Taran Killam and Marc Andreyko spent some time in the CBR TV Speakeasy to discuss their upcoming IDW Publishing series “The Illegitimates,” a creation of Killam’s which spins out of the idea of what would happen if a world-class super spy’s illegitimate children were enlisted by the country’s top spy agency to form a family of secret agents. In addition to Killam recounting some stories of what it’s like to work on “Saturday Night Live,” and Andreyko touching on his new gig as the writer of “Batwoman,” the pair discussed how they met, share the original pitch for the comic, explain why this isn’t simply a matter of some Hollywood celebrity cashing in on his fame to create a pitch for a potential movie and how writing the book has led to new story arc ideas as they’ve worked their way through the initial storyline.
Andreyko, on taking over “Batwoman” after the controversial exit of co-writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman: “The circumstances could be more pleasant,” Andreyko acknowledged. “You never want to take over a book when people leave on not the best terms, but the character is so rich and I’m such a huge fan of everything Greg [Rucka] and Haden and J.H. — especially J.H. — have done on that book, that I’m not going in to rearrange everything and say, ‘Everything that went on before is bad. I’m going to fix it.’ I want to do right by the character, and the character that they have done… I’ve got to say, the reaction on the Internet — I expected to be vilified, and drawn and quartered, and I’ve only been called ‘gay Uncle Tom’ by about three websites, so statistically, I’m ahead of the game. Statistically, the Internet’s been great to me”
On the concept behind Killam’s “The Illegitimates,” his first comics project: “I’ve read comic books for most of my life,” Killam said. “I had this great idea…I first pitched it to [Marc] about 4 or 5 years ago –”
“He pitched me the idea, the high concept — which I’ll let him reveal — I instantly said, ‘If I ran a studio, I’d give you a check for a million dollars for this right now,” Andreyko said. “It’s one of those ideas that’s obvious in the best way, where everyone who hears it will go, ‘Oh, yeah.’ That’s the reaction everyone gets when we tell them what it is. And what is the idea, Taran?”
“The idea is, the concept of a James Bond-esque superspy, the womanizer spy, drink in his hand, lady in his arms, is getting older in his years. Jack Steele is the name of our spy, and he’s killed in mission. The agency he works for [says], ‘We’re screwed, we have no back-up plan, there’s nobody half as good as Agent Steele — well, that’s not quite true. We have a secret project called Project Sire.’ All of the femme fatales, the female agents that Agent Steel has bedded along the way…the agency Agent Steele worked for has been anonymously nurturing and monitoring the bastard children that Agent Steele has sired.”
“So he’s a perfect shot, other than with just a gun,” Andreyko added.
On balancing the tone of the series, which while humorous, is ultimately a straight-spy story: “The launching point is humorous,” Killam said.
“Think more along the lines of ‘Lethal Weapon’ or ‘Die Hard,'” Andreyko added, “where there’s a core story that’s a serious adventure, there’s humor that comes out organically. It’s not a wink-wink, nudge-nudge sort of book, at all.”
“We didn’t want it to be ‘Austin Powers,” Killam said. “It’s not a parody of the spy genre. It’s, hopefully, sort of an updating version of it.”
On how important it was to Killam that “The Illegitimates” be a comic book rather than a television series or movie pitch: “I literally talked him back from other platforms,” Killam said, gesturing to Andreyko. “Literally, my end game is to see [the series] on shelves at my local comic shop. That, for me — you know, this is self-produced by myself, all out of pocket. The reason it took so long is just finding a place, finding time, finding channels, and fortunately, my current job and situation career-wise gave me this little stipend to invest it in this project.
“It is my one and only passion project,” Killam continued. “IDW, who’s been so great and they’re publishing it, wanted to put it out as a limited series, and for me, I hope it continues and goes on forever, because — “SNL” is such a crazy dream come true job, my dream job, like unbelievable. Literally next in line is creating a comic book. So, that they’re both happening is pretty crazy.”