MEN ON ACTION: Duncan Rouleau Dives Into "Great Unknown" W/ Joe Kelly

CBR first brought you news of the titles in Man of Action's February slate of comic books from Image, but when it comes to digging into the nitty gritty of the new imprint, creators Joe Kelly, Steven T. Seagle, Joe Casey and Duncan Rouleau make it easy for fans to get the scoop by simply interviewing each other!

In our first MEN ON ACTION feature spotlighting the titles and creators behind Image Comics' latest imrpint, Seagle interviewed his Man of Action studiomate Joe Kelly about Kelly's forthcoming "Bad Dog" project. We followed up with "GØDLAND" writer Joe Casey chatting with Seagle and Marco Cinello about "Soul Kiss" and the independent and underground works that influenced its creation.

The Man of Action train rolls on, this time in the form of the creator cabal's resident artist Duncan Rouleau. He made the jump to composing his own comics from script to print with 2005's "The Nightmarist" and last year's "Metal Men" series from DC, and Rouleau's contribution to Image's February Man of Action Month lineup of comics -- titled "The Great Unknown" -- is a five-issue miniseries that presents an off-kilter science fiction story of a man whose ideas are stolen out of his head and what he does about it.

Until issue #1 ships, it's up to Man of Action partner Joe Kelly to pull a few ideas from Rouleau on what makes "The Great Unknown" tick.

Joe Kelly: You've primarily worked with writers on past project, .some of them really good writers -- like me, your friend. So, why did you take food out of my children's mouths and decide to write and draw "The Great Unknown?"

Duncan Rouleau: I've taken all I can from you and the other "writers." You have nothing more to teach me. It's about time I cash in on some of my own "Engine Head" money. Besides, I couldn't get you to return my calls.

Seriously, these particular stories with their pacing and art style are departures for me. The discoveries I've been making while piecing it together were spread out over a period of time. It just worked out best for this to be a solo project.

Kelly: What's the basic gist of the story?

Rouleau: It's an autobiography with a "few" embellishments. The story comes from my strongly held belief that I came up with the sardonic method of ending sentences with the word "NOT!" waaay before others started saying it. I've had similar situations arise over the years (like my invention of jazz and the Hot Pocket) yet I still remain unsung for those diamonds as well. This got me thinking - what if a guy (like me) did come up with grand notions and someone was able to steal them before he could establish his claim? He wouldn't be any the wiser and what he would chalk up to unfortunate timing in the zeitgeist would, in fact, be the wholesale robbery of his destiny.

Kelly: One of the questions I hate to answer myself: why this story? In other words, of all the junk rattling around your skull, why did you feel compelled to launch this book at this time?

Rouleau: I wanted to do it before someone else did.

Kelly: I've heard you talk about this idea for a long time. Obviously, it isn't just a cool idea; the themes have resonance for you. Talk a little about the themes of potential and the waste of human potential in "The Great Unknown."

Rouleau: It is a conversation we have had almost to an ironic fault. It does have a great deal of resonance with me. We work in a world of ideas. And, as important as they are they are nothing without action supporting them. I think happiness is directly linked to the alchemy of changing an idea into reality. I believe in work. I'm in a position to do something about my ideas. I was just getting tired of talking about them.

Kelly: Identity and identity theft...?

Rouleau: Don't make me go Georg Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel on your ass. Let's just say in this information age, like those chopped up home loans, we readily trade on ideas and discoveries without much consideration for where they came from or who came up with them. The distinction between our identity and its theft is, at best, being compromised.

Kelly: Tell me a little about the art choices for this graphic novel. How have you adapted your style for the material?

Rouleau: I'm trying some new things - limited color pallets and distinctions between main and supporting characters through line quality and detail. It's most definitely an attempt to fit in a sci-fi/low-fi feel in the story.

Kelly: You wrote and drew a pretty kick-ass horror book called "The Nightmarist." What did you learn from that experience and how have you applied it to "The Great Unknown," or "TGU" as I cleverly call it?

Rouleau: To better edit myself. I've just gone with "GU" when labeling the pages.

Kelly: It really is great for me to see you write your own work, even though it means I can no longer ride your coattails to greatness. How is the process for you? Love it? Hate it? Want to do more?

Rouleau: I don't know whose coattails you've been stepping on but if they've lead you to "greatness"... they ain't mine! If you figure out whose coattails they are let me know. Seriously, I appreciate the support you and the other guys have given me. It really means a lot. As far as creator-owned work, I do love doing it. This book is a lot of fun to make and I hope it reads that way. Although I have been working solo on a few projects, I do have some "things" in the collaboration queue with you and the other Mans of Action. But, you knew that already you cheeky bastard!

"The Great Unknown" goes on sale in February from Image Comics. A four-page preview can be found on pages 144-145 of the December Previews catalogue.

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