It's always fun coming across a new comic, one that isn't from the big companies but gets your attention and makes you want to tell your friends about it. There is a new book coming out from Heavy Metal called the Doorman and I spoke with writer/creator Daniel Kibblsemith (The Late Show), artist/creator Kendall Goode, and writer/creator Eliot Rahal (The Paybacks).
DANIEL KIBBLESMITH: Eliot and I had been working on other pitches, together and separately, and Eliot brought me the premise of a space doorman originally. I brought the idea up again after moving to Midtown Manhattan and seeing a real doorman in his winter uniform, it was this very heroic-looking long black coat, like something out of the Matrix, and he was standing outside the building really guarding it, rather than in the lobby — where it was probably warmer.
ELIOT RAHAL: Yeah for anyone who doesn't know — in the universe of this book, every populated planet has a Door — an ancient Stargate-style door that let's you travel instantly between planets. However, they can only be operated by a Doorman. They were the literal gatekeepers of the first intergalactic public transportation, and had a huge amount of power. But now… everyone has cool rocket ships and stuff and Doors have fallen out of use, especially for the Doorman of Earth.
DK: No one wants to visit Earth.
ER: So being a Doorman once upon a time was a legacy position. It was an honor. But now… it doesn't mean much anymore. The idea grew out of mutual fascination of actual, real-life, Doormen/women, and the heyday of the service industry, and all the art-deco/Great Gatsby feelings and imagery that went along with it. But the fact that Doormen — or bathroom attendants, or hotel porters — all still exist makes them feel like throwbacks. We were both into the idea of characters who were overlooked or forgotten by the times.
DK: So those themes, and that Roaring 20s aesthetic, combined with the fact that Eliot and I both come from the world of humor, plus Kendall's vision for this universe all came together to make something really complete, and also insane.
KENDAL GOODE: It was pretty clear from Daniel's pitch to me what they wanted the themes to stand on, visually. A lot of what we see as the past with a big science fiction/futuristic twist.
DK: We hint at it in the first issue — Henry got recruited into the Doormen young with the promise that it was an important job, but once visitors to Earth dried up it turned into forty years of solitary confinement, seeing the world go by on TV. That can make a guy a little loopy.
ER: He's a relic, and that kind of sums up who he is and what his attitude is. He's still got heart, but there is a lot of bitterness in him. His life wasn't what he wanted it to be, but he still wants his life to mean something in the end. As a result the heart of this story is about an old man trying to get his dignity back. That, however, is accomplished by Henry literally being flung into space and finding himself at the center of a gigantic galactic murder-conspiracy. It's crazy.
DK: Yeah, he spends his life on the sidelines and doesn't start living until he's retired. In that way, it's very much a later-life crisis story about getting your groove back. Unless he gets vaporized or eaten by something.
BC: Detective Flowers seems a little inexperienced and unsure of herself, yet confident which is an interesting combination. Has she been a cop long and why doesn't she have a nose?
DK: Flower is sort of our Fox Mulder, a quirky weirdo who they never quite had an excuse to fire, but has basically been isolated by the rest of her galactic precinct because no one wants to be partnered with a crusader. So they end up being kindred spirits in their loneliness. As for the nose — we actually talked about it a lot! We wanted her to have a distinctly un-human face while still looking warm and relatable, and it was such a simple solution. There's a lot of weird stuff about Flower's biology that comes up eventually.
ER: I think everyone can relate to Flower's struggle, being told you're wrong when you know in your bones that you're right.
DK: Does Flower have bones?
Kendall: I have yet to draw any of Flower's potential bones. And her noseless face was a great prompt to make her just alien enough, but nowhere near as alien as a lot of other characters you'll see.
ER: That's a very deep existential question.
DK: It's the kind of deep existential question we might answer down the road. In terms of aliens keeping themselves a secret on Earth, the cat is pretty much out of the bag in the first few pages of issue 1. But you never see the fall-out because Henry gets swept away.
ER: So who knows how humanity will have responded in the meantime…
BC: So who are you three and where might have folks seen your work before?
ER: I was a co-writer/creator of The Paybacks from Dark Horse Comics. I've also appeared in the back pages of Valiant Comics, and I have a new book coming out from STELA very soon!
DK: I'm a writer for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on CBS. Previously, I've worked for both ClickHole and BuzzFeed, and co-authored a humor book called How To Win At Everything, and have also appeared in a couple of anthology issues for Valiant. Like everyone in comics/comedy, I spend too much time on Twitter.
KG: I'm a relative newbie. Most of what I've done has been in anthologies as well as a few pages in The Pride written by Joe Glass. I'm also an employee at Big Planet Comics in College Park, Maryland.
BC: What is the collaborative process between you? How does the scripting work between Daniel and Eliot and when in the process does Kendall get involved?
ER: Daniel and I talk about everything on the phone.
ER: Our feelings, mainly. Then when we're done crying, we beat out the story, and then take turns doing drafts of the script. We both know the inside and out every detail or potential problem as a result. It's a very pass the baton situation. We trust each other completely. And in regards to Kendall. Well, Kendall is definitely the most talented person on this team. We give him some direction in terms of design, and what's in the script, but other than that he has total freedom, and it's really paying off.
KG: Eliot exaggerates. He and Daniel are two impressively clever and funny dudes. When I get their scripts, I can very quickly get a vision in my head of the story they're telling. From there, it's all about the process. Designing the new characters and then right into drawing and coloring the book.
BC: What is the plan for the Doorman? Where will folks be able to find it? How long is the story and is there more after that?