If you’ve read my articles for a while on Adventures in Poor Taste (Hi Mom!), then you’re probably aware that I am a HUGE fan of author Chuck Wendig. Before he became a recent fixture on the New York Times Bestseller list with Star Wars: Aftermath (while simultaneously destroying America for others), Wendig was crafting incredible stories filled with some of my favorite fictional characters of all time. (And not to start a nerd debate about the Star Wars EU, but Aftermath helped me finally accept the franchise’s new cannon).
So when I found out that Wendig was writing a comic, I couldn’t put it on my pull list fast enough. Not only that, but he was going to be co-writing it with acclaimed author Adam Christopher and the book was going to be drawn by Drew Edward Johnson.
But ‘acclaimed’ can still be bad, so I went and checked out Christopher’s writing. This resulted in me immediately adding some of his books to my ‘To Read’ list and getting even more excited about The Shield. I was already familiar with Johnson’s art, which is jaw-droppingly good.
So that’s a lot of talent on one book… that I have absolutely no idea about. But as luck would have it, Chuck Wendig and Adam Christopher were willing to talk with AiPT! about the creation of the series along with giving us a basic primer on what to expect.
When I found out that I’d be the one interviewing my favorite author along with the two creative powerhouses he was making a comic book with, I was a bit… stunned.
But after recovering my wits (and changing pants), I sat down with The Shield’s co-authors to see what I could learn about the highly anticipated series.
AiPT!: With both of you being novelists, what are some of the major differences you encounter when writing/scripting a comic?
Adam Christopher: Writing a comic uses a different part of the brain to prose, and it’s an extremely enjoyable and satisfying form to work with. Novelists perhaps have a tendency, at least initially, to cram too much in, because when you write a novel you’re on your own and you need to give the reader absolutely everything. But a comic is a true 50/50 collaboration between the writer and the artist. On The Shield we have Drew Johnson, who is an absolute genius—every page we see is a delight and a surprise. This book is going to look amazing.
(AiPT! Spoiler Alert: We got our hands on an advance review copy and can confirm that it does, in fact, look amazing).
AiPT!: Along the same lines, how does the collaboration between you two work?
Chuck Wendig: We alternate first drafts, with the other person acting as the editor. But once it gets into the second, third, fourth drafts, our work has become so intermeshed that it’s impossible to remember who wrote what, or who came up with what idea. That works for us because we’ve known each other for years and are confident in the other’s ability—if one of us says something is no good, it’s no good. There may be discussion, but no argument.
Adam Christopher: Our collaboration also works well because we are two very different writers. Our novels are worlds apart in style and voice—this is actually a very good thing, because when we work together, this combines into something new, something neither of us could come up with on our own.
AiPT!: What drew both of you to this project and to collaborate on it together?
Adam Christopher: We’d been tinkering with a few comicy things for a while, so when Dark Circle editor Alex Segura gave us the call, it was obvious that we should write The Shield together. Here was a very rare opportunity indeed to take an existing property and use it as the blueprint for something completely new. You can’t say no to a project like that!
AiPT!: The Shield has a ton of history that most people aren’t aware of (myself included before the new series was announced). Will your series incorporate any of that—along with others who have worn the mantle—or will it be an all new direction?
Chuck Wendig: Actually, both. The Shield is brand new… but still linked to past continuity. The direction is also new—it’s a superhero action book, but focused more on dark conspiracies and shady organizations than punching robots. Although that will happen at some point, we promise.
Adam Christopher: Importantly, this is a brand new book with a brand new hero and readers can jump straight in. You don’t need to know anything about the previous versions of The Shield. The adventure starts here.
AiPT!: For folks like me who are jumping on board with little to no previous knowledge of the character, who is Victoria Adams and what is she going up against?
Chuck Wendig: Victoria Adams is The Shield—and she always has been The Shield. The first story arc is called Daughter of the Revolution, so that may give you some clues as to her origin.
She’s been returning to our world whenever her country needs her, but this time something is different—she’s back, with no idea who she is, or what she is up against. She—and the reader—will learn about herself and her purpose as she faces up to government agent Walter Chase… a man with dark secrets all of his own, and a diabolical master plan that has been a long time in the making.
AiPT!: One thing I’ve really liked in all the previews for the series is how the artists draw Victoria Adams. She’s beautiful, but also proportioned like a real woman rather than a photoshopped porn star. Was this depiction a conscious effort/directive on the part of the entire creative team?
Chuck Wendig: Absolutely, it was the top priority. We need more female superheroes—and we need more female superheroes who look like real people. Wilfredo Torres did a fantastic job—The Shield is beautiful, but she’s real. She’s got muscles, she has realistic proportions, and her costume is highly practical. She’s a soldier, after all, albeit one with enhanced abilities. As a result, we have a seriously kick-ass female superhero who looks great, looks like a real person, and who is very cosplayable. Creating a cosplayable design wasn’t the intent, it was a consequence of our design approach. She’s one of the best female superhero designs in comics right now.
AiPT!: Does Drew Johnson ever participate in the plotting of the series?
Adam Christopher: Not directly, but Drew is a master at his craft—he’s the director and cinematographer, showcasing our script in the best way that he knows how. This means he can change or adapt what we’ve written in the script—he really knows how things work on the page, so if he sees a better way of showing something, he has free reign to draw it that way.
AiPT!: Will The Shield be interacting or crossing over with any other Dark Circle characters, or is this a completely seperate universe?
Adam Christopher: It’s a shared universe, and eagle-eyed readers may spot one or two nods to other characters coming up. A crossover would be fun, given how different the Dark Circle books are… how would The Shield react to Black Hood, for example? That would be an… interesting story!
AiPT!: Any other projects both of you have coming up to share with your fans?
Adam Christopher: My big book this year is Made to Kill, a hardboiled, Chandleresque mystery about the last robot in the world, who works as a hitman in 1960s Hollywood. It’s the most fun I’ve had writing! Made to Kill is out in November from Tor – you can check out thelatrilogy.com and read the prequel short story, “Brisk Money”, right now.
I’ve also got more Elementary novels to write, and there are some comic projects bubbling away that I hope I can talk about soon!
Chuck Wendig: I’ve got the reprints of the Miriam Black series coming out, plus the newest in that series — THUNDERBIRD. Plus there’s that little tiny book nobody’s heard of, I think it’s called STAR WARS: AFTERMATH?
Check back here in a few days for an advanced review of The Shield #1… which thankfully was really good, because it would have been hella awkward if the book sucked after doing this interview.