Lanning and Abnett are currently writing the Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy ongoing series at Marvel, following the success of their co-written Annihilation: Conquest mini-series. Newsarama contacted the pair, who wrote answers together by using their customary "DnA" moniker, to talk about the exclusive contract.
Newsarama: Why sign an exclusive? Was this an offer you couldn't refuse?
DnA: We were flattered when Marvel offered us the exclusive contract and felt it was due to our work on Annihilation, Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. By signing the exclusive, we are committing ourselves long term to engaging with these characters and concepts. It was something we were only too happy to do as we both grew up reading these books as kids and have a great fondness for the Marvel cosmic universe.
NRAMA: How does this affect any independent work either of you do?
DnA: With the help of David Bogart, and Marvel's contracts dept, we were able to work this out around existing commitments (especially finishing our run on The Authority which Marvel is kindly allowing us to do) as well as signing off on a couple of exceptions that are not direct competition, for example, Dan's 2000AD work in the UK and his GamesWorkshop novels.
NRAMA: Does this just apply to writing? How does it affect any of your artwork?
DnA: Andy has signed an exclusive contract for inking that runs parallel to the writing deal. It was the duel nature of Andy's work that had previously scuppered any exclusive contracts for us in the past. This time, everything aligned: our writing assignments and Andy's inking work was very Marvel oriented, so it seemed to be the right time to go for it.
NRAMA: I'm sure you've been asked this a million times, but I'll make it a million-and-one: What is it about the team of Abnett and Lanning that makes it so special that you'd sign an exclusive together?
DnA: We've been writing American comics together for over 20 years now and we wouldn't want to stop our collaboration now. Marvel's offer was based on our joint work for them. We're a gift set, you don't get one without the other!
NRAMA: How has it been working with each other over the years?
DnA: We seem to have got the mix right: we each do work separately, but it recharges the batteries to get together and bounce ideas off one and other once in a while. It keeps it fun and we genuinely enjoy our working relationship, we think if we both worked on our own in a vacuum we'd get bored and uninspired.
NRAMA: How would you describe your writing style now? And has it evolved?
DnA: We are a lot more relaxed about the work now. When we started writing together, we would stand over a word processor and agonize over every sentence, as well as working out storyline in the most detailed advance structure where we knew exactly what was going to happen at every stage. Nowadays, we are more organic in our approach: we'll plot out a story but not necessarily with constraining detail as we find it’s more fun to quite literally make it up as we go along. We've learnt to know what bits need to be worked out in advance and what are best left to inspiration. It's definitely more fun that way.
NRAMA: Is it getting to the point where you can finish each other's sentences?
DnA: It hasn't quite got to that stage yet, but Dan hasn't visited New York for a few years now and it's getting to the point where our editors are suspecting that he doesn’t really exist and Andy just puts on a different voice on the phone!
NRAMA: Again, we've talked about your affinity for sci-fi before, but this exclusive is offered at a time when you're really only doing space-related stories. Is that corner of the Marvel universe the one that interests you the most?
DnA: We love the cosmic playground and all its inhabitants: they were the characters and concepts we grew up reading and loved the most. However, we're looking forwards to flexing our creative muscles in other areas of the Marvel Universe as well. Remember. we started out writing the Punisher for three years and have worked on the Avengers and Iron Man in the past. Marvel has such a rich and diverse stable of characters we'll gladly jump at the chance to work on any of them!
NRAMA: Are there other areas of the Marvel Universe you'd like to explore as writers?
DnA: As our relationship with Marvel develops during the course of our contract we're hoping to move into other areas, we're looking forward to seeing what Marvel have planned for us beyond the cosmic stuff and are excited by the possibility of working on anything they throw our way, it's all good!
NRAMA: So will we be seeing more Marvel writing projects from the two of you? And if so, can you tell us anything about them?
DnA: Not as yet; it's early days, keep watching this space.