On 08-07-09 Diamond's Scoop posted a Jim Shooter interview. At the time much of the info in the interview was essentially breaking news. Here's a copy of that interview. I was fortunate to have had a couple questions chosen to be used for this interview.
20 Questions with Jim Shooter On Saturday, July 25, 2009, Mike Richardson, President of Dark Horse Comics, announced that new versions of Magnus Robot Fighter, Turok, Son of Stone, Doctor Solar and Mighty Samson. The first three of these characters (all were originally published by Western Publishing’s Gold Key imprint) were revived in the early 1990s by VALIANT under writer and Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, who Richardson introduced as the “new” writer of Dark Horse’s undertaking. In the Twitter, texting and Facebook age we live in, word of the announcement spread quickly. By the time Shooter ventured to the convention floor immediately after the panel, he was greeted by fans, creators and retailers congratulating him on the announcement and telling him how eager they were to see these new efforts. At that moment we asked him if he’d be willing to take questions from the most serious Magnus, Turok and Solar fans we know, the online community at ValiantFans.com. He said sure, so we asked Greg Holland, the keeper of the flame, to put to the word out. For those who haven’t seen ValiantComics.com or ValiantFans.com, these are the enthusiasts who have documented everything there was to document about the original VALIANT, from print runs of individual issues to rarities, and from record sales to credit mistakes in the issues. When it wasn’t cool to still love VALIANT, these guys did. And when the market for key early and later VALIANT issues rebounded, they were the ones simply smiling. The group quickly jumped in and offered a series of questions. We’ve added a few of our own. Mark G., Cape Neddick, Maine: Since this announcement was unexpected and came sort of “out of the blue” at the San Diego Con, can you describe the process of how this opportunity with these characters at Dark Horse came about? Was it something you've been considering long term, or did this relationship just blossom recently?Jim Shooter: Mike Richardson and I first talked about my relaunching the Gold Key properties two and a half years ago. We spoke about it occasionally thereafter, but for one reason or another—rights issues, both of us busy with other things, whatever—nothing ever came of it. Recently, I opted out of another gig, and though I had some commercial work to fall back on through my company Illustrated Media, I figured it would be a good time to check in with Mike. And it was. The week of the San Diego Comic Con, we worked out an agreement and next thing I knew I was standing beside Mike onstage at the show as he announced the project. James Kilpatrick, Greenville, SC: How gratifying is it to finally get your hands back around these characters after so long? It's obvious you're passionate about the properties. How good does it feel to finally have them again?Jim Shooter: It feels great. When I redeveloped them for VALIANT back when, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to bring to life some of the vast potential I always knew they had. I thought we got off to a good start with them, but my watch ended abruptly and too soon. I didn’t get to do many of the things I had in mind. I’ve had years to think about those things, and I’ve added many more to the list. Also, there were a few things I did during my first try that I’d often thought I’d do differently, given a second chance…. Magnus Ramström, Stockholm, Sweden: What will your involvement be in the new books (the news have talked about “overseeing” and “writing”)?Jim Shooter: I’m going to do as much of the writing myself as I can, and I’ll supervise any other writers needed. I have a few in mind—extremely talented people with whom I know I can work with closely and well. I’ll be working with a Dark Horse editor, who will do most of the heavy lifting from the script stage on, but I will be of counsel regarding covers, art, coloring and the rest. Everyone at Dark Horse has been nothing but helpful. Mike Richardson has already contributed some great ideas and suggestions. He knows his stuff, he’s an outstanding idea man and a terrific sounding board. He’s the boss, but it seems clear that his intent—and therefore, Dark Horse’s intent—is to help me fulfill my vision for these properties. Scoop:It’s early in the game, but what can you tell us about the release schedule at this point?Jim Shooter: Mike and I haven’t discussed it much yet, but I’m sure the answer is as soon as possible. I guess it depends a lot on how quickly I can get everything figured out and write good stuff. Scoop:It sounds like a gradual roll-out rather the slamming the audience (and retailers) with a bunch of new comics all at once. Is that the plan?Jim Shooter: Again it hasn’t been discussed much—remember, this project came into existence only ten days ago, as of this writing. However, I think a gradual rollout is probably a good idea. Mark F. Davis, Phoenix, AZ: Can you tell us any creators who will be working with you on these titles for Dark Horse?Jim Shooter: Sorry, not yet. Have to ask them first. Sean Neprud, Only The Valiant Podcast, San Francisco, CA: What challenges do you anticipate while relaunching these characters in comics?Jim Shooter: I think the main challenge is the state of the market itself. There are many wonderful niche and eclectic titles; and a small number of good mainstream titles, but there are way too many bad, boring, same-old-stuff books of every kind each month glutting the shops—too many crises, over-crossed crossovers and gimmicks du jour. It’s difficult to reach the audience, difficult to cut through the clutter. The good news is that the situation also offers opportunity. Everyone is tired of trumped-up “events” and indecipherable “stories” that go nowhere. And therefore, a lot of people are eager for something exciting, fresh and really good. The secret to success in businesses like ours hasn’t changed in 40 thousand years—tell a good story and tell it well. I’m going to give it my best shot. Magnus Ramström, Stockholm, Sweden: Will the new stories appear in Dark Horse Presents or in their own comics?Jim Shooter: I believe where Mike and I left it, the new series will debut in DHP and go into their own titles from there. Scoop: Will the new titles be mini-series or ongoing comics when they launch?Jim Shooter: Ongoing comics, but it’s possible we’ll do some mini-series down the road. Alejandro, Bay Area, CA: Will Doctor Solar be the man from the Gold Key Comics with a new spin on it or will it be an entirely different guy like you did at Valiant?Jim Shooter: I’m trying to honor the source material as much as possible, but remember it was created 45 or so years ago, so there has to be some significant adaptation and updating. No one has more respect than I do for the old work, which, given the context of the times was remarkable. The best way to honor it, I think, is to preserve the essence, the heart and soul of it, but develop it inward and onward. Advance the frontier. Fulfill its potential. Fulfill its destiny. That’s what I tried to do last time. I hope to do it better this time. John Helmer, Phoenix, AZ: One of my favorites is Dr. Spektor from The Occult Files of Doctor Spektor. Do you have plans to include this amazing character…?Jim Shooter: I’d love to. I’d also love to have a go at Jet Dream and Her Stunt-Girl Counterspies. I kid you not. Mike, are you reading this? Scoop:It became really clear to us after your departure from Valiant that some creators “get” Magnus and others don’t, and the “don’t” group includes some pretty good creators. What is at the core of his character? What made you able to elevate him from an after-thought for many to a top character in Valiant’s heyday?Jim Shooter: Long before VALIANT, I had the privilege of meeting Russ Manning and talking a bit about Magnus. I also read somewhere—can’t remember where—Manning’s recollections about creating Magnus. I started my run on Magnus picking up exactly where Manning and company left him, and understanding, I think, who Manning meant him to be. Magnus was the dutiful slayer of rogue robots. Leeja was the impetuous girlfriend who always disobeyed Magnus’s admonitions to stay out of danger, and then lay fetchingly on the floor while Magnus saved her. I used all Manning’s brilliant conceits—broadcast power, Central Rob, psychoprobes, the Goph Lands, more—and I tried to develop it all inward and onward. Advance the frontier. Fulfill the potential. Fulfill the destiny. I think it is all too common these days for creators, even talented ones, to take the easy way out, to go for cheap, bottled drama. I developed Leeja, Magnus and the rest, as naturally as I could. Most creators, I think (I fear) would have instantly “modernized” Leeja and given her robot-fighting powers, or at least a big gun. Most, I think, would have instantly taken Magnus’s relatively positive future and wreaked apocalyptic havoc upon it. Cheap, easy drama, short term. Then, once you’ve destroyed the essence, whatcha gonna do? You have to build, not destroy. Leon Mallett, West Midlands, United Kingdom: Dark Horse have been publishing archives of Gold Key titles prior to this launch, but have also been publishing other archives such as Nemesis and Magicman - are there any plans to include characters other than the Gold Key ones in the fledgling universe (specifically those mentioned or Dark Horse's own Comics Greatest World characters)?Jim Shooter: As of this writing, all I’m planning to do is my best on Magnus, Solar, Turok and Samson. I have high hopes for many things down the road, but…that’s down the road. Heath Fitts, Pineville, LA: Will the titles all be part of a shared universe?Jim Shooter: Well…in the sense that the world each character inhabits is, to the extent I can manage, a world that seems like/could be ours, I guess so. Writing stories set in entirely fabricated worlds is difficult. Could I write a story set long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, or in the Land of Oz? I think so, but the Gold Key properties require our world and believable extensions thereof, in my opinion. I’ve just started working on these things, remember. I’m still figuring them out. I don’t know exactly how they’ll evolve yet. Greg Holland, Little Rock, Arkansas: What color skin will Solar have? Are you keeping the red suit?Jim Shooter: I never could understand why Solar’s skin turned green. I plan to keep it normal. The red suit stays. Magnus Ramström, Stockholm, Sweden: Will you work exclusively for Dark Horse?Jim Shooter: My services to Dark Horse (and those of any other writers I bring in) are being provided by Illustrated Media. I may, from time to time, do a non-competitive project for IM—advertising, custom comics and the like—but I will devote whatever time it takes to the Gold Key characters. This project comes first. Heath Fitts, Pineville, LA: I really enjoyed the new stories you did for the Harbinger and Archer & Armstrong hardcovers. Does this deal with Dark Horse prevent any future collaboration with Valiant Entertainment, Inc.?Jim Shooter: I wish them well, but I won’t work for them anymore. Mike never asked me to be exclusive. He didn’t have to. This is what I want to do. Scoop: What other projects do you have going on?Jim Shooter: I’m finishing a custom comics series for an IM client, but that’s almost done. Right now, this is what’s on the board, and I’m very happy that’s the case. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the work I want to do on the Gold Key properties. Right now, I don’t need or want anything else. Mark F. Davis, Phoenix, AZ: As unlikely as it may seem, do you think you have a chance to top the quality of the work you did at Valiant with your Dark Horse work?Jim Shooter: Well…I think I’ve learned a lot since then and gotten better. I hope so. Also, VALIANT was a way undercapitalized start-up, so broke for much of the time that I actually had to draw several covers and a couple of stories because we couldn’t afford real artists! So many things were compromised by lack of time and money. However, working with Mike and Dark Horse, I think the rest of the creative process, beyond the script stage, will be vastly upgraded. They have all the apparatus already in place. They are totally professional and top drawer in every way. I guarantee, they wouldn’t let an “artist” as lame as me draw anything even if I wanted to. Hooray! Magnus Ramström, Stockholm, Sweden: Are you as excited as we are?Jim Shooter: If it isn’t clear from the above, let me leave no doubt—I am totally thrilled. Let’s do this thing! Let us know what you think about the return of these characters!