Let's talk the role Alexander the Great plays in this series. He's one of the more fascinating figures in history, and you've commented that he's the "emergent hero of the series" -- what was interesting to you about Alexander both in a historical sense, but also depicting him as a character in this story?
This is Xerxes' story. I guess you'd call Alexander an antagonist. The greater story of Alexander is yet to come. It's his role as it relates to Xerxes and the House of Darius that's important. Think of Alexander in this context as the wily opponent that is coming from the west.
Alexander transforms the world. There's Before Alexander, and there's After Alexander. And one era doesn't really look that much like what came before it.
As it was in 300, the theme throughout all of this is the hero. Alexander is absolutely, identifiably a hero. But the fascinating thing about him is that he also is the one who, rather than just having an endless collision between the east and the west, he's remarkable in that he embraces them over time.
This is the first time readers will see a full story from you that you both wrote and drew in a few years, since Holy Terror. How did that feel to you -- going back to what you're most famous for?
It feels like I'm home again! It feels great.
Your art style has evolved over the years, and the original 300 has a distinct style that people recognize. Are you looking to be fairly strictly visually consistent with what you did before, or experiment?
I always want to keep things moving, and learn from what I've done before, and everything else that's going on around. Xerxes is a wonderful opportunity for research. It was Geof Darrow that deserves credit for this wonderful observation: Things are always a lot weirder than you think they are when you really take a look at them. In my case, I've got to say that the history is always better looking than what you'd imagine it was.
Also visually, this series is colored by Alex Sinclair, who colored Dark Knight III and All-Star Batman and Robin, but this is his first time coloring your art, correct?
Yeah. It's really something. He's bringing a vibrant energy to it. It fits this story very well. He's a wonderful collaborator. He and I went over all kinds of references -- he just brings a terrific amount of energy to it.
Even though you're telling stories that took place hundreds of years ago, there's usually a relevance you can find in something like this; elements that look familiar. Given the weird world we've found ourselves in, what kind of newfound relevance does the Xerxes story have to you?
I don't know! I can't, in my wildest dreams, think of any way this could relate to a leader who has dreams of being a deity, or thought that they could overthrow more people when faced with world domination. So I can't imagine what you're talking about.
Too far out there, I guess. Also, it's been neat to see that you've been much more active in comics lately after spending time in Hollywood. Between Xerxes, Dark Knight III, more projects with DC comics -- there been a lot more comics stuff from you. How have you enjoyed being back in the comics world more regularly, and what made now the right time to do i?
It feels absolutely great. It was just a matter of time being right, and brain being in the right shape.
In terms of the comics world in general, when you look at what's out there right now, are you finding yourself energized by what you're seeing other creators doing?
Oh yeah. I am. I won't go into a litany of everybody's names, but the two things that are most exciting is that the genre barriers have broken; comics of all kinds are now coming in, and they're able to stand on their own. It's not just guys in tights punching each other anymore. It's really an open system.
The other thing is that, in many places, comics have simply become more intentional. Forbidden Planet [comic book store chain first opened in London] in New York is no longer an aberration, it's actually competing with several other worthy competitors. Comics have become more international, and when I travel internationally, I notice that our influence is now reaching other countries. It's all become much healthier, more diverse.
Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1 is scheduled for release on April 4 fom Dark Horse Comics.