The Outhouse's own Zach "Thrillhouse" Langlois got a chance to have a talk with the writer of Avengers: The Intiative (among other things) about his past works and upcoming books including a creator owned book put out by Avatar and Christos' spin on a BIG 80's animated series.
Zach "Thrillhouse" Langlois: Christos, I have to ask you about a early work of yours in Teenage Caveman. What was your inspiration behind that?
Christos Gage: Well, I was hired to write the screenplay by the Creature Features producers, who had obtained the rights to remake several classic 1950's drive-in horror and sci-fi movies originally released by American International Pictures. I was to collaborate with director Larry Clark on remaking the title Teenage Caveman. Larry and I decided that if we were going to make a trashy exploitation horror flick (since that's what the original '50's versions were), we were going to jump in with both feet, so we just kind of went nuts.
TH: Focusing on your comic works. Which books have you been the most proud of?
CG: That's hard to say...some of my favorites are Initiative #13, the Deadshot miniseries, the Iron Man/Captain America Civil War special, StormWatch: PHD, World War Hulk: X-Men (it's not Shakespeare, but people had fun with it, and so did I!)...but that's just off the top of my head.
TH: One of my favorite issues from last year was the amazing Avengers: The Initiative # 13 which focused on Butterball. I have to wonder, was his creation due in any part to Superboy Prime's rise in popularity over at DC? Meaning, was Butterball your "fanboy" analog for the Marvel universe?
CG: Thanks! I wasn't consciously thinking about Superboy Prime. I just wanted to come up with a fun character who I could identify with, and I'm certainly a fanboy, so that's probably where that came from. I also felt like we'd seen a number of characters who weren't thrilled about being in the Initiative, so I thought it would be interesting to have one who desperately wants to be a part of it, but isn't necessarily qualified.
TH: Sticking with the Initiative, are there any forgotten Marvel characters you'd like to re-introduce?
CG: Yeah, but I'm not gonna say, because I might just use them! Of course, I'd love to see Rom, Godzilla and the Shogun Warriors return, but there are rights issues involved with them.
TH: In the last few years, you have written many different one-shots for Marvel's big summer events (Hulk vs X-men, Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus, Civil War: Casualties of War) are they any plans for you with Marvel's next big summer event. If so, care to share any details?
CG: I don't think there is a big event for this summer per se, I think Dark Reign is going to continue to play out. And it will most definitely be playing out in the pages of The Initiative.
TH: Have you considered signing an exclusive with either DC or Marvel?
CG: Nobody's ever made a firm offer. I have had some very early stage discussions with individual editors about it in the past, but it hasn't gone further than that, probably for one simple reason: I can write four books a month, and that's a lot for a publisher to guarantee to one writer who isn't named Bendis or Brubaker. And if I signed an exclusive for anything less than four books a month, it would be a pay cut, since I'm lucky enough to have all the work I can handle right now. So for the moment I'm happy working for a variety of publishers, and fortunately they seem happy to work with me. It ain't broke, so I see no need to fix it.
TH: Stormwatch: PHD. Was it just me or did this book seem to get horribly overlooked?
CG: I was very gratified by the critical and fan response, as well as words of praise from pros I have tremendous respect for, like Pete Woods and Adi Granov...but definitely, I wish it had greater sales and a wider readership because it's work I'm very proud of, and my collaborators, Doug Mahnke and Andy Smith, did a tremendous job that I certainly think was worthy of recognition. (My twelve issue run IS available in two TPB's, if anyone wants to check it out!) I think that PHD, along with Gail Simone's wonderful Welcome to Tranquility and other WildStorm titles, unfortunately got caught up in fans' disappointment in the WorldStorm relaunch, when Grant Morrison's two books, Wildcats and Authority, didn't come out as scheduled. It's certainly understandable...I was disappointed I didn't get to read those books too! But I think an unfortunate side effect was a loss of confidence in WildStorm Universe books as a whole that persists to this day, even though they've been coming out on time for well over a year.
TH: What character is out there that you want to write, but haven't had a chance?
CG: Hercules! He's Greek and hairy, like me.
TH: I gotta say, Absolution looks amazing. What can you tell us about that series?
CG: It's about a world where superhumans are a branch of law enforcement. One of them, John Dusk, is a good man who's been pushed too far and seen too much. He starts taking, shall we say, extreme measures to deal with criminals the law can't touch, putting him on a collision course with his friends, loved ones and colleagues. And it's from Avatar, so there are no punches pulled in terms of language, the consequences of violence, you name it...the gloves are off! I'm really enjoying working on it.
TH: Now I'm not too familiar with G.I. Joe. Would readers not versed in that universe be able to read the upcoming G.I. Joe: Cobra with no problems?
CG: Absolutely. To be honest, I'm not very well versed in G.I. Joe lore myself. My co-writer, Mike Costa, is very familiar with it, so hardcore Joe fans will certainly get Easter Eggs that they should like. But someone who's never read a Joe book can definitely follow G.I. Joe: Cobra as its own story about a man going undercover and trying to hold onto his humanity. In fact, I think fans of Ed Brubaker's Sleeper and other crime/noir books will find a lot to like there as well.
TH: Moving to your TV work, you've written episodes for Law & Order as well as Numb3rs, do you have anything upcoming?
CG: Well, my wife Ruth and I just sold a screenplay based on our creator owned miniseries, Paradox, that Arcana Studios published a few years ago. It's being shot in Vancouver starring Kevin Sorbo. That's for a movie, but I've heard some of the people involved with it say they think it might make a good TV show too, so you never know.
TH: I saw on your official website (www.christosgage.com) and saw your first saved issue was a Godzilla from Marvel. Do you still have it?
CG: That was the first series I actively sought out every issue of and collected. I still have most of them, but they are beat all to hell, many coverless. (I have since bought nicer copies to go with them as well, but those raggedy ones are priceless to me!) However, I think the earliest comic I bought and still have is Amazing Spider-Man #161.
TH: Final Question Christos. "Watchmen" did the movie live up to your expectations?
CG: Call me a cynic, but I always expected any Watchmen movie to be a train wreck, so it wasn't hard to exceed my expectations, which the movie did. Overall I really liked it...I do agree with some people who said it felt like it should have been a 12-part HBO series, given more room to breathe. But it was already as long as you can expect a studio movie to be. I'll look forward to the director's cut release, with the added material.
TH: Christos, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today!