Unstoppable Doom Patrol
Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is available for pre-order now.

Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is slated to arrive in March, at a time when the Doom Patrol’s cultural profile has never been higher. 

The characters are coming off four seasons of TV, which have drawn raves from critics as well as many of the superhero fans on my Twitter feed (who are generally tougher critics, tbh). The new Doom Patrol book is part of DC Comics’ Dawn of DC initiative, and I recently had a chance to chat with writer Dennis Culver and artist Chris Burnham about it.

You can find our chat below, but first, let me note that I’ve read Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 — and it is excellent. Culver’s concept — which he discusses in detail below — is as clever as it gets, and Burnham’s artwork just adds to a superstar artist lineage for this franchise.

Anyway, check out our Unstoppable Doom Patrol chat below, and make sure to let your comic shop know you want the series this week, ahead of FOC. Enjoy!

ZACK QUAINTANCE: What drew each of you to working on Unstoppable Doom Patrol?

DENNIS CULVER: I was having a call with my editor, Ben Abernathy, as Future State: Gotham was wrapping up, talking about what’s next. [Chris Burnham] and I — along with Josh Williamson — had worked on a section of Justice League Incarnate where Burnham drew the history of every crisis that has ever happened. So Ben said, you guys work so well together, you should do something together.

Through him and I talking, I had an idea for a Robotman story, which ends up being issue #3, but I also went on a rant about how everything in the DC Universe revolves around the Justice League. There aren’t other franchises in the way Marvel has the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and all that stuff. I thought Doom Patrol should be its own pillar in the DC Universe. Ben said we should just do a Doom Patrol book. There’s a TV show, and there should be a book.

So I texted Burnham, and he was immediately like, ‘Hell yeah.’ It evolved from there.

Unstoppable Doom Patrol
From Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1.

ZACK: What about you, Chris, what made you say yes so quickly?

CHRIS BURNHAM: I was perfectly between books. I had just finished up on Creepshowand I was looking for my next project. My good buddy Dennis asked, ‘What about Doom Patrol?’ I was like, ‘Sweet, I’m sold,’ but it’s also the exact type of comic I love drawing. I love drawing monsters and violence and sadness and a little bit of human drama to offset it. It’s the absolute perfect comic for me to draw.

There’s a couple of pretty people in it, but most people in it are mangled. I find it much more enjoyable to draw that sort of thing. It’s got a little bit of sci-fi, some body horror, big fights…it’s awesome.

ZACK: What’s the collaborative process been like on the book’s new characters?

CHRIS: It’s been a really fun back and forth. We worked in a studio together for four or five years. So it’s like extending that studio life now through Twitter DMs. It’s been super fun.

DENNIS: Burnham and I were already talking every day, whether in a group DM or just throwing things we like back and forth to each other. We have a lot of overlap with manga, Jack Kirby comics, and other weird junk. I draw too, so sometimes I’ll say, I’m thinking this and do a really rough sketch. It’s been easy for us to go back and forth.

I say this, and it’s true — it’s making comics with your buddies, and that’s the best way to make comics. Nothing’s bad. We just throw things back and forth, until we find things we like.

From Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1.

ZACK: How freeing is it for you as creators to work on a book where odd is what’s for sale?

DENNIS: With Doom Patrol, it’s run the gamut from being extremely weird to borderline incomprehensible. So having a remit to kind of ground it with other DC stuff, I think it balances things out. We have the opportunity to start with a more grounded concept and build the weirdness from there. I think the weirdness feels more organic that way, instead of just dropping you in issue #1 into another dimension and here we go! 

ZACK: Chris, with the visuals is there stuff that’s too weird that you have to throw out ever?

CHRIS: I can’t think of anything that’s been too weird. There’s a couple stupid jokes I’ve put in that we eventually had to take out because they were taking away from the drama of the moment. We haven’t thrown out anything too weird, but we just try to make these people seem emotionally true and honestly tortured. As long as it feels right, I don’t think there’s any limit to how weird we get with it. It just needs to feel true somehow.

DENNIS: They’re just weird going in. If you look at that group of characters, they don’t really look like anything else going in, even Robotman. There’s an intrinsic weirdness built in, and you almost need to balance that out. You can have them do everyday things, and it still looks very out there, like Cliff and Larry on the cover of #3. They’re driving in a car, and it’s a mummy and a robot — that is very strange.

Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1
From Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1.

ZACK: I like the concept to contrast them against the Justice League. You kind of come right out and say — these aren’t the gods and good-looking aliens — what about the weird metahumans. 

CHRIS: One of my problems with superheroes as a kid as a 12-year-old, is sometimes you get like toxic waste poured on you and you end up looking like a swimsuit model. I always wanted to have characters that looked as weird as their powers. That was always one thing that bothered me about the X-Men. Some of them would be like, ‘Oh, we’re freaks!’ And it’s like, c’mon, you’re dating Psylocke! [laughs]

DENNIS: Looking at the previous runs, in my mind all that stuff happened to Doom Patrol. Where they were riding around in the ambulance with that last series, that sparked an idea in me — what if they were superhuman EMTs? What does that look like? That’s why we shifted their color to orange, instead of red. I wanted it to feel like these were first responders when they show up at the scene. 

As we started leaning into that idea, the tagline came out — saving the world by saving the monsters. We’re hitting something in DC that no one else is hitting, and I think that’s interesting.

From Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1.

ZACK: Can you talk about your favorite past Doom Patrol runs and if you’re drawing from any of them specifically?

DENNIS: I re-read everything, and I’m hitting all of it. If you’re a lifelong Doom Patrol superfan, you’re going to see the easter eggs in there. But I make sure you have everything you need in there if you’ve never read any. Personally, I grew up reading the Grant Morrison run, so that’s kind of my home base of Doom Patrol, but I’ve followed every version before and after that. I think Burnham, you like the original stuff, right?

CHRIS: Yeah, I read that stuff for the first time doing research for this, and I totally fell in love with the [Arnold Drake] and [Bruno Premiani] stuff. It’s beautiful to look at, and it’s really strange in a way I was not expecting it to be strange. I had no idea where any of it was going. The weird relationship with Mento is so cool, and how they learn about their powers. I didn’t know that stuff about any of these guys.

I also love the Nick Derington stuff, as well as looking with awe at Flex Mentallo. They’ve just had phenomenal runs.

DENNIS: And this isn’t a reboot. All the other comics still count. This is the next logical step in my mind from the Nick Derington, Gerard Way — we’re just grounding it more in the DC Universe with Dawn of DC.

ZACK: I saw that. I mean, there’s Batman in the first issue. If that’s a spoiler, I can cut it out…

DENNIS: Well, in the preview art, they’re going to Gotham City, and I don’t think anyone’s ever gone to Gotham City without running into Batman. And no one’s happy. Batman’s not happy they’re there, and they’re not happy Batman is in their business. It’s problems for everyone.

ZACK: Anything else you guys want to add before we wrap up here?

DENNIS: It’s a six-issue miniseries, and we’re setting this up like a prestige television series every year. There’s a plan to do another six issues next year, and a plan after that. I’ve written a big master document, but the only way that happens, is if people get out and order this book now. 

What I’m telling people is go out and put the whole series on your pull list at your local comic shop. Pre-ordering in this case is really important. If you want to see more Doom Patrol from me and Burnham, that’s the way to make it happen. What about you, B?

CHRIS: Yes, please. And I’m just excited for people to see the scratch-off Jane cover.

Unstoppable Doom Patrol #1 is available for pre-order at your local comic shop now. The book is slated to arrive on March 29.