What has become of our precious comic books? The Avengers are fighting the X-Men! Cthulu’s minions are battling the Transformers, GI Joe and the Ninja Turtles! The Goon is gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that)! How do you set yourself aside from the herd in an already crossover-heavy field? Simple – bring in a crossover expert like Ron Marz, which is exactly what Dynamite did for its universe-melding mega-event Prophecy. Responsible for fan-favorites like Marvel vs. DC, Marz is no stranger to weaving together multiple, disparate storylines into a cohesive package. We caught up with the man himself to talk keeping your multiverses in order, 50 shades of moral grayness, and who he was most eager to pair together.
Nerdist News: It seems like 2012 is the Year of the Crossover with events like Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men, IDW’s Infestation and now Dynamite’s Prophecy. You’re no stranger to the genre, having written some of our favorites like Marvel vs. DC and Batman/Aliens. What are some of the appeals and challenges that come with writing a massive multiverse-wide title like this?
Ron Marz: I think a big part of the appeal is showing something audiences have never seen before, showing characters meeting for the first time, showing heroes fighting villains for the first time. There’s a real attraction to doing something no one’s done before. The challenge, of course, goes hand-in-hand with that, because you want everything to make sense and be accessible. You don’t want the story to become an encyclopedia entry, but you also don’t want the audience to be lost as to who’s who and what’s what.
NN: Just out of curiosity, what is your favorite crossover series of all time?
RM: I still go back to the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover that Claremont and Simonson did. I stumbled across that book at a time when I wasn’t reading comics and it fired my interest again.
NN: What are your influences – writers, illustrators, or even sources outside the comics universe – when it comes to comics?
RM: In terms of writers, I’m influenced by everyone from Shakespeare to Dickens to Edgar Rice Burroughs to Stephen King. But you obviously need to have a visual sense when you’re writing comics, so I draw a lot of inspiration from illustrators like Norman Rockwell, N.C. Wyeth, Frazetta, even classic Disney, and film directors like David Lean, Kubrick, Scorsese and Ridley Scott.
NN: What is it about Prophecy that you think will make it stand out in what could seem like an otherwise crossover-heavy field?
RM: We’ve got redheads with swords, vampires, mad scientists, evil sorcerers, the greatest detective ever, Mayan warriors and the end of the world. Anybody else got all that?
NN: Many of the characters in Prophecy walk a moral tightrope between good and evil. How do you deal with that in a title like this?
RM: I think characters with shades of gray tend to be more interesting than standard good guys and bad guys. You can bring more complexity and ambiguity to the story when you deal with characters like that. You also have a better chance of keeping the audience off balance, which I think gives you a better chance of maintaining the audience’s interest.
NN: How do you make a massive project like Prophecy accessible to a fan who may not be as well-acquainted with Dynamite’s books?
RM: It’s not just Prophecy, that’s part of the job with any story. It’s the writer’s responsibility to make sure the audience is properly introduced to the characters and situations in a way that is integrated into the story. The trick is conveying that information without the reader realizing you’re conveying that information.
NN: You must be buried in all manner of comics. What titles are you currently reading and enjoying?
RM: My answer for this is always the same: not as many as I should be. The hours spent writing comics cut into the time I spend reading comic, unfortunately. But some of the titles I’m trying to keep up with currently are Batman, Daredevil, American Vampire, Rocketeer Adventures, Criminal, Fatale, Walking Dead and all the Hellboy universe books.
NN: Which characters are you most looking forward to dropping into the same scene together?
RM: The 13-year-old in me was very keen to get Red Sonja and Vampirella into the same scene, so you get that right in issue #1.
NN: Will the ramifications of Prophecy spill over onto any of Dynamite’s other books or will it be self-contained?
RM: The series is completely self-contained. We didn’t want readers to feel pushed into buying all sorts of tie-ins to get the full story.
NN: If you could write any title or character, past or present, what would it be?
RM: I have deep affection for both Doctor Strange and Doctor Fate, but if I only get to pick one, I’d love to write Tarzan in a monthly comic.
NN: Apart from Prophecy and your work on Artifacts, Magdalena and Shinku, are there any other upcoming projects about which you’re excited that you can share with us?
RM: I’m doing a graphic novel with my buddy Matthew Dow Smith on art called Blackburn Burrow for Amazon Studios, an adaptation of a screenplay. That will be released later this year. And there are a few projects for later in the year that, yes, I’m excited about, but no, I can’t share with you yet. Don’t you hate when people give that answer?
Prophecy #1 is available today from Dynamite Entertainment at your local comic book store. For more on Ron Marz, visit his website. For more stories like this in your inbox every morning, subscribe to Nerdist News.