Sean McKeever and Mike Norton stop by the Outhouse to talk about their upcoming miniseries Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt!
Mike Norton is the brilliant, underheralded artist who has worked on series such as Runaways, Trinity, Queen and Country and All New Atom. When not attempting to seduce various Outhousers' fiancees, Sean McKeever is the Eisner Award winning writer of books such as Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Young Allies and Onslaught Unleashed. Together, they form the synergastic gestalt responsible for the cult favorites The Waiting Place and Gravity. Now, McKeever and Norton have reunited for the Fear Itself tie-in, Youth in Revolt. The Outhouse sat down with Mike and Sean to discuss the book and their ongoing collaboration.
The Outhouse: My first question is directed to Mike: How can you stand working with McKeever? Does the smell ever get to you?
Mike Norton: I had my sense of smell surgically removed when I heard I'd be working with him again. So it's not a problem anymore. Still have to look at him every so often, though.
Sean McKeever: But I'm PRETTY. And I snore like an angel.
OH: The upcoming Youth in Revolt miniseries is your latest collaboration. How did the project come into being?
SM: Last fall, when I was working on YOUNG ALLIES and gearing up for ONSLAUGHT UNLEASHED, my editor on those titles, Lauren Sankovitch, said there was a Big Event coming up in 2011 that was a perfect opportunity to tell a story with some of the younger heroes. As the event's plot took shape and my own plots twisted and turned, a lot of the elements changed, but it remained a focus on how one of these crazy, massive events would affect those younger characters, and how they'd deal with it.
By the time we got around to needing an artist, Lauren suggested Norton, but he was exclusive with DC at the time. However, it just so happened that he was coming out of his contract and was looking to do something new! Serendipity!
MN: Yeah it was pretty great timing. When Sean went back to doing Marvel stuff a while back, I kept whining about how cool it'd be to do Gravity again with him, but couldn't because of exclusivity. Now here we are!
OH: What's the general premise of Youth in Revolt?
SM: As the poop starts to hit the fan due to the events of FEAR ITSELF, Steve Rogers enlists Prodigy to reinstate the Initiative, albeit with some changes. As the heroes go about an organized mission of peacekeeping and live saving, all under Prodigy's oversight, things in the Marvel U start to go from bad to really, really, really bad, and it happens very quickly. The result threatens to initiate (see what I did there?) an Initiative Civil War.
OH: How will Youth in Revolt tie into Fear Itself? How closely does a reader of Youth in Revolt need to follow the main Fear Itself series?
SM: You don't need to follow the main series, but we do maintain close ties. It's a balancing act that I think has worked really well so far. It's like Kurt Busiek's ASTRO CITY or MARVELS in the sense that the big stuff is going on in the background, and we touch upon it, and it's that information that spins our characters in various directions.
We're also finding ways to tie the story in that is appealing to readers of the main title without simply repeating information. For example, we have a guest-star super-villain in #2 whose appearance spins out of events in the main title, and a particular Worthy One pays Las Vegas a visit in #3.
OH: What's it like to be working together again? This is your first time working together since Gravity, correct?
SM: Technically, we collaborated on a comic-length epilogue for THE WAITING PLACE: THE DEFINITIVE EDITION a couple years ago. It's always great to work with Mike because we really seem to "get" each other, and he's comfortable with texting or calling to ask me what the hell it is I'm trying to get across in a panel description.
MN: Sean's right. We get each other. There's almost never any guessing what the other means when we're putting out ideas. I think it's just something we were lucky to have happen from the beginning. Knowing each other for so long at this point only makes that stronger too. Like Sean said, sometimes we only need to send a text to figure something out. We're a good team I think.
OH: Sean might not have told you this, Mike, but Gravity #1 was the first single issue I ever bought. How does it feel for both of you to be working on the character again?
MN: That's pretty great to hear. It feels fantastic. Really. I love that we established a distinct personality in the Marvel universe and get to play with him again. I know we left him with lots of stories that we wanted to tell for him before we both got pulled onto other things, but who knows what the future holds.
SM: It's been great fun, and I'm glad to have had Jeff Parker, Christos Gage, Dan Slott and especially Dwayne McDuffie taking care of him in our absence. Still, I'm so itching to tell his origin story!
OH: How do you feel Gravity has grown since you introduced him back in 2005?
SM: He's about half an inch taller.
MN: He's gone from being dead to being a god to being a laughing stock and now he's him again. That's a lot for 6 years.
SM: Well, all that, too, sure.
OH: Besides Gravity, what other characters will be involved in Youth in Revolt? I'm presuming that at least some of the Young Allies make an appearance. Do you have any surprise character appearances planned?
SM: Maybe surprises, maybe not. Don't want to say who all you'll be seeing, though I'll say that Mike's been having fun drawing Frog-Man!
Each of the first five issues will have a different character as a quasi-lead character, where we recap their histories through their eyes and use that POV as the thematic glue of the issue. In #1 it's Prodigy, then Thor Girl in #2 and Hardball in #3. The other "main" characters of the story are Gravity and Cloud 9, though we'll also be seeing a lot of Komodo, Firestar and Ultragirl as strong supporting characters, and a whole host of others, largely from AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE.
OH: A lot of the characters in Youth in Revolt know each other from the Initiative. What sort of dynamic will the characters in Youth in Revolt share? Will they follow a traditional superhero team structure or will they be following a more nontraditional structure similar to the Young Allies?
SM: It's more of a team structure. Many of the Initiative teams are still together, despite no longer being part of the Initiative (because there is no Initiative anymore at the outset). Some new combinations will surface throughout the story, though.
OH: Sean, what is your favorite character in the series to write? Mike, what is your favorite character to draw?
SM: Gravity. C'mon, Hoffer!
MN: Yeah, obviously Gravity. I'm really surprised how much I'm enjoying drawing Cloud 9 and Thor Girl though. Oh and Frog-Man. I never thought I'd say that.
OH: Mike, have you ever considered drawing in McKeever as a background extra and then killing him off later in the issue? If not, could you?
MN: I think I've done that before in other books actually. Hmmm... Maaaaaaaybe.
OH: Final question: if you had to convince readers to buy the series in 50 words or less, what would you say?
SM: You should really^46 buy it. Okay, I got an F on the paper I did in grade school like that, so I'll try better. What we're doing here is using the insanity of a major, Earth-shattering event to dig inside the heads of different characters with different hopes and needs and--wait for it--fears. All the while, it's still a bombastic, action-packed saga that only gets wilder from issue to issue!
Ooh, I just counted! Fifty on the dot! Just glad you didn't ask for it in 140 characters.
MN: Fun teen superheroes dealing with a serious dark threat and trying to hold on to what makes them heroes? Why WOULDN'T you want to read that????
Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #1 hits store May 11th.
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer