Everybody loves the underdog. Or do they?
With DC’s Doctor Thirteen: Architecture & Mortality — originally serialized in the eight-issue Tales of the Unexpected mini-series — writer Brian Azzarello and artist Cliff Chiang did the unprecedented and unexpected: They took characters long forgotten (or, in some cases, never remembered) in the mire of continuity and crossovers and slammed them together to create a kinetic, witty and – most importantly – FUN series that had no expectations or limitations.
Here, for your amusement, disgust and reading pleasure is an 13-part interview between Azz and Cliff, broken and sprinkled across the comic book press, where our beloved creators talk about their multi-layered story, the anxieties that come with being, well, creative in comics and hair plugs. Yes. But most of all, learn about how two guys tagged as “gritty” and “noir” created an energetic, colorful and off-the-wall story that made a gaggle of nobody characters into nobodies with at least one good story under their belts. Take it away, gentlemen.
BA: Gimme a little insight into working with Trish.
CC: When I’m done inking a book, it’s like a film without a score. It’s flat and cold; it really needs someone to bring it to life and give it some heart. Trish does that with her colors. They’re always so expertly chosen, vivid while being subtle and tasteful. She drives it home every time, and we were really lucky to have her. She’s one of the best in the industry.
I also thought Jared Fletcher did a bang-up job on lettering. I didn’t collaborate directly with him, but he always delivered an excellent job.
BA: Jared did a great job. Looking back I asked for a lot, as far as different lettering treatments– not to mention phonetically misspelled words in various accents. He really delivered.
CC: I’m kind of in the middle of the process. I’d get the script from you, and immediately have an idea of what it should look like, and with the efforts of Trish and Jared, try and bring that vision to the page. The whole thing starts with you, so are you often surprised by the results?
BA: Not really. I always try to work with creators that I trust will bring their A-game. And they do. Always. Or I believe the do. Please don’t burst my bubble… You seem a lot more hands on than I am…
CC: It’s the ex-editor in me. Plus, I’ve jumped around on a lot of different books, so you never get a chance to gel with the rest of the creative team. I’m working with Trish again on Green Arrow/Black Canary and it’s great to have that familiar rhythm and trust.
BA: Do you miss any of these characters?
CC: Part of me wonders if it would’ve been better to kill them all off at the end so there’s no chance of going back.
BA: The point of the whole story is there’s always a chance to come back…
CC: But now I just sit around wondering when we’ll get to do Team 13: The Quest for Fear. Like Christopher Reeve at the end of Somewhere in Time. What was it like for you, writing the last chapter?
CC: What was it like for you, writing the last chapter?
BA: Easy. I knew the ending. And the fact that Traci was already slated to appear in a DCU book– I mean at least with one of these characters, mission accomplished. She was relevant again.
CC: Do you feel the least bit proprietary about these characters now? I know I sometimes get creeped out when people say how hot Traci is…
BA: Neh… maybe a bit. Not enough that if I was offered an I… Vampire! Series I’d take it. I like the characters together, but probably not apart. My hope is that they will survive, and turn up again somewhere.
CC: I think Genius Jones and Anthro would be a cool book, though. They’d solve mysteries together, and Anthro would do all the punchin’ and fightin’. It’d be like Encyclopedia Brown, but comics. What do you think? Should we pitch it?
BA: I’d do that book. That sounds great, actually. What do we call it?
CC: “Me and My Caveman.” Although I think you could come up with something catchier…
BA: “Jurassic & Jones?” “Big Brow & Wildboy?”
CC: “Big Brow & Wildboy!” That sounds like a Kirby book to me – love it. If you had to pick one, who’s your favorite from Team 13?
BA: Primaul. Because we have equity in that character, my friend. We created him.
CC: I’ve asked you before about writing, and you’ve always said, “Know your ending.” How different did it turn out from what you’d originally conceived?
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