Jamal, a lot of what you have worked on up until now has been previously established characters. What's it like being able to bring a brand new character to life?
Jamal Campbell: Because it's something new, there's no established anything for it, so it's very freeing to have no boundaries really. Like, I can go wherever I want. Looking at everything coming in future issues, I can nail that down from wherever I want. I look at my favorite movies or video games or whatever, and even in my life, I can find a tiny corner of the DC Universe, and that's super exciting.
You guys have talked about how you came up with this new series, but what has the collaborative process been like?
David: Brian and I have known each other for years, so this is sort of an evolution of both our friendship and our working relationship. Really it came together with Jamal, and I want to make sure we get him in on this, because once we started seeing Jamal's art, this book took on a whole new life of its own.
Brian and I, we sat down because we live really close to each other, and we were like, "Oh, okay. wait a second." There's a whole other level going on with the storytelling. Here's a guy whose work was really solid, but this is his work going to a whole new level.
It was really like this moment where Brian and I, as part of the creative team, looked at each other, and we're like, okay, now we know we can go some places we weren't even sure we were going to be able to go. Maybe we're putting too much on Jamal's shoulders, but he's a pretty broad-shouldered guy, you know, so he looks like he can bench us a lot.
We're really leaning into what he's capable of doing as a storyteller and the invitation that comes when you write a script, like, okay, here's what we've done, build on it please. For me, it's been great because working with an old friend like Brian is just great and working with this new collaborator, who I just met for the first time in person a few months back, is great. I feel like I'm in capable hands and it's a very reassuring feeling.
Jamal: From my end, it's the same thing. It's been amazing to get the script in and there are areas where they are looking for a very specific emotion that they want me to go for. I want to make sure I nail it. Then there are some pages where they are like, "Hey, do your thing," and that's extremely exciting because it's both freeing and also a challenge.
They ask me to do my thing, I want to really do my thing and just put everything onto that page. So, it's both a collaboration and a challenge to one-up myself.
David: I discovered this with different artists, where you'll say "Okay, angle in on Fred, he's upset," and you get something back and it's like, "This doesn't look like he's upset, this looks like he's got indigestion or something."
The moment we saw Jamal's character designs, Brian and I knew we were working with an artist who knows how to draw more than just two or three emotions, and complex emotions, and maybe even conflicting emotions within the same moment. It's like this light shining down from the sky and angels [singing], and it's so great because we can get a level of complexity and a level of layering in the story that you don't always get.
It's such a refreshing feeling knowing that whatever you get from your artist, it's going to work. You want to get this story at the level of emotional resonance that, for me, is very important, because I feel like not only should a story be entertaining, but it should move us emotionally. It shouldn't just make us laugh, it shouldn't just make us feel excited, it shouldn't just make us feel sad, it should be making us feel all of these things collectively.
That's what life is -- a series of complex emotions, sometimes within the same moment. Sometimes you can be incredibly happy and incredibly sad at the same time, and that's what we're trying to bring through in this book.
Bendis: It's a major work by a new voice and it's an honor to be a part of, to be honest with you.