CCI: Carey Wins an Inkpot & Teases "Frankie" on TV

Mike Carey received a surprise Inkpot Award at the start of his spotlight panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego. The Inkpot Award is given out by CCI each year to creators they feel have shown excellence in the comics field.

Carey's spotlight panel, moderated by Vertigo Comics editor Shelly Bond, was a career retrospective for the popular British writer known for books like "Lucifer," "Hellblazer," and "X-Men Legacy."

Carey's first comic book script was in "Toxic!", a very, very short-lived British anthology that lasted 31 issues. They were trying to rival "2000 AD" but never got the numbers." His next major work was "Ozzy Osbourne" for Rock-It Comics, an imprint of Malibu Comics, that did stories about musicians.

"Did you at least have long hair at the time?" Bond joked.

"No, not even," Carey dryly replied. "I looked like an accountant."

"Dr. Faustus" was Carey's first work for Caliber Comics and also marked his first collaboration with artist Mike Perkins. "[Caliber Comics] had great production values but they paid nothing," Carey recalled. "I think made 200 bucks the whole time I was working for them. They did put the books out, though, and they looked great."

His next gig was "Inferno," again for Caliber, with artist Michael Gaydos, which was set in Hell. "For three years before I did 'Lucifer,' I was sort of auditioning for that one gig. I kept on writing stories about Hell and the Devil," Carey said.

Carey's Vertigo career flourished early on with titles such as "Sandman Presents: Petrefax," a story in "Flinch," and "Sandman Presents: The Furies." His story in "Flinch" was the first time he was edited by Bond.

"That was the first time our paths crossed. I was handed Mike's scripts and I was a new, young editor who thought she was a rock star and I didn't want to be handed someone else's projects," Bond said. "I was a bit disgruntled."

Carey agreed. "The first time I ever came to San Diego, Shelly was expecting me. I met her at the DC booth and she said something like 'I've got 20 minutes so you can either have a hot dog or a coffee,'" the writer said. "I cold pitched a bunch of stuff to her and she hated everything!"

Eventually, Bond relented and offered Carey the "Sandman Presents: Lucifer" miniseries. "They asked if I could get them a working pitch in three days and a script in ten days if we like it. It turns out they already had another script submission from another writer, but for whatever reason, it just didn't work at all and they needed someone to run with it really fast. So I did.

"Up until the fourth issue [of 'Lucifer'] I had been channeling Neil Gaiman to a very large extent," Carey continued. "Well, by channeling I mean ripping off."

Carey was particularly proud of "Lucifer" #74. "We wanted to get all the female characters together and it turned out to be a perfect coda for the book." In the issue, the female cast members meet up for one last drink before the next and final issue's climatic events.

A three and half year-long "Hellblazer" run was his next Vertigo work. Although Carey quickly changed his mind, he initially turned it down because "I didn't think that anybody could write two monthly books at the same time. Later on, I was writing four or five at the same time.

"There is a weird magic about John [Constantine], everybody writes him completely differently and yet he shines through," Carey said. "I think my John is probably closest to Warren Ellis' but it is different."

"Carver Hale" was one of only two series that Carey did for the weekly UK anthology "2000 AD." He said that while most UK writers get their start in the title before breaking in to American comics, "I did it backwards, I wrote [for '2000 AD'] after writing 'Lucifer.'"

Moving on briefly to his Marvel output Carey said, "If you just count pages, my run on 'X-Men' is my longest ever run. It edges out 'Lucifer' by about two pages."

Vertigo's "Crossing Midnight," was kind of like the little engine that couldn't. It was a series I wrote that couldn't find [an audience] -- it was a weird book that was trying to fuse Japanese fantasy with Japanese horror.

"We did bring it to the conclusion we were always planning to, we were just gonna take three or four more years to do it," Carey said of the title that was canceled after just 19 issues.

The audience cheered when Bond put up a slide of "My Faith in Frankie," which Carey wrote with artist Sonny Liew for Vertigo about a girl who creates her own religion, complete with her own gods.

"We're talking about the possibility of doing 'Frankie' as a TV series," Carey said. "It was a really weird story for me to write because it's kind of a romance and it's kind of a comedy and I've never done either of those things before. It was also the easiest pitch to sell."

"It predated Minx. This was the precursor," added Bond, referring to the short-lived DC Comics young adult line aimed at girls. Carey and Liew's next collaboration was for Minx, on a title called "Re-Gifters," which told the story of a teenage girl juggling martials arts and romance in LA's Koreatown. "If was I held at gunpoint and had to name my favorite Mike Carey book, hands down 'Re-Gifters,'" Bond said.

Carey co-wrote his second Minx book, "Confessions of A Blabbermouth," with his teenage daughter, Louise Carey. He joked, "There was some squalls along the way, like when I tried to edit her and she told me to back off."

Bond then pointed out that Louise was in the audience, and Carey's daughter stood up in the back of the room and waved at her father.

Carey worked with "The Losers" and "Detective Comics" artist Jock on "Faker," another Vertigo title. The series was inspired by the college drama "Rules of Attraction" by novelist Brett Easton Ellis. "I worked with Jock on one issue of 'Hellblazer' and I really, really wanted to work with him again."

Outside of comics work, Carey is also an accomplished novelist, having written "The Devil You Know," "The Steel Seraglio," and "Dead Sea Deception." The latter was written under his pen name of Adam Blake. The idea was to make Blake a best-selling author so when it was revealed it was Carey, his other novels would get a sales boost. However, the writer admitted it has yet to pan out that way.

Finally, Bond brought up "The Unwritten," Carey and Peter Gross' massively popular ongoing Vertigo title. Carey described "The Unwritten" as "a labor of love." The original pitch for the book came from two separate ideas that Gross and Carey had that they decided to combine.

"The Unwritten" #37 starts a new storyline called "The Wound," which picks up a year after the events of issue #36. Bond said, "'The Unwritten' 50 is going to be huge, unlike anything you'd ever expect."

With the discussion brought up to the present, Bond opened the panel up for a quick Q+A session.

A fan asked Carey if he would go back and change anything in "Lucifer." Carey said that he wished he had introduced the characters of Lilith and Fenris earlier and given them more pivotal roles in the early acts of the book.

Ultimate, Carey left "X-Men" because he couldn't handle doing monthly comics and still write novels. "Something had to give, and it was a toss-up between 'X-Men' and 'The Unwritten.'" However, he did say he would love to do a sequel someday to "Age of X."

Carey then took a moment to do a brief trivia contest with fans. The lucky winners took home copies of the "God Save the Queen" hardcover and a complete set of the "The Unwritten" collections.

Stay tuned to CBR News for more coverage from Comic-Con International 2012.

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