Every school has its troublemakers, and the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is no exception. Mischievous students cause the school administration to step up their game; they have to if they want to stay ahead of the gags and pranks. But what if your school’s headmaster is “the best there is at what he does?” What if he’s Wolverine? Then I suppose the school needs an Omega-level prankster, which is exactly what Logan has to deal with in Quentin Quire.
In the current “Wolverine & the X-Men: Alpha & Omega” miniseries, Quentin is running his headmaster (and a fellow student) through some deadly challenges, and is having a blast doing so! This is probably appropriate as the scribe behind this story — Brian Wood (“DMZ,” “Northlanders”) — seems to be enjoying himself as he writes this tale. Let’s see if he’s still having fun after we toss a dozen queries his way in today’s X-POSITION. I’m betting he will…
Our first email of the day comes from Renaldo, who wants to start things off right at the beginning:
1) How did it come about that you ended up writing this book? Did you ask for this project? Or did Marvel shoot you this Quire-esque offering?
It was a bit of a wandering journey, really. Â I started off talking to Axel [Alonso, Marvel’s EIC], who I know a little from his time at Vertigo when I was trying to break in — total ancient history for us both. Â After we talked a bit about what I was interested in writing, generally, he went away and came back with the idea of a Wolverine miniseries. Â Then I started working with my current editor, JeanineÂ Schaefer, and that’s where it wandered a bit.
At first it was going to be another one of those “The Best There Is…”Â miniseries, then something else, and something else again, until finally finding the right fit as a companion series to what Jason Aaron was doing with “Wolverine & the X-Men.” Around that time Quentin Quire was added to the mix. Â So I guess the best way to sum it all up is to say that I worked with Marvel and developed the book to fit into the current world of the X-Men.
2) Jason Aaron has said a lot will hinge on Quire, and we’ve witnessed a future where Quire is seen as a leader in a dystopian world with Idie as a love interest. With Mr. Aaron seemingly mapping out a plan for Quentin, have you coordinated your events with his?
Not directly. Â The editors are trouble-shooting the continuity, and I’ve read Jason’s outlines and early scripts, but there’s not a lot of issue-by-issue crossover with our stories. But once mine concludes, it’sÂ absolutelyÂ going to have changed his relationship with Logan and vice-versa. Â Quentin’s a blast to write; I can see why Jason’s doing so much with him.
3) Quire seems like the Loki of Logan’s school. Do you feel a need to differentiate him from the version Grant Morrison’s wrote?
Early on, I was given the instruction to “make him my own, flesh him out.” Â So I looked at his past appearances, absolutely, but I don’t feel overly beholden to them. Â I’m taking that mandate and running with it. Â Quentin feels like one of those characters — like Constantine — that changes according to whatever writer is currently on the book — but never stops being Constantine.
4) Why did you decide to use Armor as one of the central characters in your story?
Aside from liking Armor personally, as a reader, I wanted Logan to have a partner. Â I think that was suggested by editorial, as a general concept, but I picked Armor. Â I would have loved to do more with her, but at five issues, space is valuable.
5) Finally, do you know how it was decided to use [Roland] Boschi for the “Westchester area” art and [Mark] Brooks for the Construct art? Why split the art chores?
That was also an editorial suggestion, which I was fully into. Â The story dictates the split, really, and it’s the sort of thing I’ve done in the past, most notably on “DMZ,” with different artists handling different parts of the same story. Â It can be a fun creative thing as well as very practical, helping to ensure the book ships on time!
On the topic of the Construct and its appearance, Soupernatural noticed some similarities that made him curious:
I’m loving Quentin Quire back in thick of things and I love that while antagonistic, he’s not a villain. I was wondering…when you had Quentin put Armor and Wolverine into the Construct, was it an intentional decision to put them into a reality that is basically the old role-playing game Shadowrun?
I don’t know Shadowrun. Â Maybe Mark Brooks does. Â The Construct was a tricky thing to describe in the script, to put into words what I was seeing in my head. Â So much of it came down to how Mark interpreted my words. Â I gave him a few images as reference, actually, some screencaps from the first scene of that dubious film “Babylon AD,” and put in a bunch of notes referencing some “Call Of Duty” levels, “Children of Men,” “Bladerunner,” as well as real-like failed states and warzones like Kabul and Chechnya, all mashed up. Â I’m sure if ten different artists all took a crack at it, no two would look alike.
I have looked for mentions of this connection everywhere, but most reviewers equate the Construct to a generic sci-fi universe. While I know there might be licensing concerns saying this is the Shadowrun universe, am I correct in thinking the similarities are more than accidental? Thanks for your time and the great story!
Maybe Mark built in some references? Â My notes wereÂ definitelyÂ more “warzone” than sci-fi, though. Â Thanks!
Andre4000 recalls some of your other projects, including the first time you worked on an X-book. How do you like them X-apples?
1) This isn’t your first time writing mutants. You worked on “Counter-X” with Warren Ellis back in 2000. How does this experience with the X-teams different than that previous one? And what was it like working with Warren Ellis?
I’ve been friends with Warren for the entire time I’ve been working in comics — fifteen years, I guess. Â He’s a great guy. Â But at the time of “Counter-X,” I was a total rookie and was pretty intimidated by him. Â Our process was pretty easy on me, though. Â He would send me rough drafts of scripts, or outlines, that I would finish and polish and otherwise make my own. Â I’m sure it was how I learned to put a script together properly, gettingÂ thoseÂ files from Warren and picking them apart.
That was pre-[Joe] Quesada Marvel; it’s hard to draw comparisons between then and now. Â But just like back then, I really feel like my home at Marvel belongs to the X-Men Universe.
2) You seem to have handfuls of different titles coming out from various publishers in a given month — how do you manage that? Do you walk around with a notebook full of ideas that you are constantly pitching?
Fear has a lot to do with it! Â Seriously, I’m perpetually overbooked with work because being a freelancer is a scary thing, in any sort of economy. Â I work as much as I can to support my family, and it gets pretty hairy at times with deadlines, but I manage it okay. And, yeah, lots of notebooks — it’s how I organize all my thoughts and keep things straight in my head.
But right now, I’m good. Â Last year was pretty dicey, coming out of my DC exclusive and having two monthlies ending. Â Thank god both Marvel and Dark Horse gave me a place to land.
3) Following up on that previous question, how do you split your time between books when writing? Do you dedicate a different day to each title? Or do you hop around depending on your mood?
I try and arrange things so each week is devoted to a particular book. Â That’s the ideal situation, and it works out that way about half the time (ha-ha). Â But I always try and finish a script before starting a new one, so no hopping around. Â I’d go crazy if I tried that. I really have to just sit down, write the script until it’s written, and then jettison it from my brain to make room for the next one. Â I work a lot of nights, every weekend, and whenever I need to to hit all these deadlines.
I’m working on getting faster, more consistently. Â Every so often I have a great week where I can knock out a script in a day, day and a half. Â If I can manage that for every book and every script? Â That would be heaven. Â I could start taking weekends off!
4) I love how you followed up “Demo” with a second volume. Is there ever a chance you’d revisit the idea behind “Local” and possibly create another character(s) to take a journey?
“Local” is finite. It feels like a complete thought, and I’m really not interested in giving it any competition by trying to replicate it. Â That said, Ryan Kelly and I have this project, one that’s been cooking for over a year, that is similar to “Local” in a very roundabout way. Â If we can both find some free time, we’ll do it.
5) Whatever happened to “The Couriers” becoming a movie? I’m dying to see it on the big screen!
Nothing happened. Â Literally! Â The option is still in place. Â I always think it’s funny when creators or publishers announce an option. Â Options mean nothing. So many of my books have options on them and I never bother to talk about it unless something actually happens. Â “DMZ,” “Demo,” “Northlanders,” “Local,” “Couriers,” and “Channel Zero” have all been optioned or are optioned, but none are close to being sold, much less headed into production.
The Seventh Light is naturally attracted to shiny objects, which is why they start off their e-mail with the following:
I am really enjoying your work on “Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha to Omega!” The characterization is spot-on! I very much enjoyed Bling!’s sassy and composed cameo! My questions are…
1) What is it about Bling! that attracted you to her character? Will Quentin’s desperation to get her affirmation (or get her into the Construct) come to fruition in future issues?
I don’t mean to keep evoking editorial, or maybe I do, but Jeanine suggested Bling to me. I had another student in there originally (Roxy, I think). I think Jeanine thought it could be funny — as well a chance to underscore Quentin’s occasional cluelessness and social ineptitude — by having him try to smooth talk Bling, who isn’t into guys.
2) A lot of Quentin’s antics have been a form of him acting out: his parental agony led to the now-infamous “Riot at Xavier’s,” his basement entrapment gave way for his actions during Schism, and now he seems to be acting out against Wolverine for taking him as a prisoner to the Jean Grey School. Is Quentin just a troubled brat adjusting to a tumultuous life, is he a maniacal junior villain, or perhaps something a bit more philosophically-based that might send him down a Magneto-type path?
My take on Quentin (and I’m not suggesting there aren’t other aspects to him) is that he is a classic sort of angry teenager, putting up an incredibly arrogant front in order to hide the insecurity and god-knows-what else inside him. This is why he’s so much fun to write. He’s a total dick, but you can poke fun at him for it and make it all come off as endearing in the end — possibly! I personally don’t see him as a psychopath in the making or a future master villain.
3) Do you have any future Marvel work coming down the pipeline, especially in the realm of the X-Men? I would love to see you do more vignettes on upcoming pivotal characters like you are currently doing with Quentin!
Yes. For all I know it will have been announced by the time you’re reading this, but in case it hasn’t, I’m keeping my mouth shut.
And now, it’s time for a quick get-to-know-you question that we like to call “Behind the X.” If you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you about a blast from your past — I know you did some Internet design during the dotcom “boom.” I, myself, worked at a dotcom during the heyday of stock option craziness. Personally, I saw lots of extravagance/indulgence during that time. Without naming names, do you have any interesting anecdotes from that period?
Without naming names is tricky. I worked at several places — from an online search/free webmail place, to a “web doctor” site, to an upscale smut web magazine, as well as a few agencies. The extravagances didn’t seem so crazy in most cases (and still don’t), like free meals, masseuses in on Fridays, towncars to drive us home if we worked after 9pm (which was every day), and salaries that were just way, way too high. Honestly, the most “nuttiness” I saw was at this place that sold extremely popular software, where you got to see the executive class at the company the Monday after receiving their ship-on-time bonuses the previous Friday — it was like something straight out of a movie! Massive hangovers, coke noses, new Jaguars, you name it. It was both disgusting and amazing at the same time.
I will give credit to Rockstar Games, which gave me the stock option money to go full-time with comics. It was a very difficult job in a hundred different ways, but that money got me through the lean times before I started earning steady money with my Vertigo projects.
Fans, write a letter to Rockstar Games to thank them for the gift of Brian Wood. Thanks for joining us, Brian!
In seven days, we’ll discuss the legacy that’s been left behind to writer Christos Gage — “X-Men: Legacy.” The scribe will be here to answer your questions about taking on the book (now that Mike Carey has concluded his lengthy run) and his plans for the team’s future. As always, just send those emails my way as soon as you can. Put an “X-Position” in the subject line, and I’ll teach you how to do the Angelina Jolie Oscar pose. Hurry!