This weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con, Image Comics announced "76," a new 8-issue miniseries featuring two separate stories set in 1976: "Jackie Karma" and "Cool," written by B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck, respectively. CBR News sat down with the two writers to get the scoop on "76."
In Moore's "Jackie Karma," the title character was raised by a group of New York City street fighters called the Order of the Golden Lion, and when he eventually took his leave, the order all but fell apart. "All that remains in 1976 is a subgroup calling themselves the Sabaki Boys," B. Clay Moore told CBR News. "They still resent Jackie's leaving." Jackie has left the street-fighting life behind and is a practicing lawyer in Manhattan, going by the name John Carmichael. His girlfriend Lindsey is blissfully unaware of her significant other's past.
Once upon a time, before Jackie turned his back on a life of physical combat, the street fighter had thrown in with a "prototypical angry young black man" named Marcus King. "Putting aside his resentment of white men of privilege, Marcus formed a strong bond with Jackie Karma in the late '60s, and the two formed a legendary duo," Moore said. "Marcus's fighting style was reliant upon street brawling as much as anything, but his excellent athleticism allowed him to pick up a few moves from Jackie." After Marcus hung up his street-fighting spurs, he turned to a life of community activism.
The story of "Jackie Karma" kicks off when the duo's former partner, judo master Bobby Howler, receives a mysterious warning from the group's longtime enemy Gil Gunn, whom Jackie had exiled ten years earlier. Gunn's return inspires Jackie to come out of retirement and once again don his signature leather jacket emblazoned with the symbol of the Golden Lion. "Jackie tracks down Marcus King, and the two begin to unravel the mystery of why Gil's back in town, and who's backing his distribution of dangerously addictive heroin," Moore said. "And then shit gets really crazy."
"Jackie Karma" has its roots in '70s-era exploitation and kung fu films. "I was thinking how cool it was that the characters were all so clearly defined, with specific fighting skills and big personalities," Moore said."I thought it would be a blast to do something along those lines in comics. I love a '70s street level action vibe, and decided it would be fun to create a whole crazy cast of street fighters in a comic book."
In addition to the characters already mentioned, "Jackie Karma's" world is populated by the likes of mob weasel Gino Valentino, Asian swordswoman Holly Gold, sexy P.I. Samantha Jones and a street fighting unit called the Soul Brigade.
"I've also always liked stories that feature characters with a past, and thought the '60s spin would be a fun twist," Moore continued. "I had fun flashing back to the '60s to show where these characters were during the heyday of the Flower Power era, in contrast to where they are now, in post-Watergate, post-Viet Nam New York."
It turned out to be a happy accident that Moore's fellow writer Seth Peck was crafting his '70s era story "Cool" at the same time as Moore was putting "Jackie Karma" together. " I immediately thought it would be perfect to partner it up with 'Jackie,' especially since 'Cool' is set in L.A., and 'Jackie Karma' is set in New York City," Moore said.
"We thought it would be cool to give readers a monthly Double Feature," Seth Peck tld CBR News. "The market is pretty saturated with monthly books, and we wanted to give the people who pick the book up a little something more for their money."
The writers have decided the two stories exist in the same world, but with "Jackie Karma" and "Cool" taking places on opposite sides of the U.S., there's no direct overlap between the two. " But there may be an Easter Egg or two in there for the careful reader," Peck said. Additionally, Moore is not averse to the idea of a "Giant Sized '76" which features elements from both stories sometime down the line. As far as this first miniseries series goes, each of the 8 issues features a 12-page installment of both "Jackie Karma" and "Cool," amounting to a four-issue miniseries for each story in total.
"Cool" is the story of two bounty hunters, a stripper, a suitcase full of money, a sadistic midget, a porn star hit man, crooked cops, geriatric mobsters and L.A. lowlifes spending 48 hours trying to kill each other. "Pete Walker and Leon Campbell are two bounty hunters who are charged with tracking down Cherry Baum, an exotic dancer with a suitcase full of cash," Peck said. "Pete and Leon were MP's during the fall of Saigon, and sort of drifted into bounty hunting when they came back to the States. Leon is a calm, cool motherfucker, and Pete spends a lot of time getting punched and thrown out of windows.
"Also looking for Cherry are a bloodthirsty dwarf drug lord named Caesar Navarro and his hired goon, porn star-turned-hitman Jimmy Length," Peck continued. "We also have an assortment of mobsters, crooked cops, and coked-up dealers to keep things interesting."
Peck set "Cool" in the '70s to give his crime story more texture. "We're a nostalgia-crazy society, and we're quick to reduce the entire decade to disco dancing and bad fashion," Peck said. "When you sit down and take a look at some of the events that occurred, Viet Nam, Watergate, Patty Hearst, the Son of Sam, the Bicentennial; it was a very interesting and turbulent time for America." Peck admitted that his affinity for '70s crime dramas like "The French Connection" and "The Streets of San Francisco" also contributed to his love of that era of American history. "Street crime enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in 1970s in movies and television, and I tried to capture some of that in 'Cool.'"
B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck are both founding members of a new studio called Atomic Revolver, along with fellow comics creators Jason Aaron, Jeremy Haun, Tony Moore and Jason Latour. It was Moore's studiomate Jason Latour who turned the writer on to Ed Tadem, the artist who is lending his talents to "Jackie Karma." " I'd been following Ed's blog for a while and Jason Latour kept telling me this was a guy I needed to work with," Moore said. "When 'Jackie' bubbled up to the surface, Ed was the first guy I thought of, and he really responded to the concept." And Moore has nothing but praise for his collaborator. "He's grown by leaps and bounds as he's gone along, and he really understands the importance of environment and building a world. He's an exceptionally smart guy, with limitless talent, so the whole thing's been a blast."
It was Moore who first introduced Peck to "Cool" penciller Tigh Walker. "Clay met Tigh at a convention in Toronto a couple years ago, and hooked me up with him for a short story ('The Boxer') that ran in the back of 'Expatriate' #4," Peck said. "We hit it off, and when I started plotting 'Cool,' Tigh was the first guy I thought of. We talked a bit about the story, the characters, and the overall feel of the book, and everything just clicked. I can't overemphasize what Tigh has brought to the project. He's phenomenal, and I can't wait for the world-at-large to see what he can do. His characters convey so much emotion and expression, and his environments are so dead-on and authentic-looking. Tigh really elevates the story and pushes me to give him scripts worthy of his talent. I know how over-the-top in love with this guy I sound, but if it were physically possible, I would bear his children."
"76" isn't the only project on Seth Peck's horizon. Indeed, the writer thinks 2008 is going to be a banner year for him and all of his Atomic Revolver studiomates. Peck and collaborators Rick Remender and Francesco Francavilla have another Image project on stands now called "Sorrow." "Beyond that I've got several soon-to-be announced books in the works, a TV pilot, and a screenplay, all in various stages of development," Peck said.
B. Clay Moore has a number of upcoming projects himself, including a 3-part "JSA: Classified" story with Ramon Perez, a 3-part "Superman: Confidential" story featuring art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks, and the new "Hawaiian Dick" ongoing debuting in November with art by Scott Chantler and Steven Griffin. " Tony Harris and I have a creator-owned project we're just finalizing details on, to debut next year most likely," Moore confirmed, adding, "A new graphic novel from Oni, more stuff from Image, more chats with DC, all kinds of stuff."
Look for the first issue of "76" to hit stands in January of 2008.
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