Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters Bobby Curnow Interview
Included below is an interview done with Bobby
Curnow, editor at IDW Publishing, that was conducted this month.
I would like to thank Bobby for taking the time out of his
schedule to do this interview for us.
Chris Mirjahangir: How did the idea to bring Godzilla back
to comics come about?
Bobby Curnow: Chris Mowry, who is a huge,
HUGE Godzilla fan and works in our production department had
been lobbying for several years for us to make Godzilla comics.
That eventually lead to IDW reaching out to Toho.
Mirjahangir: How long had IDW been working to get this comic
series started and when was Toho approached with the idea?
Did recent events, such as Legendary Pictures' upcoming Godzilla
film, play any part in the timing?
Curnow: It took a while to get
the deal signed, well over a year. Negotiations started in
mid 2009 I think. As far as I know, the upcoming Godzilla film
did not play a large part in those discussions.
Mirjahangir: Both Marvel
Comics and Dark Horse had runs with the character which featured
Godzilla and no other licensed Toho monsters. What made IDW
decide to include other monsters from the franchise?
Godzilla fans, it just seemed to us like that was what was
really missing in Godzilla comics. The supporting monsters
are such an important part of what makes the Godzilla films
great- seeing these crazy, gigantic beasts clobber each other
while mortal men flee in terror. There's just too much potential
in those other monsters to ignore!
Mirjahangir: Crossovers in Godzilla
comics have had a history, with Marvel Comics pitting the monster
again the Avengers and the Fantastic Four while Dark Horse
infamously had him face Charles Barkley and Hero Zero in their
runs. What is the possibility of Godzilla running into another
licensed property, such as G.I. Joe or Transformers, in an
upcoming comic from IDW?
Curnow: I'd say minimal to zero. Those
types of crossovers between licenses are always very hard to
pull off logistically. More importantly, it seems counter to
what we're trying to do with Godzilla. There will be some humor
in the Godzilla comics, but they won't be silly. A crossover
with another license seems a little silly at this time. We
want to establish Godzilla as a powerful, real threat to the
world. So I won't say there's
NO chance of a crossover, but there's certainly no plans for
it in the foreseeable future.
Mirjahangir: What about
outside current IDW licenses? Would the company, for example,
be open to crossovers with King Kong, Gamera or other well
Curnow: This makes more sense from a storytelling
perspective, but we have so many great supporting monsters
already that we'll be busy for a while.
Mirjahangir: Who are the main
and key writers of the series?
Curnow: Eric Powell (The Goon) and
Tracy Marsh will be writing the ongoing. John Layman (Chew)
will be writing our first mini-series, which takes place in
a different continuity.
Mirjahangir: Who are the key artists on the series?
BC: Phil Hester (Green Arrow) is penciling the ongoing (with
Bruce McCorkindale doing inks and Ronda Pattison on color)
and Alberto Ponticelli (Unknown Soldier) is doing art on the
mini-series (with Jay Fotos doing color)
Mirjahangir: Alex Ross is one
of the more head turning artists out there working in comics
today, with a style that is well known and recognized. How
did he end up doing one of the covers for the first issue of
the Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters series?
Curnow: Like most everyone,
we're big fans of Alex- we asked if he liked Godzilla and it
turns out he did! (Who doesn't?) Not much more to it than that!
Mirjahangir: Matt Frank is a well respected artist in the fan
community, having contributed artwork to Toho Kingdom and other
venues in the past. What prompted the decision to bring him
on board the project for art duties such as creating variant
Curnow: If you're paying attention to Godzilla art, it's hard
to miss Matt's immense talent and enthusiasm for all things
Toho. We wanted to make him involved in a real way, so the
variant covers and the retail exclusive covers seemed like
a good place to start. Some people seize an opportunity...
and then other people tackle it to the ground, beat it into
submission and hang as a trophy on their wall! Suffice to say,
Matt knocked everything thrown at him out of the park.
Mirjahangir: Given his reputation within the fandom, what's
the possibility Matt will become more involved with the character
down the line at IDW, beyond doing variant covers?
Curnow: That's being
worked out currently actually, so I can't get into details.
But we're all for giving Matt a chance to stretch his wings
beyond the variant covers.
Mirjahangir: A list of licensed Toho monsters
was posted online that IDW got usage rights to. The list included
some well known monsters, such as Rodan and King Ghidorah,
along with some head turners, such as Battra and Titanosaurus.
Will this "roster" of licensed characters be expanded
in the future to include more Toho monsters?
Curnow: That's a very
real possibility that we'll be exploring in the future. We've
still got our hands full with the great batch of monsters currently
at our disposal... they'll tide us over for a bit!
Mirjahangir: Toho is
known to be very protective as far as approving designs for
their characters. Which character was Toho the most protective
Curnow: All these characters are Toho's children, so
they all get equal love. Obviously Godzilla is the biggest
star with the most 'screen' time, but Toho makes sure we're
getting every monster right. There was a learning curve at
the start of our submission process as we figured out what
works and what doesn't, but they've been incredibly supportive.
Plus we've received a ton of great behind-the-scene reference
Mirjahangir: Take us through the process from writing the script
to the finished book each month. What are the steps involved?
Curnow: First we approach creators who we think would have
a good take on the characters. We pretty quickly determine
who knows their stuff and is a real fan of the movies and who
isn't. Same goes for artists- we collect samples from good
candidates and go with what works best. It's usually the people
with the most enthusiasm and love of Godzilla. As we receive
materials from creators, everything goes through Toho... proposals,
full scripts, sample art, pencils, inks, colors... That's our
main job as editors, juggling all that new material and making
sure we get approvals on it all, or make the appropriate tweak
Mirjahangir: 80+ comic stores qualified for custom artwork
featuring their store being crushed by Godzilla by ordering
500 copies of the first issue which is unheard of for comic
books. Were you suprised by the reaction to the promotion?
Curnow: Oh yeah!
We thought it was going to be around 20-30 stores... and that
would have been great! When you combine the first print and
the second print, it ended up being a total of 94 stores (that
includes 3 stores from the first printing that did new variants
for the 2nd printing). Add the Dynamic Forces cover, our Wonder
Con exclusive cover, and the four covers we did showing all
of the IDW staff fleeing from our building and you get a tidy
100 individual variant covers! The entire idea for this retail
exclusive came from our resident super fan Chris Mowry, and
he really hit on a great, special idea that anyone; retailers,
customers, casual fans can get their heads around and appreciate.
There will be a lot of imitators of this promotion, but I don't
think anything will quite capture the magic of this one...
I mean, who doesn't want their house or store crushed by Godzilla?
Mirjahangir: Of all those involved in the series, who is the
biggest fan and why?
Curnow: Some of the creators involved with the books might
be able to give him a run for his money, but I think the answer
definitely has to be Chris Mowry, at least as far as people
I know. He's my 'go to' guy when I have a question. He's seen
all the movies countless times, has tons of awesome toys and
hard-to-find collectibles, and even lived in Japan for a while.
His enthusiasm is palpable, and he keeps us in editorial on
point. (That being said, the editorial team of Chris Ryall,
Carlos Guzman, and myself are all big fans. We've had several
drunken Godzilla movie nights.)
Mirjahangir: The Toho monster Bagan is
famous for ALMOST making it into a few films in the 1980's
and 1990's before being dropped at the last minute. His only
official appearance was in the Super Nintendo game "Super
Godzilla", which was released by Toho. Any possibility
of seeing him in the comic at some point?
Curnow: Not at the start,
but nothing is impossible down the line!
Mirjahangir: In the videogame Godzilla:
Unleashed, developers Atari and Pipeworks were allowed
to create their own monsters for inclusion in the game called
Krystalak and Obsidius. Since they have become official, licensed
Toho monsters, would there be any chance they might make an
Curnow: Not at this time, no... interesting idea though!
Mirjahangir: Will only monsters from the Godzilla universe
be included in the series?
Curnow: At the risk of sounding like a broken record,
yes, we'll just being seeing monsters from our current approved
monsters list. It's such a great list though, and we really
want to give these guys the chance to shine that they deserve.
It's a big enough list that we'll have great stories to tell
for quite a while. That being said, there's no doubt we're
missing a some people's personal favorites. There's definitely
some great names missing from our list. We'll be looking into
seeing if we can do something with those other characters in
Mirjahangir: How many mini series books are planned currently?
Curnow: After the Layman/Ponticelli arc, we'll be doing some
one-shots by different creators that spotlight different monsters
and aspects of the Godzilla universe that we haven't seen much
of yet. After that we've got some really exciting ideas lined
up and in development.