Exclusive: Chris Roberson Talks MASKS, Alex Ross, And What’s To Come
One of the best books you’ll read this month came out a few weeks ago. Dynamite Entertainment’s first crossover featuring pulp heroes like Green Hornet and Kato, The Shadow, The Spider, Zorro, and Miss Fury teaming up and fighting together is written by Chris Roberson. The first issue features interior art by Alex Ross, with Dennis Calero taking up the remaining 7 issues. You can check out our 5 star review of the first issue right here. Writer Chris Roberson was kind enough to talk to us about the hit series and what’s coming up for both the book as well as what he’s working on next.
Masks came out this week and has had a positive response. First off, congratulations on the book. Can you talk a little about how this project came about and what drew you to it? What did you bring up with your initial pitch for the miniseries?
I had been talking with Dynamite for a while about the possibility of working with them on something. This past spring, they contacted me to see if I had any ideas about a crossover featuring a bunch of the pulp characters they had the licenses for, along with some older public domain comic book characters. They had the title, “Masks,” I believe, but nothing concrete beyond that. I suggested using the “Black Police Trilogy” storyline from the Norvell Page Spider novels as a jumping off point, and we were off to the races.
This is the first real team-up for this group of heroes. You’ve said before that this is the comic you wanted to write since you first discovered the pulp heroes, but were you at all nervous about the task or did you see it as a welcome challenge?
Not really nervous, no. Just excited, I suppose. When you’re offered the chance to play with that many toys at once, how can you refuse?
Right now we have Green Hornet, Kato, The Shadow, and The Spider in play with the conclusion of issue 1. You’re going to have several big characters in play throughout the series, but how do you go about balancing them and giving each their own moment in the spotlight? These are all characters with lengthy histories.
That’s the trick with any storyline featuring this many characters. The best I can do is to approach the story organically, and build the issues scene by scene. When I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with a particular character in the spotlight lately, that’s when I shift the focus onto them for a while.
It depends on the day. At the moment, I’m probably having the most fun writing things for the Shadow to say, but tomorrow it might be figuring out cool action for Kato to do. It’s the variety that keeps it interesting!
The first issue featured art by Alex Ross. This was his first interior art work in some time. What was it like working with him on the introductory chapter?
Incredible? Amazing? Incomparable? Honestly, I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around it!
I understand Dennis Calero will be coming in for the next few issues. Can you talk about what he brings to the table for the series?
I’m afraid I haven’t seen much of Dennis’s work for the series yet, but I’ve enjoyed his work in the past, and I look forward to seeing what he does with it!
We have 7 full issues left. Can you give us a little tease for what we have to look forward to?
Action? Suspense? Surprise twists? More masks, more heroes, more menace? Lots of stuff, and hopefully all good!
What do you think makes the pulp heroes so popular after all these years?
I think it could be the simplicity of the concepts. You don’t need a lot of background knowledge to get onboard with these characters, or to understand the world they inhabit. They are, in that sense at least, purer characters than you often find in superhero comics, who often bring a lot of baggage with them that a reader has to deal with. These are men and women who put on masks and fight crime. Go!
I won’t say it’s impossible!
I’ve got a number of other irons in the fire. I’m hard at work on REIGN, the new ongoing that Paul Maybury and I are doing at Image, Rich Ellis is busy drawing the next installment of MEMORIAL for IDW, Dennis Culver and I are rocking along with EDISON REX, and there’s a lot of other stuff in the works I can’t talk about yet!
This series is one everyone will be talking about. It will be very interesting to see what happens next since the first issue kicked off all the action in earnest instead of having your general first issue of the team meeting each other and figure out what the threat is. There are several more big characters to debut as well. Roberson handled the characters he’s got to use so far very well, so hopefully there’s something more to his answer about seeing him writing another event or even some of the characters in a solo adventure. With several projects coming up, I for one can’t wait to see how Roberson follows up Masks.