Take one look at GØDLAND, by writer Joe Casey and artist Tom Scioli, and you might feel like you’ve stepped backward through time into the heyday of Jack Kirby’s 1960s superhero epics. Crack one open, however, and you’ll find a postmodern Cosmic Superhero Epic for the 21st century. As part of Image Month, TFAW.com got the chance to talk with Joe Casey about the past, present, and future of GØDLAND!
TFAW.com: Hi Joe, thanks for sitting down and answering some questions!
Joe Casey: My pleasure.
TFAW.com: So where did you come up with the concept for GØDLAND?
JC: The concept really came from everywhere, all at once. Erik Larsen made the love connection between myself and Tom Scioli, hoping we’d end up working together. Obviously, Tom and I share a sensibility when it comes to this type of Cosmic Superhero Epic so we were riffing on ideas right off the bat.
TFAW.com: What’s coming up for the title? What can you tell us about the upcoming story arc, DØGLAND?
JC: We’re inching our way closer to the big finale. The issue titled DØGLAND is really about Adam Archer’s understanding of what his own species is capable of. There’s an evolutionary theme that runs throughout the entire series and that particular issue really hits it on the head. It also provides a visit to Maxim’s homeworld.
TFAW.com: So where is Adam Archer? What’s the purpose of taking him out of the action right now?
JC: I don’t think he’s out of the action at all. GØDLAND is a book with a sprawling cast of characters and they all demand stage time. Adam is right where he always is . . . in the thick of things, even things he doesn’t quite comprehend yet.
TFAW.com: How are his sisters going to fit into the upcoming story?
JC: Well, Neela is where Adam is . . . on the far side of the universe. She’s the reason Adam’s there in the first place. Back on Earth, Stella and Angie are discovering that the concept of “holding down the fort” doesn’t quite mean the same ol’, same ol’ . . . especially when Earth needs Adam to defend it against all manner of alien intruder (like the airborne fleet of Almighty Decimators that just arrived over Washington D.C.).
TFAW.com: While GØDLAND‘s main heroes, Adam, Neela, Stella, Angie, and Maxim, are old-school Kirby-era characters with a twist, your villains, including Basil Cronus and Friedrich Nickelhead, are something else: hilarious, ridiculous, and completely over the top. What is it about the villains that allows you to cut loose?
JC: This far along, I don’t know if I even see them as “villains” anymore. To me, I simply write them either as unique iconoclasts or as individuals with their own agendas. GØDLAND is a book that operates way beyond the simple concepts of “good” and “evil,” and characters like Basil and Nickelhead and the Tormentor reflect that.
TFAW.com: While at first glance, GØDLAND looks just like a Kirby-era cosmic adventure, it has a lot more humor and metaphysical pondering. Was that the plan from the beginning? How has GØDLAND evolved over the years?
JC: GØDLAND has always been, on certain levels, a very improvisational comic. When I’m writing these characters’ dialogue, I’m just opening up my own head and letting it fly. It’s part of the fun of doing the book, that feeling that anything can happen, that these characters could say anything at any moment.
But that being said, now that we’re entering the home stretch, the overall plan for the series has to come to the forefront. Readers will finally be able to understand all the stuff we’ve been on about this entire time.
TFAW.com: There’s been rumor that you’ll be ending the series in the nearish future–around issue #38. Is this the case?
JC: It’s true. But the final issue number has not been nailed down. We’re still figuring out A) how much story we have left to tell, B) how much room we’ll need to tell it, and C) exactly what format we’ll use to wrap it all up. I can tell you this much . . . when it ends, it’ll end big.
TFAW.com: How will you know when this series is complete? What did you want to say here?
JC: It’s not exactly what you say as much as how you say it. GØDLAND is dealing with concepts that have been around in sci-fi for decades. We’re just trying to put our own spin on it. And, beyond that, it’s entertainment. We want readers to open up any given issue of GØDLAND or one of the trades or the hardcover editions and be taken on a thrill ride. So far, so good.
TFAW.com: Clearly, old-school creators like Kirby and Engelhart are big influences on this series. Who else did you enjoy as a kid?
JC: My favorite writers when I was a kid were guys like David Michelinie, Mike Baron, Alan Moore, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, Howard Chaykin. I don’t know if it shows up in my work at this point, but those writers rarely ever let me down, and their level of craft, their commitment to quality is in my DNA now.
TFAW.com: What’s it like collaborating with artist Tom Scioli?
JC: It’s a blast. Scioli is fearless, he’ll draw anything. He’s not afraid to take chances with his art, he’s always trying to evolve what he does. From Day One, it’s been one of my most fulfilling collaborations that I’ve ever had with an artist.
TFAW.com: You obviously have a lot of affection for old-school superheroes. How do you feel about the state of superheroes today? What are some of the major differences?
JC: I honestly don’t differentiate much between “old school” and “modern” superheroes. Their timelessness is what makes them powerful, it’s what makes them iconic. The state of the superhero is all good, as far as I’m concerned.
TFAW.com: What other superhero comics do you enjoy?
JC: Right now, I’m reading Morrison’s Batman stuff. That’s the main thing I’m getting on a regular basis. I’ll pick up the occasional Marvel or DC comic if something catches my eye, if it’s a creator I want to check in on.
TFAW.com: If you could choose anything, what would your next project be?
JC: Luckily, I can chose anything and so I’m putting together a slew of new, creator-owned projects to be published through our Man of Action Studios imprint at Image Comics.
TFAW.com: What else do you have coming up on the horizon?
JC: The main thing coming out in the next month is the second GØDLAND Celestial Edition hardcover, which collects issues #13-24. The first Celestial Edition was nominated for an Eisner two years ago, so we’ve got a lot to live up to. Fortunately, this one turned out even better. Drew Gill did an amazing job with the overall design, putting this monster of a book together.
For years, people have been asking me when the next Celestial Edition would be coming out. Well, folks, here it is. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait. It’s packed with extras, essays, and creator commentary. Good value for your hard-earned dollars.
TFAW.com: Thanks again, Joe!
JC: You’re very welcome.
Don’t forget–we’ll be posting interviews of awesome Image creators all month long! Check our blog regularly the entire month of July to see the latest previews, enter contests, and more!
Have you read GØDLAND yet? What do you think? Post your comments below!