Being a doorman might be an antiquated job – but what if the door was a portal to other worlds?
On March 16, Heavy Metal is launching a new miniseries that mixes Doctor Who and Stargate, with a bit if X-Files intrigue, in The Doorman. Created by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert writer Daniel Kibblesmith along with writer Eliot Rahal, the series is illustrated by newcomer Kendall Goode.
Newsarama talked with the trio about their upcoming series, how it blends science fiction tropes with an extra dose of humor, and how they’re trying to revitalize the job of being a Doorman.
Newsarama: Eliot, Daniel, what can you tell readers about The Doorman?
Eliot Rahal: Here’s the world in a nutshell (This will actually appear in the first issue inside front cover):
Welcome to the Universe! Every populated planet has a Door. Those who operate the Doors are known as Porters -- Interplanetary doormen who usher visitors from world to world. No one remembers who built the Doors or why. The Porters guard the knowledge of how the Doors are operated, sharing their secrets only with the apprentices who are to replace them -- and a Porter never leaves his post. Essentially… what if Stargate met Doctor Who.
Daniel Kibblesmith: I haven’t seen Doctor Who, so I’m going to say its Hitchhiker’s Guide meets Chinatown. But Eliot is usually right.
Rahal: So, Henry Clay Waters -- The Doorman of Earth -- hasn’t had an interstellar visitor in over 30 years until his last day on the job when extraterrestrial assassin shows up on his Doorstep. He saved by the conspiracy obsessed alien Detective Flower and well… They go on this huge adventure. Basically this story is a genre mash-up. It’s a sci-fi mystery that revolves around one question… Why would someone want to kill lowly space-doorman?
Daniel and I have been working together for a little over a year now. We are fans of the same stuff -- big worlds, science fiction, and humor. The Doorman is all of those things.
Kibblesmith: Also the retro-futurism meets art-deco meets sci-fi psychedelia of this universe which Kendall just really, really excels at.
Nrama: Kendall, what do the Doors look like themselves?
Kendall Goode: The Doors resemble fancy Art Deco elevators. The prompts I got from Daniel and Eliot were about capturing the classy looking style and feel of the 20s and 30s. Something that, along with the Doormen, feels strangely from another time. Once activated with a special key, the doors open up and in the doorway is a glowing star field-esque portal.
Nrama: And just who is the Doorman himself, Henry Clay Waters?
Kibblesmith: He’s an overlooked service industry guy from a bygone era, when those jobs at least held the illusion of dignity. He’s a holdover an era where you’d get a distinguished-looking uniform even if you were a bellhop or a railroad porter. Now that era is over and his options were get put out to pasture or survive in a crazy new universe.
Rahal: He’s a neighborhood kid who had big dreams of being someone important. That’s why he took the job of being a Doorman. It’s a legacy position. You know, like the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones? Being a Doorman -- or a Porter -- is romanticized in the same way. The only problem is… no one really cares anymore. It’s an out of date, antiquated job. Henry, like his identity as a Doorman, is a relic. As a result he feels like has been completely wasted. Which is why, at its core, this story is about redemption.
Nrama: Why is the threat of this unnamed “extraterrestrial assassin” such a big deal for the Doorman?
Rahal: At first glance it makes no sense. It would be like trying to assassinate a restroom attendant here on Earth. Why would you do that? But when you stop to think about it… travel, access, communication ... these are the things that build empires. And Doormen are the sort of de facto gatekeepers of the Galaxy’s version of “Roman Roads.” As a result they have an intrinsic power -- even if no one needs them anymore.
Kibblesmith: Trying to kill somebody is a great way to accidentally tip them off that they’re important enough to kill.
Nrama: And how does the alien, Detective Flower, figure into this?
Kibblesmith: She’s a crusader! Her entire career she’s been chasing conspiracies and Henry is living proof that she was finally right about one. Henry’s not sure if she blew up his life or saved it, but right now she’s his only point of reference in an insane new corner of the universe.
Rahal: What Dan said. I mean, she is our Virgil -- the eyes and ears -- our galactic guide. Also, it’s important to remember that her character’s desire is the same as Henry’s. She wants to feel vindicated. She doesn’t want her life to be a joke. She’s chasing after the same kind of redemption that Henry is.
Nrama: Kendall, how’d you nail down the looks of the two key aliens here, the assassin and Detective Flower?
Goode: Daniel and Eliot offer up ideas and I do my best to apply that to the designs. With drawing most of the aliens, I’m trying to settle on something that’s never been seen before without being too far out there. Detective Flower is pretty normal looking besides her lack of a nose and purple skin, and is meant to be sort of both Dana Scully and Fox Mulder. Daniel and Eliot described the assassin as sort of an alien seahorse Pinkerton, so I tried to take elements of that and make sure he looked intimidating.
Nrama: This idea of Doors is intriguing, and opens up some big ideas past just one series. Do you have hopes to explore more of this past this first storyline?
Rahal: Yes, this is very much an introduction to our “Universe” told through a single five-issue story. However, our goal is to kind of give it that wonderful Doctor Who storytelling style. There is lots of plot to happen to our characters, but there are also lots of questions left to be answered. Namely: What exactly are these “Doors”, “Who built them?”, and “Why?”
Kibblesmith: And thematically, and practically, there’s a lot to play with. It’s also a space opera with very few spaceships in it, which is something I’ve never seen before.
Nrama: As we’re talking, I haven’t been given any art from the book – so can you tell us what you’re doing and how you’re approaching the series?
Goode: I'm doing all the drawing, coloring, and lettering. This is the first time I've had the opportunity to do full length comic book and my first major published work so there is a lot of learning going on throughout the process.
In terms of my approach, I'm just hoping to do something that stands out and shows my love of science fiction and adventure. Daniel and Eliot do a great job at getting my imagination going with the scripts and really help me see what I want to put down on the page. If I can make this book look and feel unique, and tell this story well, that's all I can really hope for.
Nrama: How did you two and Kendall get connected to do The Doorman?
Rahal: My buddy, and co-writer on The Paybacks, Donny Cates sent me his portfolio. Once I saw it, I immediately sent it to Daniel. I was like, “This is the guy.”
Kibblesmith: He had a ton of amazing Star Trek samples and I just fully assumed he was already doing licensed Star Trek comic books because who else would be that good at drawing Ferengis?
Nrama: Kendall, what made The Doorman a series you wanted to do?
Kendall Goode:Daniel and Eliot are really clever guys. I get occasional offers for pitches and The Doorman really stood out as something I had to be a part of. It's a very fun, adventurous sci-fi story full of some really clever ideas. Most sci-fi comics out there right now are pretty dark and serious and this is great contrast to that. But at the same time, the characters they've written feel real and the situation they find themselves in is very serious.
Nrama: Daniel, Eliot – once you got Kendall onboard, what was it like seeing his his first art come in for The Doorman?
Kibblesmith: Space is weird. Aliens are weird! Kendall is a weird-generating machine.
Rahal: Kendall doesn’t say “No.” There are a lot of crazy visuals and just super weird space-stuff in this story. It’s a challenge to any artist. But whenever we send him a script, or some design notes, he always comes back with excitement. He’s on the same page we are, which is… let’s make some crazy-looking s**t. Also -- it’s worth mentioning -- that we just kind of let him do what he want. Kendall’s got such a great imagination. We barely need to give him direction. He just makes this thing come alive. Oh… did we mention he’s a triple threat (He can do pencils, colors, and letters). Listen, I don’t want to lose Kendall on future incarnations of this project… But hey Marvel… Look at what this guy can do… because he can do anything.
Nrama: Last question – would you be a Doorman?
Kibblesmith: Sitting quietly doing crosswords while someone else has all the adventures? Absolutely, yes.
Rahal: No… I would rather be Flower. She is cool alien, with a much better sense of humor, and she has a gun. Yeah, I’d much rather be Flower.
Goode: I would probably say no. I’ve worked my share of service/retail jobs and waiting around all day as a Doorman, even if that doorway had the possibility to have aliens come through, I’d have to say no. But an alien detective like Flower? Sure.