My neighbor (and Editor-In-Chief) Mike Rhode is taking his daughter off to college for the first time, so I'm taking a second away from my duties at ComicsOnline.com to interview writer Greg Pak for ComicsDC.
If you're not familiar with Greg Pak's work,chances are you probably just haven't been reading the credits that tightly. I've mostly recently read his stuff for the relaunch of Eternal Warrior through Valiant Comics, but he's the man responsible for the awesomely out there World War Hulk storyline. I didn't know this until I read his Wiki, but he also created Amadeus Cho. Not too shabby.
Thanks for taking the time to chat. Here's a few questions to start with:
What was the genesis for Kingsway West? Obviously there's been different pieces of fiction relating to the Chinese people in a Western setting, but the fantasy elements are way more pronounced than anything I've read before.
How did you get together with Mirko Colak?
Mirko and I worked together on Marvel's RED SKULL INCARNATE and Dynamite's TUROK, both books that involved realistic, historically based material. I knew he'd absolutely kill on a Western. He's been tremendous. And I should add that colorist Wil Quintana and letterer Simon Bowland are doing amazing work on the book as well. I'm so lucky and happy!
How did you end up publishing at Dark Horse?
If I'm remembering correctly, I think Mirko had met Jim somehow and made the introduction. As soon as I started talking with Jim, I knew I wanted to do the book there. Jim asked all the right questions to push me to make the book better. Jim since left the company to work for Stela, but Spencer Cushing has taken over as editor and Spencer's been fantastic -- just a tremendous sounding board and advocate and hustler to keep the book on time and make it as good as it can be.
How much of the arc do you have planned out?
I've written all four issues of the miniseries. I've got my fingers mightily crossed -- if the numbers are good enough, we may be able to do a second volume. So if anyone reading is interested, please do ask your local comics shop to order the books for you, or go to KingswayWest.com and pre-order there!
I loved the relaunch of Eternal Warrior, and was impressed with your take on it. Were you a fan of original Valiant comics? How did you get involved?
Did you have to coordinate with the other titles launching for Valiant, or did Warren provide a lot of the parameters?
I definitely read the other issues that had referenced Gilad before I started. And Warren definitely kept it on track continuity-wise. He had a great eye on the big picture all the time -- he's just done a tremendous job herding all those books.
As a Filipino, I've always been drawn to the names of the Asian creators (like Whilce Portacio or Frank Cho) that have been on the credits of the comics I read growing up. It seems like seeing realistic Asian characters portrayed on the page(such as the Amadeus Cho Hulk) is the natural next step. Do you feel that this is just a reflection of society today, or did that require a concerted effort on the part of comic companies/creators?
I've been writing comics for over twelve years now, and from the beginning, my editors have always supported my working diverse characters into the casts of my books. My very first published comic was the WARLOCK mini in 2004, which starred an Asian American woman named Janie Chin. And artist Takeshi Miyazawa and I created Amadeus Cho eleven years ago, and I was able to write him as a supporting character in the Hulk books and eventually as the co-star of the INCREDIBLE HERCULES series, co-written with Fred Van Lente, for over four years. And over the years I also created S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Jake Oh and used Suzie Endo in the SILVER SURFER book and created a half-Japanese alternative-world Namor in X-TREME X-MEN and used Sharon (played by Grace Park in the television series) as the central character in the second half of my BATTLESTAR GALACTICA series and wrote a bunch of book starring other people of color. So in my experience, working with the awesome editors I've had over the years, the door has always been open -- I just had to walk through it.
But I also think we're living at a time when more and more people are aware that audiences want more diverse casts and more and more creators of different backgrounds are breaking in and blowing up in all kinds of great ways, which is great. Fifteen years ago, when I was speaking at film festivals with my films, I used to say that in fifteen years the changing demographics of the country would make it a no-brainer to make media with diverse casts. We're in the middle of businesses waking up to that right now, and it's very exciting.
Less related, but also curious: How are you involved with Fresh Off The Boat? I saw something on your Wiki, but I had no clue that you had a hand in the show.
Oh, I love the show, but I'm not at all involved in its creation or production. I was a lucky participant on a panel discussion about it when it premiered. I'm thrilled it's done so well -- it's time, huh?