By Olly MacNamee
I was fortunate to be able to sit down with actor, director and comic book creator, Noel Clarke and talk about his new comic, The Troop, which we previewed recently here at BC HQ.
Olly MacNamee: I was fortunate enough to be able to read the first issue of The Troop and I must say, it doesn't allow you to stop for breath does it? Clearly you had a lot to set up in this first issue, can I assume this high-octane, fast-action pacing was intentional?
Noel Clarke: I guess at the start, yes. We wanted to open with something that would grab people from the offset. Whether it stops for breath or not after, I wouldn't say is intentional or not intentional. There was a lot to get through and set up, yes. I could easily tell this story in ten issues and draw it out, but I had 5 for this season. While it's not overcrowded, it is full, and about setting up the team. The final line-up is not revealed until the final panel of the final issue of this run.
OM: Clearly not for the younger readers, you've described it as an X-rated X-Men. Fair assessment?
NC: SFX magazine called it, 'X-rated X-men', I'm actually not that arrogant to believe I could write an X-Men worthy book. As for younger readers, in terms of what society says sure, it's not for younger readers. But apparently my film Kidulthood wasn't for younger viewers, but they definitely responded to it. Here's the point. I just write. I've always wanted to write a teen team and that's what I did. I don't know about you, but when I was a teen, I was getting in fights, scrapes, having sex and all sorts. I never did drugs or went to jail, because that's not my thing, but friends did. I never wanted to watch or read the things that were "meant" for me and that's why Kidulthood worked. Will this work? I don't know, but that's where I'm at with it.
OM: Noel, you are obviously a bit of a geek (hey, aren't we all) and having appeared in both Dr Who and the last Star Trek film, you are a part of that culture too. But, what comics and comic book creators inspired you? Where did this idea come from?
NC: Geek yeah, 100%. I guess I'm not the traditional geek. I was from a pretty tough upbringing. Kidulthood was based on me and friends growing up, but I was always into films, and comics etc. Always. Films I've talked about many times. Comics-wise I was reading loads; Frank Miller stuff, Grant Morrison. Art-wise I was in awe of Ian Churchill, Brian Hitch, Jim Lee, Chris Bachalo, Joe Madeira. These were my guys. Art inspired me more than writing, because a part from a few absolute classic stories I would always think, "Man, if I wrote that I'd do this or that". I always thought I could do better. But the art is what kept me in back then. Obviously now I'm older, I appreciate story just as much.
OM: Is it fair to say, these ain't your average superheroes? They don't all come from conventional backgrounds do they? Indeed, one has a rather time of it before being 'rescued'.
NC: Yeah. They are just "normal' kids. As normal as any of us are, and come from harsh backgrounds like a lot of people do. Hopefully that makes them more relatable. Yes, one has a tough time and it's tougher for another in issue 2. I think 4 is the issue when you really see them for who they are and how they start to bond. That may be my current fave.
OM: And no capes and cowls? Was this intentional?
NC: Yeah, it was. They do get team suits near the end, but adapted to their style, and I still may lose them in season 2 because the book is as much about the normal part of their lives as it is about the super stuff.
OM: I have to ask: vampires? What's that all about? Will we be seeing more of the macabre going forward?
NC: Hmmm… She's wasn't a vampire, even though those characteristics were exhibited. As Edwards says in issue one, wolf boys etc. don't exist, but the things that do we're not supposed to know about. In this universe there are no vampires. Everything stems from Girl1, which is my other title that will come. What happens to her and what she is destined to do/be is connected to all the powered beings. Notice none of them that you know about are over 25. There's a reason for that.
OM: Can you tell us anything about the two opposing forces at work here? Why are they so keen to round up these mutants and why now?
NC: I can't tell you that, but apart from Edwards, there is a bunch of people that want to collect and another bunch that want them all dead. Their agendas are not connected in anyway that they know about. But Edwards is connected to one of them, which is why he wants the kids too.
OM: What can we expect from the mini-series? Any clues as to what happens next? After all, Noel, you do describe this series as the comic book equivalent of Game of Thrones.
NC: Game Of Thrones in tone. That is a great show! But they f*ck, they fight, they fall out, they die. They are teen heroes (spoiler) Not everyone is going to be there at the end. I can't tell you what happens next obviously, but hope people will come along for the ride and enjoy it. It's a little bit different to everything else at the moment and doesn't try to be all, "Darkness is coming" etc
…for these kids, in real life, it's just always been there,
The Troop is available to order in October's issue of Previews, which is still out now, with issue 1 debuting December 9th.
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn't know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at email@example.com. Or don't. You can also read his articles fairly frequently at www.bleedingcool.com too.