Nick Barrucci on Garth Ennis Month at Dynamite

Barrucci on Garth Ennis Month

As its readers know, if there’s an antidote to superheroes, it’s Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s The Boys published by Dynamite Entertainment. Together, the creators pit their crew of agents charged with policing the superheroes against those that the public sees as the brightest and the best heroes their world have to offer.

And that’s not all Ennis has to offer at Dynamite. Coming in October, Ennis will write Garth Ennis’ Battlefields, a return of sorts to realistic war stories from fronts that are not as well known as those learned about in history classes, but yet, Ennis loads them to the breaking point with drama and gripping action.

And yet, even that’s not all from Ennis at Dynamite. We spoke with Dynamite President Nick Barrucci about what’s to come during “Garth Ennis Month.”

Newsarama: Nick, October sees The Boys #23, which is Dynamite's 17th issue of the series. How's it performing for you in regards to your larger library of titles?

Nick Barrucci: The Boys is performing almost as well as it did when we launched it under Dynamite as a monthly title June of last year. There was a lot of hype when we launched and we got a few extra readers, and we've kept some, but not all - it happens. It’s nice that we’ve kept the momentum going. We've got a nice, steady pace, and the trade paperbacks and collections keep selling gang busters.

NRAMA: So, no regrets about taking it on?

NB: Not a single one. It is one of the smartest, most irreverent, fun comics out there and it is an honor to be publishing it. On a personal note, it’s one of my favorite comics in the market today. Not just favorite that Dynamite publishes, but one of my favorite titles period. I have to tell you, every time I think of how fortunate we are to publish this book, I remember Darick talking to Charles (Brownstein) at Wizard World Philly telling him how this was going to be one of his favorite jobs to work on.

NRAMA: In your view, who reads The Boys?

NB: I wish I could tell you who reads The Boys. It feels like everybody does because there are very few people in the business I speak with who don't read The Boys.

NRAMA: You'd had a personal relationship with Garth prior to this, but bringing The Boys over certainly opened the door for more material for you from him. We've spoken about it before, but just to recap a little - how did Garth Ennis' Battlefields get rolling?

NB: I did have a relationship with Garth though I actually had a stronger relationship with Darick. Garth's Battlefields came along by Garth saying no to titles we asked him to consider writing. He had very little interest in the projects we had suggested to him and we just turned the tables on him and asked him what he would like to do more of and he said "war comics." We said fine, it was really that easy. Darick is still under exclusive with DC, with The Boys being his carve out, otherwise I would imagine we would be pestering him as well.

NRAMA: Speaking of Battlefields, big-picture-wise, what stories is Garth looking to tell here? After all, he seems to have his foot in the door at Marvel with the War is Hell project, which seems to be along the same lines, albeit with fictional characters...

NB: The Battlefields project is different in that he’s not taking an existing character and crafting a story around it, like he did with the Marvel book (and in a way that only Garth could). These are real stories, without company characters – no matter how obscure – that Garth has meticulously researched and carefully crafted. I honestly think he’s having the time of his life writing these 3 stories.

NRAMA: Will Battlefields be an ongoing? A series of miniseries?

NB: Battlefields is currently set at nine issues. There will be three, three issue story arcs with three different artists. Peter Snejbjerg, Russ Braun and Carlos Ezquerra. I would like them to be one nine issue series, Garth has suggested making them three, three issue mini-series due to the fact that there are three different artists drawing each series. We will have it all figured out within the next week or so. Either way, this is going to be one heck of a collection. Now, Garth and I have a bet, and I’m going to use Newsarama to get your readers to help Garth win the bet. Garth would like to see this as one huge collection featuring all nine issues. I stated that I had no problem with that, as long as we could sell 28,000 copies of the first series, and that would make me comfortable in feeling that we would then sell 24,000 of the rest of the series. But, if we came in under 28,000 copies of #1, then we would need to do 3 TPB’s and then one full collection. This is an economic decision to ensure that we make money, and if the fans help Garth win, I know the fans will win as well. If the series is successful, then Garth will be able to continue writing even more war books, which he loves. So, to all of the Newsarama fans and all of the comics fans, if you can let your retailers know to order this series, it would be greatly appreciated!

NRAMA: Fair enough – it’s out to the readers now. You've got Battlefields starting in October, along with a new arc in The Boys, the latest trade, and the Boys trading cards, which we'll get to in a moment... so this means that October is Garth Ennis month for you, huh? What exactly does that mean?

NB: October being Garth Ennis month means that there is more of Garth for fans to love! No seriously, it seemed to be that we were originally going to solicit the Battlefields books for September, and Garth asked us to move it to October which happened to fall in line with the big push for the next story arc beginning in The Boys #23, which will actually be a countdown to the halfway point of the series. What this means is that we are going to create as much awareness as possible for Garth and for The Boys and for the Battlefields series and everything else that he is doing, and what it means is we will try and use the synergy to just bring more attention to anything he is doing with Dynamite and any ancillary that we are doing with him, like the trading cards or any other books. It's a big month and we are going to make the most of it.

NRAMA: As we mentioned, you're doing The Boys trading cards through Dynamite. First off, there's still an audience for trading cards such as these? How much of your business do card sets make up?

NB: Trading cards are an incremental part of our business, and they’re extremely important to us. The cards are going to be fun in that we’re going to be able to have fun facts with the cards and random pieces of info that you would not have known otherwise. The plus of doing the trading cards is that we will be able to sell this to a trading card audience and hopefully get trading card fans to try out the comics. And fingers crossed, from my typewriter, to your message board, to the fans voting by asking for them, to God’s ears.

NRAMA: How do you go about picking which images to turn into cards? Obviously, the covers are a no-brainer, but after that? What other specials are in there?

NB: There’s so much great art and moments in the series that we’re really just looking to capture the iconic moments from the first year… Behond that, we’re trying to figure if we should do glow in the dark cards (an interesting way to show some hamsters), or other enhancements. There’s that great seen in a movie theater where the two heroes show up with their date. Hhhmmmmmmm.

NRAMA: So is there a card with Jamie the hamster on it?

NB: Actually, Jamie the hamster will have a special three-card set. We want to show everyone the before, the during and the after. It's more fun that way if you can see it from all three sides. Don't you think? And remember, if we go glow-in-the-dark . . .

NRAMA: Back over to the series, with #23, you're starting variant covers with the series. Dyanmite's no stranger to variants, but on this series, you had been holding back. Why now?

NB: Issue #23 is a very special story line that Garth has been building up to and #23 - #30 is going to have a huge payoff. We wanted to grow the audience but do it in a way that was cool. By starting off with John Cassaday, and the rest of the artists we’ve got, we feel like we are adding such cool cover artists that we can bring an extra bit of awareness, creating some heat, and getting some excitement by doing fun covers that will have the intangible of bringing in a larger audience who may be attracted by the covers. We know we have a great series, we just want more fans to know about it and we are counting down to issue #30 which is going to be a blockbuster… it's going to be unbelievable… it is going to be huge and we just want as many people on board as possible before we get there.

NRAMA: Variants are a hot-button issue in the industry, and have been since their re-introduction. From your point of view, what purpose do they serve?

NB: Variants have always served the purpose that if they are done right, they allow some retailers to have the ability to stock more copies of a book, to be able to stave off the risk of giving more real estate to a title by having variations to sell and to offset their risk. Done right, they're okay, done wrong, they're horrible. I'm sure we will have critics on both sides of the fence. I'm sure that the vocal critics will be the ones who dislike us for it.

NRAMA: The Boys is owned by Garth and Darrick. Did you have to convince them to do variants, or were hey up for it from the start?

NB: Both Garth and Darick are very proprietary about The Boys. When it comes to art we like to especially defer to Darick because he is the man! Without Darick, Hughie wouldn't look as good as he does, Butcher wouldn't have the same effect. This is a labor of love for both of them. I did have to push harder than I probably would have wanted to, to do variants, but they both agreed that if we were ever going to do it this was the time to pick up sales and I'm happy that it worked out. Especially with the caliber of artists that we’re looking at.

NRAMA: So - when you choose to do variant covers on The Boys, who do you call to provide the art?

NB: We wanted to make it people who are established and added something, it's hard to quantify something like this. I would say anyone from John Cassaday -who is a well respected artist to Howard Chaykin -- who is one of comic's greatest creators of all time, and moving on with Dave Gibbons with the Watchman movie coming out the timing could not have been better. (Dave's cover will hit the first week in March, which will be just in time for the Watchman release.) Then we are going to end with Jim Lee on issue #30. I can't see a better way of doing this right.

NRAMA: Wrapping things up, where do you see things going with The Boys in the future? Garth and Darrick said they have a what, five year story planned, and it's clearly doing well for you. Have you been asking for spin-offs? One shots as well, to perhaps mirror what Garth did on the main Preacher series?

NB: Garth and Darick do have a five year story planned and I'm hoping there will be spin offs. When we are on issue #48 you'll be seeing me crying, begging and pleading for more. I love this series, it is absolutely one of my all time favorite series and it's definitely my favorite Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson series (no slight against Nick Fury or Punisher but I love The Boys.) Will there be spin-offs, specials and one shots? God, I hope so. There is one in the works, that is really special but I want to save it for Darick and Garth to talk about.

NRAMA: Will do. Finally, with the recent announcements surrounding Red Sonja and Thulsa Doom, it's clear that you play a role in moving any properties you publish towards other media. There's been on-again/off again talk about The Boys heading to the screen...any word on where that talk is now? It seems that, with the superhero flicks out now, that the well is primed for an anti-superhero flick, or one about the people who keep the uppity hero-types in line...are you looking to make sure The Boys is the first one there?

NB: The Boys is heading slowly but surely to the screen, it's with Neil Moritz who has a great track record and the anti-superheroes angle is just what he was looking for. The Boys will be one of the first ones there. The attention that the comics and graphic novels bring to the table has definitely made it easier, but this is definitely a hit.

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