Moore Gives Good Karma in "'76"

This January, Image Comics brings a unique miniseries to the stands in the form of '76, a double-feature comic set in the year of America's bicentennial and steeped in '70s soul. B. Clay Moore spoke with CBR News about his half of the series, entitled Jackie Karma, illustrated by Ed Tadem.

'76' is an attempt to tell a smart and fun story using all the trappings of '70s 'street' films, television shows, magazines and music; a '70s street-action-jam, B. Clay Moore told CBR News.

Jackie Karma is the main character in my half of the book, said Moore. He's a white kung-fu expert and former street fighter from the'60s. He and his partner, Marcus King, have hung up the gloves, so to speak, but the harder-edged '70s streets call them out of retirement. New York City in 1976 is a grim mess, and these cats are determined to help if they can.

Writer Seth Peck and artist Tigh Walker round out '76 with their feature, Cool, which follows a bounty hunter on the trail of an exotic dancer and some stolen in the Los Angeles of 1976.

The creators of '76 didn't have to look too hard to find each other, as the combination came together quite naturally. Said Moore, Seth and I have been friends for a while, and run with the same pack of guys in our 'virtual studio,' Atomic Revolver. We both had ideas set in the mid-'70s, taking place on opposite coasts, and I thought it was only natural to jam them together. Seth is one of the best up-and-coming writers in comics.

Asked about the influences that shape '76, Moore answered, 70s 'street' culture, for the most part. There's also a plot point that stems from '80s-era conspiracy theories dating back to the '70s, but it would give too much away to reveal that one.

The miniseries approaches a well established genre, but one that is not frequently represented in comics. Moore came to the concept by noting one of the idiosyncrasies of the genre. The idea of Jackie came from my observation that a lot of kung fu heroes in the '70s were anything but Asian, Moore said. 'Enter the Dragon,' with its international cast of fighters, being a prime example.

I'm also a huge fan of '70s pop culture, and never miss a decent seventies '70s flick when it airs. On top of that, I love '70s R&B and soul, and the vibe of The City in the '70s. I've been cuing up a lot of Funkadelic and Philly soul while writing.

As for the whole idea of the book, John Siuntres of 'Word Balloon' fame once noted on my message board that he'd like to see me tackle the '70s street-action genre. That spurred me to cram together a lot of loose ideas I'd had and kick '76 into gear.

Moore finds antecedents to '76 in many films of the '70s that potential fans of the project might already have enjoyed or, conversely, that fans of the series might search for to dig further into the genre. The obvious starting points are the highlights of the exploitation era: 'Enter the Dragon,' 'Shaft, Shaft's Big Score,' 'Cotton Comes to Harlem,' 'Uptown Saturday Night,' 'Sweet Sweetback's Badaaasss Song,' and 'Superfly,' said Moore. From there you can start digging into obscurities like 'Willie Dynamite,' 'Hit Man,' and 'Truck Turner.'

Not a ton of television I'd recommend, Moore continued. Although, the British show 'The Sweeney' is an excellent hard-edged, '70s street cop show.

Frankly, the comics of the era didn't do a great job with this stuff, but I'd recommend tracking down Marvel's 'Deadly Hands of Kung Fu' magazine.

Of course, if Moore has his druthers, fans of '76 won't have to search out only works of the past to get their fix of that world. Asked of the possibility of future installments, Moore responded, Assuming a positive response from those that do buy it, yes. Ed and I have talked about following up with a stand alone Jackie Karma book.

The characters have a history rooted in the '60s, too, Moore added, So we could go forward into the past if we wanted. Regardless, the character has quickly become a favorite of mine, and I'd like to play around with him some more.

Beyond the premiere of '76, Moore has several projects lined up all over the comics spectrum. February will see the release of the first issues of three-part Superman Confidential and JSA Classified story arcs. The Superman arc features art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks, and the JSA story stars Wildcat, with Ramon Perez on art chores.

'Hawaiian Dick' debuted in November, and we're plugging away on the ongoing, Moore said. After the initial five-issue arc by myself, Scott Chantler and Steven Griffin, it looks like Jason Armstrong will be handling the art for a stand-alone story.

I've got something in the works with Wildstorm that should debut in the spring, Moore added, and Tony Harris and I are busy putting together a new book we hope to make a splash with. More Image and Oni work on the way, and hopefully some cool DC stuff, as well.

'76 hits the stands January 9, 2008 from Image Comics.

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