At Comic-Con International in San Diego during the DC Universe Event Horizon panel, Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler announced a relaunch of the publisher’s “Weird Worlds” anthology series from the 1970s.
While few details were shared at the time, what was revealed was that Aaron Lopresti (“Justice League: Generation Lost”) would be heavily involved in the series and that one of the DC Comics exclusive artist’s creations, Garbage Man, would be one of the title’s featured monsters.
No stranger to monster comics, Lopresti co-created “Sludge” in 1993 for Malibu Comics, along with Steve Gerber and Gary Martin. Originally the title’s penciler, he later wrote several issues, as well.
In this exclusive first interview about the series, Lopresti told CBR News he will be writing and drawing the Garbage Man feature for “Weird Worlds.” He also shared news that while heavily rumored, Swamp Thing won’t be appearing in the monster book (for now) but a certain Dark Knight will.
CBR News: Well Aaron, we don’t know too much about “Weird Worlds” yet, so let’s start at the top – what is it?
Aaron Lopresti: “Weird Worlds,” as it is designed right now, is an anthology book that will include material that fits into the monster/horror/sci-fi/fantasy genres. Those readers who are as old as me, [DCU Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio and [editor] Joey Cavalieri might remember in the early seventies that DC had an anthology book called “Weird Worlds” that featured a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs material like “John Carter of Mars” and “Carson of Venus,” etc. So we are bringing that back as a launching place for new characters and material, some of which will be creator-owned but still fit within the DCU.
Was this your pitch or did DC come to you? Will you be writing and drawing the series?
When I came over to DC from Marvel, one of the things I spoke to Dan about was getting an opportunity to write and draw some projects. That is something that I did a fair amount of back in the earlier years of my career, but something that I haven’t been able to do for awhile. As we were discussing the possibilities, Dan mentioned that one of the things that the DCU needed was a monster book. Now that “Swamp Thing” is a Vertigo imprint, it’s off limits to the regular DC continuity, so I jumped at the chance to create a monster property. Anyone who knows me knows my first love is monsters and dinosaurs.
During the DC Universe: Event Horizon panel at Comic-Con, you said, “Monster books, they’ve become horror books in the last fifteen years, but I want to get back to monsters as superheroes.” Why do monsters work as superheroes and can you give some examples of some of your favorites from comics, TV and film?
I am a strange guy. I don’t like horror movies or comics, but I love monster movies and monster comics. For me, there is a big difference between the two. “Bride of Frankenstein” is a far cry from “The Exorcist.” I could watch “Frankenstein” or “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” over and over but I have never seen “The Exorcist” and I never will.
I like my monster books to be fun and adventurous rather than evil and disturbing. All of the comic book monsters that we remember have always been monsters that really were drawn like and functioned as superheroes. They didn’t go around menacing people. They went around trying to help people – usually with mixed results. “Swamp Thing,” “Man-Thing,” “Ghost Rider,” “Werewolf by Night,” Marvel’s version of “Frankenstein,” “The Living Mummy” and on and on were all books I read and loved as a kid, that portrayed the protagonist as a “good” monster fighting to regain his humanity while fighting bad monsters.
I think that template allowed the reader to identify and sympathize with the character, which then in turn made the comic about the monster rather than just being about the “scary” story.
During Comic-Con, it was revealed that “Weird Worlds” will feature Garbage Man and two other heroes. Can you share who the two others are, just yet? And will each be featured in its own stories or is “Weird Worlds” a monster team book?
I can’t say what the other stories are or who is working on them, but this book will feature good, talented people. There will be one recognized DCU character in the book and then two new ones. For the time being, these will all be separate features. There are no short-term plans to make this a “Legion of Monsters” type team-up book.
Will these stories be done-in-one adventures or will there be a greater overarching mythos explored?
Again, I am only allowed to talk about my project at the moment. “Garbage Man” will not be a one shot sort of concept story like we saw in the classic “House of Secrets” #92, which first introduced the Swamp Thing that might later be retooled to be something more. We are coming out of the gate treating the character with longevity in mind. There is a lot of backstory and supporting characters that are introduced as Garbage Man moves through this initial storyline. The hope is that the character will be popular enough to get its own title, but either way, I expect Garbage Man to stay in the DCU as a regular character.
When fans hear monster book, the one name everyone wants to hear is Swamp Thing. You mentioned he was off limits right now, but are there any plans for him to appear in “Weird Worlds” eventually?
That would be awesome, but as of right now, Swamp Thing is living in Vertigo land and will not appear in this initial story arc. However, the story starts outside of Gotham City so expect to see a rather prominent DC character sticking his nose into Garbage Man’s affairs.
“Saga of the Swamp Thing” is revered by comicdom and is considered by many as the quintessential monster book. Were you a fan of that title and did will you reference that material when creating “Weird Worlds?”
I assume you are referring to Alan Moore’s run? I read some of that, but for me the Len Wein/Bernie Wrightson run is the classic. I should also mention the often over-looked but spectacular work Nestor Redondo did on the book after Wrightson. The spirit of the book is very reminiscent of classic “Swamp Thing.” I am intentionally trying to bring back that particular vibe. I was originally going to use several references to Wrightson’s run on “Swamp Thing” back when Garbage Man was going to be an ongoing, but since the format is now different and I have fewer pages to tell the stories, some of that had to be left by the wayside.
With Garbage Man being a newly created character, what do readers need to know about him heading into this series?
He is a brand new character, but there is a lot of Sludge and Swamp Thing rolled into this character. I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here; I am trying to resurrect a genre that I think has legs if it is presented in a fun and entertaining way. I wanted Garbage Man to feel familiar without being a copy of the creatures that came before it. I expect readers to say, “Hey, Garbage Man looks like Sludge,” or, “That looks like Swamp Thing,” but when they put the two side by side, they will see that while there are similarities, they are far from the same.
Story-wise, the formula is there. Richard Ethan Morse is an attorney in a powerful firm that represents some unethical but powerful clients. When he begins to develop a conscious, he gets himself in some serious trouble that results in him becoming Garbage Man. As the creature, he struggles to regain his memory and his humanity. Does he seek a cure for his condition or use his power for revenge?
I don’t want to give up too much too early, but there is a “Beauty and the Beast” element that emerges as the story progresses, as well as his constant struggle with morality and discovering the right thing to do.
I am really excited about the character and his journey to becoming a new and perhaps better person despite the tragedy that has befallen him. Oh yeah, and there is tons of monster action. Garbage Man will be facing off with evil scientists, were-creatures and mutant zombies – and look for some dinosaurs running amok in the sewers of Gotham City!
“Weird Worlds” sounds like a lot of fun. When will we see the first issue?
I am told January 2011.