On one side you have a masked crimefighter with a giant exclamation point on his face. On the other you have a sleepless librarian with a passion for puzzles. Together, they’re the zaniest (and craziest) duo comics have seen in sometime. And in the new four-issue series The Answer launching on January 23, series creator Mike Norton and writer Dennis Hopeless are looking to give some answers of their own.
This Ditko-esque superhero first came to life when Norton did some shorts in the digital comics anthology/app Double Feature last year, and now this punctuation-faced hero is back for a return engagement in this first full-on series. Newsarama threw questions at the creators behind The Answer, and here’s what they had to say.Newsarama: So guys, how would you describe the titular hero, the Answer?
Dennis Hopeless: The Answer is a mystery. He's a superhero in a world not built for superheroes. He may or may not be a crazy person but he's good at his job and his job is keeping our protagonist, Devin, alive.
Mike Norton: He started as just a costume. Just messing around in a sketchbook. I was trying to design a "Mystery Man" type character. The more I drew him, the more weird stories I came up with, but the problem was I didn't know who he was. So, I decided THAT's what the story is about in a way. Nobody knows the Answer... Even me, in a way.
I do know what the story is though. I'm not completely blind!
Nrama: The Answer’s not taking up all the spotlight here, as he’s on the run with a brilliant research librarian named Devin McKenzie. What can you tell us about her?
Norton: She's the hero of our story. The Answer is really about her. She's a very important person, but she doesn't know it yet. Thankfully, The Answer does and is on the case to keep her out of trouble.
Hopeless: Devin isn't the most confident or athletically gifted woman in the world but her mind is just staggering. She has this incredible intellect and capacity for abstract thought. Devin can think her way out of any situation but at the start of the book she's lived a very safe, quiet life. Mike, The Answer! and I change all that right away. We put Devin and her mind through their paces.Nrama: And what are these two running from?
Norton: Bad guys!
Hopeless: Lots of things. Machine gun-toting ex-military mercenaries, a megalomaniac self-help guru, the twisted employees of a less-than-legit mental institution, massive terrifying brain needles and one very scary software developer.
Norton: There's a large shadow organization that wants Devin. And they'll do anything to get her.
Nrama: Odd question… but what would happen if the Answer were to ever face off with DC’s The Question?
Hopeless: I don't know. A lawsuit?
Norton: Somebody'd get punched.
Nrama: Eagle-eyed Newsarama readers will surely notice that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen The Answer; he appeared in Double Feature, a self-published digital anthology book you did with Tim Seeley last year. How’d he go from there to here at Dark Horse?
Norton: Yeah, that was a "prequel" of sorts. Mostly to test the waters of our publishing idea. It sets the stage for what we're doing in the Dark Horse series, but not at all necessary to understand what's going on. Dark Horse was interested after I had talked to them about Battlepug a year or two ago. It's an idea that's been ruminating for a while, but Dark Horse was there to take a chance on it.Nrama: The concept of The Answer has been percolating in your head for years now; what would you say is the key nugget of truth that’s stayed with you throughout the concept’s evolution?
Norton: It's a mystery. That's it. It's about a really smart person not satisfied with not knowing the answer to that mystery, and what trouble she gets into. I also wanted to draw a guy in a Steve Ditko-ish costume beating on people
Nrama: Dennis, how’d you get involved with The Answer and Mike Norton?
Hopeless: A few years ago, Mike was talking to me about his long-gestating super hero mystery story. The thing sounded huge and insane and impossible. I somehow convinced Mike to show me the maniacal scrawling he calls "notes," read through them and was hooked.
It is huge and insane but the more I connected the dots, the less impossible it seemed. There was a through line to the story and the characters all had interesting arcs. I gave Mike some suggestions and told him he should definitely pursue it. For whatever reason, he asked if I wanted to write it.
In hindsight, I think maybe Mike was just impressed anyone could understand his notes.
Norton: I met Dennis years ago and thought he was mega talented. As you can see now, Marvel agrees with me. He really thought he could do something with The Answer. I had attempted several times in previous years to write it myself, but I didn't have the confidence to do it myself. He really made it make sense to me. He really floored me. I'm glad other people are recognizing what he can do.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!