Project Superpowers: The Big Picture with Nick Barrucci

The three interlocking covers of Project Superpowers #0

After its initial miniseries, Dynamite’s Project Superpowers is still somewhat of an enigma to some fans.

In scope, Project Superpowers is introducing a world full of super-powered heroes and villains, ultimately resulting in a new superhero “universe” under the creative control of Alex Ross and Jim Krueger. But what about the bigger picture? Is Hollywod in Project Suerpowers’ future? Are there more spin-offs coming? Who’s calling the shots on the larger property anyway?

For all of this and more, we spoke with Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci.

Newsarama: Nick, let's talk about the macro-view of Project Superpowers. As Alex and Jim have said, by doing this, you're introducing the third largest cohesive superhero universe into comics. In a market dominated by DC and Marvel who seem to have a death grip on superheroes to the point that you can't even legally call them "super heroes" as Marvel and DC own that be blunt, why do you think you have a chance with these heroes?

Nick Barrucci: My thoughts on this is pretty easy, and it all boils down to one thing: passion. We have a passion to create a world that fans can follow. Now, from that passion, we were able to deliver creatively; We brought in Alex Ross, and later Jim Krueger. We've expanded with other creators. We've spun off three of the characters into their own mini-series - including, for the fans who want to know - with Black Terror #4 shipping in the last week of May (I know fans keep asking) and Masquerade #4 shipping end of May/early June. We plan to continue to build on this. We're smaller than Marvel and DC so we have to try harder, as we don't have a choice. So, while nobody can predict the future, I know that we'll keep trying because we love what we're doing and we're doing what we love. No one can ask for more than that.

Project Superpowers #1

NRAMA: Big-picture wise, who is holding the reins on Project Superpowers? Given the conditions mentioned above, it seems like introducing a new super-powered character universe is a high stakes game that may allow for one mistake to be made, and that's it. Who's sitting in the star chamber, and how are things organized?

NB: Oh, that's easy. If this succeeds it's all thanks to Alex (Ross) and if it fails, it's all my fault [laughter]. Seriously though, We're all working hard to bring our best "A" game, some fans will agree, for some fans it's not their cup of tea, nothing we can do about that except keep trying. What we can do is keep the fans coming back that enjoy what we are doing, and try and win over new fans one comic at a time.

Our first Project Superpowers release was all about the introduction, as I've said this before, but if we were to use Star Wars terminology, our first series was akin to A New Hope setting up the mythos but doing it in comic book time. The new series (Project Superpowers Chapter Two) is going to be faster, have more action, and be more intense . . . the world at stake, literally.

NRAMA: It's often been said that ultimately, the customer isn't who the publisher is after, rather it's the gatekeeper of the industry, the retailer, that needs to be convinced and wooed when it comes to new products. That said, in your view, how important is it for Dynamite to woo retailers and how are you doing it with Project Superpowers: Chapter Two?

Project Superpowers #1, cover B

NB: Well, first of all we're giving retailers what they asked for and we're giving fans what they asked for. Retailers are getting two advantages. We are giving retailers the advantage of the first issue being fully returnable. We're giving retailers deep discounts. We're giving retailers and fans a 48 page comic for $2.99. We're giving retailers and fans a 48 page comic for $2.99. I'm saying that twice because it's really important. We're trying to give something for everybody, hopefully we won't fall flat on our faces.

NRAMA: So you're making issue #1 returnable as well as offering retailers deep discounts ? Is this desperation or is this a belief in the product?

NB: It's belief in the product and the belief that we can try to expand with new readers.

And, we get to reward the retailers who take a bigger risk by allowing the first issue to be returnable (after all, #0 is $1.00 for a full issue of new story/art and origin spread). And reward the retailers who order more copies with a deep discount. And I think quite a few retailers will appreciate both.

We have to try. All we can do is keep trying. In a market where some of the major publishers feel the need to go to $3.99 on their major titles we feel the need to go to $2.99 and give the retailers and fans what they asked for. At the very least we have to try, and I am glad that we're successful and can do that.

NRAMA: So the cover price on Project Superpowers will remain at $2.99 for the series’ run?

NB: Absolutely. With the exception of #0 which is $1.00 to give fans an introductory price, the entire 12 issue series will be $2.99 each. We wanted to give everybody a reason to jump on and limit any reason to jump off.

NRAMA: Again to be blunt, it sounds as if you could really take a beating here...

Masquerade #3

NB: It's the chance we have to take. We have the next evolution of one of the biggest projects we put out - and we have so much at stake - and I'll repeat myself - so much passion for it that we have to keep it at this price. It's the same reason we keep The Boys at $2.99, and Red Sonja at $2.99. We believe our core titles should be at the best price possible. We took a risk with Black Terror and Masquerade and Death Defying Devil by putting them at $3.50 and we were happy with the response. After that, we figured why not reward the retailers and the fans because this is successful enough . . . they keep asking for $2.99 and this is going to tell us whether or not what they asked for is reflected in the orders. We're rolling the dice. You have to do it somewhere.

NRAMA: That said, how do you measure success? Numbers only? Ancillary deals? Buzz?

NB: In this, Bill Jemas was right, fans vote with their dollars and success is measured by the numbers. All ancillary deals are great but they do not replace the numbers for any book to be successful, it's about the numbers and the numbers that come in. As Brian Hibbs said . . . unless I'm misquoting him - waiting for the HC graphic novel collection just depresses the numbers, waiting for the trade just depresses the numbers.

Fans have to support it along the line and we need to have their support along the line and will have to earn it.

NRAMA: The first series yielded Black Terror, Death Defying 'Devil and Masquerade spin offs. Are those series in fact, ongoings, or will they be replaced by others as Chapter Two progresses?

NB: A mix. It's going to be a mix. With Black Terror, we're going to continue with #5 and a different artist. We're putting Mike Lilly on a special project and we're continuing Black Terror with a new artist but I don't want to take away from this series and we will have other series that are coming out but I - don't - want - to - mention - yet because I want to talk about Project Superpowers Chapter Two: #1. Though, I would like to do The Ghost or Mr. Face, but that's just me.

Creators and fans will really end up telling us.

Project Superpowers #1 cover by Jae Lee

NRAMA: Alex has mentioned that he has Project Superpowers Chapter Three in mind already... again, global perspective, where do you go from here with the property? You've got an entire universe at the ground floor here - has Hollywood come knocking? Or is that something you're even thinking about yet?

NB: Oh, Alex has Chapter Three and beyond in his mind already and Hollywood did come knocking and I answered that door, in fact I answered more than a few knocks on that door and nothing came together. Not a single thing. Either the scope of our project was too big for a movie or the people we met with didn't understand what we are doing - and that’s the best thing to happen - the fact that nothing happened in Hollywood because, honestly the world is evolving and we do believe that if we would have made a deal with Hollywood at the time it would not have been for the right reasons.

We do want to see Project Superpowers expand into other mediums, I'm sure we will see it but that has not happened up to today - but then on Monday we ended up getting three e-mails and phone calls, and I guess $170,000,000 reasons clawed away at people to start e-mailing us and calling us again. The question is where will it end up, who knows. The only thing we can do is create the best comic books we can, create a lightening rod to get others interested and if that happens and lightning strikes, great! If it doesn't, there's nothing we can do to force the issue. You know what; all I can ask the fans to do is pick up the comics, read the comics and hopefully enjoy the comics.

The $1.00 cover-priced Project Superpowers #0 is due in stores in June.

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