Newsletter #34: Big Heart, Big Fists & Bombast
Getting into the second issue of We Have Demons and shouting out some great incoming works!
Hey guys, it's Scott.
Tuesday morning, November 9th. Really big day for us. We Have Demons #2 comes out. It's the series co-created by brother Greg Capullo and me, and it features Jon Glapion from our Batman run on inks, Dave McCaig from American Vampire on colors, and Tom Napolitono, who did tons of stuff with me at DC on letters, with Will Dennis editing. So, it's the second of three issues for the first big arc. It's oversized, it's 35/36 pages of story. And I thought I'd talk about it a little bit to start.
Sorry, I'm a bit tired. Quinn has been waking up at night. He wears this sleeping gown and wanders through the house now that he can get out of his bed and knocks on the door and starts talking. And it's kind of a weird relief, even though it’s like a Japanese horror movie, just because he had a surgery when he was about six months old. And I don't remember if I've spoken about this in class, but he had this relatively common but still spooky thing where his skull fused really early in a couple seams. And so he had to pretty much have this full craniotomy, and he was in the hospital for a while and it was really harrowing and awful. And then COVID hit right afterwards, so he was like a complete bubble wrapped baby where by the time he recovered from his surgery and the swelling went down on his head and all of that, which took a while, matter of weeks, COVID had us locked down.
So, there were a lot of worries about both his cognitive abilities, because the surgery went really well, but that particular abnormality can be a bellwether for different kinds of developmental learning disabilities, and also just socialization. I mean, he was literally so isolated after COVID that I remember taking him to the playground once with our masks and all of that last summer, and he would see other kids and be like, “what dat, da? What dat?” But he suddenly turned a corner just a couple of weeks ago after being very late with talking and now it's like a flood of words. So, as weird and spooky and exhausting as it is to have him wander into the bedroom and stand over you and be like, “hi, daddy! Sun up!” even though it's like pitch black outside, it's comforting and a big relief. So, there’s that.
But We Have Demons. So, during that pandemic, where I spent a lot of time with the kids home from school and walking with Quinn around the neighborhood, and we all kind of rediscovered our love of story in different ways. My two older boys—Jack, who's now 14, really fell in with manga and anime and fell in love with tons of series, and my middle son, Emmett, fell in love with all these YA graphic novels like Amulet and The Witch Boy, and also Chris Claremont X-Men and all of this stuff he discovered through a Wolverine rabbit hole that he fell down through Fortnite. And so they were really into big cartoons, big story, big, enveloping, immersive tales that kind of took you out of your own life. And I'm not a believer in escapist fiction, I don't believe that everything has to be overtly analytical and critical of the moment at hand, but I believe it's all engaged in one way or another.
So, if you're writing something like Star Wars this isn't necessarily on the surface about this moment, even though there are a lot of arguments as to how that movie does reflect the 70s and the 80s as it comes out as a trilogy, there's still the sense of passion about a morality play. It's about things that clearly mattered to George Lucas about being a good person and believing in a greater good that unites all of us—a sense of balance, a sense of connectivity, all of that. So, what I'm trying to say is, if it matters to you as a story, it has some connection to what you want the world to be or what you're trying to teach people. So, in that way, it has substance that's connected to your engagement with the world. It doesn't need to be overtly political (though it can be), it doesn't need to be overtly autobiographical (though, again, it can be), but if you love it, then it's about things that matter to you when it comes to ethics or fantasies or fears, and therefore it's engaged in one way or another.
But the point I'm trying to make is that I got into this kind of mode where I was talking to my boys about making a story together that speaks to us like that has that big epic scope of Transformers and He-Man and all of the stuff that I grew up loving and now that they've found parallels in the stuff they love that's transportive with huge mythologies and all of that. So, We Have Demons was a direct product of that. I wanted to do something that's was sort of right up the alley that Greg I love to walk down together with bombast and gore and action and humor—big heart, big fists, and all of that. But I wanted it to be something that was, yes, possibly R-rated, but fun enough and poignant enough as a bridge between a father and a child that it could be something that my kids can read for fun, or my 14 year old, at least, and then really take something away from.
And so one of the things I wanted to talk about was that I wrote this particular issue in two ways. I actually wrote it from the point of view of Lam, the young woman who's at the center of the whole story. And if you're not reading We Have Demons, it’s essentially about a 19-year old girl who discovers that her father, who she always thought was this sleepy town pastor, is actually, or was actually before he died, part of a demon hunting organization and was this Indiana Jones of demon slaying along with his partner, who is a semi-demon named Gus, who's this huge, hulking, awesome figure in the series. And so it's really about her coming to terms with the fact that her father, who she thought was hiding from some of the ugliness that surrounds her mother's death years ago when she was young, has in fact been completely engaged in fighting evil and staring down his own fears and battling things that he disagrees with, and coming to terms with the ways in which she can do that in her own way. She might not believe in the same things he believes in, she might not have exactly the same faith, but she has faith in him, and she has faith in herself, and she has faith in people in a way that she has a hard time admitting, but comes to do throughout the course of the book.
So, it's got that kind of real Saturday morning cartoon fun, but it is personal to me in a lot of ways. And so this issue I wrote from her point of view and it didn't feel right. I loved it, and I love her voice, but it felt somehow behind glass. So, I was like, oh, why don't I do it from Gus’ point of view? And so I changed the narration and did it from the semi-demon’s perspective, and it just clicked right away where it became clear to me that it was the parent’s side of the story. Her father isn't there, but it was the closest thing to it. And it's almost about a father who's been watching over his daughter, his surrogate daughter, for a long time, and is almost apologizing for not handing over a better world or a better situation to her, but promising to do the best he can to protect her in a way that will inspire faith and hope.
And so I really love this issue. I love the book, I hope you'll check it out. Again, if you have Prime, it's free. If you subscribe to comiXology Unlimited, you get all of our Best Jackett books, and next week, Clear #2 comes out. The week after that, Night of the Ghoul #2 comes out. So, this month alone, you could basically get six issues, the #1s and #2s of our series, for the price of one comic book a month if you subscribe to Unlimited, and you can discover a lot of really amazing, emergent voices that comiXology Originals has published and a lot of the things they offer through Unlimited that I think are really exciting and progressive and daring new talents out there. And there are a lot of great classics, as I've said many times too, so I hope you'll check that out.
Also, some books that are out today or this week that I really hope you'll check out—What's The Furthest Place From Here from my buddy Matt Rosenberg and Tyler Boss. It's a fantastic post-apocalyptic tale. It's young and fun and has a different spin and it's got lots of vinyl in it, so definitely check that out.
From Phil Kennedy Johnson, who was a former student of mine (as was Matt Rosenberg, by the way) and Daniel Sampere is the first part of the Warworld saga in Action Comics is something I know Phil has been building to for a long time and is really excited about, and it's big and cosmic in scope and I hope you'll pick it up!
Robin & Batman is by my good friends Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. I've got an early peek at that and it's a great book, totally different sort of story about a familiar phase in Robin and Batman’s lives, but a completely unexplored moment that I think you'll you'll really enjoy and it's beautiful as can be.
So, just a few things. Again, please go support other artists and creators on Substack. There's so many good people right now on there. I've mentioned them before, but some of those are (but not limited to):
Chip is also going to be in our class this month talking about character arcs, so it'll be a lot of fun. And yeah, I hope you have a great Tuesday. Go buy comics, and we’ll talk Thursday!