Launching just two day’s after America’s celebration of independence, The Red Wing is a return to the independence of creator-owned comics for writer Jonathan Hickman. Marvel readers can rest easy, Hickman’s not leaving the House of Ideas behind; he is however finding time to re-immersive himself in independent comics beginning with this four-issue series.
Joining together with longtime friend and artist Nick Pitarra, Hickman’s The Red Wing is a story of futuristic fighter pilots engaged in a war that spans space and time. World War 3 is a popular trope in the realm of fiction, but The Red Wing brings about the idea of a 3 Worlds War. When a group of fighter pilots dubbed the First Wing are lost in time deep in enemy space, they must find themselves and find a way home to start the seeds of their own survival.
Sparing time from his busy schedule of writing FF, Secret Warriors, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the new Ultimates, Hickman talked with Newsarama.com about returning to his creator-owned roots and what it takes to pilot a time-traveling starfighter.Newsarama: What can you tell us about The Red Wing, Jonathan?
Jonathan Hickman: The Red Wing is a story about fighter pilots that dogfight through time in an effort to reclaim their past which was the first casualty of a temporal war.
Be forewarned, it's cool stuff.
Nrama: I’ll take your word on that. I've heard comic creators say that depicting car chases is a hard thing to do in comics, and I can imagine dogfight scenes to be even more so. Can you tell us about doing that in The Red Wing?
Hickman: Sure, sure, I can totally understand that. But I am fortunate that I'm getting to work with Nick Pitarra and Rachelle Rosenberg who are exceptional artists and doing a pretty great job at rendering these things.Lots of split-panel, time-hopping in The Red Wing.
Nrama: Seeing you working with Nick Pitarra is like a flashback; you and he were contestants on CBR’s “Comic Book Idol” years ago when you were breaking in. How did you two get together for this project?
Hickman: Oh, I've been a fan of Nick's art since I first saw it in the idol competition, and I've been trying to do numerous projects with him since then.
Some of these have come to fruition at Marvel, but not enough for him to be a full-time artist, which I'm positive he's good enough to be. So, as I was getting ready to produce my next wave of creator-owned books I decided that I wanted Nick to draw the vast majority of this stuff. Fortunately, he was open to the idea of working with me.
I'm a big believer in the idea that you can't keep true talent down, so his professionally drawing comics was inevitable in my eyes… I just consider myself lucky that is working with me now.
Additionally, Rachelle Rosenberg was the first person to actually color Nick in a way that we were both satisfied with. So, we both asked her to come along for the ride.
Nrama: Is this part of the PLUS! project which you talked about awhile back?
Hickman:The Red Wing will be sub-labeled PLUS! whereas anything I produce where I write and draw will be top-labeled PLUS! I know that it seems confusing now, but once the books start coming out, it'll become readily apparent why.
Nrama: While we’re branching out to speak about your other creator-owned work, can you say anything about another project you mentioned in a podcast, Feel Better Now?
Hickman: This will be a story written and drawn by myself out in October also from Image Comics. It's about a bunch of psychiatrists who get bored and screw with their patients.
Ha. Ha. Black comedy.Nrama: You burst onto the scene doing a volley of creator-owned work, but lately you've been working exclusively at Marvel. What's it like to be able to get back into your own projects like this?
Hickman: It's nice. It feels really good. Marvel is a fantastic company to work for, and they treat me very well. And, part of why I consider them being a fantastic company or work for, is that they understand that from time-to-time many of us have itches that we need to scratch. For me, doing my own work is one of them.
I said when I first started getting work at Marvel that I would never stop doing creator-owned work, so, here you go, this is me keeping my word in the most entertaining way I can manage.
I'm extremely proud of all the work that we're getting ready to have come out -- things you've heard about, like The Red Wing, and things we haven't yet announced. I just hope that the readers will give us a fair shot, and will check out what we're doing.
I honestly believe they won't be disappointed.