David F. Walker is writing his second Shaft miniseries for Dynamite and Byron Brewer caught up with the writer to talk about the new series and some of the minor tonal changes. Cover art by Matthew Clarke.
DAVID F. WALKER: I'm having a great time with this new story, and I really appreciate Dynamite having me come back. The first Shaft series was well received critically, and I was worried about following up something that I felt was some of my best work. But I love writing the character, and I felt there was more that I could do, both in terms of developing the character, as well as telling a story.
BB: Is there a different "feel" or "tone" in this second outing for you, or are things pretty much status quo?
DFW: I'm trying for a slightly different tone this time around, just to shake things up. There are a few moments, starting in the second issue, that dance around the edge of being funny. That's not to say that this series is more comical, just that Shaft finds himself in some absurd situations. I also wanted to explore some more of his personality, and develop the character a bit more. The first story was about introducing Shaft. This new story is about defining and developing him.
BB: How have you found Dietrich Smith's art on this iteration of Shaft?
DFW: Dietrich is great. He's very different from Bilquis Evely, which is a good thing. Bilquis did an amazing job, and the last thing I'd want to see is an artist come along and try to do what she did. Dietrich is doing his thing, and he's doing it incredibly well. He really hit his stride at some point in the first issue, and made the book his, which isn't always an easy thing to do.
BB: You are building quite a rep these days. Here is a question that seems absurd but I think has merit: Forgetting powers, etc., how would you say Shaft as a character (meaning personality, etc, not outer or environmental trappings) compare with DC's Cyborg (with whom you are doing wonders)?
DFW: John Shaft and Vic Stone/Cyborg are both broken men, and they were broken at a very early age. For Shaft, it happened when he was a teenager, and was sent off to Vietnam, where he killed for the first time. For lack of a better term, Shaft became a machine in Vietnam—a killing machine. And if you want to get technical, Shaft was broken before that, when he was orphaned, and raised in abusive foster homes, where he became hardened by the mean streets. With Cyborg, he was literally broken when he was caught in an explosion that killed his mother, and he was saved by literally being turned into a machine. Throw in the fact that Vic's dad never really showed him any affection, and you have a kid who's grown up feeling incomplete. There are quite a few similarities between these two characters, even if it doesn't appear that way on the surface.
For more on Shaft: Imitation Life #2, click here.