|“Justice League: The New Frontier” DVD on sale next week|
When Darwyn Cooke first pitched “DC: The New Frontier” in 1999, he knew he was onto something. He just had no idea it would be so big.
With the animated version of the award-winning story due in stores on DVD next week and a “Justice League: The New Frontier Special” comic book scheduled for March 5, the acclaimed Cooke told CBR News, “I guess every now and then you get something right. So this is the time I got something right.”
“DC: The New Frontier,” originally released in miniseries form in 2003 and 2004 and collected into trade paperbacks and DC Comics Absolute format in 2004 and 2005, garnered multiple Eisner and Harvey awards.
“It’s funny, because it has sort of invisibly added up to an incredible amount of time,” said Cooke. “But geez, you know, I am just so happy for it. That people have embraced it the way they have is great. But nothing is better than when I go to one of the shows and meet the people, who have actually read it and they are telling me why it meant something to them. That is such a big part of it for me.
Meaning, there are worse legacies to have? “I think so, at this point,” responded Cooke. “I think I can live that. And if I can hit it again like that, one more time that would be nice and if not, I am happy to toil in obscurity.”
To possibly “hit it” again, Cooke said he does indeed have an idea for a sequel to “DC: The New Frontier,” but the book isn’t even on the radar right now in terms of production. “At this point, it probably won’t happen,” said Cooke. “Anything like that would have to be motivated by something. I doubt anything like that is going to just happen out of the blue. But if there is good reasons for it, as we go along, then sure. I haven’t made a decision, ultimately in my head, of whether I ever want to go back and crack it open again, which is why these smaller stories [like ‘Justice League: The New Frontier Special’] are fun. The idea of really seriously going back to it, I don’t know. I really don’t know.
Cooke said with the re-releases, the animated film and now the special, his work on “New Frontier” has been steady for nearly a decade. “It’s really never gone away,” laughed Cooke. “Between putting the trades, and the Absolutes and the toys and then the movie development, I have never really been able to get far enough away from it that it feels foreign to me.”
“I did a polish re-write at the end of the script process which I think just sharpened a lot of the character arcs. In some cases, such as characters like Lois Lane, I completely wrote her into the film because she wasn’t in the finished screenplay they had come up with. From that point, I worked pretty closely, mostly with the director, David Bullock, and once the script was ready and they started assembly a crew, I got involved in the design, so geez, I designed all the major characters. Glenn Wong and Jason Bone and a couple of other young guys definitely chipped in but the main characters in the film, I definitely took care of. That was heck of a lot because it’s quite a cast.
“I was also involved in the storyboards for the film. I think it works out to about ten percent of the movie. And I was also involved in a lot of the color and consulting art direction; creative consulting, I suppose. Again, I worked really closely with the director. He and I basically kept in contact on a daily basis throughout that part of the production, to go over the story and adding a lot of thing back into the film that the script couldn’t accommodate.”
“I can’t think, well, since maybe ‘Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker,’ this is the best thing I have seen in this category. And it’s maybe even better than that, if I may say so? It really came out well. What amazes me is how intact everybody’s story really is.”
“The notion is both the special and the movie were produced back during the early 1960s, but the government seized them and classified the stuff,” explained Coke. “So it’s like a first look at this stuff that’s been in a vault for all of these years, just to have a little more fun with it.”
“But it’s all 1950s style. The technology for this type of a fight for Batman, he’s got to be incredibly ingenious because technology-wise, it’s a different world.
“We also see that the fight is stopped or the conclusion or resolution of the story comes from a really unexpected place and we see it that there was something working throughout the story of ‘The New Frontier’ that readers weren’t aware of and that all comes clear in this tale.”
“And the third story features Robin and that story is written by me and it is drawn by David Bullock, the director the animated movie.”
While no future specials are in the works, Cooke said DC’s long-established publishing history is the perfect place to cull future stories for “The New Frontier” era. “There are stories within the main stories. And those are some of the things that are in the special,” said Cooke. “And of course, there is the whole notion of what happens after ‘The New Frontier’ concludes. So, there is the potential for every type of story. There is certainly a big one as to what happens next. And there is room for lots of little ones, as well. Whether we ever do a sequel or a big one is still a big if. And it certainly isn’t going to be happening anytime soon.”
“It was a lot of fun to try to keep a certain amount of consistency to Denny and the world but jump all over the place the way Will [Eisner] used to.”
Asked if he could see himself working on the character again one day, Cooke teased, “Let’s hope so. I really can’t talk much about it. Other than that, I’ll just say, yeah, I hope so.”
The new creative team on “The Spirit,” which includes living legend Sergio Aragones (“Groo”), co-writer with Mark Evanier and artist Mike Ploog, make their debut on the book this week with issue #14.
Beyond the DC artwork, Cooke said he would be concentrating his efforts on the graphic novel medium with some regular joes of his own. “I don’t think you will ever see me launching my own superhero. I don’t think I have got a Prime in the drawer,” offered Cooke. “I have thought about it before. God, I wish I had a Hellboy in me. But, I definitely have characters of my own. Most of the work you are going to see me doing outside of the mainstream will be graphic novels about people. They are still going to be facing exceptional circumstances but I don’t they will be superhero characters in that sense.
“It’s really exciting what’s going on right now in the graphic novel market and in terms of its readership. You’ve got so many different types of books out there that are succeeding, that I think it’s a great time to get out there and try to something that doesn’t involve capes for a change.”
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