By Chloe Maveal
Friday’s Eisner Awards proved to be a banner evening for DC Comics’ Mister Miracle author Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads. King swept several categories to include Best Graphic Album Reprint for The Vision hardcover, Best Short Story for “The Talk of the Saints” in Swamp Thing Winter Special, Best Writer, and a shared title of Best Limited series with Gerads for their 2017-2018 Fourth World blockbuster, Mister Miracle. Gerads was also commended for winning Best Penciller/Inker for Mister Miracle for the second year running. Needless to say, the duo almost took a clean sweep of the show.
But with acceptance speeches that were as humble as they were heartfelt in attributing their success to their families as well as the King of Comics himself, Jack Kirby, it was clear when I got a chance to sit down with them at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday evening that their wins have always been a labor of love and have not dented their senses of humor nor their senses of humility.
Note: This interview was conducted prior to the announcement of King’s, Gerads’, and Evan “Doc” Shaner’s Strange Adventures, scheduled for release in 2020.
Chloe Maveal: Wow, you guys. The Eisners last night were really something! You really cleaned house yesterday. And with your win you took the opportunity to thank your families and your DC family and each other. But I also noticed that, Mitch, you took the time to thank Jack Kirby, who you said it felt like he was watching over you guys while you worked on Mister Miracle.
Mitch Gerads: I mean, you know, we owe a huge percentage of that win to him. I’m glad I got to put that in there.
Tom King: We knew that our mission statement from day one was to sort of do a love letter to Jack Kirby. You can’t do comics without Kirby and you can’t talk about Kirby without talking about comics.
Gerads: I mean, it’s wild. You got your award and you get back to your room or whatever and it’s like, “oh. No wait. The people who do this alongside me are the ones—they’re the people who voted and that’s kind of when it hits you like a ton of bricks because we don’t do it for the awards. We don’t do it for getting that recognition, but it still just feels really good. Can’t deny that. It’s completely insane.
King: Ugh. You’re so emotionally balanced.
Gerads: I keep it all buried and only the good stuff comes up!
King: I also feel like there’s an anxiety that comes with it. Well, now we have to keep doing better because it’s sort of our… we have a responsibility to our audience and to our fans to not coast or to not suck. To not — to continue to deliver this well. We’ve created a set of expectations we now have to meet with our next project, along with everything else. So on the one hand it’s like, “yay” and on the other hand, it’s like, the first step on a new journey that goes straight uphill.
Gerads: After you raise the bar, you realize that you’ve set the bar now. So it’s not okay going under it now. And so you have to try and stay above that new bar.
Maveal: You have talked about how important the collaboration is between you two and working together as well. Does having two years of wins in a row feel like a validation of the choice of that collaboration?
King: No. Being the godfather of Mitch’s child felt like that. When he asked me that, I was like, “oh this is…” yeah.” That was something special. Awards are great, but that in particular really touched me.
Gerads: I get to make comics with my best friend so like… that’s the validation. That’s all I need.
Gerads: Yeah, but it really is. We get to do things that make me feel like I’m contributing to art; which sounds super hoity-toity and everything, but it’s true. I feel like I get to do something that a lot of people in comics don’t get to do and it’s all because of this guy right here.
King: I can’t wait for our inevitable fallout.
Gerads: It’s gonna be awesome.
King: What will come between us? I feel like my dog will be our Yoko Ono. You’ll be like, “I DON’T LIKE YOUR DOG,” and I’ll be like, “WHAT? BUT I LOVE MY DOG!”
Gerads: I will be the Biggie to your Tupac.
King: Everyone has to choose sides. ART OR WORDS?! THERE IS NO IN-BETWEEN.
Maveal: What do you feel like your relationship is to Mister Miracle now, as a piece of your work? Do you feel like you have a different relationship with it?
Gerads: It’s unhealthy. Like, the same could be said for Sheriff [of Babylon] with Tom. I get super wrapped up in the characters and they become like real people to me and so when you’re done and you walk away, it’s like you miss them a little bit. But I was just glad to be there to tell their story.
King: Ugh. God, I’m about to make my second Beatles reference of this thing. I’ve said this before and Mitch has heard it a thousand times, but Paul McCartney in a recent interview was asked if he was doing the best work of his career and there was a long pause before he was like, “Well I WAS in the Beatles…” I feel like my relation to Mister Miracle is that I look at it and go, “Oh hey, I was once in The Beatles.” I once got to work on a perfect project with the perfect team and everything went well.
Gerads: You should start using Nickelback.
King: Hah! “I was once in Nickelback.” Oh jeez, now we offended the Nickelback fans.
Maveal: This is all on the record. Cut. Print.
King: Haha! Yes. Print it.
Maveal: Mister Miracle pushed boundaries with what was being done with superheroes and how superheroes were dealing with very human emotions. Do you feel like this has encouraged you both as creators to push boundaries with other projects, both now and in the future?
King: I don’t know. I was going to say, “There’s no way to write without pushing boundaries,” but that’s not true.
Gerads: The thing is, we don’t see it as having too many boundaries. We’re just telling stories how we know how to tell them. I never feel like, “Oh, let’s change this up from comics!” Like, I’m not sitting there going, “AHA! No one has done THIS! So let’s do that!” I think we’re just telling stories about… I mean, just people who happen to also have crazy adventure lives.
King: I think that’s exactly it. I don’t think we’re pushing boundaries. We’re just telling stories in our time and our time has never happened before, so it feels like a boundary push.
Maveal: Tom, you’re working on the New Gods movie now, of course. I saw on your Twitter that you have plans to stick around in L.A. to work on that for a while. What are you hoping to bring to the film, having worked on Mister Miracle and have it given such continually high praise?
King: The focus of my next week is going to be to bring two American geniuses together. One of whom is Jack Kirby, this Jewish kid of immigrants, a war hero who changed pop culture and right now we live on his shoulders as we move forward… And the other one is Ava DuVernay, who — I feel — is making a similar impact and changing the way we look at pop culture and media. If I can do anything to contribute to those two brains coming together — if we can harness those two beautiful energies — then we can definitely make something great.
Maveal: Have either or both of you grown more of an ego with all of these Eisners?
Gerads: I mean, we’re both constantly nervous about everything.
King: We both have children that cut us. I’m a writer, but I spend 1/3 of my day writing, and 2/3 of my day I spend as a parent and as a husband and a father. And so for 2/3 of my day I am… I don’t know how to describe it. But it cuts your ego in half. My kids don’t care at all that I won an Eisner. They care if I have enough string cheese in the fridge.
Gerads: I have three Eisners and I can walk around here and get stopped and congratulated and get handshakes all day long, but I guarantee the second I get home and I walk through [the door], my wife will be [saying], “Oh, hi. We need to move that dresser outside.”
King: Yeah. No, we’re not egotistical. And that’s an egocentric thing to say, so maybe we are.
Maveal: At the end of the day, how did it feel for both of you guys to win?
Gerads: It was amazing for us to win. But we didn’t get there by ourselves by any means. We had an entire team that got us on that stage. Our letterer Clayton Cowles, amazing editor Jaimie Rich, our amazing assistant editors Brittany Holzherr and then early on, we had Maggie Howell. And Molly! Molly Mahan. And our wives. Our wives Colleen and Lauren.
King: If you look in the first page of the last issue of Mister Miracle, there’s an audience and there’s people watching it and the whole team is in the audience. That was the sort of signal that this wasn’t just Mitch and I doing something. This was something we all put together and can be super proud of.
The Mister Miracle 12-issue maxi-series is available now through DC Comics and wherever comic books are sold. To keep up with Tom King, follow him on Twitter and Instagram. To keep up with Mitch Gerads, follow him on Twitter and Instagram as well.
Stay tuned to The Beat for more coverage of all things DC Comics and more from San Diego Comic-Con International 2019.