Dwight MacPherson has made a name for himself over the last few years as part of the Shadowline stable of creators at Image Comics, having put out his Eagle and Harvey-nominated "The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo," among other miniseries and side projects though the imprint. MacPherson is now leaving Shadowline and taking on a new role with upstart publisher Chimaera Studios. MacPherson spoke with CBR News about his new role, the future of his properties, and his newest project, the World War II-based "The Interagents," co-written with Bruce Brown and illustrated by Valerio Giangiardano.
MacPherson developed and produced at Jim Valentino's Shadowline imprint such works as "The Surreal Adventures Edgar Allan Poo" and most recently "M-Theory." "When my good friend and Chimaera Comics publisher George Singley offered a position as Chimaera's Marketing PR Director, I decided I was going to leave Shadowline to get in on the ground floor with George's new business venture," MacPherson told CBR News.
"George has been in the industry for about 10 years as a creator," MacPherson continued, "so he's keenly aware of the issues creators face and has molded his business plan to be most beneficial for us while giving the reader more power and more choices. After seeing his dynamic, ambitious business plan, I was sold. In fact, I coined the phrase 'Chimaera Studios: For Creators, By Creators' after working with him several months, and I honestly think it's true. George is one of us, and, as such, his first desire is to ensure our books reach the largest audience by using several mediums to generate income that will pay creative teams what they deserve for the loving, hard work they put into their books. Creators also retain 100% of their property rights, which has become a real rarity in this industry. Honestly, it's really the perfect situation for creators."
MacPherson says the new publisher will be announcing additional projects and contributors soon, including some "names creators." "It's an exciting time to be a member of Chimaera Studios," he remarked.
Chimaera plans to release free single-issue comics digitally through Wowio, the online comics service. Print issues will be made available on the Chimaera website. Following the completion of storylines, trade paperbacks will be solicited to retailers through Diamond. "This puts the power in the reader's hands by giving them more options," MacPherson said. "And we're currently in talks to increase those options as well."
MacPherson's departure from Shadowline and joining up with Chimaera as a staffer, the writer is not going exclusive. "In fact, I have some projects coming up for a couple other publishers," he confirmed. "I've never believed it was wise to put all your eggs in one basket. No one takes their fortune and invests it in one commodity; diversity is the key to a strong portfolio. The more publishers you can publish books with, the better. Readers want options, they don't want to be forced into doing something. Creators who publish their work with one publisher exclusively are limiting the reader's options. And that's never cool."
Some of MacPherson's previous projects will be moving with him to Chimaera, and his most popular work is already underway at its new home. "'Edgar Allan Poo' is currently being published online by Chimaera Studios," MacPherson confirmed. "In the coming months, we will also be publishing 'M-Theory,' 'Super Brat' and a couple other projects that I can't talk about right now."
MacPherson's "M-Theory" miniseries will be make the unusual move of jumping between publishers before its conclusion. The first issue will come out from Shadowline/Image while the remainder will see release from Chimaera, despite future issues appearing in Image solicitations.
The writer's first project created for Chimaera is "Interagents," a superteam book that MacPherson describes "Watchmen" meets "Jericho." "It's also been compared to Alan Moore's ABC comic line by several readers," MacPherson said. "Interagents" is the story of a team of superheroes at the onset of U.S. involvement with World War II. "After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Interagents are faced with a tough decision: should they enter the conflict or remain stateside to guard U.S. soil? As the story progresses, they discover a group of super villains has infiltrated the government in an attempt eliminate the heroes from the equation and manipulate the events of World War II."
With "Interagents," MacPherson endeavored to create a team of heroes whose sentiments paralleled those of Americans before the U.S. entered the war. "Some members think the Interagents should enter the conflict immediately and stop the Nazi threat themselves, others believe the team should take a 'wait and see' approach before committing to the conflict," explained the writer. "So, honestly, the Interagents are a conflicted team of superheroes--much like the American people of that time. One thing they agree on, however, is that something must be done to end the war--they just can't agree on what action they should take. The bombing of Pearl Harbor is the catalyst that forces them to make a decision."
The Interagents include mysterious leader Providence, who embodies the conflicted theme of the book. "On one hand, he feels the U.S. government--and the Interagents--are being forced to act," MacPherson said. "He just isn't sure if that means the team should enter the conflict or remain at home to guard U.S. soil. He wants to make the right decision for the good of the country, and for the good of his team."
Other characters include Pantomath, a super genius and German defector; Dr. Danger, a ghost-like team elder; Grandstand, a super speedster who's content with the status quo until the War affects him personally; Militiaman, a gung-ho military man who wants to get into the fight; Vic Cross, a dual-citizen of the United States and England; and Eidolon, an enigma whose plans come to light as the story progresses.
MacPherson has long been a World War II buff, and jumped at the opportunity to work that interest into his writing. "I have read numerous books on World War II over the course of my life, and if my television is on, I'm watching the History Channel," the writer said. "Beyond that, it's interesting to me that you can draw a parallel to World War II and any military conflict the United States has been involved in. By using a World War II setting, I'm hoping I can do this without ruffling any feathers. Fingers crossed."
Asked how he would differentiate "Interagents" from the many other World War II team books seen in the superhero genre, including "All-Star Squadron" and "Invaders," MacPherson said, "[Those were] straightforward, light superhero fare, 'Interagents' is really a social commentary and political thriller with superheroes. Yes, the heroes are the central characters of the story, but there is more depth and substance to 'Interagents.' The tone is also much, much darker than the average superhero book.
"In Marvel terms, the book would be "Rated T+," the writer added. "It's an engaging story that will be enjoyed by readers in their teens to reader in their hundred-and-teens. Superhero fans will definitely enjoy it, but I also think the casual comic fans and history buffs will enjoy it, too."
MacPherson is not writing solo on "Interagents," he will be joined Bruce Brown. "Bruce basically took my plot and wrote the scripts. After the scripts were complete, I went back and rewrote, tweaked and changed what I felt needed to be reworked," MacPherson explained. "I was completely swamped when we started the project, so Bruce's help really saved me a lot of time."
Italian artist Valerio Giangiardano illustrates "Interagents." "Valerio's strong retro style and gorgeous colors really bring the story to life," MacPherson said. "It's amazing how he managed to capture the characters and mood of the story so perfectly. I think his work will blow readers away. Not literally, mind you. But anything is possible."
Chimaera also publishes a superhero roleplaying game incorporating Chimaera characters. Does this include "The Interagents?" "It's definitely going to happen," MacPherson confirmed. "Fans can check the Chimaera site for updates on all RPG books. We will also be sending out press releases as well as previews of the Interagents companion as its release approaches."