Heroes Con '09: Marvel's Starr the Slayer Returns

Nearly 40 years ago, Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, the duo that would put Conan the Barbarian on the map for thousands and thousands of fans dipped their toe in the barbarian pool with some very unique results.

In 1970’s Chamber of Darkness #4, Thomas and Winsdor-Smith introduced Starr the Slayer, a barbarian who broke free of his fictional bounds to enter the real world and threaten his creator, Len Carson. Warren Ellis revisited the character briefly in newuniversal, but in September, Starr gets his modern shot at fame as Daniel Way and Richard Corben team to tell his story in a four-issue MAX series at Marvel.

The quick and the dirty – when pulp novelist Len Carson’s career hits the skids, he decides to revisit his most famous creation, Starr. But instead of revisiting the world of Starr via literature, well…

We spoke with Way about the upcoming miniseries and working with Corben.

Newsarama: Daniel, let's talk about the development of this project - this is a story that was originally told in the early '70s. Who came up with the idea of a 21st century revisit?

Daniel Way: Axel Alonso approached me with the idea. He wanted to do a sword-and-sorcery thing that, while acknowledging the genre’s past, didn’t repeat it.

NRAMA: Was Corben already attached when you came on board, or did he come later – and what was your reaction to working with him?

DW: Corben’s involvement came later. My reaction was something like, “Wow. I’d better not $#@ this up…”

NRAMA: Just to clarify, is this story a continuation of the original Starr story by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith, or something of a new start with a similar approach?

DW: We’re incorporating all the key elements of the original story, but using them to tell a new story.

NRAMA: Let's talk about Starr's creator, Len Carson. He seems to be something of a Robert Howard analogue, perhaps. Is that how you're playing him, or is he a modern man whose ambitions of literary greatness now involve novels, film rights, ancillary adaptations, etc?

DW: He was a pulp writer who had a big hit with his “Starr the Slayer” novels back in the day, but turned his back on all of it to pursue a more highbrow literary career.  Which tanked. Now he’s broke and having to go to his old publisher, hat in hand. Which is exactly what another of Carson’s creations, Trull, has been waiting for.

NRAMA: The idea of creations coming to life is an time-honored device in literature, and more specifically genre literature. Why do you think it's so effective?

DW: Because it’s simple. “What if this was REAL?”

NRAMA: You’ve handled some pretty rough characters - have you ever had those feelings, or worries? Daydreams, maybe?  

DW: No, but a guy in a Deadpool costume chased me down at the New York Comic Con. He wanted to eat chimichangas with me. We settled for hot dogs.

NRAMA: So what can you tell us about the meeting of the two and how it takes place? Does Starr come through to Carson’s world, angry at his creator?

DW: It’s actually the other way around—this time, it’s Len Carson who’s pulled into Starr’s world. By Trull. And Trull knows exactly what Carson has done…and can do.

NRAMA: Roy and Barry did this in Chamber of Darkness - what's making this a MAX book this time around, and how does "pulling the walls down" of the regular Marvel Universe guidelines fit you as a writer, do you think?

DW: Graphic nudity and violence, mostly! As a writer, the fewer restrictions, the better. We haven’t gone overboard with anything, but the relaxed content guidelines have definitely allowed us to, uh, flesh the story out much more thoroughly.

NRAMA: Well put. As a Corben fan (aren't we all?) - you're in a very enviable position - telling a legendary artist what to draw. Even though you've been writing comics for years, when working with someone like Corben, can you or do you get starstruck or nervous?

<a href=http://i.newsarama.com/preview_images/heroes09/uwstarrs001008_col.jpg><img src=http://i.newsarama.com/preview_images/heroes09/uwstarrs001008_col-01.jpg border=0 align=right></a>DW: Or terrified? Yes. But with this story, we went to Corben immediately and asked him what he wanted to do, if he had any ideas, etc. What we got back, literally, was an entire world. At that point, we knew that the way to go was for me to plot out the issues, breaking it down into scenes, then let Corben do his thing. I then go over the finished art and add the dialogue. It’s the first time I’ve worked like this, and the only reason I even considered doing it was because it was Corben.

NRAMA: Let's end this with a tease - Starr shows up, and what are his first words to Len?

DW: “Get off your knees.”

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