Andy Diggle Ends His Marvel Exclusive with SIX GUNS Blazing

Andy Diggle on Neo-Western Mini SIX GUNS

Six Guns #4 cover.

The currently unfolding five-issue Marvel miniseries Six Guns stars new versions of classic western characters Tarantula, Tex Dawson, Black Rider, Matt Slade and the Two-Gun Kid; updated for the modern day in a series by the Daredevil: Reborn team of writer Andy Diggle and artist Davide Gianfelice.

With Six Guns #4 out in mid-January, Newsarama chatted with the Daredevil and Losers writer via email about the series, which stars a nearly entirely new cast other than Tarantula, who was first introduced in the post-Civil War Heroes for Hire series.

Six Guns also marks the final project under Diggle's exclusive contract with Marvel, and the writer explained to us why he's not eager to sign another such deal with any publisher, and some of the projects he's working on now. Plus, courtesy of Marvel, we're exclusively debuting a four-page sequence by Gianfelice from Six Guns #4.

Interior art from

Six Guns #4.

Newsarama: Andy, in Six Guns you're working with revamped versions of several Marvel western characters — Tarantula, Tex Dawson, Black Rider, Matt Slade and the Two-Gun Kid. What is it about these character types — all from a different era in both their original comic book appearances and setting — that translates into a modern context?

Andy Diggle: One of the great things about comic characters is their ability to evolve and adapt, making them relevant for each new generation. If that didn't happen, Superman wouldn't be able to fly and Batman would still carry a gun. The anti-heroes of Six Guns aren't as well known as those guys, but they still fit into classic archetypes — the noble lawman, the mercenary, the outlaw, the kid looking for revenge. They're just as comfortable in a modern context as they are in the Old West, which makes it more relevant and appealing to a modern readership.

Plus, hey, if we set it in the Old West, we wouldn't be able to crash a Mustang into a C17 transport plane. So there's that.

Interior art from

Six Guns #4.

Nrama: The story takes place in San Diablo, which has been around for decades but is certainly a lesser-known fictional Marvel Universe venue. How did you arrive on selecting that locale for the story?

Diggle: The simple reason is, we needed somewhere lawless, and well under the radar of the "big hitters" of the Marvel Universe. San Diablo fits the bill — plus it has an awesome-sounding name!

Nrama: The series gives you a chance to work with nearly all-new Marvel characters in a relatively unexplored setting. Is it fair to say that grants a higher level of creative freedom than usual in a work-for-hire book? And was there any pressure at all to add some more recognizable elements?

Diggle: I've never been terribly comfortable at the heart of "big continuity" storylines. I prefer revamping second and third-tier characters — you get a lot more latitude to have fun and explore new directions, plus the personal stakes are higher when you're dealing with underdogs. And Marvel has been great — they just let me run with it. I got to create the characters I wanted, I got to work with Davide Gianfelice and [colorist] Dave McCaig again — I couldn't be happier!

Interior art from  

Six Guns #4.

Nrama: Daredevil: Reborn artist Davide Gianfelice is also illustrating Six Guns. What made him the right choice for this series?

Diggle: I just love Davide's work. Each character is visually distinctive, and they can act. His composition is beautiful, his action is fluid and dynamic yet still clear and comprehensible. I rarely get excited about artwork these days the way I used to, but Davide's work does it for me every time. We're already talking about our next collaboration. The guy's just super talented.

Nrama: We talked a while back about the Rat Catcher graphic novel you did for Vertigo, and discussed a few of the films that inspired the neo-noir of that story. Are there any movies (or books, TV shows, what have you) that helped shape Six Guns?

Diggle: They both have a similar Tex-Mex outlaw vibe, but Rat Catcher was very much grounded in reality. Six Guns, on the other hand, is set in the Marvel Universe, so we can just go crazy with the action. And that's been a lot of fun.

If Rat Catcher reads like a neo-noir thriller, Six Guns plays more like an over-the-top action movie. I think it's healthy to bring in influences from outside the world of comics, though I couldn't point to any one thing and say, "that influenced the story." It's more about mood and tone.  

Interior art from  

Six Guns #4.

Nrama: You tweeted a couple months back that you're no under an exclusive contract with Marvel. What can you share about your plans going forward? After several years of exclusive status — first at DC, then at Marvel — are you enjoying being a free agent?

Diggle: This month marks my 10th anniversary as a professional writer, and half that time has been spent under exclusive contract. Marvel and DC Comics have been good to me and I hope to continue working with them, but I won't be signing any more exclusives. I'm having fun branching out in new directions — not only work-for-hire comics but also film, TV and video games.

I'm already writing more "Lenny Zero" for 2000 AD, plus a sci-fi book for another publisher that I can't talk about yet. Jock and I recently collaborated on the VW Scirocco "Bring on the Night" ad campaign in China. I also have a couple of comic-to-film projects lined up, plus a series of short films, and of course "Snapshot," the creator-owned thriller I'm doing with Jock, which will appear in the Judge Dredd Megazine in February. Hopefully my Astonishing Captain America mini-series with Adi Granov will come out in 2012. All in all, I have way more work on my plate since becoming a free agent than I did under exclusive contract. And that's a very good place to be!

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