want.  The good thing about having Scott (Allie) and Dark Horse is they they can reel you in and keep you on track.  Dream Thief 2 is about father and son, and the good thing is I can continue and keep telling my story the way I do it and I can end it the way I want to.”

Audience member- “How do you get yourself out of a corner when you paint yourself into a corner?”

Jai- “If you have a problem in Act 3 then you have a problem with Act 1.”

Bryan- “You want them to get to someplace but (the characters) don’t want to get there.  Listen to your character, they will take you there on their own.”

Frank- “Look at your roadmap and see where the character is taking you and give them what they want.”

Curt- “You might be trying to force them there.  I know my trick is that I have a bookshelf that I keep near my area that I look at to help me.”

Michael- “Walk away or do the opposite of what you want.”

Jai- “My trick is that when I don’t know how or where to do I just eat Twizzlers.  I stare at the wall and eat Twizzlers when I’m stuck.  I still have a hard time trying to explain to my girlfriend that I am actually working when I’m staring into space.”

Quick notes:

Sundowners by Tim Seely is launching in August.  Also, “Starting Points” will be on sale in July- This is a compilation that allows readers to jump in to multiple ongoing stories in the Dark Horse realm.

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