Jay Faerber occupies a unique place in the pantheon of independent comics creators, having maintained successfully his own expanding superhero universe, the so-called "Faerberverse" at Image Comics, which includes titles likes "Gemini" and "Dynamo 5." The big bang of the universe being the publication of the first issue of the first series of "Noble Causes" in January of 2002. Since then, the title, which follows the super-powered Noble family, has morphed from miniseries and one-shots into a full ongoing series. Faerber recently revitalized the book by jumping the continuity five years into the future, changing the status quo of the story.
Now, the Faerberverse is about to get just a little smaller. Faerber sat down with CBR News to discuss his decision to end "Noble Causes."
"Issue #40 is the series finale, and it should be on sale in November," Faerber said of the impending close of his long-running creator-owned series. But issue #40 is not necessarily the end of Noble family's adventures. "The door's definitely left open. I've been in comics long enough to never say 'never.' Plus, 'Noble Causes' was always a soap opera at heart, and soap operas never end. Plus, we'll still see the Nobles from time to time in my other superhero books."
The big question, though, is why put an end to the fan-favorite and critically acclaimed series? Were sales a factor or was it a creative decision? "It's really 'C' - all of the above," Faerber confessed. "Despite the 'five years later' jump ahead, which I hoped would prove to be a good jumping-on point [for new readers], sales haven't really picked up from where they were before the jump. Numerous people, including some retailers and fellow pros, advised me to relaunch the series with a new number one when we did the jump, but I fought that idea because I was proud of how long we've been around. We'll never know if that would've made a difference or not.
"But regardless of the sales, I just started feeling like I didn't have much else to say about the characters. I've been writing this book pretty consistently since 2001, and we've revamped and refocused it a few times. I think I was just getting burned out on the characters. So that, coupled with the sales figures, made me think it was a good time to end it. A lot of the longtime fans were really skeptical about the five-year jump, but most of them have really come around, and have told me they think the book's stories have been better than ever. I'm really flattered by that, so I didn't want to tarnish it by letting the quality drop."
With "Noble Causes" having served as a de facto center of the Faerber's creator-owned universe, what will its end mean for the Faerberverse? "It doesn't mean anything, really," said the writer. "'Dynamo 5' is continuing along nicely. I'm more excited about that book than ever, and we've got some amazing stories coming up.
"'Gemini' is in the middle of a five-issue miniseries. We've had two issues come out, and issue three should've been out by now, but it's taking a lot longer to put each issue together than any of us thought. If this were an ongoing series, I'd have taken steps to get the book out faster by now. I'd have scheduled a fill-in artist, or gotten a new colorist or something. But since it's a miniseries, and [artist] Jon Sommariva and [colorist] Fco Plascencia look so good together, I'd rather keep them both involved with every issue and have the issues be late. It's not ideal, I know. But since it's a finite project, I thin it's worth the wait.
"When 'Gemini' wraps up, Jon and I will be collaborating on something else. We've already got the idea, but we haven't settled on a format. Regardless, we'll take steps to make sure it isn't plagued with lateness like 'Gemini' is."
Faerber wishes to make it clear that the Faerberverse will continue full force despite the end of the flagship title. "We'll still see the Nobles show up where appropriate," Faerber said. "And just a week or two ago, I asked ['Dynamo 5' artist] Mahmud [Asrar] what he thought about the villainous Blackthorne family setting up shop in Dynamo 5's Tower City. That could be really fun. Think about it -- Scrap vs. Dusk, the battle of the Goth girls!"
With "Noble Causes" off Faerber's plate, the writer finds some time in his schedule, but he's got no plans to be idle. "Yildiray Cinar, the current 'Noble Causes' artist, and I will be developing a brand new series that will take ['Noble Causes''] place. We haven't settled on a concept or a name or anything yet, but we know we want to tackle a solo character. Unfortunately, due to the timing of things, we won't really be able to begin work on developing this series until we're done with 'Noble Causes' -- otherwise it would fall behind. But once 'Noble Causes' is done, we'll move full steam ahead on something new."
In the meantime, fans of Faerber and his universe have things to read in the near future. "I've still got 'Dynamo 5' coming out each and every month, and 'Gemini' is still alive and kicking. My Top Cow Pilot Season book 'Urban Myths' is currently in the lead in the voting process that determines which two concepts get to become series. So I've got my fingers crossed that I'll get to write more 'Urban Myths' when this is all said and done. And it's not too late to vote! Voting goes until September 8th, I believe. You can vote once per day at the MySpace Pilot Season page."
Faerber added there is still a lot for "Noble Causes" fans to look forward to in both the run-up to the end and afterward. "Issue #37 guest-stars Invincible, and is going to be a ton of fun! Also on the horizon is 'Noble Causes Archives' volume 2. This was supposed to be out months ago, but when I decided to end the series, I also decided to hold back the second Archives so that we could include everything through issue #40. So when it's all said and done, the two Archives volumes will collect the entire run of 'Noble Causes,' start to finish. This should go on sale sometime in early 2009."
Outside of comics, the "Noble Causes" property had been optioned for a film, but is once again available. Said Faerber, "I'm represented by Circle of Confusion, and they're actively shopping all my comics around."
Beyond the end of the series and appearances in other Faerberverse titles, don't look for the characters to appear without the writer's hand directly behind them. Asked if he would consider allowing another writer to pen the adventures of the Noble family, Faerber said, "Not really, no. If sales were really strong and I was just tired of the characters, then I could see passing it off to someone. But with sales levels where they're at, that's not really an option."