Tuesday, we spoke with Marc Guggenheim about Resurrection, his series at Oni which chronicles life after the alien invasion of earth. No, not Alien Nation, but rather, after Independence Day - what’s next?
As Guggenheim discussed, Book One followed a small clutch of survivors as they sought answers in the post-invasion world, and starting with this week’s Free Comic Book Day issue (available Saturday at many fine comic shops), he gets to the job of Book Two’s story – a completely new point of view on the world, open and accessible to all readers.
We spoke with Guggenheim about this fresh (re)start.
Newsarama: Okay Marc – we covered how the series started and where the idea originally came from for Resurrection, so let’s get up to date. This is a big week for the property, as the trade hit comic shops yesterday, this Saturday, Oni’s Free Comic Book Day issue is a Resurrection story, and a new series – in color – starts in June. How did things get here, and whose idea was the start, the pause, and the restart?
Marc Guggenheim: It was Oni’s. Oni, from the get-go has been ridiculously supportive of the book. Basically…with Book One, we didn’t come anywhere close to a regular schedule. I don’t think we hit one deadline. So we knew that we had to do something to address that basic problem, because there was no predictability with the publishing schedule.
That problem that we were trying to solve coincided with some economic changes that basically made printing in color economically viable for the first time. It’s really to my benefit, and I’m very grateful for the fact that when Oni decided to publish a book in color for the first time, they chose Resurrection. From there, we decided that if we were going to do this, and do this in color, we had to do it in a way that allows us to hit a monthly schedule.
So when you combine the idea of monthly schedule and color printing, along with the great idea that Oni came up with of publishing Book One as a six dollar trade, we felt it deserved a relaunch, complete with a new issue #1. I’m writing a text piece that goes with Book Two issue #1 right now that touches on this part, but I’m not a fan of new #1s. As a reader, as a long-time comic book fan, they kind of leave a bad taste in my mouth. I only like them if they only really – radically – relaunch a series. Nowadays, it’s really done to goose sales, and it always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I always swore that I would never do it on any of the books I was involved with.
NRAMA: (laughs) But in this case…
MG: (laughs) Right – in the case of Resurrection, I felt it was justified because we’re re-approaching this from ground zero. You can pick up Book Two issue #1 without having read any of the previous series. It is written entirely as if Book One has never happened. I’m not saying that we’re ignoring Book One, but just that the reading experience for new readers – everything will be introduced to them slowly. That does require a little bit of artfulness in the writing, but I feel that time and effort are well worth it.
So, the notion of restarting with a new #1 is very appropriate in this instance. Also, if you look at the title page of Book Two #1, it says “Book Two.” We’re not ignoring the first series or the history here, which can sometimes happen with a new #1 launch. And as I proceed through the book and I work out the long-term plans for the book, I have to wrestle with the idea of when Book Two ends, do I start Book Three up with a new #1?
But my goal; has always been to make sure that if we’re going to relaunch the book with a new #1, it has to be worthwhile and theres a real reason to it, so it’s not just some marketing gimmick.
NRAMA: Tell us about the Free Comic Book Day issue – is that a kickoff of Book Two, or a separate story?
MG: For Free Comic Book Day, I created an issue #0, basically. It’s sort of funny - I feel like I’ve had to do two new issues that are new-reader friendly. When I wrote the Free Comic Book day issue, I didn’t want people to have to know the previous characters – the issue has to stand on its own feet. At the same time, I didn’t want to be locked in to the narrative that I’d already started writing for Book Two. So what I decided to do for that issue – it’s a 16 page story, so I didn’t have a lot of room, but room enough to tell a story – I chose to create a new character who will ultimately have great importance to the overall mythology.
So, as before, I’m trying to serve two masters, both the old readers and the new. For long-time readers, you’ll get a glimpse for the first time at the truth behind the alien invasion.
NRAMA: So tease away a little – what gets the ball rolling in the FCBD issue?
MG: Well, we focus on a character named Dwight, and Dwight has the unusual distinction of being in a mental hospital at the time the aliens invade. The reason why he’s in a mental hospital is that he claims that – years before – he was abducted by aliens, and everyone thought he was crazy. Well now, people don’t think he’s so crazy. His story begins with leaving the hospital after he aliens have blown it to bits. And merriment ensues.
NRAMA: And he’s not in Book Two issue #1?
MG: Well, I’ll say that the consequences of the Free Comic Book Day issue we’ll revisit in probably, Book Three. Book Two is about resetting the world and putting all the key character sback on the playing field, so I won’t get a chance to pay of the consequences of the Free Comic Book Day issue until Book Three.
NRAMA: In your mind, is this something that’s headed towards an endpoint, or is it just an ongoing exploration of the brave, new world following an alien invasion?
MG: It’s definitely going towards an endpoint. I have the overall mythology figured out, and the big mysteries answered. One of the things that I decided to do is that once we realunch the book, we’ll see what the audience is like. I’m going to have to be really, really practical, and let sales dictate on whether I’m writing an ongoing series with no end in sight, or a shorter series. I don’t want the book to ever end prematurely without getting the answers out to readers. But I believe in a flexible writing approach in that I like to have very specific tentpoles, but I like to give myself flexibility in terms of when those tentpoles will be revealed.
NRAMA: And given the type of story that it is, I’m guessing it’s safe to say that the characters are far from revealing all they know?
MG: Yeah – there’s a lot more going on. The master plan calls for our characters to start rebuilding the world. The title, “Resurrection” is very deliberate. We’re working up to a point where the characters that survive will ultimately start about the business of rebuilding the world, and facing the questions of are they going to rebuild it as it was, or will they change things? Who’s in charge? All those big, human questions.
My grand plan for the book is to start off at a very ground-level, human, everyman place, and then, slowly and organically, the characters will grow – well, those who survive will grow, and the stories will get bigger and bigger and bigger. And the consequences of the stories will get bigger and bigger and bigger, so the characters will constantly be moving forward while things get more and more complicated.
NRAMA: Finally, Resurrection is set up at as a feature at Universal. How’s it moving along?
MG: I’ve been working with the guys over there to develop it, and I have to say that I’m a very big believer that you can’t just do a literal translation of the comic book in movie form. I like to adapt it for the different artform. So we’ve been doing that and having a blast, and my hope is that you’ll get to see it at a theater near you sooner rather than later.
But in the meantime – with Free Comic Book Day, and even the six dollar trade, there’s no reason not to pick up this book.
Click here for a 7 page preview of Resurrection's FCBD issue