The moment we've been waiting for is finally here. Last June, it was announced that Rick Remender and Wes Craig had a new Image title, DEADLY CLASS, coming our way. All you need to know is it's about a school for assassins set in the late 80s and it's really good.
We spoke to Wes Craig about working with Remender on this new series and why you need to pick this up this week.
COMIC VINE: You've worked on a lot of big action/superhero comics. How does this compare since it's more grounded in reality?
WES CRAIG: It's just different challenges really. But yeah, no superpowers or anything so you take out that mythic larger-than-life quality that superhero comics have. There's more focus on creating an atmosphere, a time and place, and most importantly getting across the emotions of the characters. That's always a goal, but even more so here.
But the biggest difference here is that me and Rick own DEADLY CLASS, and that feeling of ownership has really freed me up to try out new stuff, new approaches in how to tell a story with a comic book. Collaborating with Rick on story ideas and experimenting with how to illustrate the story, those are my favourite aspects of DEADLY CLASS.
CV: Did you have to do research in order to capture the San Francisco area from the late 80s? I'd imagine you'd have to remember to avoid modern things like cell phones, cars, etc in the backgrounds.
WC: Yeah, lots of research, I'm not obsessed with historical accuracy really, but I don't want anything to be jarringly out of place. I recently went to the Image Expo and that was my first time in San Francisco. I took an extra day after the show to just walk around the city and get a feel for the place- trying to take note of the things you can't get from photos: smells, sounds etc. It helped me understand the place a lot better. It's a great city, a lot of history represented there.
CV: There's a big chase scene in issue #1. Was it fun to draw and cut loose or was there pressure to keep it somewhat grounded?
WC: Yeah that was a lot of fun, I've had all these ideas about how to capture motion in comics, thoughts on how to represent it, and I was able to get across a lot of those ideas for the first time, I'm hoping it'll stand out for readers- something they haven't seen before.
CV: Rick's mentioned that many of the stories in this series are based on true events. Is part of this series an eye opener on the type of violence that actually exists in the real world?
WC: Yeah, to a degree. Part of it is fantasy, but part of it is real. The idea of a "school for assassins" sounds pretty far-fetched at first, and it's a pretty dark idea- but there are parallels all over the place in the real world: in issue three we look at the back story of two characters, one is from a violent street gang, another was a soldier in Vietnam- when you look at examples like that- real examples- the idea of this story doesn't seem so crazy. I think we'd like to examine that aspect in places.
CV: Is it possible that you or Rick actually attended a school for assassins?
WC: Actually our letterer Rus was the one who attended a school for assassins. I know at one point Rick took some after-school classes in ballet, but that's all I can think of.
CV: The series was first announced at Image Expo last June. How many issues do you have completed so far?
WC: I'm working on issue #4 right now. The first two issues are just under 30 pages each though so between them that's a whole extra comic. It's an ongoing series, and like "Saga" when the collection of each arc comes out we probably won't release an issue that month, so I'm really confident we can keep our schedule that way and stay monthly.
CV: Have any of the characters risen to the top as your favorites to draw? Anyone we should keep an eye on?
WC: I think my favourite right now is Maria, people may have seen her in the preview pages we've shown- she's a Latina who sometimes wears day of the dead-style skull face paint. Yolga the goth is fun, there's an antagonist who makes his first appearance in #2 that's got a really interesting "look." haha. He's kind of a secret though so you'll have to check out the issue to see what I mean.
CV: What's your quick sales pitch to convince readers to buy this book instead of another comic fighting for shelf space at the comic shop?
WC: I feel really good about what me, Rick, Lee, Rus, and Sebastian our editor, have done here. I don't think there's anything else like it on the racks. It's 30 pages of story, the second issue is also 30 pages too and comes out just two weeks after #1, so just give those two a try, if you're not hooked after reading all that, then you can go back to your usual thing. But give it a try- it's something new, and we could all use a bit more "new."
Be sure to pick up DEADLY CLASS #1, on sale this week. The DEADLY CLASS #1 Liberty Variant will be available at Wizard World Portland. Visit the CBLDF booth #646 on January 24. It'll be available for contributions of $10 for each card-carrying CBLDF members and $20 for non-members. Limited to 1000 copies.