Rob Williams has written all over the place in recent years, from multiple Marvel series like Ghost Rider and Daken: Dark Wolverine to DC's National Comics: Madame X, and a variety of Dark Horse books in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. Currently, he's making a return to Dynamite — where he wrote Robocop — for a time-jumping revival of pulp character Miss Fury debuting in April, and returning to his 2000AD feature The Ten-Seconders. Newsarama talked to him about both projects.
Newsarama: Rob, what about Miss Fury did you find compelling when taking on the project? There are obviously a lot of pulp era characters out there — Dynamite has published comics starring quite a few — what made this one stand out?Rob Williams: Really, the character came in with a blank slate for me, and there's a lot of freedom to that. We could've done the book as a straight-ahead superhero noir set in the '40s or modern day, but I thought it'd be fun to set the book in various eras. You see the '40s, 2013 and the future.
And I kept coming back to the name. She's called Fury. So what's she angry about? What out there should people be angry about? And so we get a little political satire too, as she's charged with assassinating the nastier politicians in Washington, D.C., who just happen to be shape-shifting, covert Nazi time travel agents.
Nrama: Like many characters from this time, Miss Fury is obscure by today's standards. How much — if anything — did you know about the character going in? And what did you find out about the character that surprised you?Williams: I did my research, obviously, but I wasn't hugely knowledgeable about Miss Fury prior to getting this series, as I imagine many of the readers won't be. So you'll get a new origin tale in #1. There's no worries for newcomers here. You're in on the ground floor.
As for her history — just the fact that she was written by one of the first female comic creators in Tarpe Mills and may well be the first female comic hero to be written by a woman. Our Miss Fury is still Marla Drake, she's still a rich Manhattan socialite. But after that, things get a little twisted.
Nrama: The series has a significant time travel component. What led you towards that route, instead of doing a more conventional pulp story? It seemingly makes it more of subversive take rather than a straight period piece.Williams: Yeah, and that's what I was excited by, the freedom that gives the storyline. Although I should've learnt by now that writing time travel stories is a major headache for the writer. I thought the '40s pulp thing was being done very well elsewhere by Dynamite creators, and just transporting her to 2013 was too straightforward. So Miss Fury is flashing through time, back and fore, constantly. At least, that appears to be the case. Or is she insane? There's an emotional trauma at the heart of Miss Fury's story in the book and maybe that has driven her over the edge. She has to find her true time, find her sanity and her moral center. It's a redemption story, in a way. She's a fairly immoral character when we first meet her. Her journey is finding out what makes her angry enough to fight for.
Nrama: Jack Herbert, a Dynamite veteran, is artist on the series — what are you enjoying about his work thus far? And what kind of artistic challenge is being thrown at him, given that the book encompasses multiple time periods?Williams: Major artistic challenges, I imagine. I'm sure Jack's cursing me. The book's pretty ambitious in its storytelling and I'm throwing a lot at him. Big action set-pieces, period stuff with lots of reference from World War II, and there's the smaller, more emotional stuff.
Jack's been terrific, though. His work reminds me of Frazer Irving's a little. He does the pulp stuff beautifully — lots of heavy blacks and moods — and draws a beautiful Miss Fury. She's a knockout in the series. I suggested basing her on Olivia Munn from Newsroom and you can really see that in the finished pages. It's usually really helpful to cast an actor in a comic role for me. Helps you visualize it.
Oh, and in terms of the visuals, I should also say that the colorist [Ivan Nunes] has done a wonderful job on Miss Fury too. It's a great looking book.Nrama: Speaking of cable dramas, you've compared Miss Fury to Homeland in a couple different instances ("Homeland meets Back to the Future" and "Homeland meets La Femme Nikita"). So is it safe to conclude that you're a fan? And do you see similarities in protagonists?
Williams: Homeland… I have an unhealthy relationship with. I've watched two seasons, there's much about it I like and much about it that drives me crazy because I think it's really badly done. Most episodes I rant to my girlfriend about why we watch the show... and then I end up watching it the following week. I can't quit! At the end of season two I asked her to make sure I not watch season 3 because it winds me up so much. But the basic similarity with Miss Fury is the undercover duplicity of certain political figures in the book. And La Femme Nikita because Miss Fury is turned into an assassin to kill said political figures.Nrama: Is this being considered at as an ongoing or a miniseries?
Williams: We're planning for it as an ongoing but that'll depend on sales, just like any book in the industry. There's certainly the scope for it to be an ongoing.
Nrama: Moving to some of your 2000AD work, a few months ago, a Ten-Seconders collection was released, and you've said you're working on a new series of it. Was one inspired by the other (i.e., the success of the collection increased demand for new material)? And what can you say about the new series?
Williams: The most exciting thing about the new series, for me, is working with Edmund Bagwell (Cradlegrave), who is a superb artist. The new series — "Godsend" — was intended to be this Kirby-esque cosmic adventure, The Fathers of The Gods coming to Earth to discipline their naughty children, but does that just mean something worse for the beleagured human resistance? And Edmund does that type of material beautifully. His pages thus far have been just stunning.Coming back to the series on the back of the GN collection of series' 1 and 2 was actually a coincidence. I was at the Kapow convention last year on the 2000AD panel and a reader asked about bringing the book back, I said I'd always had the plan for series 3. Matt Smith, the 2000AD editor, was hosting the panel, and he asked if I'd be interested in bringing it back. It was as straightforward as that. I'd been busy on a lot of different things in the years since Ten-Seconders, but I left series 2 on a big cliffhanger of The Fathers of The Gods, being summoned to Earth. There was always the intention to come back to it at some point. And these days I'm far more concerned with not doing a project unless I can find the right artist to match it. I'd been a big fan of Edmund's work on the superb Cradlegrave and Indigo Prime, both in 2000AD. When he agreed to come onboard I had the necessary enthusiasm to write the book.
Nrama: What else are you working on currently that you can speak to, either with 2000AD or elsewhere?Williams: The thing I've most excited about at the moment is my upcoming creator-owned series Ordinary which I think may be the best thing I've written. And the artist is one of my favorites too. So I'm looking forward to that being released.
Aside from that, Miss Fury and The Ten-Seconders, I've written a few Judge Dredds of late, a couple of which have big name artists onboard who aren't normally 2000AD artists, so that's pretty exciting. In recent years I've been lucky enough to pull in people like Guy Davis and James Harren to do Dredds with me and that's continuing. It's fun for me to work with some of my favorite artists in the industry. There's a few other things on the way too, but nothing I can talk about just yet.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!