In November, Doom Patrol writer Keith Giffen is picking up the pencil to draw the issue, while letting someone else do the writing.
Novelist Brian Keene (The Rising, The Conqueror Worms) is writing Doom Patrol #16 with Giffen after getting the attention of the writer with his work in comics.
"The guy is just an incredible storyteller... and he worked at Marvel, so it's not like we're breaking in a complete novice," Giffen told Newsarama last week. "I look at Brian Keene the same way I looked at John Rogers. This guy has got the chops. This guy can do it. He's going to be an asset. So I got the opportunity to get him in there and I took it."
Newsarama talked with Keene to find out more about the issue and why he wanted to get his hands on the Doom Patrol.
Newsarama: How did you get the opportunity to write Doom Patrol?
Brian Keene: Keith Giffen wrote to me a while back. He was a fan of my novels, and of course, I was a long-time fan of his work. He introduced me to editor Mike Siglain. Mike and I talked about doing some stuff for one of the Batman books — maybe a Commissioner Gordon back-up series or a Killer Croc one-shot. Sadly, Mike left DC before that could happen, so Keith got me this gig instead.
Nrama: What appealed to you about the project?
Keene: I'm a big fan of the Doom Patrol. Like most people my age, I discovered them in the Wolfman/Perez run on Teen Titans back in the 80's. After that, I tracked down every back issue I could find. So the chance to work with these characters was certainly appealing. More importantly, I was ecstatic to be working with Keith and Al Milgrom. I mean, these guys, along with folks like Steve Gerber, J.M. DeMatteis, Jack Kirby, Sal Buscema and others — they were such a formative influence on me, growing up. It's very cool to be working alongside them. It's the ultimate fan-boy moment, you know?
Nrama: What is it about the Doom Patrol that makes the team so unique?
Keene: Many people point to the fact that they're all misfits, but I don't think that explains the book's appeal. I mean, most superhero teams are, at their core, about a group of misfits — X-Men, The Defenders, the Outsiders, etc. I think what makes the Doom Patrol work is their humanity. They are bizarre. They don't fit in elsewhere. Some of them are monsters in every sense of the word (the Chief, for example, is a monstrous character). Often, they're shunned by society. And yet, they're often more human than the "normal" people they strive to save. They're a dysfunctional family with super powers. That's fun to play with, as a writer.
Nrama: What is this story about that you're telling in Issue #16?
Keene: I've enjoyed what Keith has been doing with the current series, in that he's incorporating elements and characters from all of the team's various incarnations. I thought it might be fun to do a story based around Fast Forward, a.k.a. Negative Man II (from Arcudi's run on the book). When we last saw him, he was beginning to lose control of his powers. At the start of this story, his powers are now running rampant, giving him glimpses of alternate realities, some of which feature dark and sinister doppelgangers of the Doom Patrol.
Nrama: How do the doppelgangers become such a terrifying threat to the team?
Keene: They're bleeding through into our reality. Every time Fast Forward glimpses another reality, he brings something from there into our world — things like Nazi Negative Man, a Steampunk Robotman and a cannibalistic, Feral Rita. And those are just for starters...
Nrama: What was the biggest challenge about writing the comic?
Keene: Keith wanted to do it "Marvel-style", which was new to me... and a little daunting. In my previous comic work, I've always written the script and then the artist illustrated according to what I'd written. In this case, Keith and I plotted out the story, he drew it, and then I wrote the dialogue to fit the pages. It was certainly challenging, but rewarding, as well.The other big fear is just not dropping the ball. I'm a comic fan. I'm the first one to bitch when a writer does something I don't like with a character or a team. A writer should respect the source material. So I try to stay very mindful of that, but at the same time, you can't let those demands dictate your story. It's a balancing act, I guess.
Nrama: What was your favorite part about working on the comic?
Keene: The entire process. [laughs]
Nrama: How has it been working with Keith Giffen?
Keene: Awesome. Keith's a fun guy, but when it comes to getting the job done, he doesn't screw around. I've got the same work ethic, so I think it went well. I don't think he wants to kill me and I haven't burned all my old copies of The Defenders and Justice League, so I guess we got along okay. (laughs). I'd certainly work with him again in a heartbeat.
Nrama: What other comic book projects (or books) do you have coming out now, that you'd like to tell our readers about?
Keene: I've got an on-going series from Antarctic Press called The Last Zombie. It deals with the aftermath of a zombie plaque — how the survivors pick up the pieces and rebuild. And the Max series I did for Marvel, Dead of Night: Devil Slayer, is still out in trade and still selling well. And I've got a back-up in this year's DCU Halloween Special, as well as a few other things in the pipeline.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Doom Patrol #16?
Keene: I think it will appeal to both camps — hardcore fans of the book, and non-comic readers who enjoy my novels but aren't sure about picking up a comic in the middle of a series. It really is a good jumping on place. And I hope everyone will buy two copies, because I owe Giffen money from a football bet, and he intends to collect.