“Morning Glories” and “Ultimate Comics X-Men” writer Nick Spencer spoke with CBR TV at C2E2 about his many projects including his most recent release, working with Robert Kirkman on the writer’s room style series “Thief of Thieves” that was recently optioned as a TV series by AMC.
Spencer also touched on his runaway hit “Morning Glories,” its massive body count, and the challenge of bringing readers into the series nearly two years into its run. We also discussed his new creator-owned project “Bedlam” with artist Riley Rossmo, which comes out on Halloween. Spencer assured CBR he would not be dressing up as one of the characters from the book.
Check out the full interview and transcript below.
CBR TV: What up, partners? It’s Kiel Phegley, I am still in Artist’s Alley C2E2 2012. To my right is Mr. Nick Spencer, writer of “Morning Glories” and the incoming “Bedlam” and “Ultimate Comics X-Men” and a whole bunch of other fine things. How are you doing, sir? You have been on the road the past few months doing shows and all of that. How many autographs would you say you’ve signed in the past few months.
Nick Spencer: I would put the number definitely up over a thousand. I don’t know. I don’t know, man. A lot.
That’s good, that’s good. You know your averages. But the big news for you right now that just came out the other day is that you’ve been working on this little book with Robert Kirkman, “Thief of Thieves,” and now it is the little book that could in terms of Hollywood stuff. It’s got this TV deal you guys just inked — when you came on, obviously, this is the book that Robert was developing to have a lot of different guys involved. You came on to the first arc and it seems like you’re going to continue to be involved as it goes to TV. Was that something you were expecting from day one with that?
Well, I’m just happy to see something break for Robert, you know? Because that guy is due. [Laughs]
No, it’s not something that was ever discussed really when we were planning the book. When you sit down with an assignment like this, you don’t think about where it could go in other mediums or whatever, at least I don’t. Obviously, when you’re doing a book with Robert Kirkman and you know he’s got the relationships and the track record, you know it’s always a possibility and everything. So it was cool to see it all turn out. It was crazy. When you’re working with Robert, you learn very quickly that the profile of everything is heightened considerably. It’s been fun, it’s been a real cool experience.
One of the things I talked to him the other day about that book specifically and we were talking about the kind of tone of the book and things. He had said a lot of that came from you in terms of the captions — I don’t know if you want to call them snarky, but they definitely set a bit of a tongue-in-cheek tone for what is definitely a serious story. What was it like? It seems like he gave you a lot of free reign, but are you thinking that as other writers come in that they’ll pick up your stuff or they’ll do a completely different turn on the same idea?
I think Robert wants to make sure that the book feels consistent. Obviously, you want to see and hear every writer’s voice in each story but we want it to be cohesive. So, yeah, some of that stuff was my invention, some of it was his. It all kind of blends and merges together and I think when the next guy comes in and adds his part, it’ll be the same. I’m really excited to see the hand-off and see what happens next.
The other question I’ll ask on this is Kirkman sold “The Walking Dead” to TV, moved to LA, got a PR agent, fancy schmancy muckity-muck — is that something you would think about? Right now, you live in the UK. I know in the past you’ve said that you and your wife have talked about maybe coming back to America for a while, doing something else. Is that something that’s even on your radar at this point or you’re just like, “I can’t handle it?”
I will never move to LA.
No, no — I don’t know. Look, I’m a comics writer, I like writing comics. The other stuff, I don’t know. It’s fun and it’s really cool and I get excited to see it myself, but I’ve never been terribly hands on in that department. I don’t know that that will ever change but who knows? The thing about comics is that you don’t have to get dressed to write them and in TV, you have a time card and a desk and it’s terrifying. It’s like real work. So, I don’t know about that but we’ll see. Maybe.
Speaking on the comics front, “Morning Glories” is a book that — we talk about it every month and it feels like as the trades come out, you guys are doing very well in picking up people who maybe weren’t following the singles and trying to catch them up to the story. As you’re writing, obviously, you’ve got this big story machine, you’ve got this big long term plan. How often have you been thinking lately about how to draw people in who may want to jump into the single issue game? Is that something where after this new arc or when season one ends, you’re going to try to say “Okay, we’re going to shake up the Etch-a-Sketch,” to use a little speech of the time, and kind of get people back in a little bit?
Because “Morning Glories” has no principles. [Laughs] Don’t vote for “Morning Glories” is what you’re supposed to infer from that.
We view the trades very much as having the job of bringing in new readers. By the same token, you hope that the trade or the hardcover acts as a gateway drug somewhat to go get it as the single issue or make someone want to go and get the digital download every month. We’re going to do some stuff with the changeover to season two at #26 that will hopefully entice some people to jump back into single issues on the book, but I’m happy with people reading it however. They read it in the collections, they read it in the trades, it’s all money in our pocket at the end of the day.
So we’re in the P.E. arc right now, kids have been playing this crazy Woodrun game, people are traveling through time, all sorts of crazy shit’s happening. How many more characters do you plan to kill before this is all done.
I’m going to go ahead and guess in the thousands, once again. No, this is a lot of murder coming. There’s a lot of bloodshed coming. We were just talking about how it’s been a while since we killed somebody. I think it’s been two issues, three issues. So yeah, we’re going to get back to that pretty soon. Some big stuff coming.
Speaking of bloodshed, obviously, launching on Halloween is going to be your new Image series “Bedlam” with Riley Rossmo. It’s so interesting because I see guys come to these shows and they launch a book and it gets going and then eventually, they see their own characters — people dress up and do cosplay with that. Since you’re launching on Halloween, have you thought about getting signed up for your own little costume there, do a little promotion?
I will never wear a costume. You can put that right next to “I will never move to LA.” Yeah, I do think about that with this because for all the creator-owned stuff that I’ve done, I’ve actually never done anything that is a costume, per-se. “Morning Glories,” you’ll see a little bit of cosplay with that one but this with the Madder Red design that Riley did, it’s so incredible. I’m hoping we see that around. I’m hoping people pick that up and run with it. I will be freaked out the first time that happens. So yeah, let’s see. Me, though? No. Never.
How has that been? You guys get to announce that book early and I know you’re working way ahead of schedule, so it is monthly when it’s coming out. How are the pages coming in from Riley and what is it like for you when you work a lot on long series, where you get to see people’s responses and kind of play off. When you’re working so far ahead, do you just kind of be like, “All right, I hope that everything’s going alright,” or just have some confidence and be like, “I know this is what we want to do with the story?”
It makes it a lot more terrifying. You’re not getting that month-in month-out feedback yet so you just have no idea. You’re just flying blind. That said, Riley’s a beast. He’s going to make the book good, no matter what, so I got an easy job there. Yeah, we feel really good about our story, feel really good about our characters, feel really good about where it’s headed. I can’t wait for it to get out there. It’ll be Halloween, it’ll be kind of nuts. So, I think it’s going to be a big deal book.
“Bedlam,” “Morning Glories,” “Thief of Thieves,” a thousand other things coming — a thousand autographs coming — from Mr. Nick Spencer. Thanks so much, sir. We’re going to be back here with more from C2E2 2012 on CBR TV.