It's been a little over a year since CBR's exclusive in depth coverage of "Fear Agent," that four color, in your face, action, adventure, sci-fi series from Image Comics. In its first year, the series has earned a strong following among fans and critics, a combination oh so rare these days. With that success in mind, both groups will surprised to learn that there's no "I" in "Fear Agent" after issue #11, as the book will leave Image for darker pastures, namely Dark Horse Comics. CBR News sat down with series co-creator and writer Rick Remender to learn about this big change and the scribe started off things with his trademark honesty.
"The move is a business decision based on things that we're going to keep quiet about," he said. "We all love and respect both companies very much. Dark Horse gave Jerome Opena and I our first big penciling gigs and Image gave me my first big writing gigs and Tony his first big penciling gig, they have both been supportive and wonderful to us all. Though I will not go into many details about the move I hope to stop any speculations before they begin, this move is not because of any ill-will toward Image Comics. In fact Kieron Dwyer, 'Fear Agent' co-creator Tony Moore and I have a new ongoing series, 'XXXOMBIES' launching at Image in February. Everyone still loves everyone."
If you're thinking that this move might be motivated by Dark Horse's success in translating its properties into other media ("Hellboy" being a prime example), Remender isn't going to try and dissuade you of that notion. "Obviously, Dark Horse is a powerhouse in this area. I'd be a liar if I said this wasn't one of the motivations in the move," he admitted.
Both Image Comics and Dark Horse are big players in the comic book industry, publishing quite a bit of acclaimed work, and Remender has no doubts about "Fear Agent" succeeding with this new publisher. "I have the same expectations I've always had for the book, more sales. I would proudly hold 'Fear Agent' up to any title from any company, which is intended as pride, not arrogance," he explained. "I believe Tony Moore and Jerome are two of the finest American comic artists of this generation or any. Though it would be arrogant to comment on the inherent quality of my own writing, I can say with all confidence that 'Fear Agent' could be written by a lobotomized shit-money and it would still be worth $2.99 if only as an art book. I hope I'm a better writer than a lobotomized shit-money and the entire package finds the wider audience the current readership and critics think it deserves."
As for what this means in terms of a publishing schedule, Remender happily elaborated. "February will see releases of the Dark Horse edition of Vol.1 (issues 1-4) and Vol. 2 (issues 5-10) [of the trade paperback]. We have a 'Tales of the Fear Agent' trade planned for sometime in the summer with a cover by 'The Goon's' Eric Powell. The new ongoing series will move to the Hellboy/BPRD format. Each four issue arc will be numbered beginning at #1. However, the plan is that the ongoing numbering will continue, as well, in its own box. This will make it easier for new readers to jump on. The first Dark Horse arc, tentatively set for April, is the origin story (Tony Moore on art). This centers around the Annubius conflict - the war on Earth that gave birth to the Fear Agents. The second arc (Jerome Opena on art) will focus on the aftermath of the events in the current storyline. From there the arcs will rotate between Tony and Jerome."
While the format may be changing, the creative team on "Fear Agent" will stay consistent, barring any unforeseen circumstances. "We've all discussed it and unless one of us dies the ongoing series will always be by Rick Remender, Tony Moore and Jerome Opena," asserted the scribe. "Though we have tons of amazing talent contributing to the 'Tales of the Fear Agent' and I have planned full-length issues of 'Tales of the Fear Agent' with ground-breaking artists like Francesco Francavilla and Michael Cho, the ongoing arcs will always be by the original three of us."
Dark Horse Comics is known for publishing books from a variety of genres, from superhero to sci-fi to horror. They even publish some popular manga, such as "Lone Wold & Cub" and "Blade of the Immortal." If you're wondering where "Fear Agent" fits in, Remender explained, "'Fear Agent' is a mix of our favorite three EC genres, Horror, Sci-Fi and War. The book thematically fits in with many of the creator-owned books at Dark Horse. Guys who inspire us include Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Jack Davis, Will Elder (Elder is mostly my obsession I guess) and so on. I think there are a number of creators at Dark Horse who are also inspired to mirror some of the EC greats and beyond. Eric Powell is clearly also a big fan of Wood and Eisner, Frank Miller's 'Sin City' was surely inspired on some level by Toth and 'Hellboy' basically lives in a world pulled from a 'Crypt of Terror.' 'Fear Agent' rounds out the mix with an alien exterminator who looks to have popped off a cover of 'Incredible Science Fiction.'"
As he said earlier, Remender is a big fan of Image Comics and he doesn't want this move to be seen as a slight against the company. "It was a very tough choice, as I said we have lots of love for both companies," said Remender. "We talked it out for a long time and made our choice based on factors I don't care to discuss. Mike Richardson, Dave Land and Eric Stephenson are all huge fans and supporters of the book and their enthusiasm is greatly appreciated."
As for those projects still at Image, Remender provided a rundown for CBR News and it'd be hard to say that he's anything but committed to the company. "'Sea of Red' ends in next months issue #13 with the third trade and complete hardcover edition not far behind, 'XXXOMBIES' with Tony Moore and Kieron Dwyer launches in February, 'Strange Girl' continues monthly and we have a 'Black Heart Billy' 10 year anniversary edition hardcover planned for March. We still have tons of products coming out from Image and will continue to."
If you're looking for some juicy teasers for future "Fear Agent" issues, you're in the right place. "In issue #8, shipping next week, we get a glimpse at what happened to Heath ten years ago that made him into the drunken wreck he is today," revealed Remender. "The rest of that tale will be the subject matter of the first Dark Horse arc. Tony Moore and I have been chatting out story ideas and art direction for over a year now and we're both very eager to get rolling on it. It's a Russ Heath/Joe Kubert/Jack Davis war story with alien invaders. It's a gritty; down in the ditches last bid for survival for the human race and I truly believe the reveal at the end will shock readers. I'm proud of what we've got cooked up and it's also a perfect jump on point for new readers."
Staff Writer Arune Singh contributed to this story.