2017 is the 25th anniversary of WildStorm, the publisher-turned-DC imprint - and while DC is celebrating that with a relaunched imprint spearheaded by Warren Ellis, a long-time fan is using the occasion to give the definitive word on the landmark company.
Scheduled for release this April, Wild Times: An Oral History of WildStorm Studios gives an in-depth expose of the characters, the creators, and the offices of former La Jolla, California-based company. From a staffer who starred on MTV's The Real World to the industry-changing affect of The Authority, and on to the company employees' personal time and "Play Hard" motto, there's a lot in here for fans of the company, the characters, or just fans of comic book history.
Wild Times is currently in the tail-end of a successful Kickstarter campaign to pay for the printing costs, so Newsarama spoke with organizer/writer Joseph Hedges about his fandom, what he learned from talking to over 75 people from WildStorm's hey-days, and the upcoming revival.
Newsarama: Joseph, since we last spoke, DC announced the revival of WildStorm with a new imprint spearheaded by former WildStorm writer Warren Ellis. Your book is about the past, but has that announcement affected the book?
Joseph Hedges: The announcement was very serendipitous in that just a couple hours prior to it, I had released the official title of my book and the cover art designed by artist George Sellas. So that was a fun day for WildStorm fans! The impact for me was just being excited as a fan and adding a little bit to the epilogue details at the end of my book. Maybe a follow-up book down the road looking at the “New 52” versions and this new imprint? Hmm, something to think about.
Nrama: Back to the present – you’re currently in the final days of a Kickstarter fundraising drive to print Wild Times. You already surpassed your original goal, and are now vying to get a hardcover edition as a stretch goal. What do you think of the response you've gotten so far?
Hedges: I am so excited and humbled at the response. As clichéd as it sounds, the reason I wanted to write this book was because it was something I wanted to read. To think that there are people out there that are actually going to be reading this thing and want to read it is both exciting and scary at the same time.
Nrama: Do you have any other stretch goals in mind?
Hedges: I’d love to be able to do a small print run of the hardcover edition and if we can get past that, I’m looking into possibly doing a small ashcan sized book that will include the 10 or so articles of bonus/cut material that the Kickstarter backers are receiving digitally. The Kickstarter ends the morning of February 2, so we’ll see how it goes!
Nrama: I noticed that you say no art will be in this book. Have you had any conversations with DC about the book in general and just in terms of getting the license for the art?
Hedges: I reached out to DC early on and they wished me good luck with the project but declined any participation.
Nrama: That’s unfortunate.
In the list of people you've interviewed, I noticed the founders - Jim Lee and Brandon Choi - aren't in here. Is there a story behind any attempts by you to get them?
Hedges: I contacted a lot of WildStorm alums - both studio folks and freelancers, and I’m thrilled with being able to say that I interviewed 80 people for the book. Naturally, the acceptance rate was never going to be 100% and I’m not going to specify personal responses or interactions but what I can say is that even without Mr. Lee or Mr. Choi, I’m confident that readers will enjoy what they find within the pages.
Nrama: I noticed this specifies it's about WildStorm Studios, which would assumedly mean more than the printed books but also the working studio that Lee fostered. How much of that staff camaraderie is addressed here?
Hedges: There’s lot of talk throughout the book regarding the relationships formed by the long time studio members as the book hits all the big spots in WildStorm’s history, and there is a chapter that is simply titled, “Play Hard” which gets into that quite a bit. It talks about the crazy signing tours and lots and lots of studio hijinks. That’s one of my favorite chapters of the book!
Nrama: What's the most surprising thing you've learned in doing the interviews for these books?
Hedges: This is a great follow-up to your previous question because the best part of doing the interviews was to see how much the time at the studio meant to everyone involved and how most have remained close over all these years. It’s something that was so great to hear. A lot of the young artists looked at it as a college experience as they were learning together, working together, hanging out together and in some cases, living together.
Nrama: Is there a big misconception out there about WildStorm that you think is addressed in your book?
Hedges: I don’t think it’s a secret that WildStorm’s (and a lot of Image) books were chronically late. I think my book really shines a light on it from the different perspectives of the artists, production staff, and editors to show what it was like back then and that it wasn’t as straightforward as some fans might think.
Nrama: And as a soon-to-be published expert of WildStorm, what do you think of this revival?
Hedges: I am very excited for it! Separating the characters from the DC Universe is a great way to go and having Warren Ellis involved is a huge boost. If you’re going to have a reboot of the universe and characters, it’s tough to find a better voice than Mr. Ellis who left quite the mark on WildStorm many times over. What better way to ring in WildStorm's 25th anniversary than a new comic that moves it into the future and an in-depth book that looks at its amazing past?