A scam gone wrong. A plane crash. Teleportation.This is the setting for the world of I Love Trouble from writer Kel Symons and artist Mark Robinson. Symons, a documentary film maker and Hollywood producer along with Robinson, who has worked for both Marvel, DC, and a handful of other comic companies, tell the story of Felicia Castro, a young, trouble-making grifter who is on the run until a powerful discovery changes her life, but not necessarily her ways.
Newsarama talked to Symons and Robinson about the new project and the thought process going into it. Although setting up Brian Michael Bendis' Powers as a movie many years ago, this is Symon's debut in the world of comics, and a return of sort for Robinson. Robinson also supplied Newsarama with a handful of exclusive black and white interior pages, as well as a few colored pages.
Newsarama: Kel, you come from a film background especially with documentaries. What made you go into the world of comics?Exclusive Art Kel Symons: I sort of fell into it, actually. I kind of feel bad saying that, because I have to imagine there are thousands of writers out there, struggling to make it work, to be heard, to rise above the crowd -- and here's this asshole who comes along and gets a book at Image, saying he fell into it. But that's really how it was. A happy accident.
I had been writing for years, trying to make it in film and TV, but only just recently started experiencing any level of success with it. Before that, I was an exec at a production company in Hollywood, developing movies and TV series. Anyway, I'd known Eric Stephenson at Image for years, and he approached me with the idea of working on something for them, and it just sort evolved from there. With a little experimentation, I found writing a comic book script wasn't too dissimilar from what I'd been doing before. Storytelling is storytelling, no matter what the medium.Nrama: Mark, we haven't seen much of you in recent years, so what attracted you to I Love Trouble?
Mark Robinson: Creative freedom and ownership of your own ideas is the first thing that springs to mind. It's nice to to be able to say "I made that" not... "I worked on that." It's a different kind of feeling of self-accomplishment for me and this stage of my career. The landscape of comics has changed and that change has been forcing me to re-evaluate what I wanted out out of it. I wanted to work with Image Comics because it seemed like that was one one publisher that i saw myself having control over the final product all across the board. I like their "hands off" approach.
I was also attracted to the project itself... For years now i wanted to do a book with a strong alpha female lead protagonist. Felicia brings that to the table in a major way. I liked that Felicia is flawed. She drinks too much. Smokes too much. She's got family issues. She's got relationship problems... she's a hot mess yet maintains a sense of having it together. I've dated this woman. A lot. So you pull inspiration from what you know and it creates a stronger bond with the work. I never had the opportunity to explore any of that working for the some of the projects i've been attached to in the past. It's also a weird book. I don;t think it can be easily filed into any type of genre. And it doesn't take itself too seriously at all. It's also a weird book. I like weird books, what can i say I'm a weird person.Exclusive Art Nrama: Kel, could you sum up I Love Trouble without giving too much away?
Symons: In short, it's about a woman, Felicia, a low-level grifter and con-artist, who's not always had the best of luck when it comes to relationships - messed up home life, estranged from her family; a runaway who has had a string of co-dependent relationships with men. As a result, she's the type who, when thing get tough on a personal level, her defensive reaction is to pick up and split rather than deal. In fact, when we meet her, she's on the run from a score she just pulled that went south - got her partner killed and set her in the sights of a mobster she conned out of some dough. But her flight to safety is interrupted when her plane crashes, and in that moment of stress and anxiety, she discovers she has a supernatural ability - the ability to teleport.
Nrama: Who are some of your storytelling inspirations?Exclusive Art Symons: There probably isn't anything I've read or seen that hasn't influenced me in some way or another, either by inspiration or emulation. As a nerdy kid, I grew up on a steady diet of sci-fi and horror: Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, William Gibson, Stephen King. Movies and television have inspired me, obviously, with too many influences to count. Especially films and filmmakers of the 70s. But I'll highlight Woody Allen and Stephen Spielberg. On the tv side it's The X-Files (seriously, it seems like practically every writer on that show is now doing some of the best stuff on tv these days). And Joss Whedon, for sure. Comics-wise it's been Brian K. Vaughn and Alan Moore. Though Batman was probably my real entrée into comics. Robinson: For this project I broke out my old school Claremont X-Men books. I grew up on those books and to me, Claremont had the bad ass alpha female type down to a science. They were powerful, yet normal. Storm had her plants. Rogue had that mullet and a complex. Dazzler was a rock star and did blow. I remember seeing that book and going "Whuuuut? That's crazy!?!" For better or worse it stuck with me. The flaws and little things made you connect more with them. Root for them. That's what storytelling in Comics is about for me. Beating the odds or losing in style.
In general... I'm influenced across the board in all types of stimuli. Film and music mostly. Billy Joel. David Lynch. Elton John. Albert Camus. Biggie Smalls. [Jack] Kirby. I've really been feeling Milo Manara lately. I am still discovering his work -- mind-blowing stuff.
Nrama: Mark, how would you describe your art style here?Robinson: Dirty Disney.
Seriously... why not exploit a visual medium that has it's pulse of the pop culture's sub conscious?
Although it's taken some time but I can honestly say I found my happy place style wise. I work as old school as possible when I do my pages. No Wacoms needed. No batteries or plugs allowed. I'll never rule it out down the road, but I feel I have found my comfort zone. Yet, I know I am a long way of from where I am going with my artwork. Still going means still growing.
Nrama: Mark, what does I Love Trouble give you as an artist that other projects might not have?
Robinson: Lack of editorial restrictions, I guess... The absence of that feeling of having to look over your shoulder to watch the Deadline Doom Clock tick tick tick to finish something you never really started in the first place, i.e : someone else's creation or intellectual property. I never knew what the true reward system was in creating comics actually was until recently someone stopped me for my time to talk about ILT and not what Marvel book I was working on next. ILT allows me me not to go into any project wondering what the next one is going to be. It's now the only one that needs to be. I don't like to hurry things along anymore. I feel that pressure alone just makes you make creative decisions that you would never think of doing within your work and the work suffers for it in the long run. Up until this point for me it seemed like the goal was to just to meet a deadline and stay in the game and be relevant and working.After so many times filling in here and filling in there (freelance talk) , you want to apply yourself and show that sometimes less is more when that time is spent on the end product. I Love Trouble gives me that option of control and hopefully the satisfaction I am looking for in my work.
Nrama: Kel, what attracted you to Mark's style?
Symons: You're gonna find two bad asses in this book: Felicia, obviously. And the other is Mark. You see his stuff and right away you know this guy's working on another level. It definitely doesn't look like other books. There's some anime in there, and then his love of classic 70's and 80's comics comes through. But then he's doing his own thing - pushing the visuals, playing with expectations, always doing it with a sense of humor -- a wink to the audience. I'll tell you, it opened up my storytelling style. Influenced how I approached things, loosened me up and let my imagination run wild. I would think "Can I do this? Can I get away with this?" and then I'd know, yeah, I can, because Mark's gonna do what he does and it's gonna work.
Nrama: Lastly, what are you hoping readers take from I Love Trouble?
Symons: I don't know. I mean, I'm not a "theme" guy. I'm not trying to broadcast any central message or ideal. I think we're really just trying to tell a good story in a fun way. So, I guess I just want readers to have a good time. If that happens, then my work here is done.
Robinson: A smile.
If you read I Love Trouble and walk away with a smile then we did our job the right way.
I Love Trouble will be available December 5th published by Image Comics.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!