You've heard the news that Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek are teaming up once again to take on Kirby: Genesis at Dynamite Entertainment. As you know, this is the first time in seventeen years that the two will be working together again. Taking on characters created by Jack Kirby could be a daunting task. We had the opportunity to ask them a few questions on the project.
Kurt Busiek: I'm the wrong guy to ask, there. I'd assume it started with Nick Barrucci and the Kirby Estate, and Alex got roped in from there. For me, though, it started when Alex called me up and told me about the whole idea, and asked if I'd be interested in writing it. I was, of course -- who wouldn't be? -- but I didn't know how to approach it, how to bring together all these characters in a story that would introduce a whole new universe of adventure and wild ideas. There's so much there, but it needs a story, a central spine that will give readers a place to stand, characters to sympathize with and a vantage point from which to take it all in. And while I was trying to wrap my head around all of that, Alex mentioned one thing he wanted to do, one cool visual idea. And as soon as he mentioned it, I knew where we had to start, and I knew what that central story had to be. And that's when I signed on, because I knew we had a really good story to tell. One that will feature tons of great Kirby ideas, but will also be a very human, involving story that will put readers right in the thick of it all.
Alex Ross: Dynamite has been working for a long time to get to the stage where the creative could even begin. The attraction to Jack Kirby’s legacy of so many characters under one project was a passion project for the publisher and one that I was aware of early but had to wait for the time when we could begin to sink our teeth into it.
== TEASER ==
CV: How involved with the Kirby Estate be?
KB: As involved as they want to be, really. They've been very helpful so far, and they'll be seeing everything and giving us whatever feedback they have. This is Jack's legacy to them, so we all want to make sure it's done right.
AR: Personally, I really want to make them proud of what we can contribute to this legacy. Clearly nothing we do will be the equal of what was done by Jack Kirby’s hand, for that will always be the basis of all things spun from his mind. At best, we hope to be in tune with the consciousness and spirit that gave birth to those creations.
CV: Is there excitement, fear or both in taking on these characters?
KB: I'd say more excitement than fear, by a long stretch. I've written a lot of Kirby creations over the years, but generally after other writers and artists have had a shot at them, so what I've gotten to work with is Kirby filtered through a lot of visions and approaches. But this is as close as you can get to working with pure Kirby -- we're picking up from what Kirby did and going from there. And that's an absolute thrill. It's a little intimidating, sure, but the excitement is way stronger.
AS: I’ve been too dumb my whole career to have the right amount of fear for living up to the quality of the craftsmen who I’m now following. You can say that that’s an abnormal amount of ego at play, but it’s what it’s taken to get things done and really throw myself into any adaptation of the work of people who have made such an impression in my life and the lives of millions.
CV: What characters will be involved?
KB: Ha! What characters won't be, is probably a better question. We're going to sue characters you've seen before, like Silver Star and Captain Victory, characters who've barely been glimpsed, like Galaxy Green, characters who've never been published in comics form, like Tiger 21, and lots more. We've been given full access to what Jack Kirby created and retained ownership on over the years, so we can use anyone from the new takes on Norse gods and heroes he did for portfolios to cool sketches he did where we don't know what they were for.
We're building a world, and we've been given virtual carte blanche to use anyone and everyone. And even when there's a character I'm not wild about using, Alex wants to figure out how to get them in somewhere, so I can guarantee there will be a lot. There will be a certain cast of characters who'll get most of the spotlight, though -- I don't want to say who yet, because we're still working out the story and things may change.
CV: How will continuity factor in? New stories on old characters or a continuation from past stories?
KB: If Jack Kirby wrote and drew it, it's canonical. If someone else did it, then no promises. Even the TeenAgents characters that Neil Vokes and I worked up from Kirby designs, years ago, are going to be changed -- the TeenAgents will be in it, but they won't be the same guys. We're starting over from Kirby's designs. He's the creative wellspring, so we want to build on what he did, get back to the purest form and work outward from there.
AS: Kurt’s respect toward this point is key amongst the reasons why it’s great to work with him. He has the reverence for the source material that negates what is often made of it by others. There’s not a lot of work on these properties by other craftsmen that we have to take in or ignore, but our focus can be chiefly upon what Kirby did and use whatever insight we have from other resources to his creativity in these areas to find out if there are any ideas we can resuscitate.
CV: Will we see new characters? Will old characters evolve?
KB: Yes. You'll see characters you've never seen in comics before. You'll see existing Kirby characters go through changes. You'll see things brought together in new ways, new ideas built out of Kirby's designs and sketches, all that and more.
CV: How many titles can we expect? One series? More than one?
KB: Well, for my part, what I'm doing, at least to start, is the KIRBY: GENESIS mini-series. There will be more series than that -- GENESIS is a self-contained story, but it's also a beginning -- but that's more Nick Barrucci's question to answer than mine, I think.
CV: What will be the involvement of you two? Is Alex just doing covers? Will the art be closer to Alex's style or Kirby's?
KB: Alex and I are working up the GENESIS story together, the same way we did with MARVELS, bouncing ideas off each other and building the story structure that I'll then write. On the art front, he'll be doing covers, but not just covers -- he'll be contributing to the interior art in some pretty interesting ways, but it'll be better to show you than to describe it. As for the other art, it'll be good -- but we're not looking to ape anyone else's art style. That wasn't Jack's approach, it isn't Alex's -- we want the series to harmonize with both Kirby and Alex, but not to imitate. You'll see what I mean by that when we have more to show.
CV: How does it feel to be working together again? Does it make things easier?
KB: We're pretty early in the process, so who knows, by the end of it maybe we'll be strangling each other and cursing, but it's going just fine so far. We're both older and more set in our ways than the two young guys who did MARVELS, but at the same time we've had years of experience working together, not just from MARVELS but from Alex doing covers and character designs for ASTRO CITY. We work together pretty well, and neither one of us intimidates the other. So we've got a strong sense of vision and we bring ideas to the table that we're not going to let be cast aside, but we know how to hash things out, make sure we're doing something we're both happy with.So far, anyway, it feels real good. Doing MARVELS was one of the great creative experiences of my career, and I'm looking forward to having that same kind of back-and-forth on KIRBY: GENESIS.
AS: Same for me. I very much look forward to it. It’s going to be a great project to invest ourselves in. And I know it’s not a cause, per se, but I feel it is, for the sake of tribute to a very, very important human being.