Duggan & Posehn See Dead Presidents in "Deadpool"

Sometimes super powered crises arise in the Marvel Universe and turning to the "authorities" is not an option. When that happens the wealthy and powerful can turn to a number of super powered soldiers of fortune for help. While they can all make promises, there is only one mercenary guaranteed to survive whatever dangers are thrown at him thanks to a healing factor that makes him virtually unkillable. His name is Deadpool (AKA Wade Wilson, the Merc With the Mouth) and if his employers can meet his fee and stand being in the same room with him for several minutes they'll have engaged the services of one of the Marvel U's most unpredictable, dangerous, and downright annoying mercenaries.

Deadpool's exploits and his "unique" perspective have earned him a legion of fans and even an upcoming video game. This November, that legion may grow even larger as writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn ("The Last Christmas," "Simpsons: Tree House of Horror") and artist Tony Moore expand the Marvel NOW! initiative with an all-new volume of "Deadpool" designed to please long time fans and welcome new ones. CBR News spoke with Duggan and Posehn about their plans for the series.

CBR News: Gerry and Brian, you guys began working together with books like 2006's "The Last Christmas" and the 13th issue of "Treehouse of Horror." Since then, Gerry, you've done some comic work like "The Infinite Horizon" and Brian did a story for the "Goon: Noir" while also working as an actor, comedian and writer. So "Deadpool" is the first comic you've worked on together in nearly six years. How does it feel to be back working together? And how did this project come about for you?

#4 cover by Geoff Darrow

Brian Posehn: We've been trying to get something going since those books. Gerry and I are really good friends and we hang out all the time.

This finally came together from us hanging out at Comic-Con with guys like Rick Remender and [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso. We had been talking about trying to do a Deadpool special for Marvel, but then they stopped doing those kinds of specials. So Remender suggested that we should do the regular book.

Gerry Duggan: Yeah, Rick has been a good patron. He knew there was going to be some musical chairs coming up for books and it was great. Axel had a familiarity with us. Then he introduced us to our editor Jordan D. White, and Jordan and Nick Lowe gave us a chance to pitch to them.

Posehn: Before we got the job to do a whole year we had to pitch a couple different stories and the ultimate arc of what we'd do in a year. Everybody loved it. So that's why we're doing it, but really this is totally because of Rick. I don't think Gerry and I even dreamed of getting the book for a year originally. We were just hoping to do a couple of issues. Maybe one story and have it collected in a trade.

So to get the book, and to get to start over at issue one is one of the coolest things that happened to me in a long time. I'm so stoked about it.

Obviously one of the big appeals of Deadpool is his sense of humor and the comedy, but what other aspects of the character do you find interesting? Which of his character traits are you interested in exploring?

Duggan: He's obviously very difficult to kill. So one of the things you can look for, especially after the first arc, is that we're going to see how we can torture him a little bit. I don't think we want to spoil too much, but his life gets harder. Things get a little more crowded in his mind.

A lot of people have been asking how we're going to approach his inner dialogue and I think he's a guy that's unstable. You should look for that to continue in our take on the book.

Posehn: When these other voices appear down the road it happens in a really cool and organic way. Then for me, I love that he's basically alone in the Marvel Universe. He doesn't have a lot of friends.

I like that he's kind of a rogue and not respected by these other guys. So we can do little cameos and have these other Marvel characters go, "Dude we're not on the same team. You're on your own."

Duggan: Yeah I think that's an important theme in our new beginnings for him. He'll still be searching for where he fits in, but other people are really setting up boundaries I think.

People often put up boundaries to keep Deadpool from interacting with them on a regular basis. How do you think he feels about that? Do you think the character is capable of the introspection to think about himself and his actions in a logical manner?

Duggan: I think everyone wants to belong. Whether or not that's something he's honest about is debatable. As "Uncanny X-Force" winds down I think that will be something for him to explore. We want to make it tough for him, but in that there are going to be ups and downs. He'll win some things and some friends. Plus he'll have different reasons for wanting to hang on to these people, and sometimes he won't have a choice. I think that will be interesting and hopefully fun.

Posehn: I think people have enjoyed this book for so long because he is a lone wolf and messes up all the time. He's always wondering about his place in the universe. We're not going to lose that aspect of the book by any means.

#4 cover by Tradd Moore

Duggan: There's some real darkness in the book and the character and I think maybe the knee jerk reaction is, "Here comes two guys with a lot of comedy writing experience," but there are few people I've met who are as dark as Brian. [Laughs] When he wants to blot out the sun it's an easy thing for him to do. I think putting a character in a dark place is fun, especially Deadpool because he will find those light moments inside of it.

It seems like you guys enjoy mixing humor with deep, dark moments of drama. "Last Christmas" was pretty dark and bleak in places, but it was also really funny.

Duggan: Yeah, Santa Claus tries to hang himself with Christmas lights in that story. [Laughs] And it should have worked.

Posehn: That's the kind of stuff that Gerry and I love writing. We kill off Mrs.Claus and put Santa in a booze spiral.

While we're on the topic of your writing, I wanted to discuss the division of labor. Do you guys do everything equally? Or does one of you handle something like plotting while the other tackles scripting?

Duggan: We write together as much as possible, even if that means sitting down in front of our computers together. For me one of the magic things about having a writing partner is that you might feel like you're written into a corner and then your partner makes like Indy and pulls a gun and shoots the swordsman. Then all of a sudden you're out of a jam. That's something that I think we do real well together.

Posehn: We've done both over the years. We've written in the same room together. And then with this book in the beginning Gerry did a lot of the plotting and then I helped out. Then with the first couple of books we were both really busy. So we'd write scripts on our own and then turn them into each other. Then we'd punch up or tweak things when we had to.

Now we're starting to write in a Google Doc together, which is a lot of fun. We're not in the same room, which is nice since I can take my shirt off.

Duggan: [Laughs] One thing too is that Brian and I will write and rewrite the book. Then obviously we'll get notes and we'll address those notes like anyone else. Then I'm sure there's other folks who do this too, but when we get the art back we start back at the beginning and make sure that the story is funny and good. We'll rewrite things for the letterer. Brian will ask, "Hey can we beat that joke?" Or "Can we make this balloon a little snappier?"
So for us the process of writing isn't done until the lettering phase because Tony Moore is great. He's doing so much that he'll surprise us sometimes. So sometimes we'll have tweak something to really make a panel sing.

Posehn: Yeah, we need to make sure the story tracks and Gerry is super funny, but for me coming from a sketch background where you've lived with jokes for weeks you look at them at some point and go, "Does this still work?"

Duggan: The thing that makes me laugh in the first issue is a balloon where someone is saying, "I can't believe nobody remembered it's my birthday." [Laughs] That was a late edition from Brian. It wasn't there at all until we saw the page. It was sort of a free joke, which actually helped the page turn, too. Because it takes you out of that and into our next moment, which is really pretty great. It's one of my favorite moments of that first issue.

Brian, you have another career, but it sounds like you're committed to the series and have already invested quite a bit of time into it?

Posehn: Oh yeah, for sure. When this came up it was like, "Make time." It was a little hard in the beginning because I had a full time writing job when we first got the book. So Gerry definitely carried more of the weight in the very beginning. He knew though that my job wasn't going to last and I would be able to jump into the work when I needed to.

#1 covers by Geoff Darrow and Chris Bachalo

Duggan: That's what writing partners do. I don't think you'll be able to look at this book and say, "Here's something that Brian did and there's something that Gerry did." We've been working well together on a lot of things that you guys have seen and some things that you haven't seen. I think we work well together.

It seems like we have a handle on your approach to the character and your writing process, so let's talk about the story. Your initial arc on "Deadpool" pits him against a zombified legion of former American presidents. In terms of plot and themes what is this story about? Is it a political satire?

Duggan: Maybe not as much as you would think. Whatever your political lean is you'll be able to pick up the book. The presidents are back for a very specific reason; someone thought that they might be able to help the country now. Obviously that's not how it worked out because they are back and they're running amok, and the big guns of the Marvel Universe can't be seen taking them on. So this is a perfect opportunity for Deadpool to sort of rise to the top.

So there are political jokes in there, but this is a book for everyone and in terms of tone Brian and I were raised on action comedies. We think "Ghostbusters" and "Big Trouble In Little China" are the places where some of this story comes from.

Posehn: There's not going to be any point where you're going to go, "Oh. This was clearly written by two liberal pansies." [Laughs] Our politics will not come into it at all. Like Gerry said it's basically about this shortsighted character that's looking for a way to fix things. Everybody knows that our country is messed up, especially in this book. This character thinks the way to fix it is to bring these guys back.

Duggan: This is a new character, by the way.

Posehn: Yeah, he's a guy we really like and hopefully he'll continue to appear throughout our run.

Duggan: And hopefully beyond if he makes it through. [Laughs]

What can you tell us about the undead presidents that this new character brings back? Are they Romero style zombies? Or are they more calculating and cunning?

Posehn: They're a little scary, but they're not brain dead like Romero zombies. They're dead versions of themselves. They talk the way they talked when they were alive.

Duggan: And some have better plans than others. [Laughs] Some have a little more initiative, but they're all a real threat. I guess that's the funny thing. It's a lot of fun when Brian and I are writing Abe Lincoln and big game hunter Teddy Roosevelt. There's always a menace there, though, and a lot of that is credit to Tony. He's obviously got a long history of drawing folks that have returned from the other side.

Posehn: So some of these guys are straight up scary and some of them are clowns. Lincoln and Washington are going to have their crap together a little better than, say, zombie Reagan.

Duggan: And some of the presidents work together and some don't. They've all been corrupted though, just by the nature of having been ripped from the afterlife by this bumbling character that we introduce in the first issue.

Does the introduction of this new character mean you're interested in expanding Deadpool's rogues gallery?

#2 covers by Geoff Darrow and Daniel Acuna

Duggan: Yes, and his circle of friends too. Or at least the acquaintances. Friends might be a strong word.

Do you have plans for existing Deadpool supporting cast members like Bob Agent of HYDRA, Weasel, or even Cable who shared a book with Deadpool for a number of years?

Duggan: Absolutely, yes. Although I have to be totally honest in that a lot of what Brian and I have been working on is to bring some fresh characters in.

Once we get going and down the line a little bit I think we'd love to go back and play with some of those other toys that folks like Gail Simone, Fabian Nicieza, and Dan Way have left for us. At the top, though, we came in and we had some stories that we wanted to tell and Marvel said yes. So that means some new characters, which I think is fun, but that doesn't mean that those folks won't be popping up later.

What about Deadpool's existing rogues gallery? Are you interested in pitting him against some of the villains he's tangled with before?

Duggan: I think we consider his rogues gallery at any given time to be most of the folks in the Marvel Universe. [Laughs] There will be room down the line for him to mix it back up with some familiar faces that you're used to seeing him fight with.

What kinds of villains do you think make the best foils for Deadpool?

Duggan: He serves himself. There doesn't seem to be much altruism in Deadpool. The fun thing we're trying to do is to see if he can belong somewhere. I always like finding ways of making people uncomfortable and I know Brian does too. I think we'll be trying to do that with Deadpool.

I don't want to spoil the next arc, but I think it's going to surprise some people and be a little bit darker. Maybe you'll see some more familiar faces popping up in there.

Can you tell us anything more about the story of the next arc and subsequent ones? Will we see more mission-based stories where Deadpool is hired to accomplish something? More goal-based stories where he has to accomplish his own tasks? A mixture of both?

Duggan: There's essentially a year, more or less, of stories on the books and some of those things are in varying stages of being scripted and approved, or we're outlining and breaking them with Marvel. To answer your question though, we'll have both in that first year.

Posehn: Our first arc has him being hired by S.H.I.E.L.D. Then coming up we'll have things that happen to him and he'll need to figure out a way out. It's more of him on his own. It's not a mission

Will these stories take place in sort of the main section of the Marvel Universe or are they off in their own little corner?

Duggan: He's in the Marvel sandbox the whole time. I think actually the end of the issue that follows this first arc will really surprise everyone. We really can't say much, but it will tie-in with a long standing beloved story from elsewhere in the Marvel Universe. So that will involve a couple of big guest stars. Actually even in the first issue there are a couple of surprises that have not been blown and I hope they aren't until someone picks up the book.

Posehn: We'll have some great cameos all the way along. And there's been moments where Gerry and I have been like, "Holy crap! I can't believe we're able to do this with that character!" So we'll have some great little guest stars and hopefully the appearances are done in ways that you've never seen. We can't name these people right now but when they see them later people will be like, "Did they really just do that with She-Hulk?"

Duggan: [Laughs]

Posehn: That's one I'll throw out.

I can't wait. Let's start to wrap things up by chatting about your artistic collaborator, Tony Moore. From my perspective Tony works best when writers give him great, over the top material to run wild with, like in the recent "Venom" story line "Circle of Four." It sound like what you guys are giving him on "Deadpool" is exactly that.

Duggan: We're biased, but I think this is Tony's finest work. Other folks have said that too. There are hints of old EC Comic-style horror there, and the new costume that Tony designed for Deadpool is really wonderful. In terms of tone for what Brian and I are writing, Tony is the perfect guy to bring this to life.

Posehn: We've been fans of his for a really long time and he's one of our friends. It's great working with him too because he pitches ideas. While he's drawing he'll pitch jokes and we totally welcome that.

There's no better guy to capture mayhem and if Wade just ate a chimichanga and we want him to fart Tony can draw that really well too. I'm not saying that happens...

Duggan: [Laughs]

Posehn: But if we wanted him to do that he could.

Finally, how long a run do you see yourselves having on "Deadpool?" From what you've said it sounds like you have a year's worth of stories planned?

Duggan: We have a year approved, but we have no plans to go anywhere unless you know something that we don't. [Laughs]

Posehn: If at the end of these 18 issues they go, "Thanks for ruining our book, fellas," we'll walk away.

Duggan: [Laughs]

Posehn: But I have a good feeling about everything involved and hopefully the readers will be like, "What else do these guys have?" Because we'd love to do this for a while. I'd love to do stuff with Marvel for a while. There are other characters that I would like to mess with down the road. For right now though it's about making Deadpool as cool a book as Gerry and I can.

When we write movie scripts, books like the "Last Christmas" and this we're writing them as fanboys and we're writing books that we want to read. I know other guys say that, but I really feel strongly about it. When I put something on the page it's because I'm 46 and there's a 15 year-old inside me that I can't get rid of who wants to see people get stabbed and things blow up while jokes are being made. I want that guy to be happy at the end of the day and so far there is stuff that Gerry and I are giddy over. It's like, "Oh my god! I can't believe we're getting to do this." And seeing Tony Moore's interiors and Geoff Darrow's covers? Those guys are both our heroes and to have them drawing Deadpool fighting a giant Godzilla like monster that makes us so friggin' happy!

Duggan: I've been very gratified at the response to the announcement online. A lot of folks have been saying either A) That they've been big fans of "Deadpool" and they're going to give us a shot. Or B) That they didn't read "Deadpool," but would be checking our run out.

The [first] issue is not a big departure from the Deadpool that you love, but it is a great point to jump on for anyone new. I think that the old fans will not feel like their enjoyment is at the expense of the new readers. I really hope that what me, Brian, Tony and everyone over at Marvel are able to do is to make this a place where you can jump on if you haven't been reading, but longtime fans will have a book that they will be really excited to pick up.

Posehn: I think if we came on and tried to really mix things up we'd scare off those long time fans. And that would be totally the wrong way to go about it. We know what works about this character and what we like about this character. We just want to do more of that, but in our way. We don't want to shake things up

Duggan: I really can't wait for people to see our first issue. Brian and I have been living with this for so long. We went to Comic-Con with a big secret.

Posehn: Yeah that was frustrating; to be there and to not be able to talk about that. I wanted to stand in front of everybody walking into the show and scream, "I'm writing 'Deadpool' you guys!" I couldn't though.

"Deadpool" #1 by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn and Tony Moore arrives in November.

Tags: marvel comics, deadpool, gerry duggan, tony moore, marvel now, brian posehn, geof darrow

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