BCC: Jack Staff Gets "Weird"

Fans of writer-artist Paul Grist's creator-owned superhero comic book "Jack Staff" already know that the world of Castletown is filled with superpowers, vampires and other assorted weirdness. But now, believe it or not, it's only getting weirder.

At Baltimore Comic-Con, Image Comics announced a rebranding of Grist's "Jack Staff." The new ongoing series will be titled "The Weird World of Jack Staff," taking a cue from a 2007-released "Jack Staff" special one-shot of the same name--but the similarities end in the title. According to Grist, "Weird World" will be even more anthology-based than the previous "Jack Staff" series, focusing not only on Britain's Greatest Hero but also his compatriots Tom Tom the Robot Man, Becky Burdock, and others.

Grist spoke with CBR News about his plans for the January-debuting "Weird World of Jack Staff" series as well as his other current creator-owned endeavor "The Eternal Conflicts of the Cosmic Warrior," which kicks off this November.

Paul, what motivated the decision to rebrand "Jack Staff" as "The Weird World of Jack Staff?"

The intention is to cue readers into the idea that the comic isn't just about Jack Staff, but also the story of the other characters who inhabit that environment, such as Tom Tom the Robot Man, Becky Burdock and Q. I think readers sometimes expected Jack Staff to be the main focus of the story and were initially confused by the jumping around from character to character. I'm still going to be doing that--but this time, the title will reflect the comic a bit more!

How much will "Weird World" focus on Jack Staff himself, then? If the previous "Weird World" special is any indication, he'll have a lessened role in this new series--is that your plan?

No, if anything, this series will be a bit more Jack Staff-centric than previously. The ["Weird World of Jack Staff" special from 2007] was essentially a Q story, which was introduced by Jack Staff to justify having his name on the front of the comic!

There's no real similarity [between the series and the one-shot] beyond the name. The "Weird World" special was basically one story, making it the least anthology-based "Jack Staff" comic to date. I'm still using the anthology format to tell the story, but I'm going to be using slightly longer episodes than previously so hopefully people won't find it quite as rapid fire as before.

What are some of your plans for Jack Staff in the new series?

The opening storyline gets into detail about the origin of Jack Staff, which is one of those things that people have been asking about for a little while now. That should answer a few questions--as well as probably posing a few more! I want to introduce new readers and welcome back old ones to Jack Staff and all the other characters that make up his world before picking up some of the plot threads from the previous series.

Aside from Jack Staff and the abovementioned Tom Tom, Q and Becky Burdock, who can we expect to see in the new series?

Oh, count on seeing everyone. The opening story features the return of Charlie Raven, the greatest escapologist of the Victorian age. There'll also be some hints about the destiny of Becky Burdock. It's all beginnings and endings, so quite a good place to start if you've not tried [the series] before.

How about new characters? Anybody you can tell us about?

Well, she's not new, but I'm bringing back Lynda Jones, and you'll discover the real reason she's called a Calendar Girl. There's also a big guest star who's going to be appearing for a couple of issues, but that's my big tease at the moment as I'm afraid I can't say anymore about that now!

Any chance we'll see the Cosmic Warrior, who's popping up in his own comic book "The Eternal Conflicts of the Cosmic Warrior" next month?

Not really--he pretty much occupies a whole different environment to Jack Staff and friends, which is one of the reasons he's ended up with his own comic. The character of the Warrior is basically a guy who turns up when everything is hopeless as the one last chance to save the day. He's appeared in the pages of "Jack Staff" a couple of times now, but there's only so many times you can use a character like that without making all your other characters redundant!

What are your plans for the Cosmic Warrior, then? Will you expand upon the upcoming one-shot?

The "Cosmic Warrior" one-shot is the opening salvo for a new series, but it's going to be coming out as a series of miniseries as and when they're finished. There should be a five-part story coming out next year. It's going to be a lot more linear in its storytelling than "Jack Staff" is--promise!

He will play a big part in the very last Jack Staff story, but in the meantime he's off having his own adventures somewhere in space and time.

Speaking of time, "Jack Staff" has had something of an irregular schedule over the years. Why should readers trust that "Weird World" will be a more timely series?

Well, the break from the last issue of "Jack Staff" has meant that I've had the chance to get a couple of issues in hand before we begin the new series, so hopefully I'll be able to keep one foot in front of the deadlines.

Beyond the change in title, what are some of the ways that "Weird World" will differ from the old "Jack Staff" series and what are you most excited about in terms of the book's potential?

This is going to be a little bit tighter, more focused than previously. One of the problems with splitting stories into smaller parts is that they do seem to drag on when split over several months. There'll also be a bit more of a focus on the characters and their relationships to one another.

[I'm most excited about] just getting back into that world, really. I've got all these stories running around in my head, so I need to get some of them down on paper. And having just seen the first few pages colored by Bill Crabtree, it's all looking lovely!

Finally, what do you think fans are going to enjoy most about "The Weird World of Jack Staff?"

It's a whole universe of comics in the pages of one comic--well, two, if you count "The Eternal Conflicts of the Cosmic Warrior." But both comics are independent of one another--you don't have to read them both, but if you do, you'll hopefully see little things in one comic that shed light on some of the events in the other.

For the last few years, I've been showing the readers lots of different pieces--this is where I start putting them all together so we can see what we've got!

Pages from "Cosmic Warrior"

Paul Grist's "The Weird World of Jack Staff" is currently planned for a January 2010 debut. Grist's upcoming one-shot "The Eternal Conflicts of the Cosmic Warrior" is available on November 4, 2009. Several pages from the issue are now available online at Grist's official blog.

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Tags: image comics, paul grist, jack staff, bcc09, eternal conflicts of the cosmic warrior

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