Superheroes on the DC Comics side of the aisle are used to all sorts of crises, but a completely different kind of crisis is heading to Image Comics in August.
Chris Giarrusso's five-issue miniseries "G-Man: Cape Crisis" debuts on August 12, providing the lengthiest story in the G-Man character's existence to date. Giarrusso utilizes the same witty writing and art style that fans have come to expect from his "Mini Marvels" series, with one very important difference: this time, the characters all belong to Giarrusso, giving the creator complete control over the universe.
"G-Man" focuses on a young boy named Mikey G who becomes endowed with superpowers after turning his family's magic blanket into a magic cape. He dubs himself G-Man based on a nickname his friends at school have given him. Mikey's jerk of an older brother Dave takes one of the scraps left over from the cape and turns it into a magic belt, thereby becoming Great Man. The rest of the cast is comprised of equally quirky characters, many with suspect superpowers, whose adventures have thus far been chronicled in the "Learning to Fly" collection, a series of shorter strips that's available in stores now.
But when G-Man next returns to the paneled page, it will be in a much longer format. "Cape Crisis" consists of five 32-page issues, giving Giarrusso his first opportunity to tell an extended story with G-Man and the rest of his character roster. In anticipation of the new miniseries, CBR News caught up with Giarrusso for the rundown on "Cape Crisis," what the advantages and disadvantages are of using creator-owned characters as opposed to the Marvel line-up, and his thoughts on some other all-ages comic books.
CBR: Chris, "Cape Crisis" is certainly the longest story in G-Man's history to date. What does this five-issue wingspan allow you to do with the character and his universe that you couldn't achieve in the stories collected in "Learning to Fly?"
Chris Giarrusso: It allows me more room and freedom to expand. Similar to "Mini Marvels," most of the "G-Man" material has been delivered in single-page installments. Working with a single-page gag strip, you kind of have to cut to the chase and move on. I often felt like I didn't get a chance to tell the "whole" story that way. I always thought it would be neat to expand on certain elements and show long-term consequences or payoffs, or draw an action sequence. A longer story gives me the room to try that out.
What have been some of the challenges in writing and illustrating "G-Man" as a five-issue series?
The biggest challenge is the pace I have to keep up. In the past, I've always had plenty of time to get the work done because my stories were usually only four to six pages in length and there was always a lot of time off in between. Now I'm adjusting to doing over twenty pages a month for five months. People tend to downplay the amount of effort that I put into this stuff because the art is so simple, but I find it very challenging to write, letter, pencil, ink, and color this stuff all by myself.
The story of "Cape Crisis" focuses on pieces of G-Man's cape falling into the wrong hands. How'd you develop that idea?
After G-Man made his cape and Great Man made his belt, there were still some scraps of "magic" material left over. I figured once the word got out, everybody would be fighting to get their hands on some of those scraps in order to get powers of their own.
Aside from G-Man and Great Man, who are the other characters that factor into the series?
G-Man's friends - Billy Demon, Sparky (the fastest kid on the block), Sunny the Suntrooper, and Tan Man (master of camouflage) - are all on board for the ride in this series, and they will be helped and guided significantly by Wizard Williams. I'm also introducing the Color Guardians, a new all-girl team of superheroes.
Format-wise, will all 32 pages of each issue be devoted to the ongoing story, or can we expect to see back-ups and other types of extras?
There will be a standard-length G-Man story, and I'm looking to fill the rest of the book with backups rather than ads. In issue one, there's "Misery Loves Sherman" by Chris Eliopoulos, "Patrick the Wolf Boy" by Art Baltazar and Franco, "The Mighty Skullboy Army" by Jacob Chabot, "Safari Junior High School" by Gregg Schigiel, "PIX: Teenage American Fairy" also by Gregg Schigiel, and "The Basics" by Brian Smith.
Do you have a favorite moment from "Cape Crisis" thus far, or a scene you think will particularly stick out to readers?
There are definitely some moments I've enjoyed so far and am looking forward to getting to as I make my way through the series, but I don't want to spoil anything. Pretty much any time Great Man shows up, things get interesting. Great Man is the show-stealer. I knew he was the most fun to write going into this, but it's still more fun than I expected.
"G-Man" is classified as an all-ages book. Do you think that younger readers or adult readers would enjoy the series equally, or might one enjoy the series more than the other age group?
As far as I can tell, young and adult readers have been enjoying "G-Man" equally, the same way they've been enjoying "Mini Marvels" equally. I'm often told my writing is "smarter" than what people expect from a kids book, but it turns out kids are not nearly as stupid as everybody thinks they are.
With "G-Man," you get to work within your own creator-controlled universe. What are the advantages of that over working with the characters of "Mini-Marvels?"
There's a lot more creative freedom with "G-Man," because I don't have a boss or an editor to answer to. Or rather, I'm the boss/editor. It saves a lot of time because I don't have to wait for an editor to get back to me with approvals. I don't have to "figure out" what somebody else wants out of me, so the middleman is cut out.
With regard to the characters, I don't have to consider how I'm going to translate a character's 60-year history into a miniature version. These are all new characters I'm building from the ground up, and I can just make it up as I go along.
How about some disadvantages to using your own characters rather than pre-established ones?
The biggest disadvantage is getting over the non-Marvel bias. Most of the "Mini Marvels" audience are just fans of the Marvel characters, and my involvement in that equation is not significant to those readers. They just like seeing kid Marvel characters. Then there is another portion of the audience who are completely aware that I'm the "Mini Marvels" guy, but are still reluctant to give "G-Man" a chance because they don't think I can be entertaining without the Marvel characters. It's a big risk for a reader to spend their money on something new, especially when they consider it to be a "rip-off" of something else.
I understand why fans may be reluctant to give "G-Man" a try, so I'm especially grateful for all of the readers and retailers who have taken the risk and supported "G-Man" so far and have actively spread the word to their friends.
What are your thoughts on some of Marvel's other kid-friendly projects, like the online "Super Hero Squad" comic strip and the work Chris Eliopoulos has been doing with "Franklin Richards" and "Pet Avengers?"
I think all of that stuff is great, and I'm glad Marvel is still supporting all-age and new-reader-friendly material, even if I can't be a part of it. I've worked with writer Paul Tobin on some "Mini Marvels" strips, and I think he and artist Marcelo Dichiara are doing a great job on "Super Hero Squad." Chris E's stuff has always been a source of inspiration for me, so I'm on board with anything he's doing. And this new "X-Babies" book is going to be fantastic. I've seen a lot of the pencils from the first issue, and it's knocking my socks off.
How far into production on "Cape Crisis" are you right now?
Right now I'm racing to finish the second issue before I head to San Diego for Comic-Con.
Do you have ideas for other limited series in the "G-Man" universe?
Yeah. Ideally, I'd like to keep doing one miniseries after another if the market supports them.
Aside from "G-Man," what's in the pipeline for you?
I'm working on some books with Scholastic called "The Amazing Adventures of Nate Banks." It's a chapter book series written by Jake Bell, and it centers on Nate Banks, a middle school kid who lives in a world of superheroes and becomes significantly involved in it. The books contain comic book inserts that I'm illustrating along with the book covers.
Anything else you'd like to add about "Cape Crisis?"
Check out my website or find me on Facebook for the latest on what I'm up to, and please give "G-Man: Cape Crisis" a try!
"G-Man: Cape Crisis" #1 hits stores on August 12 from Image Comics. Learn more about G-Man and his friends at www.chrisgcomics.com.