Superior Foes of Spider-Man, the demented crime caper starring the Web-Slinger’s…next-to-most-least-competent enemies, was a critical hit at Marvel under the team of writer Nick Spencer and artist Steve Lieber. Now, that duo has reunited with The Fix, a new creator-owned crime story at Image Comics that’s poised to go even further than that story in a tale of corruption, double-crossing, and a drug-sniffing Beagle named “Pretzels.”
With the book out this week, Newsarama talked to Lieber about what readers can expect from this madness.
Newsarama: Steve, what's The Fix about?
Steve Lieber: The Fix is about cops, crooks, corruption, poor life choices, and sociopathic narcissism.
Nrama: Who are our heroes...well, that might be a bit of a broad term. Protagonists? I am particularly interested in Pretzels the Beagle.
Lieber: Our protagonists are Roy and Mac, a couple of crooked cops. Roy could actually be pretty good at his job, if he cared about anything besides getting rich quick. The jury's still out on Mac.
As for Pretzels the Beagle, he's the only character in this story a decent human should root for, but technically, he's an antagonist.
I tend to design characters as I work on pages. It always takes me a little while to figure out who they are and how they act. I'll sometimes start with a celebrity or someone I know, but by the time I'm 20 pages in, that original inspiration is long gone, and I'm just drawing the character. Pretzels, for instance, was originally modeled after Autumnlands artist Benjamin Dewey.
Nrama: And I’m sure he appreciates that. Where all does this story take place, and how is the setting important to the tale?
Lieber: It's a fun challenge for me to try to make our cartoon Los Angeles feel real. I don't want it to be just a backdrop for the characters to stand in front of.
Working in Portland, I'm about a thousand miles north of there, so I'm relying heavily on Google Maps, and YouTube videos, and Instagram snapshots, and anything else that helps me nail down the exact right details.
For me, the perfect panel moves you through the story without a pause, but leaves you with a sense that you were there. It's all about finding the right element to emphasize. I tend to treat it like a stage play more than a movie. One perfect prop can say more than a whole room full of extraneous clutter.
Nrama: Where did the initial idea for this story come from?
Lieber: That was all Nick. After we wrapped up Superior Foes of Spider-Man, he told me about three ideas he had in mind, and this was the one that grabbed me.
Nrama: What can readers expect?
Lieber: Crime, betrayal, abrupt but believable changes in tone, dick jokes.
Nrama: What are some of your all-time favorite crime stories in different media? This seems a little more Donald Westlake than Richard Stark.
Lieber: I like Westlake a lot. Elmore Leonard, of course. George Pelecanos. Attica Locke. Movies: The Killing, Dog Day Afternoon, Chinatown, The Sting.
On TV it's the usual greats: The Wire, Terriers, Underbelly, Breaking Bad, Love/Hate, Cracker.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about your collaborative process, and what each of you feels the other brings to the book.
Lieber: Nick is just flat-out funny. Humor is really hard to do in comics, but Nick makes it look easy. He's somehow able to conjure up an endless variety of human misbehavior and fit them all into great premises and scenarios. His ear for dialogue is a delight.
Nrama: How long do you see this story running?
Lieber: I don't have a number in mind. I'd just like to get an omnibus big enough to knock my enemies out.
Nrama: Going back to your initial collaboration with Nick – your versions of the Sinister Six (Five?) are now out in figure-form from Marvel Legends, complete with R/C Silvermane. How does it feel to be immortalized as such in plastic?
Lieber: I'm giggling like the weird kid in the back of the classroom. I'm not a toy guy at all. but I want to own them all. I can honestly say it never once occurred to me that anyone would manufacture a Silvermane's head-car. Also, I'm really looking forward to signing a few of them at conventions this year.
Nrama: Big picture, why should people check this out?
Lieber: We cram so much entertainment into every issue. We take the whole "being entertaining" thing very, very seriously. This isn't just theoretically funny. It's funny.
Nrama: What are some other titles/creators you're currently enjoying?
Lieber: Stray Bullets, Autumnlands, Love and Rockets, Bandette, Oh Joy Sex Toy, Kate Beaton's family comics, Trekker, Sex Criminals, Twilight Children.
Nrama: Anything else you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed yet?
Lieber: That's it for me. Thanks for the interview, and I hope everyone will check out The Fix.