A Conversation With: Ed Brubaker (Part Two)
A few days ago we posted the first part of an interview with Ed Brubaker at The Lakes International Comic Festival.
Picking up where we left off, we continue talking about some of his other work with Sean Phillips, his recent experience in Television, and the end of his run on Winter Soldier.
Make sure you read part one of the interview here.
WTN: How long do you think you’ve got left on Fatale?
Ed: Errrrr….I won’t say, even if I knew, because people will stop buying it and wait for the trade! I’ll tell people the month after the last issue is out…”That’s it!”
WTN: But you guys are really good at incentivising the single issues with the extra material…
Ed: Yeah we did that on Velvet too, but the problem is we don’t have any giant corporation backing us, so we get paid based on how much it sells, so it has to sell a certain amount to make back the advances we get. So I always need people to buy those single issues. I understand people who wait for the trade and stuff, but I really don’t want them to…[laughs], I want them to buy the issues, buy the trade, then buy the hardback, and give them all away to friends, for presents. But we try give them a reason, and we meet people all the time who only know about certain movies or books because we wrote about them in the back.
WTN: Which of your own work are you most proud of looking back?
Ed: Well, it alway changes, right now probably The Last of the Innocent, the last Criminal thing we did is probably my favourite thing. Because that one I started righting when my dad was dying, and it was a lot about sort of…processing my childhood nostalgia and grief, so it means a lot to me, and I think it came out exactly how I wanted it to.
Before that Bad Night was my favourite one, the fourth criminal story about the crazy cartoonist, because that one was the one where I channeled my own worst fears about myself into the idea of losing everything you care about in life.
WTN: Your output reduced quite a lot when you focused on television for a while, how was that for you?
Ed: I haven’t done a TV project this year, I did two pilots last fall and early this year I finished them in January, and one of them I was really happy with and the other one I hated, because of the producers and the network… and I was relieved it didn’t get made. The other one was about the Yakuza and that one I was really happy with and everybody at Fox loved it, but they were never gonna make it… It was about the Yakuza! Half the cast was Japanese, so it was a lot of fun, and it pays really well.
I want to get more into that field, but right now I’m working on a Criminal movie with Kim Ji-Woon, and I’m doing a re-write on the script. I finished the third draft a year ago, then I did my TV pilots, and I’m writing another movie for a foreign producer that I can’t talk about yet.
I’ve been writing that all year around my comics, and now I have about another week of writing on the Coward script, then we’ve got to get it cast, we’ve got our financing and we’ll hopefully be filming that in the Spring, but, y’know, last year this time we were going to be filming it in the Spring this year and it didn’t happen, so I’ll believe it when we’re actually on set.
But we have a director I’m really happy with, we lost our previous director [David Slade] to TV and schedules and fights with producers… it’s a weird industry, it’s so much easier to do comics. There’s so many moving parts in film it’s a miracle any film gets made at all, and it’s an extra miracle when any of them come out good.
WTN: I guess you only have to worry about yourselves in comics
WTN: I wanted to ask, and you don’t have to tell me, but I wondered what happened with Winter Soldier. When you left Cap you said you wanted to stick with Winter Soldier as long as they’d let you…
Ed: Yes. Well the book got cancelled, around issue twelve I was told that I needed to wrap it up by issue sixteen or seventeen, and I said “Well, the next storyline ends with issue 16, so lets just end it there then”.
Then I got an email the next day saying “Can you do it at fifteen instead?”
And I said “Okay, I’ll wrap it up an issue early”
Then when I turned in issue fifteen I had an email saying “Hey we wanna keep the book going for at least one moe storyline!”
I’d just committed to doing two TV pilots, so I didn’t have time to do it anymore. But it was because they’d just announced the movie, and they only end up getting one more arc out of it anyway so… I wanted to stay with it but it just didn’t work out.
It was really down to the way they do their crazy scheduling, and it did become less fun because the last couple of years at Marvel had been insane, because they wanna put the books out eighteen times a year, so you’re writing chapter three of a six part story and you have to start writing chapter one of the story that comes after it. And the way I write I don’t always know where the end is going to be, so I kept having to decide where it ends and the next one begins, then I’d get to that part and come up with something I didn’t necessarily always love. So it was a lot more effort to do that, I just prefer to start a story and write it straight through, I don’t want to have to jump ahead.
The last couple of years I was always jumping ahead and writing out of sequence but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I kept telling them I can’t keep doing it this way, then I got to a point where I was just writing the last chapter for all these different books, and I realised that all my last chapters were exactly alike, everyone put on a costume and punched each other… and I thought: I don’t want to write comics like that anymore. I was just burned out, y’know?
They treated me really well though, that’s how they treat everybody, they want the books to come out [more often], and that’s why you don’t have consistent writing teams and art teams, you see big writers having to bring on a co-writer here and there, and its all about the schedule. But I have no ill will towards them, they were really good to me, they let me leave when i wanted to which was nice, I haven’t burned that bridge, if a couple of years from now I feel like I wanna write another superhero comic I’m welcome to come back and do it. But I really felt like, I’ve written five hundred of them, and there’s only so many ways you can do it.
WTN: Well Winter Soldier ended in quite a melancholy way, it was pretty sad for you to go on that note and I always hoped you had something left.
Ed: Well I wanted it to end in tragedy… it was always going to be the ending, I wanted to break them up, because I figured if I wasn’t writing them anymore I wanted to make sure… no one else could write them [laughs].
I could have continued asking questions all afternoon, but at this point we’re ushered out of the room as Sean Phillip’s show was about to begin. Many thanks to Ed for talking the time out of his day to speak to me while suffering from jet-lag.
For more Ed Brubaker content check out the links below, and be sure to pick up Velvet #1; out this week.
The Genesis of Velvet Coming soon
Ed Brubaker’s Captain America Reading List Coming soon