Scott Dunbier was the editor of Alan Moore's America's Best Comics line at WildStorm/DC Comics. It wasn't the easiest of tasks. In recent days, Dunbier has been sharing some of its history on social media. Including encouraging people to guess who the three people who turned down drawing Promethea were, before JH Williams III accepted the role.
Promethea was a grimoire disguised as a superhero comic book. Drawing on both Wonder Woman and Moore's work on Rob Liefeld's Wonder Woman analogue Glory, it was one of the launch books from Moore's America's Best Comics line at DC/Wildstorm in 1999. Promethea tells the story of Sophie Bangs, a college student from an alternate futuristic New York City in 1999, who embodies the powerful entity known as Promethea whose task it is to bring the Apocalypse. Drawn by JH Williams III and inked by Mick Grey, it could have been oh so different. Yesterday, Scott Dunbier revealed through interrogation the three people who turned down Promethea and the circumstances in which they did so.
Brandon Peterson turned down Promethea
Brandon Peterson, best known for working in Strykeforce, X-Men and Ultimate X-Men, also published by DC/Wildstorm and also the artist on Alan Moore's Glory comic book at Awesome. Alan Moore's first choice to draw Promethea but it was not to be. Scott Dunbier states that Brandon "was the first, holdover from Awesome. He was going to do it but then backed out to do Marvel work."
Bruce Timm turned down Promethea
Co-creator of the Batman Animated Series, it appears that Bruce Timm was Alan Moore's second choice to draw Promethea. Scott Dunbier confirmed saying "Yes, Bruce I was the second one. He thought it over for a few days then decided against it." He went on to continue building the DC Animated Universe.
Alan Davis turned down Promethea
Alan Davis worked with Alan Moore on three classic collaborations, DR And Quinch, Marvelman and Captain Britain. Falling out over Moore's refusal to allow their Captain Britain strips to be reprinted by Marvel US, as well as a lack of communication over Marvelman/Miracleman, this would have reunited the two. And it so nearly happened. Dunbier explained "yes, Alan was third. And, fun fact, he was waiting on a script from Marvel that was very late. He gave a deadline that if the script did not arrive by a certain day he would do it. The script arrived on the last day." Alan Davis continues to be prolific comic book artist to this day, recently drawing the Giant-Size Nightcrawler special that revisited his Excalibur and Captain Britain characters.
JH Williams III said yes to Promethea
It was ABC cover artist Alex Ross who suggested JH Williams III to Scott Dunbier, and Alan Moore. During the series JH Williams III pioneered his complete-double page spread-as-standard approach through the whole series, inked by Mick Grey. One that he then used for Batwoman and Sandman Overture, frustrating digital comics readers forever. Promethea was published in 32 issues over 6 years, and is currently in print in trade paperback and Absolute formats. Two years ago, DC Comics introduced Promethea into the Justice League of America series. JH Williams discovered this by reading Bleeding Cool and stated "I can't in good conscience condone this happening in any form at all."
P Craig Russell didn't get the chance to turn down Promethea
If JH Williams III had turned Promethea down, P Craig Russell would have then been approached. Russell is best known for his collaborations with Neil Gaiman, adapting many of his prose stories to comics. I think while we all appreciate JH Williams' work on Promethea, a P Craig Russell version would have been intriguing, if a very different comic book.
So these are the Promethas that could have been. Add to that the Absolute Promethea Immateria Collection that Absolute founder Scott Dunbier provided the layouts for before being fired by DC over the League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen fallout. DC Comics prepped such a volume, that would have featured every issue of Promethea in one volume, presented with a double-page spread taking up one page. The publication of this was promised to JH Williams as part of his decision to draw Sandman Overture, but it was then withdrawn. One day maybe? And we also got a little look at what was.