Speaking with CBR's Kiel Phegley at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Young Animal curator Gerard Way ("The Umbrella Academy") discussed his role at the imprint, the oddball concepts he chose to resurrect, the psychological complexity of DC Comics characters, and more.
One of the quirkier characters Way chose to bring back for the Young Animal imprint was Cave Carson, a short-lived '60s hero -- known for his cybernetic eye -- created by France Herron and Bruno Premiani. Way dug into the character, describing how little he knew about him, and why that was a draw.
"When I was looking through the DC encyclopedia for characters for this imprint, [Cave Carson’s] entry is only half an inch, and the name jumped out," Way said. "And I was like ‘Who’s Cave Carson?' They didn’t have much written about him, it was just like: He’s a spelunker, and he’s good at hand-to-hand combat ... and he has a cybernetic eye. And that was it. And I was like, cool, that’s what this is about -- it’s about the fact that there’s no information about his eye, so we’re going to explore that."
He added, "'Mother Panic,' for example, just started out with a name. From there she was built. A lot of this stuff starts with title and image."
While Way is curating plenty of young talent for his imprint, he's also bringing in industry veterans to reimagine DC's characters. One of those creators is Tom Scioli, a revered writer/artist, perhaps best known for his work on the sci-fi opera "Godland," who's set to pen a "DC Super Powers" back-up in "Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye."
"Tom Scioli’s someone I’ve been a fan of for a while," Way said. "I got into him ever since ‘Godland,' and I really got into 'Transformers/GI Joe,' and that led me to go back to 'American Barbarian' and things like that. We started talking on social media, and I then knew I wanted him involved somehow. We started talking and I think he just said ‘What about Super Powers?’ And I just said, 'That’s a no-brainer. You’re going to tell some really crazy story with this.’"
Way also touched on the extent of his involvement on the other Young Animal titles: "I’m doing kind of a little bit of everything. I’m writing two and a half of the books and basically I act as guidance, curator, [I do] a little bit of editing, I do go through the scripts and make notes -- I go through every stage and make notes, really. Although, for the books that I’m not writing, I really do trust the teams and I let them steer the ship. And if there’s anything that I see in there and I think, ‘Hey, this could be a little bit better,’ then I will give them notes."
According to Way, DC characters have a greater psychological capacity that makes them more interesting to write, and push in a bold, new direction. He said, "I’ve always loved [DC Comics]. I was having a talk with [DC Entertainment co-publishers] Jim [Lee] and Dan [Didio] about this, we were discussing how far we could push this stuff, and I felt DC Comics had a capacity for withstanding a bit of a push."
Way continued, "I love both Marvel and DC -- but I felt like the comics in the ‘80s that were really pushing things psychologically were those DC books, like Watchmen and Dark Knight. It really got into the darkness, and it got into the psychology. I think DC characters are psychologically appealing. I think that’s why Vertigo was able to exist at the time. You had Karen Berger, you had these writers with a vision that could take superheroes to a place they had never really gone before."
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