BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Will Triumph is the heir to a great heroic legacy, but he believes he has to get married to fully realize the power his parents Captain and Lady Dynamic possessed. Now, along with fighting crime, he's fighting singles bars and other places to find Mrs. Right. The Devil's Due
miniseries, Will Triumph Fights Alone
was created by Dave Child, Kal-El Bogdanove
and Jon Bogdanove
. It's also already been optioned by ABC Family
as a potential TV series. The comic started out life four years ago as a screenplay, but Kal-El Bogdanove thinks it's ideal for the comic book world. Kal-El Bogdanove told us what it was about Will Triumph that he thought would make comic fans take notice. "Heís fresh and relatable because heís fallen into responsibility and heís fallen into it fast, and we know that deep down heís a little uncertain about how to handle the weight of all that expectation. What makes him a hero is his unswerving willingness to step up and take his swing anyway."THE PULSE: Who is Will Triumph? The name is quite catchy!
Will is our star and protagonist, the twenty-two year old orphaned son of the two greatest Superheroes of a bygone age: Captain Dynamic and Lady Dynamic! Will believes he must marry to unlock the full potential of his parentsí power rings, and so he must search for the woman who will fulfill his destiny in the jungle of the dating scene, and still try to be the hero the world needs.
Fun fact: The title Will Triumph Fights Alone, comes from an old Comics biz rule of thumb for testing the efficacy of a character's name. For instance: "Peter Parker fights alone!" sounds great and, say, "Eugene Melman fights alone" sounds kinda dumb.THE PULSE: Got it so how'd you come up with this hero and what are his powers if he unlocks that power ring's potential? Is it kind of like a Green Lantern ring or a Phantom ring?
Initially, the rings give Will a suite of classic superhero powers - flight and speed and strength and an energy blast power and a few other things that go comically awry when he tries to use them on his own.
But the breadth of the ringsí power is unplumbed. At the risk of giving too much away, the rings are a mechanism for bringing out a personís inner super potential. As such, it is very likely that they would bring different abilities out of different people. And we get pretty solid proof in the first series, that they can bring different powers out of the same person depending on that personís emotional state, and the immediate needs of the situation.
As far as being like the GL or Phantom Ring: Itís a little bit of both, in the sense that it relies on an inner resource like GLís ring does, but itís also a symbol of a legacy passed down from his parents, like the Phantom ring.
As far as how we came up with this, it went like this:
Dave and I were classmates at Emerson College in Boston. When it came time for us to do our BFA thesis project we knew we wanted to work together, and we knew we wanted to work in superheroes. Late one night we were tossing ideas back and forth getting nowhere, and we ended up running down the street for snacks with our pal Jonathan Ade (who's kinda' like McCoy to our Kirk and Spock). While we were on the snack run we got embroiled in a lively discussion about marriage.
Our opinions were polarized. I - with my longtime GF - was pretty PRO-the-institution-of-marriage. Jonathan, on the other hand, was very, very hesitant about the idea. He wasn't sure that marriage wasn't just a crutch - an institutionalized co-dependency that kept people from reaching their potential. And Dave was right in the middle; certain that marriage could be good, but equally sure that it wasn't to be entered into lightly. Either way, we all agreed that a lot of people in our generation were getting married for the wrong reasons, to fill some kind of notion of what a complete life looks like.
All the best superhero stories use the powers as a larger-than-life metaphor for some fundamental aspect of the human condition. For instance, The X -Men works as an awesome puberty metaphor, right? You hit puberty, and you discover all these new powers and abilities, and meanwhile you feel like a total outcast from society. And besides it's the 60s and the generation that's starting to reach its majority really DOES feel CONSTITUTIVELY different from its parents. So boom! Jack and Stan cook up a fun superpowered way to talk about that stuff. That's the great power of Myth.
Well, we got into this big discussion about what love and marriage mean to our generation, and all of a sudden Dave and I looked at each other and said, "Wow man. There's really something here." After that, the addition of the power ring symbolism, and really the whole story, just seemed to present itself.THE PULSE: It sounds like something that did kind of write itself, but was this originally intended to be a comic book?
The funny thing is, we've been working on Will Triumph for almost four years. It started off as a feature screenplay that Dave and I wrote for our Bachelor of Fine Arts practicum at Emerson College.
Later the script won the Film Artist's Network Boston Chapter Screenplay Competition and we went to the Cannes Film Festival.
After a few misfires with film producers, we thought about trying to make the "Will Triumph" film on our own dime.
But by then the story had grown in our imagination, and we had created a whole world for Will Triumph, a world too big for one movie. So we teamed-up with my Dad (who just happens to be Jon Bogdanove) and our school chum Stephen Christy over at Devil's Due, to serialize the story and make it a comic series.THE PULSE: I know your dad is experienced with the ins and outs of comics, so how did his involvement prove invaluable as you were translating this to that format?
*Laughs* Invaluable is right.
Jon is a master storyteller so his involvement made the book even richer than when Dave and I were working on it by ourselves.
Additionally, the luxury of being able to adapt dialogue and script to Jonís artwork is EXTREMELY rewarding. Itís almost like bringing talented actors to a screenplay youíve been working on: Jonís characters are so expressive and gestural and nuanced, you can practically hear them speaking, even when there arenít words on the page yet. They add an extra layer of character and depth. Itís definitely informed the way we write them.JON BOGDANOVE:
Both Kal-El and Dave are so well versed in comics lore, and have so much writing skill that it was like working with long established comics professionals.THE PULSE: What were some of the biggest challenges of making this work in comics and not having it feel like something we've seen before or something too predictable?
The premise alone keeps us tethered to something completely new and original, so we enjoy a great freedom to wander through familiar superhero tropes and put our own spin on them.
In many ways itís the best of both worlds: Thereís a completely novel mythic metaphor, but thereís also a lot there to reward long-time fans of the medium.
That said, our biggest challenge is to avoid the pitfall of straying into the realm of total parody or camp, or in the other direction, into the overly angsty, self-consciously-dark-and-leather-clad world where many postmodern superhero stories live.THE PULSE: What were some of the challenges of making your protagonist relatable and fresh, yet having a voice that sounds like it belongs in comics?
Well, Willís problems are characteristically problems of this generation. Heís standing at the far end of the American century saying, ďNow what?Ē
Heís fresh and relatable because heís fallen into responsibility and heís fallen into it fast, and we know that deep down heís a little uncertain about how to handle the weight of all that expectation. What makes him a hero is his unswerving willingness to step up and take his swing anyway.
He learned to problem solve from his parents, The Dynamics, who were very much classic Silver-Age superheroes, so his interior monologue is very Jack Kirby.
His voice as a character reflects his whole story, which is about trying to reconcile whatís best about the past and your legacy, with your own identity and the realities of a very different, complex, and modern world.THE PULSE: Speaking of Jack Kirby, who are some of the people who influenced or inspired your work here?
Jon: For me this book presents an ideal opportunity to try to reconcile my influences from the Silver-Age of comics with what Iíve learned in recent years working on the corporate level with DC doing licensing work, and teaching, and working with people of Willís generation.
So Iím trying to incorporate Jack [Kirby] who is my core, Will Eisner, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Walter Simonson, Wally WoodÖ (too many geniuses to count), and filter all of them through the perceptions and tastes of my students and younger co-workers.KAL BOGDANOVE:
Some of my all-time favorite comics are Mark Wadeís and Mike Wieringoís run on the Flash titles from when I was a kid in the 90ís. They have had a profound effect on my work. Also Dennis OíNeil and Neil Adamsí classic Hard Traveling Heroes GL/Green Arrow run. And Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonsonís Manhunter. And everybody owes what theyíre doing in American comics two the two great genius lights of Kirby and Eisner.DAVE CHILD:
Anyone who uses a sense of humor and magic in order to tell real-life emotional stories. So my heroes include, Charlie Chaplin, Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snickett, alongside Penn and Teller. D, K, and J:
Also, genre-wise, we would be remiss not to mention romantic-comedy and screw-ball comedy greats like Howard Hawks, George Cukor, Preston Sturges, and Frank Capra.THE PULSE: I know you know Stephen Christy, but what else do you think made Devil's Due a good fit for what you're doing with Will Triumph?
DDP offers wonderful creative freedom, and creator ownership. Also they have a business model designed to bring comics to the screens, big and small.
For them, I think we represent a good way to branch out further from the niche of horror, into a wider realm of genres, and a wider readership.THE PULSE: How much ground is covered in your initial miniseries?
Itís a pretty thorough introduction to the universe, and itís a nice, tight, self-contained story.
But we have a whole hatful of other stories to tell in the WTFA universe, if this one takes off.THE PULSE: It must be a little stressful working on this for so long and then having it be in the hands of readers who, due to the present economy, might be cutting back on comics spending right now ....
Traditionally in times of economic downturn, entertainment like movies and comics weather the storm well, because people need escape.
So hopefully weíll be giving people a good alternate universe to slip into for a while. I guess weíll just have to wait and see.
Thematically, as a nation and a generation, weíve sort of just been handed our power rings. Itís our hope that weíll help inspire people to take responsibility, like Will, and create a brighter future, where the economy is healthy and comics sales are up.THE PULSE: Hopefully that will be the case! What was it like working with your dad on something like this? I mean, I know you grew up watching him work in the industry ... but to get this kind of chance must be very cool ....
Itís awesome. Itís like if your Dad was Mickey Mantle, and you got to grow up and play pro ball alongside him.
Also, weíve written together often since I became an adult, and weíve had time to refine the process on a number of other projects. Hopefully WTFA will take off and youíll get to see some of those too.
Meanwhile, Dave and I already had such a solid collaborative relationship that it has really been essential to work with my father like a co-creator, rather than a great Dad.DAVE CHILD:
Itís great to work with someone whoís work Iíve really admired - someone who constantly surprises me and adds so much to my own work.THE PULSE: When is the first issue due in stores and how many parts is this initial saga?
First issue is slated for February and the story is in three glorious chapters!THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
My father and I are collaborating on a number of features and TV pilots. Most notably, Magik Rat - co-created with a great Spanish artist named Eduardo Alpuente Ė which is a sword and sorcery fantasy adventure, and Lady of the Isle, which is a television series that blends small town drama with fantasy and horror.
Additionally, Iíve just completed two screenplays that are searching for a home:
One is Moonbase 1910, in which an expatriated former Rough Rider is tapped by Teddy Roosevelt and Nikola Tesla to lead a rivets-and-rockets counter-assault against an invading Alien force.
The other is So Long Life, a hardboiled Southern Gothic Thriller, set in New Orleans.DAVE CHILD:
Iím performing regularly in the LA comedy scene. Iím also developing short series for TV and the web with my comedy partner Brooke Lenzi, including a project called Sarahís Ghost in which a lonely nerd passes up his chance to head into the light, instead choosing to stay and haunt his hit-and-run killer, because sheís cute, and he thinks he might have a shot.
Plus, WTFA has been optioned by ABC family and is in the process of becoming a smash television series! (We hope.)
The first issue of Will Triumph Fights Alone should be in stores now. WTFA was created by Dave Child, Kal-El Bogdanove
and Jon Bogdanove
. The series is written by Child and K-E Bogdanove, pencilled and inked by Jon Bogdanove, colored by K-E Bogdanove and lettered by Judith Kurtz. PULSE readers can learn more about it here: http://willtriumph.com/