Image Comics has been dominating creator owned comics in 2012. With books like Prophet, Dancer, Grim Leaper and Secret, Image is proving what can be done with a team of incredible writers and artists. One title from Image has especially stood out in this year’s impressive selection, Landry Walker and Eric Jones’ Danger Club. With a hyper violent aesthetic Danger Club is a look at a barren future controlled by super-powered youths. The first issue blew me away and I ended up writing a review for GeeksofDoom. In the review I wrote that, “Danger Club #1 reads like Lord of The Flies, only with Meta humans.” and with each issue this concept becomes more and more prevalent.
I was lucky enough to speak with Danger Club’s writer and accomplished comic creator, Landry Walker. As a writer who has worked primarily in all-ages comics, the brutality and adult tone of Danger Club seemed bold and progressive. However, as Walker explains in our interview, the choice says more about the comic industry than one would expect.
You have worked on Disney Adventure Magazine and a ton of all ages titles, why take Danger Club to such a hyper violent level?
Well, the easiest answer is that both myself and co-creator Eric Jones want to explore as many storytelling methods as possible. Much of our pre-Disney work was hyper-adult in a very different way, so adult oriented material isn’t really new to us.
That said, the truth is that if you want to reach more readers, you need to get violent. You put two comics in front of the average reader and give them a choice between all-ages and adult, they will pick adult. The comics industry chose to wage a war against the preconceptions of the medium in the 80′s and they were quiet successful. Comics aren’t just for kids they said. Now we are largely left with no comics for kids. Don’t get me wrong, there is some brilliant work being done for all-ages… and it typically has a fraction of the comics buying readership.
We will get back to some all-ages stuff soon though.
When pitching DC to Image, did you have any reservations about making it clear that this comic would feature kids brutally beating one another?
I’m not sure we actually made it clear. In truth, it didn’t occur to me that maybe we should. Still not sure why people seem to have a reaction to it. Comics have been depicting brutal things happening to children for decades. We take this idea that kids can get bullets fired at them or beaten up with a crowbar or jump off buildings, but you still see these kids wear helmets when they ride motorcycles? Silly.
How did you first get involved in comics?
I’ve been interested in writing for as long as I can remember. One night a bunch of friends and I were sitting in a restaurant. It was around 2:00 AM and we were in our late teens. Eric and I started bouncing story ideas back and forth and decided to make some comics. From there, we did years worth of underground mini-comics. Then we moved into a more indy realm with our co-creation Little Gloomy (premiering as a cartoon in France soon called Scary Larry). Then we worked for Disney Adventures then DC and now we’re doing Danger Club.
DC was previewed in Invincible, is it intimidating being featured in a comic that has had such a successful run with one of the best teams in comics?
Not really. I mean, I don’t really think about it in those terms. You can’t. If you do, you run the risk of stage fright. I’ve woken up to calls from Mark Waid and Kieth Giffen. I’ve worked on a book with Bill Sienkiewicz. It’s both mind-shattering and sobering at the same time. My job is to keep perspective and get the job done, which is common goal of all comics creators, no matter how notable.
It probably helps that I grew up in the entertainment industry, which meant a considerable amount of my childhood was spent backstage somewhere with people who were purportedly important without me being old enough to understand why. After you spend some time in line in front of Jack Nicholson waiting to get a hot dog, your perspective changes.
Did you pitch DC to Image with a traditional pitch (script, sequential art, etc) or did you approach the pitch differently?
Pretty traditional. Probably more detailed than any pitch we had done previously, I think. I don’t know why. I guess we had the free time.
Any last advice for people looking to work in comics professionally?
Make comics. Don’t wait for an invitation. Go out and make them. Put them online. Photocopy them and give them away at conventions. Just do it. More than once people have told me they want to do comics but then gone on to explain why they aren’t. Don’t do that. Just make comics.
It’s important to remember that the difference between professional status and non-professional is just a matter of getting someone to pay you. You can’t do that unless they have something to buy.