Ripped From Today's (Financial Page) Headlines! R. Walker Talks 'Titans of Finance'

[Titans of Finance]Their epic battles have rocked the world! They are capable of bringing cities, even nations, to their knees! And now they have their own comic book!

They are not, however, your standard comic book characters, although one of them does wear a Spandex superhero uniform at one point. No, "Titans of Finance," a 24 page one shot coming this September from Alternative Comics is pretty much what it sounds like, as strange as that might seem.

"'Titans of Finance' is a collection of graphic short stories about figures from the world of business," writer R. Walker told CBR News on Thursday. "All of the stories are real, or at least they are all based on real press accounts. What is the point? The point is that the business pages are not dull, but rather they whisper delightful dramas, tragedies, farces. The point of 'Titans of Finance' is to demonstrate this. You do not have to have the slightest interest in business to enjoy these stories, nor do you even have to be a comics fan. 'Titans of Finance' is fun, and it's good for you, too."

Having said that, putting together stories from the financial pages and the comic medium doesn't seem like a pairing that most would think to do.

"I had known [artist Josh Neufeld] for a while and wanted to work with him," Walker said. "At a certain point I began reading the financial pages for reasons having to do with my job, and I thought, 'Wow, some of these stories and these people are really interesting -- I wish there was a way I could communicate these stories to friends of mine, who care not a whit about business but would still enjoy them.' Josh and I discussed this, and so comics became the medium of choice, and Titans was born."

Of course, in the world of high finance, there's a certain amount of sitting, more or less static, behind desks or at conference tables that doesn't really seem to lend itself to graphic storytelling. Walker and Neufeld both rose to the challenge.

"The key thing is choosing the stories, I suppose. There are indeed many business figures who sit in suits behind desks, but that doesn't mean, on some level, they aren't interesting. We look for subjects who have an interesting self-image, which leads them to say interesting, amusing, appalling things. And in some cases there is out-and-out action -- a bond trader who punches someone in the stomach, for instance. The other key thing is what Josh does with the scripts, which is find the ways to comic-ify the action in his art. This is where using this particular medium helps a lot: He has the latitude to, for instance, make Ron Perelman fly around in tights. Or to have a stampede of elephants charge through a panel to underscore something a character has said in the past. The magic of comics, is what that is."

Although the book isn't out on stands yet, it's gotten a fair amount of advance publicity, including write-ups in financial magazines. And while "Titans of Finance" is a standalone one shot, Walker's not closing the door on a sequel.

"Yes, of course. There are plenty of other stories to be told. But we have to wait and see how this one goes. My calendar currently says 'bask in success,' and then it's blank. So we'll see. Actually, there's a question mark after 'success.' But I can always erase it."

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