Tischman Throws Wildstorm a "Red Herring"

According to Merriam-Webster OnLine, a "red herring" is either a fish cured by salting and slow smoking to a dark brown color, or something that distracts attention from the real issue.

Writer David Tischman ("Bite Club") and artist Philip Bond ("The Invisibles") offer a third option with their new series from Wildstorm entitled, you guessed it, "Red Herring."

The DC imprint announced a series of new creator-driven series of books at this year's ComicsPRO retailers meeting, and all this week, CBR News has been speaking with the writers involved in those titles. Tuesday, Jeff Mariotte told us about "Garrison," his and artist Francesco Francavilla's six-issue action epic set in the near-future; and yesterday we spoke with Aaron Williams about the Lovecraftian world of "North 40" that he's creating with Fiona Staples.

Today, CBR checks in with Tischman, who not only gave us the low-down on what to expect from "Red Herring," but also shared an exclusive first look at Philip Bond's cover for the first issue that ships later this year.

CBR: You've described "Red Herring" as "X-Files" meets "The Daily Show." Can you expand on this Hollywood-style pitch?

David Tischman: There are government agents and con men and corporate big wigs and a young woman sleeping with her boss. "Red Herring" is how all of those disparate elements come together - a conspiracy book that looks at a complex series of events and motivations with arms crossed and a firm "WTF" expression on our face. That covers the "X-Files" part.

"The Daily Show" part comes from the tone of the book, and the unlikely partnership of our main characters, a conspiracy-obsessed man named Red Herring, and his partner, a shopaholic woman with bad taste in men named MacGuffin.

Do you love both shows?

I'm a huge "X-Files" guy. I even saw the second movie - in theaters. Beyond the mystery of Mulder's sister and the Cigarette Smoking Man, my favorite episodes were the ones written by Darin Morgan, the "Smoking Gun" episodes, the Charles Nelson Reilly "Jose Chung" episodes, and "The War of the Coprophages." They were cynical, but with humor. We're trying to have the same kind of fun.

And "The Daily Show," I watch every night and "The Colbert Report" too. The power of those shows is showing us how crazy life has become.

Little has been revealed, so what can you share with us about the story unfolding in "Red Herring?"

Our story's in Washington, D.C. There is a cover-up about an alien invasion. A lot of people are lying, and no one suspects the truth. To paraphrase the old expression, "Theories are like assholes, everyone's got one." I'm not going to tell you what that truth is.

With a title like "Red Herring," is it safe to say you may lead readers astray from time to time, as well?

There are surprises in each issue. Some are more obvious than others. I think people will be surprised by the violence, too. There is a scene in the first issue that plays really scary; and people die. It works well with the humor.

How did the idea come about?

The idea started with the character. A guy named Red Herring. What's that guy all about? As soon as I had that, I knew there was a conspiracy. That led, immediately, to "Maggie MacGuffin."

Can you tell us more about Red and Maggie?

Red Herring's real name is Teddy, but the guy's got red hair, so it's kind of a no-brainer. He's become aware of a global conspiracy, and he's made it his mission in life to bring that conspiracy to its knees. He's not a hero at all, and his reasons are very personal. Maggie MacGuffin is an aide to a congressman. She's just out of college, and is a little spoiled, and a fun girl, and she still thinks she can change the world. Maggie gets sucked into Red's world. She's named after my wife. She has long dark hair, like you see on the cover.

Is there a villain?

The Capricorn Group is a Washington think tank that's at the root of the conspiracy. What they know, and how they know it is revealed across the issues of the series. Because Capricorn is the "villain," I think they have the most surprises.

Is "Red Herring" planned as an ongoing or a miniseries?

The book is designed to be a series of miniseries. Wildstorm's been very supportive of that. There is a big resolution at the end of "Red Herring" #6 regarding Capricorn, but those events open a Pandora's Box of other problems and other conspiracies. In subsequent stories, Red Herring and the MacGuffin work together against all the conspiracies you hear about, but that no one can prove really exist. Because they do exist. I do believe that.

It sounds like these aren't done-in-ones but pieces of a larger mythos?

Definitely a larger mythos that comes to light through the events of this mini. I'm calling that story "Red Herring 2: Gilding The Lilly." We have the story, but that's all I'm talking about now.

What can you say about the work of artist Philip Bond?

Philip is incredible. We worked together on "Angel and the Ape" at Vertigo, and we're friends, and when this idea was first percolating, I went to Philip right away. And he got it right away. We are co-creators on "Red Herring" and you've seen the cover, just unbelievably great. He's been great on story, too. He's British, so there's an occasional eye roll when I get too silly, but he always brings me back to center, and it's been good for the book. His Maggie is damn sexy, and I just love his pages.

What else are you working on these days?

There's a couple things going on, ideas that I love that put two genres together and then break them apart. But I'm not one of these guys who likes to get on Facebook and talk about a page breakdown that I'm working on for a story that won't see print for six months. There's too much information out there; too much time to discuss what's not yet in front of you. For now, I'm thrilled to be talking about "Red Herring." It's a fun book. You should read it.

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