SDCC '15: Vulture's Valiant Writer's Roundtable

DSC_0149Abraham Riesman from Vulture moderates Valiant's spotlight on the writers featuring Jeff Lemire of Bloodshot: Reborn, Matt Kindt of Ninjak and Divinity, Robert Vendetti of XO Manowar and Book of Death, and James Asmus of Quantum and Woody and the Delinquents.

Asked about their origins, Venditti recounted his time working in Top Shelf's mailroom. Some time after publishing his first book the Surrogates, he was tasked by CEO Dinesh Shamdasani with pitching for one of two books: XO Manowar and Eternal Warrior.

Asmus said that former editor Jody LeHeup approached him about writing Quantum and Woody because of his comedy chops. He's been very passionate about the project as a fan of the original run and knew exactly what he wanted to do in a new series, keeping what he loved and making it his own.

Kindt said the relaunch went by without him noticing at first, but he caught up on XO Manowar at issue 8 and read all of Bloodshot quickly after. A week later, Warren Simons asked him to write the #0 issue of Bloodshot. That was a test for him to see if he liked working with the crew. It's safe to say he might, just a little.

Lemire, the newest guy at the panel, said he knew a lot of Valiant people from DC and wanted to have a new experience when his contract ended. He said it reminded him of Top Shelf with a familial appeal. He called Simons up who wanted him to rework a character, which is what Bloodshot: Reborn is.

Riesman asked how they coordinate the shared universe. Kindt said they do summits twice a year where they "try not to murder Josh Dysart," and Venditti added the editors play a vital role in maintaining continuity across the line.

How much do they stick to the source material? Kindt read some older material for the first time in a long time when doing research. He enjoyed many ideas on the pages.

The original Quantum and Woody book is revered as a cult classic with a very specific tone, and Asmus knew he couldn't write the same book Christopher Priest wrote. But he recognized that Priest wrote from his own point of view and he had to do his own version, and the theme of family resonated with him.

Venditti said he didn't want to change much about the Visigoth in alien armor, but he wanted to flesh out the villains and their motives. He said they weren't as defined in the original series.

Lemire said he read the new Bloodshot series and not the original one because he wanted to go into new territory. Bloodshot is interesting to him because he's telling a different kind of story, and the new Reborn series touches on issues of violence and gun control.

Venditti said he wanted to write a long-form arc about a person whose initial reaction would be to fight, but at the end learns to be diplomatic.

Asmus said unless he comes up with a title right away, it's a huge pain in the ass.

Riesman announced a new run on Unity by Asmus, issues 23 and 24. "It's pretty much wall-to-wall, for two issues, danger and death."

The first fan question asked if Ninjak would get a badass spy car. "He does have one, you just haven't seen it yet."

Has Simons ever had to dial them back? Lemire got edited on the Bloodsquirt issue of his series, and had to change the Eternal Squirter to Eternal Squirt.

Asmus said he was edited often, but not with Valiant. "I used to keep a folder of times at Marvel when they'd tell me I can't put something in the book." He said he agrees with most of the cuts in Quantum and Woody but that didn't happen often.

Kindt was asked about Divinity's initial plan as an arc in Unity, but it developed into something much more meaningful. "All credit to Warren and Valiant for seeing that story I pitched and recognizing it needed it's own space." He said it's one of his favorite things he's ever done.

He teased that Divinity left somebody behind in space, and the second series will pick up from that.

A fan got a text asking Kindt if he's ever wanted to be a superhero architect. He said he wanted to draw Daredevil, and the original run of Valiant showed him what superhero comics could be when he was getting burnt out by Marvel and DC. He encouraged budding creators to do their own thing.

Asked about their influences, Asmus said he reads science journals and non-fiction. One of Lemire's favorite comics is Mind MGMT. And Kindt was just traveling with a massive book about Russia's history in preparation of Divinity 2.

When asked which characters they would like to write that they've yet to, Asmus said Shadowman, Lemire said Rai, Venditti said Ninjak and Kindt said XO Manowar. Kindt then suggested they should trade books for an issue, ending the panel with a possible gestation of new publishing plan.