The Intrepids has been a wild ride thus far. It’s hard to get bored in a book about a Mad Scientist. In 6 issues time, we have been introduced to Cybernetic Bears and Battle Baboons. It only makes you lust for more of this 60’s era epic at the end of each issue. I know the final issue came out last week, but I can only hope the tease of the final panel comes true, “The Intrepids are Watching,” and that we’ll see more. We were able to sit down with the creators of the book, Kurtis Wiebe and Scott Kowalchuk, to discuss just that and more.
NL: The Intrepids was your first comic under Image, right? Was it challenging to finally make that jump to a legitimate publisher with bragging rights?
SK: This was actually my first published work, period. It was terrific telling cats in the know that I was working at Image – almost always received some sort of excited gasp. Image Comics, and specifically Eric Stephenson, were very kind to take two new-comers under their wing, and give our zany book a home.
KW: We worked hard to get the pitch together, and we approached it as though we were applying
for a career that meant the world to us. In truth, it was exactly that, but I think a lot of people lose
sight of the professionalism that is required in the industry, especially as newcomers. I still feel
lucky every single day, but I know I worked hard, never gave up, and I’ve made this dream happen.
Sometimes I shortchange myself and say that it was all because I knew the right people, or I just
happened to be in the right place at the right time, but the reality is, I’ve been busting my ass for 5
years for the break we got with Intrepids.
NL: Intrepids and Green Wake began almost at the same time. It must have been a stressful time for you getting these two books off the ground. What kind of PR did you have to endure to get people excited for these two titles?
KW: It was, and if I could do it over, I’d probably space the two projects out a little bit. It wasn’t only the time commitment for two separate comic series, I was also working a full time day job that culminated in me, more often than not, putting in 70-80 hour weeks. It was hard, but I will never complain about that. I love what I am doing, and every day is rewarding because I get to do what I love: share stories.
The PR was relentless. I carried a lot of the promotion because both Riley and Scott were working insane hours to get the book out on time and to make them look as good as they did. Lining up interviews, social networking on forums/Twitter/Facebook, and organizing reviews with dozens of websites. I can’t lie, I loved every second of it. I think if there was a lack of passion or belief in the product I was selling, I would’ve hated that side of the business, but it’s definitely kept me on my toes.
NL: The two books are set in entirely different genres. Was it hard to change your writing style from day to day like that?
KW: I’ve been asked that a bit, but it was probably the greatest boon in all the chaos. Green Wake was a painful writing experience because I was drawing on some heavy material from my own life and I left scriptwriting for that project in a seriously dark place a lot of the time. To be able to escape to the Intrepids, a place of wacky adventure filled with a cast of characters I’ve really grown to love, was a godsend.
On top of that, when Scott sent me pages, it was a real lift to my spirits. There was energy just leaping off the page, and looking back, I think the balance of the two was what got me through the hectic schedule along with everything else.
NL: Kurtis, what would you say was the biggest influence for you to write a story like this?
KW: Intrepids is a lot about family. I’m adopted, and while it was known to me my whole life,
there’s always questions. I think the idea of family, the very nature of how we create and identify
the people in our lives as family, is very interesting. The Intrepids, all four of the characters, never
had a positive home life and when they came together, they found strength and love in people not
so different from themselves.
All seriousness aside, it was also a huge opportunity for me to let loose and have a wicked amount
of fun. I could really open the floodgates of my imagination, and with Scott’s incredible talents,
have them fully realized on the page.
NL: Scott, you have a very unique art style. It reminds me a lot of Cory Walker of Invincible fame. What was your biggest influence when finding your own style?
SK: Thanks for the Walker comparison – that dude’s work is off the hook! Alex Toth and Doug Wildey. Biggest influences on this series by far. I wanted it to have a Saturday Morning Cartoon feel – after all, I don’t know how you draw a Cyber Bear other than kind of light and a little silly.
NL: Do you have anything you prefer munching on while you’re drawing this incredible series? I love licorice.
SK: I drink lots of Yerba Matte. Keeps me awake and lively. I used to be mega-fat, so I try only to eat at meal times. Lord know sitting behind a drawing desk for 10-12 hours a day could lead to a seriously fat-ass if I let it!
NL: With creator owned work becoming more and more prolific, would either of you go over to the dark side and work with a major player like DC or Marvel? What are your biggest concerns on the subject?
KW: It really comes down to passion or paycheque. At least for me, but I think the Marvel universe
is one I could sink my teeth into. I’m much more familiar with their characters and though I didn’t
grow up reading comics, their influence was definitely part of my childhood years. I loved the X-
Men cartoon, and even as an adult always kept up with the new iterations with significant interest.
So, yes, I would definitely work with Marvel, it’s no doubt a fantastic opportunity to stretch my
skills in someone else’s playground and increase my profile at the same time.
SK: Absofruitely I would. Creating my own stories and characters is likely what I will be doing with my career in comics – but who wouldn’t want a crack at a DC or Marvel character at least once? Sign me up for a Ted Kord Blue Beetle series any day. I’m ready and raring to go!
NL: The Intrepids #6 dropped last week. Is this the end of the series or just part one?
SK: Kurt and I have talked about more, it all comes down to scheduling. He has a couple upcoming Image projects, and I’m currently working on a stellar book over at Oni Press. If the demand is there after the trade drops in December, there is always a possibility our Cyber-Kids will make an encore.
KW: Scott and I love this series. We really do. We’ve become attached to the misfit cast of characters and zany world they exist in. 2011 has proven to be a real springboard for both of us and there seems to be no shortage of new projects or opportunities.
We’ve talked a fair bit about a new series, and we’ve also been batting around something entirely new, but however it happens, I will work with Scott again. He’s incredibly talented and passionate, and I think we work together to create some really fantastic material.
NL: What can we expect from the both of you going forward? Any new projects you can tell us about…In excruciating details?
SK: My Oni Press project is written by the lovely Chris Sims and Chad Bowers. All I can say is it’s like an Elmore Leonard novel meets Kill Bill meets Animal House. Seriously, I cannot compare it to a comic, because it just does not exist anywhere in comic shops!
KW: I’m gearing up for a major splash in 2012, and I’ve started the process with a major life
decision. I’ve quit my day job and I’m committing to writing full time. I’ll have all the time I need to
get all my ducks lined up, so to speak, and I’ve got some pretty hot projects in early development.
Peter Panzerfaust was announced at SDCC this year, which I’ve been selling as Red Dawn meets Peter Pan. You can read what I had to say about it on my Facebook Fan Page. I’m also going to FanExpo in Toronto this upcoming weekend
and I’ve prepared 2 solid pitches that are so different in tone and theme that I suspect it’ll be a little
like how Green Wake and Intrepids played out beside each other. My goal is to have 5 series out
next year. We’ll see if I can deliver.
NL: And of course, the way we end every interview, what’s your favorite comic book?
SK: 1995 Detective Comics Annual #8 – an incredible retelling of the Riddler’s origin by Chuck Dixon and Kieron Dwyer. I’ve read that comic more than anything else in print
KW: I Kill Giants from Image. It was a story that felt like it was going in a fairly predictable direction but did a beautiful 180 and kicked me in my emotional balls. I’ve never been so affected by a story as I was with that series and I recommend it to everyone I know. It’s beautiful and sad, with a dash of hope.
NL: What’s youre favorite movie?
SK: 1990’s Dick Tracy. Great interpretation of Chester Gould’s mind-bending comic strip. Plus, Al Pacino. And he yells. A lot!
KW: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind because I would marry Charlie Kaufman if the opportunity came up. He’s brilliant. Seriously, I want to get inside of his head and see what the trigger was for that movie, because there were so many scenes in that film that felt like I was looking in the mirror. He’s had his heart broken, in a way that I can identify with and his cynicism is the perfect blend of reality and fading hope. I’ve been there, and I love that movie in a way I love no other.
“Is this what we’ve become? Are we the dining dead?”
NL: What’s your favorite video game?
SK: SNES Adventures of Batman & Robin. Each level plays like an episode of the 1992 TV show. That damn game is STILL fun to play. Bloody Riddler level, I almost never pass it.
KW: I’ve been drooling over Battlefield 3 teaser videos because I absolutely adore the series. I’ve been an avid fan since the original Battlefield 1942 and I feel like they’ve been on the cutting edge of the multiplayer experience for a decade. I’ve put in more hours on Battlefield Bad Company 2 than I care to admit, but at heart I’m an old school RPG addict. Baldur’s Gate, Fallout 1 and 2 are games I go back to even still. I recently purchased Fallout: New Vegas because I heard the development team were part of the original Fallout series. It’s been fun, but I can’t seem to enjoy it nearly as much as the old isometric view games. There was a lot of charm to those games that has never been successfully replicated.
Kurtis and Scott are two of the nicest guys you’ll meet and they make fantastic comics to boot! If you haven’t yet, make sure you catch up on The Intrepids storyline and please check out some of their upcoming projects. These guys definitely deserve all the kudos they have coming their way. If you’d like to keep up with the duo on a more regular basis, follow Kurtis on twitter and like his facebook page and for more of Scott’s great illustrations visit his website and his Sketchblog. If you’re looking to pick up some of their comics, and you’re in the local Las Vegas area, stop into Maximum Comics. For more information on The Intrepids or Green Wake, visit our good friends over at Image Comics!