Friday, July 25, 2008

SDCC08: Mike Grell panel (update 1)

Grell will be writing a new Warlord series (which hasn't been announced by DC yet). Pilgrim will come out Labor Day-ish. Stories about Tyroc and Dawnstar to come later.

Update Friday night: That was what I posted via text message to Blogger. Isn't technology great?

Anyway, this was a panel that shared the spotlight between Mike Grell and his upcoming book on ComicMix with Mark Ryan. He gave an account of how as a kid, he wanted to be the Lone Ranger when he grew up, then a lumberjack like his dear old dad, but he found that drawing was easier than being a lumberjack. However, being an architect was too hard because of the math, so he turned to commercial art. He got drafted and went to Vietnam, and met a guy who pointed him towards comic art, where they make a million dollars a year. He had a strip published in a local Chicago paper where the printing was so bad that it looked like a 3-D publication. He took his portfolio to Julie Schwartz, who gave him an Aquaman job as his first assignment. He said since he's been in the business about 36 years, someone owes him $35.5 million. Now he knows what he wants to be when he grows up. "My name is Mike, and I'm a cartoonist."

Grell met Mark Ryan in 1986 and they hit it off when Grell said "let's go to a bar". Ryan said that whatever Grell's characters can do, he can too (horse riding, sword fighting, bow and arrow, etc.). The new strip they're working on at ComicMix, called Pilgrim, is based on some psy-ops that the OSS (the CIA's forerunner) did during WWII, assuming that they never stopped to this day like they were supposed to decades ago. It'll be up around Labor Day on ComicMix.

Mike Gold, former DC and First editor, was moderator. He told the story of how Grell wanted to lighten up a Green Arrow arc, and Gold suggested that he "address the issue that you can only draw one face" - and thus was born the Green Arrow/Warlord crossover.

How did he get to do the GA book in the first place? Grell said that Gold planted the idea: "Green Arrow as an urban hunter", that's what sold Grell. Green Arrow is is all-time favorite character, even among those he's created.

Q&A time:
  • Will he be doing variant covers for the Legion book? Anything is possible.
  • Omnicom reader Exnihil asked about how Grell was so good at designing costumes, what was up with Tyroc's outfit? Grell lived in the midwest in the 1960s and followed the Civil Rights movement, and thought that the way it was explained why there were no blacks in the 31st century - they all moved to an island which then disappeared. He thought that was so incredibly racist that he protested by giving Tyroc a bad costume. Nobody at DC apparently understood the subtle protest.
  • Then I asked how he justified Dawnstar, given his thoughts on Tyroc, as she was an American Indian who dressed in buckskin and had super-tracking powers. He replied that while he came up with the name and design, and it was Paul Levitz who gave her the tracking powers. Gold also said that Grell just likes drawing women with wings.
  • Mike Flynn, a longtime fan (and partial namesake for Flynt Brojj) was said to have hated Cosmic Boy's bustier costume so much that he got a job at DC, allegedly in order to kill the costume (then he left DC immediately afterwards).
  • People keep calling him about a Warlord movie, but he tells them they have to go through Warner Bros. Then they hang up.

Mark Ryan spoke for a bit. They've been friends for about 20 years, and works in the movies most of the time. He likes working with Grell since Mike is a very cinematical person, his art looks like a "shot list" from a movie shoot. Grell returned the compliment, saying that Ryan's writing is very artistic. Mike Gold chimed in and said that he likes working with movie people/actors since they can both think and act visually.

Mike Gold mentioned that Grell would be returning to the Warlord in 2008 as the writer, and that he didn't think that DC had publicly announced that yet. Ooops.


Greybird said...

"Stories about Tyroc and Dawnstar to come later" ?!?!

Where? Miniseries? Legion Threeboot? Legion pre-CoIE revived? One-shot? WHAT?

Don't leave ME hanging in mid-air, Mike! *sigh*

*rumbles with the sound of the current captcha, cozlfaxn*

Michael said...

Sorry, I meant that I had a story about the creation of each one, no new stories on the horizon as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

I was at this panel, as well, greybird (the Tyroc question was mine) and just a cool quote from moderator Mike Gold that you would have loved: "Mike Grell loves to draw wings. He could draw wings on a slug and it would look good." :-)

Michael said...

ok, here's the nutshell version... Tyroc's origin was considered, by Grell, to be very racist, so he designed Tyroc's costume to be very silly as a protest. I then asked how he could justify Dawnstar, as an Indian with super tracking powers. Grell said that he came up with the name and look, but Paul Levitz was the one who gave her the tracking powers.

Greybird said...

Thanks, guys, and I'd love to read more unshelled versions when it's less hectic. (And Mike Gold is right, methinks {g})