Kurt Busiek’s much-anticipated return to Astro City has not been without its challenges. When DC’s “WildStorm” banner closed its doors back in 2010, the book was left without a home, and Busiek himself suffered from severe health problems which further delayed its progress.
Now, more than three years later, fans are impatiently awaiting the re-release of Astro City under the DC label, and I had the chance to chat with Kurt about some of the questions surrounding the June 5th release. Are we going to see any crossover with the existing DC universe? Is an Astro City movie in the works? And is Busiek going to reveal any juicy details about the much-discussed “Broken Man” who will inhabit the city?
Read on, fellow comic book enthusiast…these questions and more will be answered!
Blake Northcott: Astro City was last published back in May of 2010 under the WildStorm banner. When it re-launches on June 5 will it have the same creator-owned vibe now that it’s being published by DC?
Kurt Busiek: It should. There’s not all that much to the imprint change other than the company logo on the cover. It’s still be the same creative team — me, Brent, Alex, Alex Sinclair, John Roshell and Comicraft — it’s still produced out of DC’s west coast offices–though they’ve moved to Burbank from La Jolla–and it’s even still edited by Kristy Quinn, who worked on the book as associate editor for years beforehand. So it’s the same people doing the same book in much the same way. It feels like the same book to me, so I think it’ll feel like the same book to the readers.
It’s still very much creator-owned, and we’re still making the story decisions — we may be older and grayer and watching kids grow up around us, but we’re still full of story ideas and doing our best to deliver something you haven’t seen before, or maybe haven’t thought about the same way before.
BN: With a three year hiatus since the last issue, are there any plans to ease new readers into the continuity of the Astro City world?
KB: I think we’ve been pretty good about that all along–when we launched volume two at WildStorm, we started out with “Welcome to Astro City,” a story that welcomed new readers in. When we started up with the “Local Heroes” mini, we did another “intro” story, and I think we’ve kept that up. This series starts off with a different kind of intro issue, one that’ll introduce both new readers and old ones to some new ideas and new characters–but it’ll definitely serve as a good starting point for anyone interested in the series who hasn’t tried it before. One issue in, you’ll have a sense of what the series is about, who the players are, how it works and what sort of approach to expect.
But then, I think we’ve been pretty new-reader friendly all along, even if you started up in the middle of something, we’d make sure you could step in anywhere and get brought up to speed quickly.
BN: Astro City has its own self-contained universe – will that ever cross-over with the existing “New 52” DC universe, even if it’s just a one-shot or a “What if?” scenario?
KB: No plans for that. I want to keep things self-contained, and as I’ve said before, if I ever want to explore the kind of thing you can do in a crossover story, Alex, Brent and I can simply make up both sides. I know people like that sort of thing, but I think they can get that with lots of other characters. I’d like to keep Astro City personal, keep it mine.
BN: Back in 2010 it was announced that Working Title Films (Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Les Misérables) had acquired the rights to make a live-action feature film adaptation of Astro City. Has there been any progress on that front? I’m sure people are going to be even more excited about that possibility now that Astro City is coming back in June.
KB: We’ve been doing the Hollywood dance, on that front. Working Title did some development work on the movie, and had a take they liked a lot, but the option period expired at a time when one of the top guys at the company–the one who was the most involved with Astro City — couldn’t give everything the attention it needed to have. So that option lapsed, and we’re currently in the middle of negotiating another one, with someone else.
There is a lot of interest — partly with the series coming back, partly with the ongoing and growing success of superheroes on TV and in films. But this sort of things is always, to some degree, like wandering blindly through a maze filled with monsters. You hope you’ve got the best guides and the best plans, and you give it your best shot. And sometimes it works and sometimes you’re suddenly in a different part of the maze with a different guide, facing a whole new set of monsters.
A friend of mine likes to say that any time you hear something’s going to be a movie, don’t believe it until you’re sitting there in the theater with a bucket of popcorn in your lap–and maybe not even then. That’s good advice. All I can really tell you is that plans are afoot, with good people–a different set of people than last time, and a different set of plans–and I’m excited by it, but we’ll have to see what happens, and when it’ll be time to buy that tub of popcorn.
BN: What movies, televisions show and comics are you indulging in? Anything that you feel really stood out last year?
KB: I may not be the best guy to ask, considering how much time I spent on pain pills last year. But I loved the Avengers movie, I loved Amazing Spider-Man to bits, and am eager to see more. I liked Chronicle a lot. Plus there were great non-superpowered movies, too, like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. On TV, my current favorites are probably The Good Wife, Homeland and Justified. And The Newsroom, once it got past a rocky couple of episodes. And I’m ape$#!+ excited about the Veronica Mars movie. Can’t wait.
In comics, my favorites include Saga, Fatale, The Sixth Gun, Stumptown and Fables, and I’m thrilled to have Mike Mignola back drawing some Hellboy as well as writing it. I think The Nao of Brown was fantastic, and everyone should check out a new GN called Porcelain. I’ve also been indulging in classic strip reprints, collections of On Stage and Rip Kirby. And I’m having way too much fun reading All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, which really feel like a fresh and different way to handle the whole X-Men idea. There’s a lot of fun stuff out there. Looking forward to Lazarus.
BN: And finally, without getting spoiler-ish, what can you say about The Broken Man that will get people even more excited about the return of Astro City?
Kurt: Without getting spoiler-ish? Easier said than done.
Let’s see… there are things about Astro City–its history, its universe, the way it works behind the scenes–that The Broken Man has seen, that he knows better than anyone else. Or at least, he thinks he knows them. There are two revelations about him in #1 that’ll be interesting surprises, one on the first page, one on the last page. And he’ll definitely show you a side of things you’ve never seen, and involve readers in the story in a way they haven’t been until now. What it means, though–what his mission is, how far back it extends, whether it has any chance of success, and what part of it readers get to see–that’s all stuff I can’t say, but I think it’ll be a wild ride.
Oh, and while this is his first appearance as The Broken Man, it’s not his first appearance. How’s that for tantalizing?
Blake Northcott is an author, Twitter-er, and occasional Slayer of Vampires (only the ones that sparkle).You can follow her on Twitter, or pick up her best-selling Sci-Fi/Superhero books Vs. Reality and Relapse over at Amazon.com.