Panels on Pages correspondent Jerry Whitworth caught up with Image Comics’ writer Jay Faerber to talk about all his books and characters at Image and even got a little tease out of it.
PoP!: Your series Noble Causes, which is coming up on its eight year anniversary, will be coming to a close with this present series’ 40th issue. Why now?
FAERBER: The short answer is that I just ran out of steam. I don’t really have anything left to say about the characters right now. There’s still life left in them, but it’s nothing I can get excited about, so I figured it’s time to put them back on the shelf for awhile.
The Nobles and the Blackthornes have been compared to many other feuding families such as the Hatfields and McCoys and the Capulets and Montagues. A lot of this drama has made for a soap opera feel to the series, making it very engaging for its readers. Where did the inspiration for this narrative decision come from and what do you attribute to its capability to help propel the story?
FAERBER: I invented the Blackthornes a few years ago, when I was looking to take the book in a new direction. Up until then, the Nobles didn’t really have many true antagonists. They had their archenemy, Draconis, but that was about it. And I killed him off shortly into the series. So by bringing in the Blackthornes, it opened up a whole new avenue for storytelling. By establishing that the Nobles had a long history with the Blackthornes, I was able to tell stories that were set in the present, as well as flash back to stories set in the families’ checkered past.
In many ways, the so-called Faerberverse (including Dynamo 5, Gemini, Firebirds, and Venture) was built on the large cast born in Noble Causes. Zephyr Noble would even go on to be a member of the Pact featuring Invincible and ShadowHawk. When creating Noble Causes, were you mindful of the fact you were really building a franchise?
FAERBER: Not really. I was just trying to tell entertaining stories, and as time went on, things grew. Each time I created a new series or character, it made sense to have them take place in my own little corner of the Image universe.
FAERBER: I think the book was really at its peak when I introduced the Blackthornes — issues #13 through #18 in particular. Fran Bueno, Freddie Williams, Ron Riley, and Ryan Vera looked fantastic on the art, and I was having a lot of fun revealing just how integrated the Blackthornes were to the Nobles. Then the book got a big shot in the arm when Yildiray Cinar came aboard as artist. As for characters, I think Zephyr really grew into someone I enjoyed writing a lot. I wouldn’t say she’s my favorite, but she grew in ways I never originally intended.
Any teases for the big finale to the series? I understand a few storylines are going to be wrapped up and a few familiar faces will be reappearing.
FAERBER: Yes, we’ll see what Race, Liz, and Krennick have been up to since the five-year jump, and we’ll see what’s going to happen to Gaia, now that she’s out of prison. And the book’s going to end on a weird kind of cliffhanger that may frustrate some people.
Considering you’ve truly built your own piece of the Image Universe to call home, is this the last we’ll see of the Noble Family?
FAERBER: It won’t be the last we’ve seen of them, but it may be the last we’ve seen of them in their own series. But they’ll still be available for guest appearances when it’s appropriate.
Dynamo 5 exploded on the scene when it hit stands. I remember the push for the book when the first trade hit that, honestly, put it in my hands and I’ve loved it ever since. The team also has gone on to guest in Image’s other hot new kids on the block Invincible and Bomb Queen. What are your thoughts on its success and how important is it for this kind of attention to come to indie publishers?
FAERBER: We worked really hard to build the initial buzz on Dynamo 5, and Robert Kirkman was kind enough to run a preview in the pages of Invincible which probably helped a lot. And releasing the first TPB for $10 was an idea that came from the Image guys and really paid off. I think it’s very important for indie publishers to do whatever they can to entice people to buy their books — whether it’s releasing a cheap introductory issue, or pricing the first TPB aggressively. You may lose money at first, but comic publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve gotta be in it for the long haul.
Captain Dynamo reminds me of the symbol Superman has become for virility for many men, wearing the S-shield as a sign of machismo and male-orientated sexual dominance. Does this go towards what you were going for with the character or does the inspiration for the story behind Dynamo 5 come from someplace else? What sort of commentary does the behavior of Captain Dynamo play on the comics industry or the stories within?
FAERBER: I’m honestly not trying to make any sort of commentary or statement about … well, anything where Captain Dynamo is concerned. He’s simply the catalyst for the series that gets these five kids together. I think a lot of people thought the book was going to be full of commentary about the nature of family in the 21st century or that I’d take a stand on adultery or something, but really, I just want to entertain.
I won’t lie: I love Maddie Warner (widow of Captain Dynamo and Dynamo 5’s de facto commander). There, I’ve said it. Please tell me she can get her own book. She takes the damsel in distress stereotype that has in many ways mired fiction and puts a .38 down its throat. Where did she come from creatively and what are your thoughts on the character?
FAERBER: I love Maddie, too. But she won’t be getting a spin-off. She works best as a member of the book’s cast. The fun is in seeing her interact with the rest of the characters, so she’ll be staying put. You may remember that at the end of our first issue, after Maddie kills two villains in cold blood, she says something like, “Kind of makes you wonder what else I haven’t told them,” (“them” being Dynamo 5, of course). Well, this summer we’re going to find out what else she hasn’t told them… and it’s a doozy.
Noble Causes and Dynamo 5 both find elements inherent in their design towards family. What does this mean for Dynamo 5 and do you think it’s an important message for the audience?
FAERBER: I never really intended to have two books with such a strong family component. I came at it from two very different angles. With Noble Causes, I was emulating the soap opera model, and I realized that having a big family would let me tell lots of stories without having to bring in a “villain of the month.” With Dynamo 5, the whole “illegitimate family”-thing was really just a way to provide a hook for a new kind of super-hero team. My parents divorced when I was eight years old, so I’ve got step-parents and half-siblings and all that, and maybe somewhere, deep down, that served as an influence on my writing. But it’s nothing I’m conscious of.
Tell us a little bit about Dynamo 5 #0.
FAERBER: Dynamo 5 #0 is a 99-cent introductory comic that takes place in between issues #19 and #20, and serves as a launching point for our new storyline. It’s designed to be accessible to new readers in that it tells a kind of “day in the life” story of Dynamo 5. It’s a 10-page story followed by a 2-page text recap that will tell you everything you wanted to know about the series.
FAERBER: I’m writing two digital comics, one featuring Crystal and one featuring Lilandra. Both of these tie into Marvel’s big War of Kings summer cosmic event. It’s my first Marvel work in a few years, and I’m having a lot of fun re-familiarizing myself with the Marvel universe.
I understand in wake of Noble Causes ending, you have a new project with Image coming up. What, if anything, can you tell us about it?
FAERBER: I can’t say anything about it yet, other than Yildiray Cinar is drawing it and it’s going to kick all kinds of ass.
When’s Venture getting collected? I’m having a rough time tracking those books down.
FAERBER: Venture only ran four issues, and there’s not much call for a collection so I wouldn’t hold my breath. You should be able to find the issues at some of the online retailers.
What comics have you been reading and enjoying lately?
FAERBER: I’m sure I’m forgetting some, but my favorites these days are Captain America, Daredevil, Buffy Season 8, Ex Machina, Invincible, and Astounding Wolf-Man.