Deadpool co-creator Fabian Nicieza has found a new place for himself as Marvel and DC's go-to writer for what are called 'custom comics' - comic books done in partnership with a paid advertiser like a car manufacturer or cereal company that can, and usually do, blend their product in with the Big Two's heroes.
Nicieza's next big project is Black Panther: Soul of a Machine, in which he and co-writers Geoffrey Thorne and Chuck Brown are working with artists Scott "Rahzzah" Wilson and Szymon Kudranski pitting T'Challa against Machinesmith.
Newsarama talked with Nicieza about the book, this new chapter of his 30-year career, and what surprising company could benefit from doing a Cable & Deadpool custom comic.
Newsarama: Fabian, as you mentioned last week, lately most of your published comics work has been what's called 'custom comics' - comics done with an advertising partner. At Comic-Con International: San Diego, Lexus and Marvel announced a unique one you're doing tying into the Black Panther movie and the Lexus LC 500. What can you tell us about that one?
Fabian Nicieza: Soul of the Machine is an 80-page story told in multiple chapters that I'm co-writing with Geoffrey Thorne and Chuck Brown and is global in scope, though it focuses on the World of Wakanda.
Nrama: I've kind of seen Black Panther framed as a James Bond-style, jet-setting hero - and being paired with Lexus seems like a natural fit. How do they fit in this series you’re doing?
Nicieza: The story is as much an exploration of man's search for the perfect amalgam of biology and technology as it is an action/adventure story. The villain is Machinesmith, who seeks to use Wakanda's vibranium to jump-start a techno-organic evolution. The only way to stop him is to create a synthesis of man and machine that is so beyond Machinesmith's ability to comprehend that it will force him to abandon his cause.
It's a bit different than what people might expect. Lexus wanted it to be much more a story about craftsmanship and the constant search for perfecting the creative process than about car chases.
Nrama: You've also done a Justice League comic for General Mills and a series with pro wrestler Chavo Guererro Jr. How do these custom, celebrity- or brand-tied comic books work internally?
Nicieza: Every one is a bit of its own creature. Some work more smoothly than others depending on the expectations and experience of the clients. I get to work with the established characters I'm very familiar and experienced with, like Batman or Captain America, but I often have to create original characters as well.
The Unbeatables graphic novel I wrote for Takeda/Marvel was completely original IP development and was a tremendously rewarding experience to work with the IBD community to create relatable, original characters in the Silver Age Marvel tradition of flawed heroes. And I'm working on original characters that interact with Marvel characters on a completely different project today!
Nrama: Do you have a different audience in mind than when you're, say, writing Cable & Deadpool?
Nicieza: The demographic varies, which keeps it interesting, because I could be writing stories for eight-year-olds or 38-year-olds. I approach every project, regardless of the intended audience, as needing to serve two masters: the client's needs and the character's needs.
And I assure you, there are lots of clients out there for Marvel Custom Solutions Department who could really benefit from a story featuring Cable and Deadpool! [Laughs]
Nrama: Any specific companies come to mind as ideal for a Cable and Deadpool custom comic?
Nicieza: Probably the NRA would be a great choice. Cable and Deadpool would make wonderful spokesmen. If not that then probably any feminine hygiene product would be a really good fit for them.