Continuing our regular series of check-in interviews with Georg Brewer, VP-Design and DC Direct Creative, our man Kirk Cekada asks about recent announcements and brings us an exclusive look at DC Direct’s Kirbyesque Superman from New Gods Series 2.
Newsarama: The first wave of Justice League International figures and the second wave of New Gods figures were both on display at NYCC and reaction seems mostly positive. Is it too early to predict whether or not we'll see a second JLI and a third New Gods wave?
Georg Brewer: We do have plans to continue for at least one or two more assortments of JLI to complete the core team as long as the support continues when they hit the stores. Kevin ha already prepped the control art and we are actively sculpted wave two right now. New Gods is a trickier one, as the support at the retail level has been disappointing. The performance of series two will be the deciding factor.
NRAMA: Well, I hope customer reaction to the first wave will convince retailers to increase orders on a second wave.
Even though you've covered many of the heavy-hitters in the New Gods line, there's quite a few must-haves remaining such as Highfather and Granny Goodness as well as a parademon as an army builder - not to mention the Forever People and the Female Furies. Who would be under consideration for a third wave?
GB: I think you hit on most of them, Granny, Desaad, Para-Demons, High Father not to mention Mantis and the Black Racer.
NRAMA: Very cool. Mantis and Black Racer are personal favorites of mine, but all of these would be welcome additions.
Would you consider extending the line to other non-Fourth World specific characters such as Kamandi, OMAC and the Demon?
GB: It does get harder and harder the further out from the center you go. These I think would work better in a larger umbrella line like History of the DCU.
NRAMA: I could see these guys fitting nicely in a History line, but of the three - Kamandi is the one character begging to be Kirby-specific.
Jack Kirby's work is only one of several classic illustrators whose work DCD is casting in three-dimensional form. Along with the aforementioned History of the DCU line based on the drawings of George Perez, there is also Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino and most recently Kevin Maguire. Are there any other artists from yesteryear you're looking towards?
You've mentioned the possibility of the Legion of Super-Heroes figures based on the designs of Dave Cockrum and a Nick Cardy Aquaman in a prior interview. Any new developments there?
GB: We have some of these artists covered in an extension to the Showcase line that is on "auxiliary" development. It's always a challenge to find a balance (and a place at retail) between classic-art styles and the more contemporary ones seen in the comics today. You'll probably see us focus more on fewer artists at a time to build up the core teams more quickly before moving on to the next.
NRAMA: I'm sure team-builders will be happy to see this happen.
Some people have commented online that the JLI G'nort doesn't appear very similar to how Maguire drew him back in the day. Is this perhaps the result of the artist rethinking the character or trying to do an amalgam of different looks the character has had?
GB: Well Kevin is probably the better person to ask, but I'd have to say you're probably right. If you look at the first few appearances of G'Nort, by Kevin
and others, he changes pretty quickly. In the designs he did for the figure I think Kevin captured the spirit of the character while creating a gestalt of his unique interpretation.
NRAMA: We've seen some of the JLI turnarounds from Maguire and one or two JSA character illustrations by Alex Ross. Obviously you cannot procure new turnarounds from Kirby or Cockrum. Is there a determinant for when you use new turnarounds? Is it just a matter of which artists are available or have a desire to be part of the process?
GB: Our preference when possible is to get new turnarounds from the artists if their schedules will allow. However this can create its own challenges (see above) as the artists style does evolve over time. In many cases there is enough reference from the comics to work directly from it as the primary source, but there can be gaps in some details that new turns help us (and the sculptor) resolve.
NRAMA: Interesting. For the most part, I prefer seeing an artist's work represented from the time period in which he or she illustrated the character.
Speaking of Ross JSA, when can we expect to see a prototype or finished figure(s)?
GB: Very soon!
NRAMA: That's good news! We really want to see a JSA line flourish.
Again, based on how the JSA, JLI and possible Legion lines are received by collectors - would you consider expanding into other eras? For example the Grant Morrison run on JLA, more Golden Age JSA and related characters such as Infinity Inc. and Legion characters from the Levitz/Giffen era - not to mention revisiting the much-maligned Silver Age at some point?
GB: All good suggestions, consider them added to the list. It will be a challenging environment going forward for certain lines as the condition of the economy and costs of manufacturing (material, labor, transportation) goes higher and higher each day.
NRAMA: Ah, the realities of the current economy bring some of our big dreams crashing back down to Earth.
A few of the current lines seem to either be winding down or have come to a halt. Anything on the horizon for Shazam, Wonder Woman or JLA after the third wave (which will include Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Geo-Force)? And is this year's Justice wave really going to be the end of that line?
GB: Of the lines you mention most have hit a natural stopping point, but we may yet go back if the demand is there. Justice especially has a few more
solid characters that appeared in the book that could fill another assortment or two. We've revisited past lines before, so it is certainly possible.
NRAMA: A couple of new buzz-worthy DC projects debuting soon are Final Crisis, Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge and Final Crisis: Legions of 3 Worlds. We've already touched on Legion, but more than a few collectors have also expressed interest in Flash Rogues. Could the stars finally be in alignment for this motley crew to be immortalized in plastic?
GB: If their profile keeps rising then it gets easier to make the case for them. We haven't gone to the Flash Rouges well in a long time, and there are some fun designs there. We are looking closely at the other new titles as well as Batman RIP, and few others. I think it is important to find the right balance of newer creators, which the current readers (and retailers) know and support weekly with the comics, as well as the classics.
NRAMA: I think we often forget how pivotal a role retailers play in what gets produced. Maybe collectors need to be more vocal at the LCS level.
Going back to recently announced figures, will there be more variants in the 13-inch line as simultaneous releases (like Batgirl) instead of after-the-fact (Green Lantern)? Will there be a classic Sinestro variant?
GB: The variant Batgirl worked well conceptually for the character. I see Green Lantern as more of an evolution into something else with the additional of the corps members. Certainly if the interest is there, and it the variant is unique enough it may happen. As for Sinestro, have your readers tell us if they really want a classic version.