CBR TV @ SDCC 2014: Charles Soule on Ambition, Staying Busy & the Science of "Letter 44"

"Death of Wolverine" writer Charles Soule, who in addition to writing multiple ongoing comic books is also a practicing attorney, sat down for the first time with Jonah Weiland aboard the world famous CBR Yacht at at Comic-Con International in San Diego for a wide ranging discussion of his ever expanding resume and more. Soule talks about where his intense ambition comes from, what law school taught him about himself as a person and a creator, and whether he has difficulty unplugging given his intense schedule. He also talks about his journey to writing, how comics became a viable career and the logical next step given the demand for his stories at the moment. Finally, things wrap up with a discussion of his creator-owned series from Oni Press, "Letter 44," why he wanted to tell one, long form story instead of launching multiple IPs, and how important it is to get the science right.

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On his ambitious nature: I would say it's more I like to always be engaged, and always be very busy. I don't know that ambition is the primary motivator. I think it's partly that I've always like to learn and read and study and know as much as I can, and those things tend to translate into a good academic career. Whatever, this is the most boring interview ever. But, it will get better. So then, I got into law school, I got into Columbia which is a fantastic school. I had already been doing a ton of creative stuff up to that point, mostly music, and I realized that when I was in law school I -- getting out of law school, even in it, I wasn't able to do music the same way. I couldn't be in bands the same way, I couldn't be a rocker the way I thought I was going to be for my life. So I started writing more seriously. I wrote a couple novels and decided that it was important to me to always have creative elements in my life.

I got into comics... oh god, ten years ago maybe, trying to do it on an indie level. And then it took a while for that to get anything published, like it usually [does]. There's a little cycle to it. And then here we are today. I feel very lucky. I feel lucky that I, I guess I like to work hard. I like to always be busy. I don't like to be unoccupied, and certainly what's going on now doesn't leave me much time to be unoccupied.

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On the next step he wants to take given the high demand for his services: I feel like there's a lot of different ways I could handle it. I recognize that I have a very unique and fortunate opportunity right now, so my plan is to hopefully be able to continue to tell stories that I really care about. Everything that I've done so far has been something that I've really put myself into and really matters to me, whether it's "Red Lanterns" to "She-Hulk" -- you name any title whether it's a company-owned title or one of mine, and so I want to make sure that I'm able to continue doing that. But I also want longevity in the business, to the extent that I can. That's one of the biggest tricks. You see a lot of people who burned bright and then they disappeared. I have a lot of thoughts on it, but they involve -- it's a lot of "if... then..." complexities and so we'll see what happens. It's something I'm very, very aware of. I love -- this is the best job in the world, as Scott Snyder says all the time, I mean it really is. I don't want to lose it. I want to keep writing stories that I enjoy and I hope that people will keep enjoying them. I think that's the whole key to both sides working out.

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On what his creator-owned series "Letter 44" is all about: The book that is out, and it's probably why I wore my NASA shirt, in trade this coming Wednesday, [July] 30th, is the first volume of "Letter 44," which is my current big creator-owned book. It takes a lot of my time, but I love it, so I'm spending that time on it. "Letter 44" is planned as a 35-issue series and instead of -- that could be seven, five-issue series, each one is a different IP and blah blah blah. But I just love the concepts of it so much that I want to do a longer form thing.

What "Letter 44" is about, for those viewers who don't know, and you perhaps, is you have a president who comes in office, he's elected. He gets that secret letter on his desk from the previous president with all the tips and tricks on the Oval Office desk. It says, "Hey man, being president is a real pain in the ass job." ... "It's a real pain in the ass job. You're gonna have a hard time with it. It's gonna be particularly hard for you because we found aliens in the asteroid belt seven years ago and didn't tell anybody about it. So surprise, you gotta deal with that. P.S. We sent up a mission to see what's there a few years ago, so that's your problem to." So the story proceeds with the president down on Earth kind of dealing with this revelation trying to protect and keep those guys safe up in space. And then the other side of the story, you see both, is the astronauts getting closer and closer to seeing what's up there. It's sort of "West Wing" meets "Alien" and the first volume of the trade hits Wednesday, it's issues #1-6, it's a hell of a read.

I was fortunate to meet a NASA engineer at a signing down in Orlando last fall who said, "If you ever wanna come down to NASA, let me know." I'm like, "I will be down there tomorrow if that's a serious invitation." I went two weeks ago. I spent the day at Kennedy Space Center going all behind-the-scenes, going in to see all the stuff. I saw the new space ships they're building -- you know where you see those guys sitting at all the desks at a launch, you know what I'm talking about, right? I was there. Mission control, you know what I'm talking about. I saw a rocket being fueled on the -- it was just, it was like "Holy shit." ... The whole day I'm just, I couldn't believe it. And all of that's gonna go in the book now, because now that I've seen -- like he's an engineer so I was able to ask NASA engineering and stuff and so now I kind of have those things in my head.

On how "Letter 44" provides its own unique challenges even when compared to other books like "Red Lanterns" which are also set in space: You want it to be as correct as possible in a way that you don't have to -- I write a number of different space series, like "Red Lanterns" is a space series, right? But I don't have to get the science right in "Red Lanterns." I've gotta get the rules right but that's different than the science, whereas NASA, [with] "Letter 44" if I'm gonna do that stuff I really want it to be as right as possible. I have another astronomer contact, named Andy Howell, who has been very, very cool about giving me, you know, sort of helping me not be an idiot in that book. I just e-mailed him a big question yesterday about, I don't know... the speed of light, basically. He hasn't e-mailed me back yet, so I'm hoping he will get back to me so I can get that part of the book right.

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