Guarding the Marvel U: Casey Jones talks "Guardians"

This July Marvel Comics offers a new five-issue limited series with a familiar name from writer Marc Sumerak and artist Casey Jones, "Guardians." Jones spoke with CBR News about the series and the other members of the creative team. While the name may bring to mind another popular series from Marvel's past, "Guadians of the Galaxy," Jones explained the two aren't related.

"Nope, no ties to the 'Guardians of the Galaxy,'" Jones told CBR News. "These are all new characters to the Marvel Universe. While there are a few nods to some established characters, for the most part it's all new stuff. It's a story about a group of kids who run around playing super-heroes, and one day they have an actual 'alien encounter!' When they end up saving the little guy from danger, they tell him that if he ever needs their help again to just let them know. Well, 14 years later, the alien comes back to Earth and takes them up on their offer! It's up to them to rise to the occasion. It's a really fun story that has elements of 'The Goonies,' 'Last Starfighter,' and even 'Lilo and Stitch.' I'm a big geek over 'The Goonies' especially, so I'm definitely enjoying it. I'm also really enjoying the way the story unfolds. It's kind of like Stephen King's 'IT,' where there's a dual narrative with the characters as both kids and as adults. It was pretty ambitious on Marc Sumerak's part, and it worked out really well."

"Marc Sumerak is the writer," continued Jones. "Marc used to be in editorial at Marvel, but left last year to move back to Ohio and get married. Marc is a great 'idea man' and developed a lot of good stuff when he was on staff, so it's nice to see him fully execute one of his concepts like this. He's doing a great job.

"The only other person involved is David Self, the colorist on the book. David and I have wanted to work together for a long time, so it's nice to finally have that opportunity. He's best known for working over my buddy Rob Haynes on the Marvel Knights 'Daredevil' stuff. Rob and David are like family, and we share a lot of the same ideas and opinions on comics. It's nice to put a lot of the stuff that David and I have always talked about into practice."

This project continues a long-standing relationship between Jones and Marvel, "I believe my name came up based on this Fantastic Four story I drew that focused on Franklin. I guess they liked how I handled him, and since this story is about a group of kids, they offered me the job. Plus, it's working with Marc Sumerak and Tom Brevoort, and we've always gotten along well."

With a writer and colorist named, one creative role is notoriously missing. "No inks this time around. David and I had been experimenting with him coloring straight from pencils last year, and Marvel seemed to like the results," said Jones. "I had been looking to try something new, and David had been wanting to do something in more of a painted style, so it worked out great. David had almost decided to leave comics, but this project was a new challenge that lit his fire again. I've always felt he's had this huge, untapped potential, so I'm glad to finally get to work with him like this. He rocks!

"We're also doing covers for a new X-related book, but it hasn't been announced yet."

Jones seems to enjoy the shift in genres. "Super-heroes will always be my first love, but it is nice to get the chance to play in other genres. I started out doing horror comics, and that's something I'd love to do again, too", explained Jones. His earliest work can be seen with writer Steve Niles in the pages of "Hairball," an early Cal McDonald story than ran in the pages of "Dark Horse Comics Presents." "'Guardians' is definitely a sci-fi book, and feels more like manga than anything. I've never gotten the chance to draw anything like this before, so it's been a blast! It's been challenging, too - - shipping the first two issues in July really made me buckle down right out of the gate, but I'd rather have a little pressure to help get focused as opposed to an 'open deadline' where the chances of goofing off go way up. I'm on my regular schedule now, where I'm working night and day and never leaving the house!

"I'm proud to be involved with it, because it's probably the most accessible book I've ever done. You don't have to have any previous knowledge of comics to get it, since it's a stand-alone story and not wrapped up in years of continuity. Anybody can read it -- including kids and girls, which really makes me happy. I've always wanted to be involved with something that's this accessible to new readers, so that makes it really exciting. Plus, getting to spread my wings artistically on this project makes me even more excited about it. Being able to offer something completely different from my past work in comics is a really fun experience. We're working really hard on it, so I hope people like it."

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