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C2E2 2011: Talking to Phil Hester

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While cruising through Artist’s Alley at C2E2, Broken Frontier took a moment to speak with creator Phil Hester about his current and upcoming projects. Hester weighed in on Cartoon Network’s recent animated film adaptation of his character Firebreather. Hester said he was very excited by it and had already seen the movie “like, 100 times.” Of those, he has only seen it with an audience around four times but it was always very fun and gratifying to watch kids and their reactions.

Now that the film is out on DVD and BluRay, Hester was catching things he had never seen before, even down to textures and background elements, and he felt that the movie was beautiful and true to the spirit of the comic. He spoke about the third volume of the Firebreather comic called Holmgang, a Norse term for a duel of honor. The story concerns members of Duncan Rosenblatt’s family contesting his right to ascend to the throne of King of the Monsters.

Hester is also set to take over DC’s revamped Wonder Woman series after the departure of writer J. Michael Straczynski. The two were initially co-writing the series but Hester will inherit sole writing credit. He stressed that he is still working from Straczynski’s pitch and building off of his ideas. However, Hester has been the main “day-to-day” writer on the comic, with Straczynski taking more of an overseeing role. Coming in halfway through someone else’s story was at first a daunting task but Hester has since been really enjoying it and having a lot of fun on the book. He acknowledged that the revamp has been somewhat controversial among fans who took issue with the character’s new costume and/or rebooted history. But thus far, readers have been very nice since his arrival. Some have enjoyed his work while others have accepted that comics are a cyclical business and that sweeping changes like these are often temporary. With a character that’s been around this long, Hester said that one has to shake things up at times to keep the book fresh. He also is convinced that ten to twenty years from now, there will be fans who remember this story as their favorite version of Wonder Woman.

Hester’s comics with Dynamite Entertainment, such as Green Hornet and Black Terror, were discussed. He hinted that he has a new project coming up with Dynamite but he is not allowed to say anything about it yet. While he is transitioning away from Green Hornet, he will continue to co-write the series with Ande Parks.

In addition to his other projects, Hester has worked for several years on The Darkness for Top Cow, a character very different from the type the artist has been largely associated with. This has at times been tough, as Jackie Estacado is not truly a hero. Hester enjoys taking his characters to a somewhat dark place and having them go through a transformative event. The Darkness presents a challenge on this front, as Jackie can grow and change to some extent but can never truly cross the line to heroism and selflessness, nor can he fully embrace villainy. This fine line has stretched Hester’s writing muscles during his experience on the book. As his run is winding down, Hester is gearing up for a “big status quo change” for the character.

Hester’s other projects include penciling IDW’s new Godzilla comic, a decision no doubt influenced by the creator’s work with Firebreather and his towering monster of a father. The book will be written by Eric Powell and Tracy Marsh. Hester is on board for the first four issues as of now. The secret Dynamite project will also be taking some of his time. With such disparate characters and series and both writing and art duties in his future, Hester is able to indulge his creativity and continue to make his mark on comics.

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