Every comic book fan has a list of favorite obscure characters, and an even longer list of what makes those characters so great.
But imagine you could write the pilot for a television show about one of those characters.
How would you summarize everything that makes that character great? How would you sell that television pilot about your favorite character to a TV executive and potential audience? What one story could introduce the concept most effectively?
Welcome to National Comics, a new extra-sized comic book series that is being spearheaded through the West Coast office of DC Entertainment. The series kicks off in July with a 48-page issue that tells the story of Kid Eternity as interpreted by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Cully Hamner. Follow-up issues will focus on more of the lesser-known DC characters, including Looker (in August), Rose and Thorn and Madame X.
National Comics was historically one of the central comic book titles for DC Comics and before that, Quality Comics. It's probably best known for having an issue on the stands in November 1941 that featured a lead story in which Nazis attacked Pearl Harbor, published a month before the real Pearl Harbor attack by Japan.
In keeping with the new slate provided by the New 52 relaunch, Lemire's revival of Kid Eternity comes with some changes to the character.
Lemire has been busy of late. He's soon beginning a crossover event in Animal Man, just took over writing for Justice League Dark, and will end his self-drawn Vertigo series Sweet Tooth at the end of the year. He's releasing a new graphic novel in August from Top Shelf titled Underwater Welder, which he both wrote and drew.In June, readers will also get to see Lemire draw Batman, as he works with DC's West Coast office on a Batman digital comic that was written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. The digital issue is part of a digital-only series that will be released on Thursdays in June, showcasing out-of-continuity Batman stories by creators like Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, B. Clay Moore, Nicola Scott and Joshua Hale Fialkov.
In the fourth installment of our multi-part interview with Lemire, we talked to him about National Comics and why he wanted to write a brand new Kid Eternity.
Newsarama: Jeff, this whole concept for National Comics is based on having just one issue to tell the basic idea behind one character or concept, right?
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, it's as if you get to do the pilot for a television series based on that character.
It was really fun, and the interesting thing about that project is that when I first got Justice League Dark, there were some characters I asked to bring onto the team. Black Orchid was one of them. And another one was Kid Eternity, because I wanted to bring over as many of those old Vertigo properties as I could.
But at the time, I was told I couldn't use Kid Eternity, because they had plans for him. And I was kind of bummed about it.
So a few weeks later, I talked to Ben Abernathy, who's the editor from the West Coast, where he edits the digital stuff, and he was kind of spearheading the National Comics thing. And he asked me to do the Kid Eternity one just coincidentally. So I ended up getting to write the character anyway, just in a different way.
Nrama: Is it going to be in the same flavor as what we've seen from you on former Vertigo character, like with Animal Man and some of your other work?
Lemire: It's a little different, actually. It's lighter. It's not as important for us to worry about the continuity of all the books coming out of the New York office. It's a chance to be really creative outside of that, using these characters in one-shots.
Nrama: That sounds like a fun challenge for you.
Lemire: Yeah. It was a really good writing exercise. It was really interesting.
So, yeah, like I said, it's kind of lighter. It's fun. It's a quirky crime paranormal sort of thing.
The most exciting part for me is to work with Cully Hamner because I really like Cully's stuff. We've been trying to get on a book together for awhile, because we're already friends. So it's going to be cool to see him drawing the book.He did some character designs based on the script and they were super cool. The way he thinks and designs things is so interesting.
Nrama: We've seen the basic description, that this is the story of Christopher Freeman, who can resurrect the dead. Can you tell us anything about your story?
Lemire: Yeah, he's a police mortician who almost died, and he has a strange contact with the afterlife as a result. So he can resurrect the recently dead, for 24 hours. And together, they have 24 hours to kind of solve the mystery of who murdered them. So that's the high concept.
And then I started on it and came up with this whole other mythology that, if it were to become a series, it would turn into a bigger mythology.
We reinvented the Mr. Keeper character from the old Kid Eternity series as a key element of that. So there's this other big mystery involved with how he got these abilities. I only have one issue, but I start to tease it a little and set it up in the issue.
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