The Outhouse sits down to talk with Victor Gischler about X-Men, vampires, and more!
Victor Gischler is the new Bram Stoker of the Marvel Universe. Writer of the Death of Dracula one-shot and the new X-Men series, Gischler has reinvented the vampires of the Marvel universe for the twenty-first century. His X-Men #1 was the top-selling comic in July and the second highest selling comic of the year thus far. He's also been penning the Deadpool Corps series with art from one of the biggest names in the industry, Rob Liefeld. The Outhouse sat down with Mr. Gischler (using the mystical powers of Gmail) to learn more about one of Marvel's hottest new writers.
OH: So, why don't you tell the Outhouse a little bit about yourself?
VG: So you want readers to be bored in to a coma straight off, eh? Okay. I love to grill and drink beer and watch golf on TV. I have a very patient wife and a seven year old son that thinks Captain Underpants is hilarious. I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where I write funny books, novels, and screenplays. I survived grad school.
OH: Where did you go to grad school at?
VG: University of West Florida for my MA and Southern Miss for my PHD.
OH: You're primarily known as a successful crime novelist. Could you tell us about your successful writing career?
VG: "Successful" is a funny word. If you mean I wrote some novels that were pretty well received, then, sure, we can say successful. On the other hand, I've sold maybe not quite as many books as J.K. Rowling. I'm far from a household name. But I'm lucky to have a small but quality readership who seem eager enough for my next book. Most of my novels can be characterized as hard-boiled crime. But I've also written a satirical post-apocalypse novel called GO-GO GIRLS OF THE APOCALPYSE as well as a horror parody called VAMPIRE A GO-GO. But my most recent novel (i.e. the one everyone should run out and spend money on) is a tight little hardboiled crime novel called THE DEPUTY.
OH: What are your primary motivations for writing?
VG: Since I write full time, I guess I should say money. It's how I pay the bills. But even before I was paid to write, I still did it, so I guess money isn't the only reason. Fact is I just love stories.
OH: How did you get into writing comics?
VG: My agent handles some other comic book professionals (Greg Rucka for example) and I told him it would be cool if he could hook me up with some of that sweet funny book work. He managed to get me on the phone with Axel Alonso at Marvel Comics. From there, it was up to me to prove I could do it, and Axel and I went back and forth, working out the idea for my very first comic, a one-shot for Punisher Max. The end result was good enough that I went on to write some more Punisher, a Wolverine one-shot and then finally a nice run on Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth.
OH: What's the transition been like moving from novel writing to comic writing?
VG: Good storytelling is good storytelling, so the key for me was to get a handle on the format. Since I'd been working on a couple of screenplays, the transition wasn't so rough. Screenplays an comic book scripts are not exactly the same, but they are similar enough that comic book scripting didn't seem totally alien to me. Another thing is that in a novel you can wander off in any direction you like. It's different when you have to stay focused and on track for 22 pages.
OH: You're writing Deadpool Corps with art from one of the biggest names in the industry, Rob Liefeld. What's it like working with a man who's had such an impact on comic books?
VG: Well, it's a privilege. The guy is a veteran and a pro. I turn in my scipt. He draws it. Really as simple as that.
OH: Could you tell us how the Death of Dracula one-shot came into being?
VG: Axel approached me and said he wanted to update vampires in the Marvel universe. Not a complete re-boot, but just something to reintroduce vamps, jazz them up, and make them movers and shakers in the Marvel U. I guess we had all these vamps lounging around and wanted to make them earn their keep.
OH: It seems like you created a very extensive new backstory for the vampires. Will we be seeing more of the factions of vampires in the future?
VG: I created a lot of it, but I also took my ideas from what already existed in the Marvel U. Marvel sent me lots of research material to work with, so I simply latched onto what seemed most interesting and useful. I think we'll see vamps pop up now and then, but when and to what extent is up to the Marvel big-wigs.
OH: One of the more prevalent questions surrounding Death of Dracula and Curse of the Mutants was if the Dracula in your books was the same Dracula that's been portrayed in Tomb of Dracula, Dr Strange, and Captain Britain and MI:13. Can you set the record straight once and for all?
VG: Well, let me answer this way. When re-vamping vamps for the Marvel U, we weren't looking to completely flush continuity ... but we didn't want to feel hand-cuffed by continuity either. We wanted cool, kick-ass vampires for the here and now. If you asked Dracula about Doctor Strange or Captain Britain, I think, yes, he would remember all that stuff. But we don't need to dwell on that stuff to move forward. Are we trying to have our cake and eat it too. Maybe a little. But the result is a a new kick-ass group of vampires ready to go whenever Marvel needs them to show up and cause some trouble.
OH: How did you get the gig writing the new X-Men book?
VG: They tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hey, we think you should try this." *gulp* How do you say no? Answer: You don't.
OH: For people who haven't read the book, could you give tell us a little bit about the book?
VG: X-Men is the X-Men book which engages the Marvel U more actively. It's the X-Men book for the Heroic Age.
OH: What's it like writing the X-Men, who have been one of the most popular comic franchises since the 1960's?
VG: It's amazing but also slightly nerve-wracking. I mean, THE X-MEN! THE EFFING X-MEN! Serious, big-league stuff.
OH: The X-Men, surprisingly, do have a history with vampires! Have you done any research on the X-Men to prepare yourself for writing Curse of the Mutants?
VG: When it became clear that the X-Men would face vampires in the first arc, I immediately flashed back on the Claremont run. I vividly remember Kitty shoving a cross into Dracula's face but it didn't work because Kitty is Jewish. We made a point in the current arc to allude to Storm's prior "relationship" with Dracula.
OH: One of the more surprising parts of your new book was your use of Jubilee, a character that's been largely out of the limelight for several years. What led you to use Jubilee as the catalyst for your first story arc?
VG: As with most things concerning X-Men, Jubilee's involvement was a decision from higher up the food chain. But I could immediately see how the de-powered Jubilee could fit perfectly with the story we were telling. To tell the truth, Jubilee wasn't a character I thought too much about before getting to work on the vampire arc, but now that I've been writing her for a few issues I've become a big fan of Jubilee and what's happening with her character. And I like the way Paco draws her.
OH: What's it been like working with Marvel on such a high-profile book? Have you generally gotten to work independently of editors or have you been collaborating extensively with the editorial staff?
VG: Working on Deadpool Corps and Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth has been great. The editors like what I'm doing and have let me off the leash to run free. It's cool. With X-Men it's different, and it needs to be different. Editorial input is crucial for a book like X-Men. The success of the title is very much the result of a team effort.
OH: In issue 2, Blade stopped in to see the X-Men about their vampire problem. In the marketing surrounding your new book, Marvel released several promos featuring the X-Men teaming up with other popular Marvel characters, including Blade. Will we be seeing more of these characters in the near future?
VG: As mentioned before. this is the X-Men book for the Heroic Age, and engaging the Marvel U more actively means that we'll see X-Men working more with other characters. Blade is a no-brainer for a vampire arc. In a later arc when the X-Men travel to New York City, you can probably guess which popular hero shows up to lend a hand.
OH: It seems like you're getting to use all of the X-Men characters. Will X-Men continue to be an ensemble book like Uncanny X-Men or will it eventually have a more set rosters like past X-Men stories?
VG: The roster question is one that I always THINK I have an answer for and then suddenly I don't. I've already started working on the next arc, and I approached it with the notion that I had the roster etched in stone. Soon after I started writing, I realized the story demanded a different character. So really the main thing is that we do whatever we need to do for the very best story and the right roster is a tool to achieve that.
OH: It's been hinted that Death of Dracula and Curse of the Mutants is going to lead into something bigger in the near future. Any comment you can make on that?
VG: I can't comment for the simple reason that I don't know. My vampire involvement wraps up at the end of the current arc. But having spent so much time with these vampire characters (and after having a small part in shaping them) I will certainly be reading whatever Marvel might do with vamps in the future.
OH: What's it like working with Paco Medina? How to you collaborate with an artist that's a continent away?
VG: E-mail is a wonderful thing, and they're always nice about including me in the loop when artists and editors and inkers and colorists are going back and forth about various tidbits of art direction. Sometimes I chime in with a comment. Most times I stand back and let the professionals do their work.
OH: If you had to give readers a reason to read X-Men in twenty words or less, what would you tell them? (Bonus points if you do it in haiku format!)
VG: X-Men fans get more cool X-Men stories, but the non X-Men reader can hop aboard too. (That's fifteen words. I won't even attempt a haiku.)
Finally, Mr. Gischler was willing to take his chances in the perilous lightning round, where anything and everything gets asked!
OH: Favorite type of food?
OH: Favorite TV Show?
VG: Venture Brothers.
OH: If a donkey and an elephant entered into a knife fight, who would win?
VG: I'm going with Elephant
OH: Tiger or Lefty?
VG: Phil! But tournaments are more exciting when both are playing well.
OH: Delorean or TARDIS?
VG: Tardis when piloted by Tom Baker.
OH: If you could eat dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?
OH: Who would win in a fight, Batman or Harry Potter?
VG: I'm going with the Elephant again.
OH: What's the best comic on the market not written by Victor Gischler?
VG: Greg Rucka's Stumptown
OH: And finally, is there anything you'd like to say about the Outhouse?
VG: Outhouse = awesome!
X-Men #3: Curse of the Mutants and Deadpool Corps #6 will be released September 9th at a local comic store near you. Victor Gischler's The Deputy is available in bookstores everywhere!
Written or Contributed by: BlueStreak