From his work on "X-Men Legacy" and "Marvel Zombies" to creator-owned books like "The Spire" and the upcoming "Cry Havoc," writer Simon Spurrier has made a name for himself in the comics industry as a worthy talent to follow. With his X-titles, Spurrier proved he could handle complex ideas with a large, rotating cast of characters. "The Spire" continued to build on those strengths while crafting a murder-mystery set in a sci-fi world created entirely by artist Jeff Stokely and himself.
Recently, Spurrier sat down with Jonah Weiland in the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to discuss his approach to writing the X-Men characters for Marvel, his past work on the pulpy "Six-Gun Gorilla" at BOOM!, his most recent creator-owned comic "The Spire," juggling writing for the Big Two publishers alongside indie books like "Cry Havoc" and much more.
In the first part of the conversation, Spurrier and Weiland talk about the similarities and differences between New York and London, and the unique conventions hosted by each city. Spurrier then delves into the bad relationships his Marvel characters often have with their fathers.
On the recurring theme of daddy issues in his work:
Si Spurrier: I think it's a thing you can explore very easily in comics and, especially, in these legacy titles ... I think you're dealing with these extraordinary, exaggerated personalities and people. Obviously, it is part of the storyteller's obligation to find things that will allow the reader to relate to these characters who are so utterly unlike the readers that it's very difficult sometimes to resonate with them. Parental relationships are something that all of us have, or have not, had. It's something that we all understand, you know? It's just one of those simple touchstones that everyone has an emotional connection to, whether it's positive or negative.
And there's also because I'm a contrary prick -- it's just nice to play with these expectations of superhero characters in particular. You start with somebody who's expected -- simply through dint of having incredible powers -- is expected to make this unilateral moral decision that they're going to go out and fight crime -- and that's the way that it is and has always been. And so, because I'm a contrary prick, it's quite nice to flip that on its head. And the obvious way of doing that is to have two people who see it very differently. And, in the case of "X-Men Legacy" and in a lot of other things that I've written, the simple way of doing it is that you have a child who feels very differently from their parent, or vice versa. So, yeah, I'm making this up on the fly ... I don't have a bee in my bonnet about father-son relationships or anything.
In the second part of the interview, Spurrier jumps into his creator-owned work, specifically with "Six-Gun Gorilla," which he adapted from a 1920s pulp book in the public domain about a gun-toting circus gorilla out for revenge. Spurrier then sells Weiland on his latest comic from BOOM! Studios, "The Spire."
On his creator-owned comic, "The Spire":
It's like "Dark Crystal" meets "Blade Runner" ... Similar to "Six-Gun Gorilla," it's very difficult to define. It's a murder-mystery -- central character is a lesbian cop who isn't as human as she appears to be. The location is the spire -- the eponymous spire -- which is a mile-high, ant-hill city in this wilderness, a desert of a scorched Earth. It might be a post-apocalypse. It might be a fantasy world. It's unknown and never going to be explained. It's just a world where the last dregs of humanity are inside this incredible, chattering, magical, grinding, seething city. Wherein, the richer you are, the closer you live to the top; the poorer you are, the closer you live to the bottom. And there are all these non-human tribes -- races -- which may have been, in millennia past, the result of genetic engineering. Who knows? Again, it's not important that we know. What's important is that they're really cool. And this is where the "Dark Crystal" thing comes in. This is where Jeff [Stokely] gets to play with his creature design. So there's characters who are part-animal, there's creatures who look like nothing you've ever seen before, and they're all trying to get on in this metropolitan city. And, inevitably, ethnic and racial and religious tensions start bubbling up. So, it's a story about prejudice ... It's more about immigration than it's about race. It's about people who claim to be welcoming and progressive and all about everybody coming together, secretly being very suspicious of anybody coming into their city and doing their jobs for them.
Closing out their conversation, Spurrier discusses jumping back and forth between writing for DC and Marvel, while at the same time creating his own independent books in his free time, including "The Spire" and the upcoming "Cry Havoc," due out in January 2016 from Image Comics. He also shares some advice on dealing with negative feedback.
On splitting his time between writing for "Big Two" and his creator-owned titles:
I think the privilege of being a writer as opposed to an artist is that I can be working on multiple books at any one time. So -- I don't know -- I go back and forth on this. I spend a lot of my time thinking about brands and career trajectories and all that stuff, and I think it's nonsense. You just -- you should let that stuff sort itself out. But, right now, I'm very comfortable doing some of my work for "Big Two" stuff, because it means that I'm getting more eyes on the product. It means that I'm demonstrating that I can tell those sorts of stories, to myself and to my readers, and be doing some of my work in the sort of indie side of things where I get more freedom. I can do stuff like "The Spire" and like "Cry Havoc." And it's glorious and freeing, and it's always far more rewarding to be writing that stuff. It's not necessarily more rewarding to be reading the feedback because there's a lot more feedback ... This is the thing I go on about all the time, but as a result of spending the past three years of my life horribly procrastinating online, I've come up with Spurrier's First Law, which is, "factions speak louder than herds." And it's true -- Anything that you see online, if it's really loud and really noticeable, it's because one person thinks it, not because thousands of people think it.