Fans of the hit BBC show Torchwood have been dying to see what comes next since the epic five-part saga that was “Children of Earth.” Their impatience was finally rewarded last month when it was announced the show would be moving to the paid cable network Starz here in the United States. But with a general airdate of Summer 2011 set for new Torchwood, where can a fan go to get their fix?
Titan Publishing has an idea. How about a Torchwood comic book?
Debuting at this month’s San Diego Comic-Con, the Torchwood comic is being written by Captain Jack Harkness himself, actor John Barrowman along with his sister Carole Barrowman, and artist Tommy Lee Edwards (The Question, Marvel 1985) providing the illustrations.
Newsarama caught up with Edwards before the big convention to ask him all about bringing the popular show to life and his work with another British entertainer.
Edwards didn’t have to be convinced to draw a Torchwood comic. “I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, and Captain Jack Harkness became my son's favorite character in the ‘Empty Child’ episode,” he said. But before the comic, came the print.
“My studio mate Trevor Goring and I were asked to illustrate a limited edition Torchwood print for a John Barrowman signing at San Diego Comic-Con,” he said. “Long story short, Trevor and I met John and his sister Carole at SDCC and we all hit it off. We decided it would be fun to do something more substantial together, and that led us to the comic.”
They may not be comic writers but Barrowman and his sister have worked as a writing team before on his two autobiographies and it seems Edwards was impressed with their work here.
“The biggest challenge for anyone starting to write comics is how to try and ‘visualize’ it,” he said, “I think Carole did a great job in her descriptions and offered tons of artistic inspiration in the final script. Trevor helped Carole quite a bit in translating the Torchwood story to the page, by laying out the action and figuring out the beats and the panels.”
The story is titled “Captain Jack and the Selkie” and, if the cover is any indication, appears to take place pre-“Children of Earth. Captain Jack travels to a remote Scottish island where people have been disappearing and he’s pretty sure he knows who, or what, is responsible.
Torchwood has a rich history thanks to it being a spinoff of the longest running sci-fi show in history, Doctor Who. Was that intimidating? “No, the comic is such a stand-alone story, and I knew what to expect from Carole and John,” said Edwards, “The toughest part was trying to make northern Scotland feel authentic. But I enjoy that kind of challenge.”Normally, comic artists depict fictional characters that have an established look. They merely have to draw their own interpretation of what artists before them have produced. With the Torchwood comic, the characters may be fictional but there are real people behind the leads and likenesses to be scrutinized.
“Likenesses are hard to do with line-drawings for comics,” said Edwards, “But a lot of that comes through when I color the stuff too. Paintings are always a bit easier, because you have many more values to work with while catching an actor's subtle features that help them stay recognizable.”
And what did Barrowman think of his comic book portrayal? “John was extremely happy with his likeness, and that's one of the reasons he wants me to continue drawing Captain Jack when I'm able.”
Besides his comic work, Edwards has a successful career working on concept art for Hollywood films. The studios have shelved the re-imagined Masters of the Universe for the time being, on which he was working, but he’s not done.
“Right now I'm working as the concept artist on a new movie with Albert Hughes, who co-directed the Book of Eli movie I designed. My main focus right now is Turf, though, and the ever-looming deadlines.”
Turf is Edwards current project from Image Comics. It’s a story set in 1920s Brooklyn dealing with a conflict between the mob and some newly immigrated vampires with an alien thrown in the mix too. Writer of this unique tale is none other than British television personality Jonathan Ross. Edwards tells us how that connection came about.
“Our mutual friend Mark Millar introduced Jonathan and I to the idea of working together...It's the best collaboration I've ever had. Building your own world and characters and stories is exactly the kind of freedom that most comic creators yearn for,” he said, “I'm just really happy and proud of where Jonathan and I are going with Turf. I'm also extraordinarily exhausted. Turf may be my favorite comic, but it's also the most demanding. The best things in life don't come easy, my friend.” Newsarama Note: For more on Edwards and Turf, check back tomorrow for an in-depth interview on the project.
It’s public knowledge that Ross is a huge comic book fan and collector. He even named his son Harvey Kirby after the illustrious Jack Kirby. Did he and Edwards ever get into any serious fanboy conversations while working together?
“Oh my god, it never ends. We have a project in the works that plays into our childhood and adult love of comics, and our fanboy traits have become quite the asset.”
Shared love of comics aside, what’s it like working with someone who talks for a living? “I guess he can be outspoken and sometimes verbose, but it's genuine. What you see is what you get,” said Edwards, “I'm like that. The Barrowman clan is like that. Maybe that's why we all get along so well.”
You can meet Edwards at the Titan booth Saturday, July 24th at SDCC and get him to sign the advanced, con exclusive version of Torchwood #1 available for purchase before it hits comic shops on August 10.What do you want out of a TORCHWOOD comic?