It's safe to say that Robert Rodi is pretty comfortable with mythology — at Marvel, he's written Thor stories from the Loki miniseries to the current Thor: The Deviants Saga. He's exploring the Norse worlds and more in Kirby: Genesis – Dragonsbane, a new ongoing series debuting in January 2012 from Dynamite. Like Kirby: Genesis before it, the series — with covers from the K: G art team of Alex Ross and Jack Herbert — is based on character concepts created by late comics legend Jack Kirby. Rodi's series stars Sigurd Dragonsbane, "the greatest champion in all Valhalla," and Newsarama talked to the writer via email about the book.
Newsarama: Robert, when we talked earlier this month about Thor: The Deviants Saga, you spoke of your admiration for Jack Kirby creations, and now you're working on a comic with "Kirby" right there on the name. But in the Kirby: Genesis tradition, Dragonsbane is a character based on concepts from Kirby that he didn't get the chance to really explore. So moving forward on a character like that, what's the process like of making it your own while also paying tribute to Kirby?
Robert Rodi: Anyone who grew up reading comics has Kirby in the blood—if not the DNA—so seeing those character sketches of Sigurd Dragonsbane and his colleagues was like coming face-to-face with old friends I hadn't met yet. It's actually very exciting to be able to handle Kirby characters without needing to hew to fifty years of backstory. Everything feels sparkling fresh, sunny with possibility. And I'm doing my best to honor the King here; I don't want to be a Robert Rodi homage to Kirby, I want this to be Kirby as channeled by Robert Rodi.
Nrama: And like Thor, Dragonsbane is also a character inspired by Norse mythology. How would you compare the two?
Rodi: The most obvious answer is that Thor is a god, and Sigurd Dragonsbane isn't. He's a hero—the greatest of all Norse heroes now residing in Valhalla. But beyond that, Sigurd is an entirely different individual: he's younger, more exuberant, and often too brash for his own good; so in terms of Kirby archetypes, he's got more in common with Johnny Storm than he does with Thor.
Nrama: The series is intended to explore the way different mythologies relate to each other. You've obviously written a lot about such legends in the past and comparative mythology is a long-studied field, but in the process of developing this story, how often did you find yourself surprised by the relationships between these myths? Connect unexpected dots, as it were?
Rodi: In Dragonsbane, we're not focusing so much on the mythologies as the mythlands — the geography and landscape of these various mythical realms, and what kind of beings live and lurk there. Sigurd and his crew will be picking up some associates as they travel through these realms, but again, since these are heroes, not gods, it's more of a ground-level view of the various folkloric traditions.
There will be some commonalities — Ulysses, for example, won't have any trouble falling right in with the Norse heroes, because their similarities outweigh their differences — but there'll also be some pretty clear instances of characters getting off on the wrong foot. With what I hope are classically Kirbyesque consequences.
Nrama: Dragonsbane is technically a Kirby: Genesis spinoff — is there any amount of interaction between the two books, or are they pretty much separate?
Rodi: Our first story arc concludes just before the mythic characters make their first appearance in Kirby: Genesis #2; but since Kirby: Genesis is all about how these various characters and concepts are suddenly appearing and interacting, I imagine we'll be seeing some of that in our book too.
Nrama: Fritz Casas is the artist for the series. It's obviously pretty early still, but what can you say about collaborating with him on the project?
Rodi: Fritz has such a wonderful sense of scale and scope; he's the perfect guy to be drawing a book jam-packed with heroes. His work also reminds me somewhat of John Buscema's, who was one of the premier interpreters of Kirby's creations after the King left Marvel in the '70s, so that's a great artistic lineage to have for this book.
Also, we threw everything but the kitchen sink at Fritz for this first arc — he's got to go Norse, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Eastern European — and he's slam-dunked all of them; they're all visually distinctive, brilliantly authentic, and at the same time imbued with a Kirbyesque vitality. I'm predicting this book will make him a household name.
Nrama: It looks like Dragonsbane is an ongoing, which would be your first such series in years. What's it like approaching that type of writing for the first time in a while?
Rodi: I always have more plans than I can ever conceivably use. It's actually tough for me to write a limited series, because so many ideas have to be sidelined. It's great to have some room to spread out for a change. And I'm not working on a literary project at the moment (my last book, Seven Seasons In Siena, just came out a few months ago), so I've got nothing to distract me. Full speed ahead, baby.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!