If Eric Powell’s cover for “Big Man Plans” #1 doesn’t give you a good sense of what to expect from the new Image Comics series, Lee Bermejo’s variant cover certainly will. Promising “a brutal crime drama with a shocking mystery at its heart,” the new series makes its gritty, violent debut today.
Artist and writer Eric Powell is best known as creator of award-winning pulp horror comic “The Goon,” published by Dark Horse. Tim Wiesch, the other half of the creative team, is VP of Business Development at Oni Press and the series marks his debut as a comic book co-creator and co-writer. “Big Man Plans” started as an inside joke for the pair, but has developed into a dark crime drama. Big Man, the main character, has faced prejudice and humiliation his whole life because of his dwarfism. The series follows his violent quest for revenge, but also untangles a larger mystery and crime story.
CBR News spoke with Powell & Wiesch about the origins of “Big Man Plans,” the mature content in the book and how growing up as small town outsiders messed them up — and helped to create the new series.
CBR News: You’ve said before that this character, Big Man, developed from an inside joke but the book itself is largely serious and dark. Where did that darkness come from?
Eric Powell: Yeah, it’s funny sometimes how stories develop. The title came to us from texting back and forth about what we would do if we got enough money to tell the world to go screw. And it turned into a heartbreaking revenge story that Tim and I are taking completely seriously… Well, as seriously as we take anything.
â€¨Tim Wiesch: It’s not a very happy-go-lucky book. Maybe my mom was right. Heavy Metal and [Dungeons & Dragons] really screwed me up.
Big Man is marginalized by society and the book follows him exacting revenge driven by that marginalization. Are you pulling from any personal experience or drawing parallels to other types of marginalization?
Wiesch: I think that everything is written from some form of personal experience, no matter how exaggerated. I had as normal a childhood as possible, considering both the uniquely weird town and bloodstream I come from, but still dealt with shit like bullies. Being a weird, nerdy kid in a small Midwest town certainly didn’t do me any favors. I don’t really dwell on that stuff too much in my day-to-day life, but I’m certain it’s rattling around my sub-conscience.
Powell: Yeah, I grew up as a weird kid in the south. Writing the outsider role comes pretty naturally. But, despite what this first issue may lead some to believe, this series is not just about petty revenge. There is a bigger mystery at play here. The unfolding of that mystery is pretty brutal. It’s actually been depressing me to portray it as the illustrator. But, I love the story that Tim and I developed and I want to share this depression with as many people as possible. So, come along on our magic carpet ride of Prozac.
Issue #1 is very violent, and you’ve said that it’s the tamest in the series. How crazy do things get? What’s your attitude about depicting this sort of violence?
Powell: I just want to see if we get more complaints about the violence or the penis.
Wiesch: Have you seen the cover of issue #3? That ain’t no metaphor. It’s really hard to figure out where exactly the line is, trying to tip toe up to the very edge. It’s brinksmanship with the public’s levels of acceptance. I do think that there are things that even I would never be ok with putting in the book, but Eric and I would probably discuss them for a while anyway.
Eric, you’re primarily known for “The Goon.” How does this project differ from that one? Are you making a different statement with this series?
Powell: “The Goon” is a fairy tale. A dark, gritty, disturbing one, but a fairy tale. “Big Man Plans” is an exploitation movie with high ideals. It’s straight-up crime fiction with a mystery at its heart, set in a world of heightened reality. That’s about as accurately as I can describe it.
Tim, you’ve been in the comics industry for a long time but is this your first project as creator. What’s it like from the other side?
Wiesch: It’s been a blast!Â I’ve wanted to get more involved with writing for a while now and I feel really lucky to get Eric as my sherpa on this book.
This series is a collaboration, with both of you writing and Eric doing the art. How has that process worked? How did you come together as a creative team and what have you enjoyed about working with each other?
Wiesch: Most of the actual story was pieced together in various trips, either me going to Nashville or Eric coming to Portland, and they usually involved at least a few beers. After that, it’s just been a lot of phone calls and emails filling in the details.
Besides just being stoked about being able to work on my first book ever with a friend, that friend happens to be Eric Fucking Powell! Did you know that’s actually his real middle name? I checked his ID.
Powell: It’s derived from “Fuquankaner,” an old family name. Which, translated, means “He who loveth the unwashed goats.”
It’s been a blast. I feed off of enthusiasm and Tim’s got that in spades. We have a definite vision for this series, so it’s been pretty straightforward bringing that to life.
So far, only one arc, four issues, has been confirmed. Have there been challenges to working in such a tight narrative space?
Powell: The first issue is very dense. But it had to be, for the rest of the story to unfold correctly. I’m not a big fan of the slow poking around method of story telling. Especially in comics. We hit the ground running.â€¨
Wiesch: You can fit a lot of story into one issue if you’re willing to cut some fat here and there.Â We could probably have made this arc go a little longer, but I don’t think we would have been adding anything that really needed to be there.
Considering you’ve both had experience with a number of different publishers, how did “Big Man Plans” end up at Image?
Powell: We weighed a lot of options, and it was just the right fit for this book. We felt it was the right deal for us. Plus, we’re really shooting for that “Spawn” crossover. A dream is a wish the heart makes.
“Big Man Plans” #1 is on sale now from Image Comics.