For Joe Casey, February is the month when everything old is new again. While the rest of his compadres in the Man of Action Studio are prepping for the launch of all-new comics series to warm fans' hearts in the cold winter month, the writer who already counts ongoing series "GÃ¸dland" and "Charlatan Ball" to his credit used Image Comics' Man of Action month to reintroduce fans to one of his out of print classic indie series: the sci-fi fugitive drama "Codeflesh."
CBR firstÂ brought you newsÂ of the titles in Man of Action's February slate of comic books fromÂ 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 "Codeflesh," a super bail bondsman whose identity is concealed by a barcode-adornedÂ mask mixes it up in a noirish world of escaped super criminals. With art by Charlie Adlard ("The Walking Dead"), the cult comic has been long out of print. However, the new edition contains a revived color scheme as well as an all-new tale of tracking by Casey and Adlard.
To wrap up our MEN ON ACTION month, artist Duncan Rouleau chatted up Casey on "Codeflesh" as well as his position as a writer who rides the line between Big Two superhero titles and indie books to unexpected and inventive effect.
Duncan Rouleau: Your body of work has spanned both sides of the fieldÂ - the commercial stuff like "UncannyÂ X-Men" and "Superman" as well as independent titlesÂ like "GÃ¸dland"Â and "Nixon's Pals." I know for myself there were differences between what IÂ imagined working on an established project would be like and what actually working on those titlesÂ were. I'm curious, what are some of the distinctions you've come across betweenÂ what you imagined doing a creator-owned book would be like and the actual reality of doing a creator-owned book?
Joe Casey: The best thing about creator-owned comics is that it's as close anÂ experience as I've gotten to being a kid, drawing my own, terrible comics, which is something I used to do endlessly from age six to about ageÂ twelve.Â Hopefully, the ones that people are actually paying money for aren't as terrible as the goofy shit I did as a kid.Â
DR: How do you like handling the day-to-day aspects ofÂ marketing and design choices for your creator-owned stuff? Is it something youÂ like to sink your teeth into, or do you see it as follow-through for the comicÂ itself?
JC: That stuff is fairly easy, it comes second nature.Â Many times I triedÂ to involve myself in those aspects of my work-for-hire gigs, much to the dismay of anyoneÂ at the big publishers who did those specific jobs.Â But creator-ownedÂ work, if you take a step back from it, involves much more than the comic itself.Â It's an entire process of creation, execution and marketing that you have to immerse yourself in 100%.Â In a very real sense, it all mixesÂ together.
DR: I've been looking over the list of books you're currently working on - it's an impressive and long list. How doÂ you find the indie titles you've been working on for the last several years haveÂ been informed by the commercial work you've been doing?
JC: They obviously influence each other in pretty profound ways.Â TheÂ experiments I try out on my own, lower-profile titles are then carried over - in a much more refined way - to the bigger, company-owned titles.Â As forÂ the list being particularly long, I don't know what to say about that exceptÂ that I like to stay busy.Â Life's too short, and all of thatÂ stuff.
DR: You've been doing the indie thing for a whileÂ now. On the eve of this big Man of Action Comics launch with Image, have you beenÂ thinking about a creative voice you are attempting to establish with your creator-ownedÂ titles?
JC: I think with all of us Man Of Action guys doing books now, it's impossible to conceive of someÂ overall voice.Â The consistent factor is hopefully quality.Â All theseÂ books will be good.Â For myself, I just go from project to project.Â IÂ kind of leave it to other people to identify whatever links them. There'sÂ certainly going to be enough of them in the coming year.
DR: In both "Nixon's Pals" and "Codeflesh,"Â your main charactersÂ work insideÂ established governmental systems - one a bail bondsman, the other a paroleÂ officer.Â Is it the built-in framework for villains and conflict orÂ something more specific about these bureaucracies that attracts you? Why do youÂ think those themes show up in your work?
JC: The kind of characters I like to write always have to be pushingÂ against something, or be oppressed by something that's beyond just a bad guyÂ villain-type. I think there's probably some subconscious link to the monolithicÂ institutions that all creative people end up bumping into.Â Those obstacles have been placed in front of me my entire career.Â But I'mÂ not complaining, those kind of conflicts keep you creatively competitive.Â
DR: This a re-mastered volume of "Codeflesh." What are the aspects that you changed? Did you find yourself revisiting any of the written material?
JC: Revisiting? No. But there's a kick-ass new story, never before seen, that we did specifically for this edition. On the older stories we went back to color - the first trade was in black and white. We re-colored some pages, but even then it wasÂ to preserve the look of the original color comics that were released back inÂ 2001. I'm pretty much at peace with the work I did on the book, andÂ Charlie's work definitely holds up.Â Then again, he's always been so good,Â so there's no surprise there.
DR: The great Charlie AdlardÂ is the artist on "Codeflesh." His style is a perfect fit for both the brutal andÂ moodyÂ aspects of the story.Â Did you have him in mind whenÂ constructing the project or was it a case of you two trying to find a project toÂ work together on? How did it come about?
JC: My afterward in the hardcover pretty much covers my history withÂ Charlie.Â Long story short, I was a fan of his art before I even turnedÂ pro, and I sought him out to work with.Â Luckily, he was happy to be soughtÂ out.
DR: What is it about the modern noir story that attractsÂ you? What other material informs your writing when approaching this style ofÂ storytelling?
JC: I'm a big Elmore Leonard fan, mainly because his stories - his crimeÂ stories - are about people first.Â Yes, the crime element is always there,Â generally as some sort of plot engine, but the focus for me is hisÂ characters.Â I'm nowhere near that level of proficiency when it comes toÂ characterization. I'm well aware that even something like "Codeflesh"Â relies asÂ much on superhero tropes as it does anything else.Â But somewhere in thereÂ I hope there's some deeper stuff going on.Â The friendship between CameronÂ and his partner, Staz, is more important to the series than most readers haveÂ ever picked up on.
The "Codeflesh" Definitive Hardcover goes on sale in February from Image Comics, and can be found on page 146 of the December Previews catalogue.