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60 Cents of G?dland and Some Change

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The wild, science fiction series, Gødland, exploded onto the stands over a year ago now and has won both critical acclaim and fan loyalty.  In fact, Broken Frontier named the series as the Best Science Fiction Comic Book of the Year.  And this week, the series' sixteenth issue will hit the stands with a jump-on cover price of a measly 60 cents. It was therefore a treat to have Casey take some time out of his schedule to answer a few questions and discuss all things godly.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Many readers have noted that you pull your story ideas and concepts from many and varied sources.  How do you come up with your average Gødland script?

JOE CASEY: To put it simply, the fact that Tom [Scioli] and I own Gødland means that we can do what we want.  Literally, no rules.  So, that’s the thing I always keep in mind when I write the book each month: no rules. 

That being said, there is no such thing as an “average” Gødland script.  Each one is different, each one allows me to come up with fresh approaches, each one is a new adventure for me as a writer and, it’s true; I’m pulling from anything and everything in the scripts.  It’s just more fun for me that way.

BF: The stories throughout the past fifteen issues have been wildly inventive and entertaining.  Do you ever worry that a day will come when you simply run out of ideas, or on the other end of the spectrum, do you ever worry about losing the readers with some of the wilder stories?

JC: I actually think we’d lose more readers if we veered too close to the conservative.  We’ve made our rep (such as it is) on a real “anything goes” mentality so, if anything, I try to keep that in mind as I’m writing.  At every opportunity we’re looking for ways to make the ride wilder, both for us and for the readers and, with that kind of freedom, I don’t think we’d ever run out of ideas or gags or unique characters.  As they say in show business, “we’ve got a million of ‘em”.

BF: Out of Adam’s three sisters, Neela has obviously played an important role in the story so far but is there any chance of seeing more focus on the other two – Angie and Stella?

JC: We’re definitely out to give every character their moments to shine.  I think Angie got hers in issue #7 and issue #11 where she got out there in her little snub fighter craft and played action hero.  As for Stella, she’ll get her time in the spotlight too but in a very different manner.  Whatever it is, it has to be true to the characters and, you’re right; Neela does play an important role... but that was set up from the very beginning.  We really see the series as an ensemble cast (which is why the book is called Gødland as opposed to Adam Archer Adventures).

BF: Artist Tom Scioli is a master craftsman who stands alone but would also fit nicely into the company of such giants of the industry as Jack Kirby and Jim Steranko.  What is working with Scioli like?

JC: He’s one of my absolute favorite collaborators (a list that includes Ladronn, Sean Phillips and Charlie Adlard among a select few).  Tom and I really clicked creatively on this book and it really is an absolute joy to be working with him.  Truth be told, sometimes I’m rushing to keep up with him.  He’s that good.

BF: Have you found that working with him has changed certain aspects of Gødland; in other words: are there things you have been able to do that you had not anticipated because of Scioli’s work?

JC: Working with Tom has pushed my imagination further because I know he can draw anything.  The wildest ideas I’ve come up with for this series, he’s pulled off almost effortlessly.  When you have a creative partner like that it just ups your game.  The challenge is right there: can you come up with stuff worthy of your partner’s talents?  That’s what I try to do every month.

BF: What is one thing that has surprised you about this series so far?  Conversely, is there anything that has disappointed you up to now?  Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

JC: Aside from not being a Top 10 book right out of the gate, I wouldn’t change a thing.  One thing that’s surprised me is how dedicated our readership is and how much they’ve taken the characters to heart.  That’s been amazing.  When I read the letters that come in I’m constantly blown away by the sentiments expressed about how they like a certain character, how they really care what happens to them, suggestions about what SHOULD happen to them.  It’s like the old Marvel letter columns I would read as a kid.  Our readers seem to be really invested in the series.

BF: Last year you made a surprising move to have a several month break between issues #12 and #13.  This was done to give yourself and Tom Scioli a chance to get caught up and insure that the series would continue on a monthly schedule.  This was something of a bold move – were you afraid that the series might lose momentum in the downtime?

JC: Yes and no.  Of course, you worry about those things in the moment but, to be completely mercenary about it, late books are happening now more than ever... but if the quality is there then readers will stick around.   And at some point I have to take the long-range view... meeting a deadline (or missing it by a week or two) is momentarily painful but the art has to last a lifetime. 

We’ve shipped late a few times (by a couple of weeks at the most) and it sucks at the time but when Tom and I – and hopefully our readers – look back on the quality of the series those momentary lapses won’t matter so much.

BF: The “stunt” this year is the upcoming 60-cent issue.  Whose idea was that and when did the groundwork for that get laid out?

JC: It was always part of the plan to do a lower-priced issue at some point to give the series a little marketing juice during the second year.  I kind of picked the price tag out of a hat... I guess some of my favorite comics of the 80’s were sixty cents when they came out. 

The issue itself is a sort of summation of the events that have taken place so far in the book.  I hate the cliché “jumping on point” but in this case, that’s exactly what Gødland #16 is.  I hope it works....

BF: When will you consider the effort a success?

JC: You mean the series in general?  I would say that Gødland has exceeded my expectations for success simply because it turned out to be so much fun on so many levels.  In terms of the success of the sixty-cent issue, I dunno... I guess if we doubled our readership we wouldn’t kick THAT result out of bed.

BF: What’s next for Gødland from issue #16 and upwards?

JC: Lots of cool, cosmic goodness.  We’ll see exactly what’s been happening with Neela in space.  Issue #16 actually kicks off a more Earthbound storyline that explores Adam’s tense relationship with his home planet.  We’ve just introduced a new character named the Savage Sting... this chick makes Discordia look like June Cleaver and of course we’ll see the Triad’s ultimate scheme in action.  They’ve gone through a lot of prep time, so you know the end result is going to be worth it. 

We’re actually going to up the drama in ways that I think longtime readers would’ve never expected.  The idea, as I said before, is that Gødland is not restricted by the rules that Marvel and DC characters generally deal with.  I don’t think there’s another superhero series out there that’s as unpredictable as Gødland.  Point of pride I guess... as long as the book is good at the same time.  We do what we can...

Readers will be able to do what they can as Gødland #16, a sixty-cent issue, is scheduled to hit stands next Wednesday, February 14.

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