Just ten years ago, if you were to try to and sell a comic based in the fantasy genre, you'd likely find very little interest and your books relegated to the $1 bins in short order. Today, it's a different story. Fueled by mainstream acceptance of books and films like The Lord of the Rings and the "Harry Potter" series, interest in fantastic worlds filled with magical creatures is decidedly high, as evidenced by the success of Dark Horse's Conan, Dynamite Entertainment's Red Sonja and Image Comics' Death Dealer.
There's another fantasy book out there that you may have overlooked, and its creators are giving you an incentive to pick it up. The Image Comics series "Spawn: Godslayer" will reduce its cover price to $1.99 this December with issue #7, in an effort to lure in those fantasy fans. It's the beginning of "Dire Days," an all-new story arc for the series and requires no prior knowledge to jump in. Editor Brian Haberlin and series writer Brian Holguin are hoping to convince readers of those other fantasy titles to give "Godslayer" a try, and note that it's not just another Spawn or superhero book, but rather another series entirely.
CBR News sat down with Haberlin and Holguin to learn what they have planned for the latest story arc.
So, tell us exactly what's happening with Spawn: Godslayer and this $1.99 price point. Why the reduction in price for this issue and what have you got planned for it?
HABERLIN: Well, we think this is a great book, but I think for some reason fantasy fans aren't picking it up as they would a Conan or Red Sonja or Death Dealer, because they think superhero with the "Spawn" name involved. So we wanted to do a real jumping on point book with a sort of Marvel Universe style back up with bios of the main characters and the world they inhabit.
The stories by Brian Holguin and art by Philip Tan are just outstanding. And I think by getting it under folks' noses one way or the other, it will become a habit.
Not to mention the trade of the first six issues is coming out the month before this, making it a perfect time to get to know the high fantasy world of Gods and Godesses of Godslayer.
HOLGUIN: Exactly. We've just finished the first big story arc with issue six (collected in the trade), and the idea is to let readers and retailers know that issue #7 is a good place to start if they're not already on board. It begins the next chapter in the saga, involving a Vengeance Goddess who is hunting the Godslayer, blaming him for the death of her twin. Issue seven will also have a kind of guide to the world of Godslayer, the various kingdoms, pantheons, people, etc. We're all very, very proud of this book and we want to make it as reader friendly as possible. We're inviting new readers to try it out at a reduced price, believing that once they get a taste of the series, they'll be hooked.
Okay, as this issue will likely be the first for many readers, introduce our readers to the world of Spawn: Godslayer. What is this book?
HOLGUIN: I guess it's best described as a re-imagining of the Spawn mythos; that is, taking the basic elements and recasting them in an epic, dark fantasy series. Specifically, Godslayer is set in a world called Ur, which is ruled over by literally hundreds of gods, competing pantheons that govern the lands of men. The story follows a character named Bairn, who was once a lord of an ancient island kingdom called Endra-La, who was killed in battle on a distant shore. He made a deal with a shadowy, Chaos being (the exact nature of his master has yet to be revealed) with his dying breath: Serve as an instrument of destruction, hunting down gods one by one, and Bairn will be allowed to be reunited with his beloved fiancé named Neva.
That's the premise in a nutshell. But it's not an Elseworlds or What If story. You don't need to have read or have any familiarity at all with the main Spawn title to read or enjoy this book. It stands on its own.
Now, you say this is a good starting point for new readers and are rewarding them as such with a lower cover price, but for regular readers of the book how does this next saga build off what they already know? Will long time readers get more out of this story?
HOLGUIN: The events of the initial story arc, called The Winter King, are resolved to a certain degree in issue six. Issue seven is the beginning of an all new storyline. Although it obviously builds on what has come before, it is good place for new readers to jump on board and not feel like they're just catching end leg of a story. We're also putting in a kind of guide to the world of "Godslayer." There's an awful lot of characters, kingdoms, creatures etc. that we've introduced so far and we thought issue seven would be a good place to remind old readers or bring new ones up to speed. But it's not a recap issue. It's an all new, all original story that begins the next big story arc. Readers who have been with us from the beginning will get their money's worth (and then some), and hopefully, new readers will want to stick around and maybe pick up the trade paperback to see what they've missed.
You gave us a bit of an introduction as to what takes place in this series, but what's the title of this next story?
HOLGUIN: The next story arc is called Dire Things and it's primarily about obsession and revenge. Principally it concerns a vengeance Goddess who believes that the Godslayer is responsible to for death of her twin and sets out to hunt him down. She is driven to the point of monomania, willing to make extraordinary bargains and sacrifices to have her revenge, no matter that the consequences or cost to herself or her kindred Gods. Also, we're going to finally learn more about the Godslayer's shadowy master and his ultimate intentions for killing of the old Gods, and the ramifications of the bargain Neva struck in the previous issue is made clear.
For Brian Holguin, what have you learned about artist Philip Tan's artistic abilities that you now write more toward? What are his great strengths on this title?
HOLGUIN: Phil's greatest strength on this book has to be his design skills. When you're creating an entire world out of whole cloth, you want it to feel genuine, to feel convincing. From the clothes to the architecture to technology to strange creatures, great and small, Phil really brings a sense of realism, of believability. Any given issue involves creating kingdoms, monsters, Gods, cities, villages, whatever. And the kingdom of Uhmber, say, has to be distinct from the realm of Arcadea, which is different from Endra-La. But each of these has to have its own cohesive sense of culture and art and design. The kind of stuff that on a movie you'd have a whole team of conceptual artists working on for months, Phil has to do every issue. Lots of artists can draw street lamps and fire hydrants and high-rises realistically, but when you tell an artist we need a fleet of air gondolas or a horde of shambling, headless warriors or a tower made of rain, well, it takes a special talent to pull that off month after month.
As you guys now have six issues under your belt already, what have you discovered about the creative process for this book?
HABERLIN: For me it's that Brian can tell a fantasy story with the best of them and Phil has the perfect visual imagination for this type of stuff.
HOLGUIN: How involved creating an entire world is. With Aria and Psycho Circus I've done a lot of urban fantasy with real world elements co-existing with the fantastic influence. This is the first time I've ever really worked on this kind of epic fantasy, building up a world from scratch, with ecologies and cosmologies and histories and cultures and politics, not to mention Gods, monsters, magic, etc. Everything has to connect together and things that start off just as kind of background color start taking on more importance. We want to give the readers a sense of the world existing past the borders of the page. One thing we've added is a section called Mythologies, which is a short feature that rounds out the world in little more detail. Every issue, we take something that might play a minor part in the main story or maybe just a passing reference and explore it in more detail, giving a broader view of the world of Ur.
Anything else either of you would like to add?
HABERLIN: Just that fans of fantasy and swords and sorcery should really give this book a try, or they'll really be missing out on a great series.
HOLGUIN: There's been a definite resurgence in the fantasy genre in the media of books and movies and video games, but I'd like to see much more of it in comics. Going back to at least to Hal Foster and Windsor McCay comics have been an ideal vehicle for the genre. I'd like to think that maybe we're at the beginning of a new renaissance in original, American fantasy comics. I'd hope anyone who enjoys the epic fantasy genre will give "Godslayer" a chance. We're very proud of it and confident that once you've tried it, you'll be hooked.
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