When the great heroes of Earth fail to return from a deadly mission, their sidekicks find themselves in a predicament they were not prepared for. Indie sensations Landry Walker and Eric Jones (Little Gloomy, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade) tell the story of what happens when teens who grew up and trained for a violent world lose their mentors and the aftermath that follows.Newsarama talked to Walker and Jones about the creative process that brought about Danger Club, their influences that seeped in, and brought along some exclusive art to show off.
Newsrama: Landry, Eric, I hope the first rule of Danger Club isn't not to talk about it. Could you give us an idea about what it's about and a some backstory?
Landry Walker: Basically, the adult superheroes leave Earth for the depths of space to battle an unfathomable evil. The sidekicks are left behind. When the adults fail to return and the reality of all that entails begins to sink in, things fall apart quickly. The sidekicks seek to establish a new social order amongst themselves through the way they've been always been taught: violence.
Eric Jones: Making matters worse, the entity that the heroes left the planet to fight might still be out there.
Nrama: So guys, how long has Danger Club been in the works?
Walker: It's a been a few years of back and forth between us on the development end. In truth, it started off as a very different kind of project, but that's kind of typical. We generally have a long lead-in time with our books.
Jones: This was a long process even for us. We went into production full-swing last summer, but there was a lot of world-building to do beforehand.
Nrama: You mentioned it started off as a different project, what was the evolution process like?
Walker: We knew who our characters were and we knew the foundation of the story - That it would revolve around the superheroes being gone - the tone was a matter of debate. We took some time to decide on whether or not the project would be aimed at all ages or a specifically older audience. We ended up targeting an older audience simply because there's an expectation that we produce all-ages comics. But anyone who has read my take on the Mad Hatter in the Joker's Asylum series should know that we are capable of branching out.Exclusive interior tease Jones: Also, I think it was just time to do something new -- we started out doing very adult stuff in the early '90s, but we've done almost exclusively all-ages work since 1999, when we started working on Little Gloomy together -- that's a pretty long stretch. Also, we felt like we needed to show that we make good comics -- not just good all-ages comics. I love the all-ages stuff, I'm really proud of that work, and I think we both plan on doing a lot more in that realm, but it's a woefully-overlooked corner of the comics world in some ways, so it made sense to try and show what we could do with a different set of tools.
Nrama: While it is a rarity, this isn't your first foray into teenage super hero books. What are some of your favorite teen hero stories?
Walker: I've long been a fan of the teenage superhero concept. Favorites in that particular genre would be the first 40-50 issues of the Marv Wolfman and George Perez Teen Titans run. There was something very true about the characters that later creative teams never quite captured. They were a social group first and foremost - with all the ups and downs that entails. They weren't a family, they weren't a dedicated superteam. They were a peer group that sometime hung out with each other and sometimes got pissed off at each other and happened to fight crime together.
Jones: I really love the classic Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita Spider-Man. It's just the ultimate distillation of teen angst, power fantasy and adventure, and I really think some of those are absolutely perfect stories.
Nrama: Do those have any influence here story-wise?
Walker: I think a degree of influence is inevitable. Not so much with the delivery of the story, but instead with the aforementioned social nuances. I was always fascinated by the scenes where a couple of the characters in that book might be walking through the city together or hanging out by the pool rather than constantly patrolling the city. Yeah, everything is still framed with the conceit that these are superheroes, but they were also people.
Jones: The DNA is of those stories is absolutely in Danger Club, but it's mutated quite a bit. This is a really hard-edged book, and I would hesitate to say it's obviously influenced by the content of those pieces.
Nrama: Eric, where did you draw influences from for Danger Club?Exclusive interior tease Jones: All over the place, really. I'm trying to marry a lot of influences, here: the superhero books I grew up reading in the '70s and '80s, particularly John Byrne's work on X-Men; Moebius' work from around the same time; Liberatore's work on RanXerox; Katsuhiro Otomo. A lot of '80s stuff, come to think of it...
I tend to approach each project differently when it comes to style -- I feel like every book we do has certain visual requirements, and that having a single definitive look to my art would be inhibiting. If you go back and look at Super-Scary Monster Show [Newsarama note: There will soon be a TV program based on that! Preview can be seen here] and compare it to Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures, you'll see that I drew the two books in completely different styles, and the same thing applies to Danger Club This is a book that takes place in a semi-realistic universe -- the same sort of world represented in most superhero comics -- and that kind of book needs a certain feel. If you look at the early character designs for this book, you can see just in my designs that the concept used to be significantly lighter, and the art reflected that; as the concept evolved, so did the look of the book.
Also, I think I would get a little bored with only having one style. I like to keep things interesting for myself.
Nrama: So is there a main character to this or does it have all sorts of point of views?
Walker: It's an ensemble, though Kid Vigilante leans in the direction of main character. He's the team-leader, as much as one exists.
Nrama: Tell us a bit about the characters on the team.
Walker: It's less of a team and more a group of friends working towards a common goal. Kid Vigilante is a very traditional teen sidekick: no powers, super smart and extremely dangerous. Jack Fearless is a cyborg from the 1940's who spent decades cryogenically frozen. Yoshimi Onomoto is 5 inches tall and pilots a giant robot. The Magician is a magician. More to the point, though they come from different walks of life, they have a unifying background that you only get with kids raised under similar circumstances.
Nrama: Will the adult superhero team be a big part of the story or is this truly the kids' point of view?
Walker: The real focus of the story is how these teenagers cope with the impossible situation they've found themselves in: Their mentors are gone, the world is spiraling towards chaos and there might just be the greatest evil ever in the history of the universe to deal with.
Jones: You could almost say they're more of an army than they are a team.
Nrama: Obviously, this isn't your first collaboration together and you guys are somewhat of a package deal. What it's like working together?
Walker: Hellish. Truly. We've worked together for twenty years. Twenty years I will never get back. On the upside, it's a fairly seamless process. We come from the same small-ish town and the same social circle and so we tend to approach our storytelling from a similar perspective.
Jones: Even though I hate working with Landry with every fiber of my being, we've been working together so long that we really kind of share a brain, and it makes collaborating a very smooth thing. But, y'know -- the hate and everything.
Danger Club will be releasted April 4th by Image Comics.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!