HUDLIN KNIGHTS - INTERVIEW - Reggie Hudlin
April 13, 2005 - 09:49
Way back in February (05) something happened to the Marvel Universe. The dark side got darker with the introduction of a new Hudlum on the block. Straight away he made a huge impact, by moving $50, 490 units and he’s been working many of the top playas (Romita, Cho, Cassady, Alonso, etc) in the game.
In April it looks like new territory will fall under his domain, trapped in a web of intrigue. But what’s the deal, where will this stop and will the Marvel Universe ever be the same again!?!
I made it in once and managed to wangle another day pass to the dark side of Marvel.
Here’s what I found out;
Koncise: Easy Reggie, so how’s life been treating you since last we spoke?
Reggie Hudlin: Life is great! Working non-stop, the Panther is a hit, and pre-sales on MK Spider-man are looking good.
K: Have you read anything good recently?
RH: I just finished a new book called Harlem by Livingroom Johnson that I loved, and I got a screenplay by Guy Johnson (no relation) that’s also hot. Oh, do you mean comics?
Loving that Shaolin Cowboy for one. And Doc Frankenstein, too.
K: Nah, I meant anything. Always on the lookout for new books to hit.
I’ve heard good things bout those Wachowski Brothers’ books, haven’t read them yet though.
You seen any good films?
RH: I’m married, so movies are hard to come by. But Deadwood is an amazing series on HBO that is better than most stuff in the theatres.
K: Ah, skeen.
I was really feeling Deadwood, but missed a lot of the episodes, loved the rawness of it though. You’d be watching and think, he won’t do that, then……BAM!!!
Let me ask you this. You’ve been doing a LOT of Press, where you get critiqued. But what’s it like from your side of the fence. What do you like from an interview and what, let’s say, do you find frustrating?
RH: Interviews are fine, at least I get to explain myself. Reviews are tougher, but even those have been good. You’re not going to please everybody, so no need to sweat it.
K: That’s cool.
So how did you feel on 2nd February when Black Panther launched?
RH: The best moment was when I went by my regular comic book store, Golden Apple here in LA, and they told me that new customers had been streaming in all day, asking for the book. Even though the limited the number of copies per customer, they still sold out.
K: Drawing new readers is definitely a good look.
All that marketing and pre-launch PR sure did pay off then.
How did this compare to when BIRTH OF A NATION dropped?
RH: BIRTH OF A NATION got fantastic reviews, but the graphic novel market isn’t as mature as the comic book market is. Graphic novels are still a new medium so you have to teach consumers what they are, then what this particular book is about, then convince them to pay for a hardcover book of cartoons, which is how the general public sees it.
So it’s easier to reach comic book fans because they know what they want.
But with BIRTH OF A NATION now in more affordable paperback I hope the sales will go from good to great.
K: How did you find the feedback you received?
RH: When it was first announced I was doing THE BLACK PANTHER, it was like the villagers marching on Castle Frankenstein. There were the people who hate Hollywood types writing comics; there were the people who love Priest’s run on the book and treated me like the stepfather marrying mommy; and people who hate anything with the word hip hop associated with it.
I just laughed because I knew what I had written, as opposed to their worst fears. Most of their concerns melted away when they saw the direction and tone of the book. It’s not just a book that’s selling well, we get amazing letters of support from fans.
K: Ah, yes;
The Wakandan super hero is back with Hollywood heavyweight Hudlin (HOUSE PARTY, BOOMERANG) and fan favorite Romita Jr. (WOLVERINE, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), teaming up to deliver a new ongoing series that's sure to excite true believers and the hip hop faithful.
what was the whole reasoning for that going in the solicitation?
RH: Well, Marvel wrote it, and the fact is, it worked. The book sold out.
K: That’s true, the books flown off the shelves.
Ed Brubaker has mentioned that he’s going to be writing his own solicitations, so he can let cats know exactly what’s happening in an issue.
Have you thought about doing this?
Jus for the fact that you have full control on what is revealed about each issue.
RH: They offer me the opportunity, but it’s hard to find the time.
K: Oh right, its good that the option is always there.
I’ve seen a lot of features on your signing sessions and they’re always rammed. What’s it like from your side of the table?
RH: What makes it so nice is that it’s such a diverse crowd. All ages, races, first timers and long time collectors all enthused, enjoying each other.
K: Do many women turn up?
RH: Happily, yes. Little girls, women, moms, even Grandmothers.
K: What do you think attracts the female demographic to comics?
What I mean is, many think that you have to cutise the story or have Xena type lead. But this seems rather patronising to me.
RH: Oh yeah. It just means you need better storytelling. More accessible to fans who may not have prior knowledge of 30 years of comic book trivia. It means writing characters with plausible emotional gravity. And female characters with breasts in a variety of cup sizes.
K: lol its always funny (weird rather than haha) to see how women are depicted in comics.
I really liked the fact that Brian Vaughan made Gert (the purple haired girl with the dinosaur) look like a normal girl, rather than a top heavy stick insect.
These signings must be really good for clarifying things that fans may have misconstrued from the issue.
I was hearing a few cats complaining that they didn’t like the fact that a lot of the characters from they’re (these fans) perspective, where racist (the Dutch invaders at the beginning and the cat in the White House).
Have you had to talk on this yet?
RH: The people at the signings didn’t have any problems understanding what was going on with the book. They had no problem with Panther beating Cap, for example. Some people wanted me to sign that page.
Some people don’t understand the difference between racial and racist...meaning, just because you have a character say something offensive, it doesn’t mean you as the writer agree with that point of view.
Other people don’t understand history, and this is where this book can really help people, because this is the first time they may have heard of certain historical events or political concepts, and they might look into those things further.
K: Well I’m glad the ones shouting on the internet are a small number.
I was surprised myself, as I thought cats would understand that the Dutch invaders would have acted the way you depicted it. Back in those days, when slavery was rife and everyone was raping Africa.
I do believe that certain issues shouldn’t be shied away from. It’s good to see the world how it is and not through the rose coloured glasses.
Panther beating Cap made sense, seeing that it was T’Chaka and everything we’ve heard about him, is that he was a truly great warrior.
How do you see a T’Challa, Cap fight (if it ever happened) going?
RH: Maybe you will see it one day.
K: I’ll stock up on the popcorn so I’m ready for it :)
We’re two issues deep, how do you think things are going?
RH: I’m loving the long time comic heads that come out the closet. My limo driver to the Oscars told me his dispatcher loved the book. Crew guys on THE BERNIE MAC SHOW come up with copies of the book for me to sign.
I’m just impatient. I want people to see the stuff I’m writing now. I’m eight issues in, so I’m well into the next arc. But I know each issue is going to surprise fans.
K: You should of taken issues to the Oscars with you, to hand out man :)
At the end of issue #2, we see an ally join with Klaw (the cat from the prison cell). Is the identity of this character a secret, or can you divulge (cause I have no clue who it is)?
RH: He’s a secret, of course!
K: Ah man, by the end of this interview, I’m gonna find the key to Forte Knox lol
Are the sales holding?
RH: Sales are amazing. The first issue sold out and went into a second run. The second issue, which usually has a large drop off, isn’t dropping at all.
K: Tell me bout it man, the two shops closest to me sold out in the first couple of days. It was bananas!
What’s the difference in seeing the story as the finished project, rather than the script form?
RH: It’s a comic book with my name on it! And beautiful work by John Romita Jr. And Klaus Janson, two artists I’ve admired for years. And Dean White’s colors...genius!
K: Yeah, that must feel good. It’s cemented in time now for all to see.
I’m really feeling Dean’s colours. Did you ask for that type of tone or did Dean just pick up that ball and run with it?
RH: Dean followed his instincts and really did the damn thing.
K: He sure did.
A few things came out in LA recently and they sound pretty damn fun.
First up, issue #7, “House Of M” tie-in……….how did this come about and what can you drop on us?
RH: They asked me if I would like to participate, and I very much wanted to. Axel couldn’t believe how much I packed into that issue! It’s one of my favourites so far.
I couldn’t decide what I wanted on the cover: Panther fighting Sabertooth, or Panther with his women, Misty Knight and Shanna the She Devil!
K: Man, wish I never asked bout this now. Have to wait 5 issues before I can read it :(
Goddamn, haven’t seen Misty around for ages, you the man son :)
The cover looks good though with Sabertooth, who drew it?
RH: Kaare Andrews, who also drew a killer cover for issue 6.
K: I haven’t seen his work for a while, he’s still got it.
Are you getting the covers of the second arc drawn by different cats, like the first arcs covers?
RH: We haven’t decided yet.
K: Is there any chance of maybe getting Sal Velluto & Bob Almond to do a cover at some point?
RH: That would be great.
K: No doubt and I won’t even charge you for that idea lol
And the second piece of news from LA was……in September, a Black Panther/X-Men crossover in X-Men #175-176 and Black Panther #8-9.
What can we look forward to…….not saying that you have to give us full details, just a titbit :)
RH: It’s a big story, and one that will set up an even bigger story in the second arc of the Panther.
K: Oh man, this stuff jus seems to get better and better!
Do you have the opportunity to talk to other writers, so you can reflect any changes they may have made, in your book. Or is that where the Editors come in?
RH: That’s what’s nice about this arc, I get to collaborate with Pete Milligan, who took some scraps of mine and turned them into a good story.
I also love the Spidey Summits, where we sit around and plan Peter Parker’s life for the year, for the same reason. Mark Waid, JMS, Bendis, Joe Q, Axel, Tom B and C.B, a whole lotta good stuff gets generated that way.
K: Talking of Spidey……..MK Spider-man?
RH: Oh man, writing Spidey is like directing Eddie Murphy. I never imagined I’d be here, but it’s great!
K: That’s good man :)
I’ve heard some cats say that once Millar’s done their quitting the book.
Its not you though man, the same cats are saying their jetting from Wolverine once Millar’s finished there too.
But as someone picking up a book from another creative team, how does that feel. Is it disheartening or this type of thing expected?
RH: Well, we expected a huge drop-off. In fact, once I started reading Millar’s arc, I had no idea how I was supposed to follow it myself.
But sales wise, there’s not drop at all. In fact, there might be an increase!
K: That’s gravy man :)
It’s kinda ironic, you take charge of Panther and we all know the Priest connection there. Now you’re writing Spider-man and again, there’s a Priest connection.
Did you realise that?
RH: Priest is a veteran whose worked in comics for decades. It’s hard to do a character that he hasn’t written for.
But these characters are Stan and Jack’s creations, Stan and Steve Ditko in the case of Spidey. We’re just adding our contribution to the mythology.
K: That’s very true.
How do you see your contribution to the mythology though?
Is it a snug fit in (like a puzzle say) an add on (Lord Of The Rings to The Hobbit) or a shake up (can’t think of a smartarse comment for this lol)?
RH: That’s for others to judge. But to cut to it, I would say I’m firmly in continuity, since that’s what so many readers care about.
K: Did you just hear that………comic fanatics across the world exhaling lol
Is your creative approach different with Spider-man?
What I mean is, do you do anything different to get into your Spider-man writing zone, than you do to get into your Black Panther writing zone?
RH: It’s the same place in that you want to tell a story that hasn’t been done before, but it’s a whole lot easier with Panther than it is with Spidey.
K: Hhhmmm, maybe ask your wife to buy you some blue & red jammies lol
With Black Panther, you already had a relationship with John Romita Jr (the artist).
How did Billy Tan come on board?
RH: Billy was suggested by Axel Alonso, my editor. Good call!
K: What’s it like working with Bill?
I mean, you already had a relationship with John (Romita Jr). So what’s it like going into something cold?
RH: Well, it’s still new, but so far so good!
K: How do you create a link with an artist, so you can get on to that same plateau?
Is it just a matter of e-mails and phones?
RH: I’m into letting them have space to draw what they want. If it’s really off, then we’ll correct it, but I don’t want to be micromanaged, so why should I do that to others?
K: Whose idea was it to go back to Wolverine’s more grimy (shorter, not so Hugh Jackman pretty boy) look?
RH: Wolverine is short. I wanted Peter to be taller than him, but not play him cheap because we know how dangerous he is.
K: Y’know, I didn’t even know that. I’m used to him looking like Hugh Jackman.
The look is good though, he’s definitely got that backstreet bully vibe to him.
But, let’s get back to web-head. What does Spider-man mean to you?
RH: He’s Charlie Brown with superpowers. I just keep going back to that, and the book writes itself.
K: Kickarse, so we’re gonna get Peter’s version of Snoopy…….Spider-dog lol
RH: You win. Spider Dog is about the worst idea ever.
K: I’m hurt man, I’d told all my friends about that idea too :( lol
I’m going to say a few things and you say the first thing that comes to mind?
RH: Okey dokey.
K: Organic Web Shooters?
RH: Perfectly logical.
K: Yep, yep.
RH: Love her.
K: I here she got replaced by a robot at some point lol
RH: I miss the red and black number that Dikto did.
K: I’ve never seen that :(
Uncle Ben Legacy?
RH: I lost my dad some years ago. I feel Peter’s pain and the need to live up to the legacy of a great man.
K: Mary Jane Watson?
RH: Having Peter in a steady relationship is a storytelling problem that leads to great opportunities.
RH: I’m for it!
K: Black Cat?
RH: Great idea, great character. Of course Peter would meet some super powered super freak!
K: Rogues Gallery?
RH: Spidey has a great one.
K: Dead Eddie Brook?
RH: Dead is dead.
K: J. Jonah Jameson?
RH: Love him! The best pain in the ass ever.
K: After everything that happened in Alias and him creating The Pulse section of The Bugle, will we see a 180. In terms of the way he treats Peter?
RH: Things will change. Of course, with enough change, sometimes you end up back where you started.
K: Very Zen.
Teacher rather than Photographer?
RH: We’ll play both.
K: Ah ha.
RH: Not on my watch.
RH: That’s JMS’ toys. I don’t want to muck up what he might have planned.
K: That’s fair enough.
RH: Is that like Slingers?
K: No, its an Organisation from Araña.
In issue #3 of Amazing Fantasy, we learn that the current C.E.O is a Mr Sanderson and he tells Anya;
“We are an information gathering organisation. We research criminal organisations and then work with multiple sources to counteract them”
The main threat they have to contend with is The Sisterhood Of The Wasp.
That make any sense?
RH: Oh, wow. Interesting.
K: Spider Buggy?
RH: Oh no!
Jessica Drew: Spider-woman?
RH: Like everyone else, I’m reading the New Avengers and seeing how it all plays out!
K: Anya Corazon: Araña?
RH: Latin girl hero? I’m for it!
K: Umm, well, that’s all I can think of. So let’s move on lol
What can we expect from the first arc?
RH: Action, humour, some new faces, some unexpected new directions for familiar characters.
K: Ah, come on Reggie, can’t you give us a little bit more than that lol
RH: Well, a buddy of mine pleaded with me to use Absorbing Man, which is dismissed, and when I started explaining why I didn’t want to use him (even though I’ve loved him since his introduction in Thor) I ended up coming up with a cool story idea. I can safely say you’ve never seen him like this before.
K: See, that didn’t hurt lol
Now we have this to look forward to :)
How far ahead are you planning?
RH: I’m plotting the second arc now.
K: OK, so you’re in the mix right now.
For us non-writers though, can you give us a breakdown of what you mean by plotting?
RH: What are the big themes that will be covered in the story? What threat can symbolize that idea? Where is the next logical step in Peter’s life?
K: Oh right, got ya.
Do you write these things up in depth or is it just fine to get them down in bullet points?
RH: Bullet points that morph into script pages.
K: So how many issues is the first arc (Wild Blue Yonder) and the second arc?
RH: The first arc will probably be six issues. The second may be the same, I don’t know yet.
K: Are you going mix in a few single issue stories?
RH: Single issues are hard man. I don’t want it to feel like a fill-in issue. My idea of a perfect single issue is that Peter Bagge story he did a few years back. The Meglomanical Spider-man.
K: Y’know, I didn’t even think of it like that for a writer.
Haven’t read that Spidey story. I think it came out just when I started getting comics.
So do you think we’ll see Spider-man, Spider-woman and Araña have a web-off one issue, to see who’s the best Spider-person :)
RH: Or perhaps not!
K: Fine, but that ideas gold, baby, gold lol
What’s the deal, how much leeway have you got with the book?
RH: Marvel has really given me a lot of creative freedom on both my books. MK Spidey has to coordinate with the other Spidey books, and the character interacts with a lot of the MU, but it’s not that restrictive.
K: Cohesive Spider-man books and interaction with the rest of the Marvel Universe. Fans will be pleased my friend.
In recent times we’ve had some big stories that have added to Spidey’s history. We had Sin’s Past, which revealed more on Gwen. We’ve also had the revelation of the villains being created by big businesses (well some of them).
Have you got plans to tell a story that’s going to shake things up, something that will have fans divided?
RH: I think the goal of any writer is to push someone’s button. The Black Panther has certainly done that, and I think my Spidey will do the same.
K: So how do you stop yourself writing by numbers, so to speak and taking a story to another level?
RH: I get bored pretty quickly, so if what I’m doing doesn’t hold my interest, I know I need to start again.
K: Have you ever pushed a story idea to the side because of this and have someone tell you its gold and you should resurrect it?
RH: All the time.
K: Have you any plans to create new villains, supporting characters. Or do you think its best to first solidify the existing cast?
K: You’re being mighty coe Reggie lol
RH: Coy? Okay, there will be new characters for sure, with and without powers. But we’ll see plenty of the old gang.
K: Umm, that spelling mistake must have been my computers fault lol
There are thousands of characters out there with powers. When you’re creating one, do you try to do something completely new, or is it to fit a story?
RH: Usually to fit a story.
K: When you decide or see that the story your telling would fit a guest spot from a character, do you try and use cats who you feel are under-utilized or forgotten (Brother Voodoo, Shang-Chi, Silver Sable, etc). Or do you get a feeling that tells you who to use?
RH: I like stars, and I like character actors, so to speak, that are beloved and deserve another chance to shine. Mixing them up keeps the reader guessing.
K: I here that.
I really like Spidey, but mostly I’ve only been reading Ultimate Spider-man (I’ve jus started reading J. Michael Straczynski’s run).
Spider-man in the comics seems really different from the 90’s cartoon Spidey. The cartoon version seems to use his science more, trackers and such.
Are you going to use this angle more, gadgets and his science background?
RH: I’m not too into Spider-man being too gadgety. I like him being more of a regular guy with a gift.
K: That’s reasonable. So does that mean no spider-tracers :)
RH: Are you crazy? I love spider-tracers!
Do you think its time for Peter to get past the guilt he feels for Uncle Ben and Gwen’s deaths?
I mean he’s done so much good, shouldn’t he feel now, that the reason he does what he does is for other purposes.
RH: I had a great relationship with my dad, but I still feel guilt over things I didn’t say to him or things I didn’t do for him. If I feel that way, I’m sure Peter, who feels directly responsible for their demises, will never get over his guilt.
K: I guess you never really understand something fully, until you’ve experienced it yourself.
I’m sorry about the loss of your Dad, man.
Do you think that going through this gives you a greater insight into Peter and help with his inner monologue/narration?
RH: Thank you. Living through it makes it much easier to write. And writing about it makes you feel better.
K: You’ve read Spider-man for a long time, are there any unanswered questions you’d like to touch upon. For instance, baby May?
K: Well, I here that back in the day, Peter and MJ had a baby girl they called May. Norman Osborne got a nurse or something (I don’t know the whole story, so I may of gotten certain parts twisted) to kidnap the kid, but then that was the last anyone heard of her.
So I was wondering if there were stories like this that you’d like to put closure to?
K: That’s cool, no clutter.
Have you ever thought that Mary Jane should take some Martial Arts training or pack some weight, as she’s always a potential target for the villains?
RH: That is not Mary Jane. She’s a real girly girl, and that’s okay.
K: Skeen. That’s where the cartoon threw me, as she was more pro-active in that.
So now Spidey’s in the Avengers, what does that mean to you as a writer?
Does it open stories up, or is it a little restricting?
RH: Oh, I make use of that right away!
K: Yo, yo ma lol
So are we going to see quite a bit of interaction in that regard?
K: Makes sense.
Are you liaising with J.M.S and Bendis with your stories?
RH: Oh man, we have Spider-man Summits! It’s so much fun!
K: Y’know, notes from one of these could be a good look for extra material in a Hardcover.
With the other Spider-man books (on-goings and mini’s) out there (and (Mark) Waid has one coming), what sets your MK Spider-man apart from the pack? What will we see in your run that we won’t see in the other books?
RH: Full frontal nudity.
K: Just as long as its not Peter………or Aunt May lol
Well it sounds like you’re having yourself mad fun with Spidey and Black Panther, which is gravy.
Have you thought of (or in the process of) pitching some new titles to Editorial (like Sean (McCheese) McKeever’s Gravity for instance)?
RH: I have a lot of original ideas, I’m just waiting on a deal that makes sense. I’m used to profiting handsomely from my concepts.
K: Well I’ll keep my eyes open for when that all happens :)
Last time around, you mentioned that you’d like to delve into the Milestone Universe. Has there been movement there?
RH: No, just focusing on my Marvel work and my day job producing and directing movies and television.
K: Is there anything new with the day job you can drop on us?
RH: Not yet.
K: How is your new Graphic Novel going?
RH: It’s pretty much written. Talking to a great artist now about getting the art portion done.
K: So what’s the E.T.A on the project?
When do you think you can let more info out the gate?
RH: Hard to call now, it depends on how fast it is drawn. Maybe next February, I don’t know.
K: Well Reggie, I really appreciate you stopping by and shooting the breeze.
And I hope we can do this again.
RH: No doubt we will.
Once again, I want to give it up to Reggie for taking time out to do this. Axel Alonso, good looking out, man. I definitely can’t forget my boy, Matt Adler, for proof reading and Spider knowledge.
You can also find character Bio’s for Black Panther & Spider-man. As well as Wall Papers and monthly solits over at Marvel's website
Koncise an out :)