In a wild stunt that will, if not break the internet, then at least leave it flushed and unkempt, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang are promoting the release today of their Tales of the Unexpected:: Dr. Thirteen Architecture and Morality trade paperback today by running a multi-part interview on eleven different websites spread out overthe course of the day. Of course, we couldn’t wait to play along, so with no further ado, we’re going to take you to, going to take you to, PART THREE, PART THREE:
Everybody loves the underdog. Or do they?
With DC’s Doctor Thirteen: Architecture & Mortality — originally serialized in the eight-issue Tales of the Unexpected mini-series — writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang did the unprecedented and unexpected: They took characters long forgotten (or, in some cases, never remembered) in the mire of continuity and crossovers and slammed them together to create a kinetic, witty and – most importantly – FUN series that had no expectations or limitations.
Here, for your amusement, disgust and reading pleasure is an 11-part interview between Azz and Cliff, broken and sprinkled across the comic book press, where our beloved creators talk about their multi-layered story, the anxieties that come with being, well, creative in comics and hair plugs. Yes. But most of all, learn about how two guys tagged as “gritty” and “noir” created an energetic, colorful and off-the-wall story that made a gaggle of nobody characters into nobodies with at least one good story under their belts. Take it away, gentlemen.
BA: Fun is great thing to aspire to be. And that’s what we were aspiring to, no?
CC: I think fun has become a taboo word in comics, as it usually implies a lightness or fluffiness to the story. More acceptable substitutes I’ve seen for “fun” are “sense of wonder” or “cracktastic.” Fun is the kiss of death. But I don’t think fun and satisfying are mutually exclusive.
BA: As for the characters, let’s do the sum ‘em up thing. I’ll start: Traci 13.
CC: The only level headed-one in the bunch, despite being a reluctant sorceress. Curiously (and for our purposes, almost gratuitously) half-Asian, and we’ve never seen her mother. I figure she’s about college age, with a Japanese hipster vibe. If she could dance, she’d be part of Gwen Stefani’s backup crew. Alright, hollaback: Captain Fear.
BA: First of all, I couldn’t believe that Captain Fear was on the list. He’s a ghost pirate. A GHOST PIRATE. Hello? Is their any movie franchise hotter than the one with the damn pirates in it? How many pirates did I give chocolate bars to last Halloween? Mind boggling. That said, he was a blast to write. Arguably the most active member of our cast, his action kept the action moving along. Probably one of the most genuine characters in the book, despite having a “debil may care” attitude, and constantly chasing gol’. Next up, Genius Jones. Christ, I loved the way you drew him.
CC: Ha! If you look at the book, he actually got younger and smaller as the story went on. It was just funnier for him to be younger with the dialogue you were giving him. He started as maybe an 8 year old, but by the end he looks about 4! Anyway, he’s the smartest boy in the world, and he’ll answer any question you have for a dime. You’d think that would make him an annoying brat, but he’s really a sweet little kid. Okay, Julius – I mean Primaul.
BA: No, you can call him Julius. Julius wrote himself. And wouldn’t stop. He’s a good example of the organic way we told this story. He was never intended to leave the jungle, but the more I wrote him the more indispensable he became. I had no intention of creating a character for this book. Once I did, his creation became a major plot point. What about I… Vampire?
CC: A tortured soul, a man out of time, a self-hating vampire who only wants to escape his cursed existence. I wasn’t sure where you were going with him at first, but as it went on, he really grew on me. He was such a nurturing character, always looking out for other people, and he really believes in redemption for everyone, even Nazi gorillas. What about Anthro?
BA: Anthro is chronologically the first DC character, right? I could be wrong, but who cares? The point is he was our starting point– the DCU couldn’t be rebuilt without him knowing it was going on. And he was French– that added bit of realism the rebuilding was striving for. And we needed a love interest for Traci, and it wasn’t going to be Freedom Beast. Oh, wait– I mean Infectious Lass.
CC: Ah, Infectious Lass. An outerspace version of Chrissy from Three’s Company. She’s a big, happy go-lucky chick who also happens to harbor every known disease in the universe. I tried to draw her like she’d fit into a Russ Meyer flick. And finally, Doctor 13.
BA: Doctor 13 is the hero of our story. Or is he a hero– I mean, aren’t heroes supposed to make great sacrifices for the greater good? All Doctor 13 really has is his conviction that supernatural & paranormal phenomena do not exist. He won’t be deterred, despite the fact that he’s surrounded by it– his conviction never wavers. You know what that makes him? A hero for our age.
CC: A sane man in an insane world!
BA: Boy, I’m a lot more cynical than you are.
I know you gave each of these characters their own distinct personality. My question is, did you find any inspiration in previous versions of them?
PS: See all interview parts indexed at Cliff Chiang’s blog.