Rick Remender, writer of "Uncanny X-Force," "Venom," and "Secret Avengers" and creator of "Fear Agent," sat down Saturday morning at the Emerald City Comicon for an intimate conversation with fans moderated by Ron Richards, podcaster and writer at iFanboy.com and Graphicly. The conversation ranged over the full arc of Remender's career, touching on his days in animation, his work with Dark Horse and Image Comics, game writing, and his current work at Marvel.
Remender was greeted with enthusiast applause when he opened by announcing the upcoming publication of a hard-cover collected omnibus of "Fear Agent," which will be available in October. "'Fear Agent' is basically the template," Remender said. "If you enjoy anything I do at Marvel, this is the template that I'm using for the success that I'm having here. It's basically built on the idea that people want to have mega-arcs, you want a story that builds over time."
While working as an animator on films such as "Anastasia," "Titan A.E.," and "The Iron Giant," and storyboarding games for Electronic Arts, Remender said he would spend his evenings writing. "I filled a pile of journals with story notes and things, and had written so much that all of my artist friends would talk to me about these ideas and we'd start shooting the shit and they'd go,'well, I should draw that, we should do that as a book.'" Remender worked with artists such a Tony Moore and Kieron Dwyer on these early projects.
"In order to do it, it's that leap," Remender said, speaking of his transition to fulltime comic book work. "They say you take the leap and the net will appear. It's the kind of thing where you make the net. But, it was also something where, you know, the creator owned was just a labor of love and a lot of these things were under-ordered and a lot of people didn't know about them...You have to be crazy. You basically just have to have some kind of a crazy thing in your blood where you can't not make comic books."
Remender discussed his time writing for "Punisher," leading into the "Frankencastle" storyline. "I knew I wanted to kill him at the end," he said. "But, I knew that I didn't want... to do any of the shit we'd seen before... So I pitched him on Frank getting cut to pieces and stitched back together." He concluded by joking, "It's a classic story!"
"The 'Punisher' thing really helped me figure out 'X-Force,'" Remender continued. "The thing that I got from 'Punisher' is always trying to find a way that there was a consequence for what Frank did... I think people want dark things, but they want them to also be tempered with a thoughtfulness, and heart."
Remender hinted at lasting repercussions from the events of "Uncanny X-Force" continuing to ripple out into other parts of the Marvel Universe. "Some of the things that happened in Jason [Aaron's 'Wolverine & the X-Men'] are going to bounce back into 'X-Force' come issue 26, and some of the things that Kieron Gillan, he took Tablua Rasa and some of that stuff, that's gonna play a role in 'AvX.'"
He also briefly hinted at the upcoming appearance of Sabretooth in the pages of "Uncanny X-Force," and the continuing escalation of Venom's storyline, with a huge role in the Marvel universe.
"How hard is it to create new characters?" Richards asked Remender.
"I have a theory that nobody wants new characters in the Marvel comic books." Remender said. "They want to see the things they know dusted off, and made new, and the things they saw in the cartoons when they were a kid. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think on some level a new character like Fantomex can be as awesome as he was when he came out, but it's a new character, there's not thirty years of history... But that's why I think that so many of us are trying to pay respect to what Grant [Morrison] did because it is such a risky endeavor, and it is so difficult to make whole-cloth new characters and to invent so many new things, and it was met with resistance. Grant's run was met with resistance."
"So most recently you kind of moved from the X-men world to the Avengers world with 'Secret Avengers,'" Richards said to wrap up the panel, "so I'm sure the question everybody wants to know is, 'Avengers vs X-Men,' where do you stand?"
Remender laughed, and shook his head.