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Crowning the Dragon Prince - Part 2

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Appealing to new readers is obviously something Marz knows a little about, with the range of stories, as well as publishers his words have graced. Throughout his lengthy career, he has had the opportunity to work on well known space faring epics such as Silver Surfer, Green Lantern and the Batman/Aliens cross-over, as well as more grounded heroes with his work on smaller publishers such as Top Cow.

One of the few creators today who has been able to forge a bold path through the boom and bust of the 90s, he has seen both sides of the comic spectrum, including publishers, such as CrossGen and Valiant disappear, while still maintaining strong working relationships with The Big Two. The difference between creator-owned books and franchise characters has not been lost to the scribe. 

“There's nothing quite like working on your own stuff, because it's very much yours. It's created from scratch, you're not are no years of continuity to abide by, you can take the story in any direction you choose,” reflects Marz. “You obviously have control over of what you're doing, including who you're working with. On something like Samurai: Heaven and Earth, Luke Ross and I approve the colors, the lettering, even the ad placement in the issues. Creator-owned work really gives the opportunity to present your work the way you want to present it.

“The down side is that's harder to attract an audience, because the market is so focused on Big Two superheroes. Luke and I did an arc on Green Lantern prior to Samurai. The GL arc sold literally four times what Samurai did. Same creative team, and arguably a better product, but one-quarter of the sales. Obviously, working on established characters has its own set of rewards, and I don't mean to dismiss them at all. It's a tradeoff. You accept more editorial control and more baggage when you work on established characters. As long as you understand that going in, it can be satisfying. When you write characters like Superman or Batman, you're really writing fictional icons, not just comic characters. It's equal parts opportunity and responsibility.”

The most recent example of this division between creator owned books versus corporate creations can be seen in the recent restructuring of Virgin Comics, for which Marz was working on several series, including the Deepak Chopra created, Beyond. Marz is forthcoming about what the closing of Virgin Comics’ New York offices means to him. 

“I was editing a couple books for them, now I'm not. It was just one part of my overall workload, and there are already projects in place to replace them, some of which will be announced in the near future, I believe. I enjoyed what I did with Virgin. They had a lot of good people, both stateside and in India. I hope this restructuring goes well, and that their projects can return in one form or another. There was some good material produced there.”

Marz isn’t the only one producing his own “good material” in Dragon Prince. His creative partner in the series Lee Moder brings dynamic, fast paced pencils to the tale, and variant covers for all four issues are available  from the likes of Ryan Sook (Countdown), David Finch (World War Hulk), Stjepan Sejic (Witchblade), David Petersen (Mouse Guard) and Brandon Peterson (Ultimate X-Men).

Though it is Moder who is obviously the stand out for the mini-series., taking the opportunity to show readers what he’s truly capable of.  “Lee and I have known each other for quite a few years,” comments Marz. “We actually did some work together at DC on a Green Lantern Secret Files. We've always been looking for other opportunities to work together, so when Dragon Prince's original artist, Jeff Johnson, had to drop out because of his full-time gig in animation, I thought of Lee. His style isn't that far removed from Jeff's. What he does fits the story very well.”

Dragon Prince is a four issue limited series, but with the old-time adventure feel coupled with its East versus West versus dragons themes, it could easily expand into a story of larger scope. “There are certainly more stories to tell,” says Marz.” These four issues have a definite end, it's not like we're going to stop on a cliffhanger. But the overall story we want to tell is bigger than just these four issues. Hopefully there's going to be enough of an audience -- which frankly means enough sales -- for us to continue.”
Dragon Prince #3 is expected in stores on November 26, 2008.

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