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Chris Ryall Talks “Weekly World News”

by  in Comic News Comment
Chris Ryall Talks “Weekly World News”
“Weekly World News: The Irredemption of Ed Anger” #1 on sale in January

Pulled straight from the headlines, a comic book version of “Weekly World News” begins in January from IDW Publishing. Written by IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall with art by Alan Robinson, “Weekly World News: The Irredemption of Ed Anger” will run four issues and feature many popular characters from the infamous tabloid, which was a staple of grocery store checkout lanes until 2007.

CBR News spoke with Ryall about the project.

CBR: First, why do a “Weekly World News” comic series?

CHRIS RYALL: Sure, you could ask, “Why do this?” But I’d counter with, “Why hasn’t anyone noticed that the little bit of emptiness in their comic-loving soul can only be filled by the brilliance that is Bat Boy and the other ‘Weekly World News’ characters until now?” I have no answer to that, other than to say that “Weekly World News” comics are the cure to what ails you; the balm on your wounded, crossover-deadened heart (note: as soon as someone proposes we do a “Dark Reign: Blackest Night: Weekly World News” crossover, I’ll happily accept and recant that previous statement).

In other words, the characters and concepts that have been presented in the paper for decades now are ready-made for comics. And I’ve wanted to make this happen for years. When we first announced this, I sent around a photo of me holding up a copy of the paper that I bought in 2001 and kept for over eight years now. How can you not love Bat Boy? The paper in question saw BB heading off to fight terrorists. He’s a non-partisan hero for these troubled times.

In point of fact, the WWN paper was getting more and more comic book friendly years ago. Established comic guys like Paul Kupperberg were steering the ship, Robert Greenberger was contributing to the paper, and artists like John Byrne, Sergio Aragones and Peter Bagge were also working for the paper. In fact, Bagge had a very fun strip running in the paper for a while. Our plan is to reprint some of those, along with actual past articles that feature the characters in the comic as bonus material in each issue of the first series.

Art from “Weekly World News: The Irredemption of Ed Anger” #1

That’s right, I said first series.

For those who have never been to a supermarket, how would you describe the series’ main characters?

Every week, the “Weekly World News” offered up great new characters that deserve their own place in the comics. But we had to keep it from getting too overrun and featuring characters just for the sake of using them. So the debut miniseries will feature these cats:

Bat Boy: Our everybat, he’s like Zelig and Forrest Gump wrapped up in a scrawny teenager’s body, albeit one with a large mouth filled with sharp teeth, pale skin and bat ears.

Ed Anger: the right-wing columnist who finds Bill O’Reilly too liberal.

UFO Alien: A grey alien turned political pundit who has successfully predicted the outcome of the last few Presidential elections. Until the last one, for some reason…

Manigator: A beer-drinkin’, gun-totin’, porn-viewin’ good ol boy from the Florida Panhandle who just happens to have the face and body of an alligator.

PhD Ape: An erudite simian psychotherapist to the stars

Chaos Cloud: An evil storm cloud prophesied to destroy Earth in 2012. But he just might not be able to wait that long. Oh, and he has the face of former French Prime Minister Francois Mitterand.

What brings all of these characters together is the thrust of the miniseries. And “together” just means in the same story, since some of the characters are definitely at odds. Ed Anger hates illegal aliens, so you can imagine that he and UFO Alien aren’t exactly going to be close friends.

Art from “Weekly World News: The Irredemption of Ed Anger” #1

What else can you tell us about the story we will see in IDW’s “Weekly World News?”

The miniseries is called “The Irredemption of Ed Anger.” Ed, as mentioned has a huge problem with aliens (illegal and otherwise) and sets out to take them down. Which doesn’t go as planned, especially when the presence of the world-destroying Chaos Cloud appears.

Will we see guest appearances by the world’s fattest cat, or Elvis?

Not in this first series, although Freeze-Dried Baby does do a cameo. And there are numerous other pop-culture cameos, references, homages, and skewed tributes throughout the series.

Is it possible for Batboy to close his mouth? Or would that be giving too much away?

All I can say here is stay tuned for the series itself for an answer to this. Partly, I love the comedic value of a skinny, open-mouthed freak trying his best to be heroic while looking like he does, but your question is wise for reasons you can’t know just yet.

The first issue will have a few different variant covers-what are the options here?

There will be variant covers by guys like Joe Corroney (paying tribute to Alex Ross, who said he was amused and not offended by the cover, which shows what a good sport he is), Thom Zahler, and a couple other folk I’m working on. And we’re going to offer the first issue as a variant black and white issue printed on newsprint-type paper, to really use the “Weekly World News”-influenced cover to its fullest. And maybe even rope in fans of the paper who confuse the comic for a new print edition of the paper…

The cover to issue #2 shows UFO Alien posting to the CBR forums. Why do aliens love Comic Book Resources?

Hey, if they’re smart enough to come to our world from another galaxy, they’re smart enough to know which Web site offers great comic book content.

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