Charlie’s Angels Are Back, Baby! John Layman On Bringing The Swinging 70’s To Comics

by Hannah Means Shannon

The Charlie’s Angels comic series is arriving on June 6th, 2018 from Dynamite Entertainment, crafted by the all-star team up of writer John Layman (Chew, upcoming Leviathan) and artist Joe Eisma (Archie, Valiant High).
The series is the first foray of the Angels into comics format, drawing on the long tradition of the TV show and films, and in the comic, we’re heading back to the 70’s with the original Angels: Jill, Kelly, and Sabrina.
In fact, the solicit copy for the first issue is rather wonderful, as written by John Layman:

The Angels are back, baby! -The original Angels, Jill, Kelly and Sabrina! Travel back to the swingin’ 70s, and revisit the butt-kicking, crime-fighting, mold-breaking lady detectives who took 70s TV by storm, ready to do the same to comics 40 years later! Break out your bell-bottoms, feather your hair, and jump back to a era of peanut-farmer presidents, gargantuan gas-guzzlers and foxy female detectives… for a globe-trotting adventure that’s simply too big and epic for the 70s-era boob tube. Written by elderly Eisner winner and solicitation-writing former-superstar John Layman, and with art by his scrappy but lovable youngster pal, Joe Eisma. This is one comic you DON’T DARE TO MISS!!!!

We are lucky enough to have Mr. Layman on the site today to talk about the return of the butt-kicking agents.

[Charlie’s Angels #1 main cover art by David Finch]

Hannah Means-Shannon: There was some discussion recently on social media about writing solicit copy, whether that’s daunting, and that you had recently written some. What exactly happened there? Don’t you agree that most solicit copy could definitely use some spicing up?
John Layman: I was thinking back to my days as an editor, and solicitation seemed very serious and daunting. Now I just screw around and make jokes in my solicitation and don’t take it seriously. And why should I? I try to write fun comics. Why not write fun solicitation as well?
HMS: With wrapping up Chew, and branching out to Charlie’s Angels and Leviathan, I’m sure you miss working on Chew, but how have these new projects broadened your creative life so far?
JL: Mostly it’s a matter of variety. After Chew, coming up with wacky food-related names, powers and storylines, for sixty-odd issues, I was pretty burned out on it. Both Leviathan and Angels allows me to do something different, and I’m constantly trying to, if not do something different, at least always do something new for me. I’m sure people who read my work will find certain constants, but I’m always trying to keep myself interested and enthused by taking on things that feel new.

[Charlie’s Angels #1 Cover B art by Joe Eisma]

HMS: Can you talk a little bit about the need for, or role of, humor in comics, regardless of the story’s more overt genre? Related to that, are there particular types of humor that you think particularly “work” in comics or any that don’t?
JL: I try to make mine either character or situation-based, or a little of both. That is, something that’s just wacky or just an excuse to use a pun or gag you’ve been dying to use, that’s not in service to the characters or the story, is just a waste. Characters can be funny, but they need to be characters first and foremost.
HMS: How did character development and aesthetics draw from the TV show for you on Charlie’s Angels? Obviously, there’s a ton of source material, but how did you pick out the things that you considered most important to draw from?
JL: Mostly the time-period. For Charlie’s Angels, we’re able to look back on it and regard the show in a way that we weren’t able to when it was new and current. That is, look at it with the context of the period. I’m a history buff, and a political junkie, so I’m incorporating that into the story, the fact that Jimmy Carter was president, a Cold War was still going on, as well as tensions with Russia, and a wall in Berlin. Add to this a burgeoning women’s rights movement, and a sort of awakening out of the sexism of previous decades. Heavy stuff to use as background material, but it makes for a rich background in for the story. Of course, this all sounds not-fun, and this Charlie’s Angels comic is gonna be fun, first and foremost.

[Charlie’s Angels #1  Cover C art by Joe Eisma]

HMS: Does the comic find ways to make the world of Charlie’s Angels even more fully explored, perhaps more expansive? There are so many things you can do in comics that might have been too difficult in a TV show or movie based on budget…
JL: Oh yeah, we’re taking the Angels around the world, which could not be done on a 70s network TV budget. They will be meeting with at least one historically significant figure as well.
HMS: What do you think will surprise readers about the Charlie’s Angels series?
JL: I have no idea. I’m playing it pretty straight and respectful of the material. Some people might want me to make fun of the characters and property, and I’ve learned NOT to do that with licensed properties, because why crap on the property and the real fans? The key is to have fun WITH the characters and the property, not at their expense. If anything, I’ll be trying to capture the flavor of the show, and 70s action TV in general.
Big thanks to John Layman for taking part in this interview!
Here’s a first look at some upcoming art in issue #1 by Joe Eisma!

Look out for Charlie’s Angels #1 on June 6, 2018, in shops from Dynamite.

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