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Mass Destruction Jimmie - Part 1

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Welcome to Newport City, the only place ruled by a broad not even Arnold Schwarzenegger would want to call home. The city is the playground of the Bomb Queen, a ruthless black beauty who pulls off wearing a thong as part of her supervillain outfit better than Emma Frost (a.k.a. The White Queen—that’s where the pun comes from, kiddies!) ever could.

Gazers who live too far away from Newport City but still want to get a closer look at this true femme fatale had best check out Bomb Queen: Queen of Hearts, the first issue of which is currently on sale from Image Comics. Queen of Hearts is the follow-up to last spring’s first Bomb Queen mini series, since collected as Woman of Mass Destruction.

The creator of this immoral show is Jimmie Robinson who loves to ramble about his Shadowline book almost as much as he loves to put things on their head inside its pages. Hence, what follows is not your typical BF interview where the comments by interviewer and creator are in (almost) equal proportions. The balance is almost as much out of whack as the law over in Newport City. But, hey, who are we to put the brakes on a raging Robinson when his bloodthirsty companion is threatening to blow our heads off if we do?

(Note: the ensuing article includes artwork not applicable for all ages)

BROKEN FRONTIER: When readers opened up Bomb Queen Vol. II #1, one of the first things they noticed is that you’ve taken your artwork up a notch. Both the line work and the color are much crisper. Did you spend a lot of time and effort refining your style?

JIMMIE ROBINSON: Hahaha! What style?  I tell you, I learn something new with each issue.  In fact, I almost feel apologetic to the readers who watch me "grow up" in public.  I was out of comics for several years, and I'm a firm believer that if you don't practice it, you lose it.  When I returned with Bomb Queen, I was just relearning what I should have been doing 6 years ago.  It's like lost time.  With this series’ story arc I took it upon myself to do everything—write, pencil, ink, color, letter and production; the whole ball of wax. 

Thus, I had control right to the very end product.  This helps a lot in those small details that I love so much in the backgrounds, and when I want to emphasize a point.  When working with others it's not always possible to get that across without looking like a control freak because there's just a TON of things I would do to the art that others might not.  That's not to say working with a "team" is a negative.  That same result can be found when others add details I didn't think about.  It's not right, or wrong, it's just different in how I approach the project. 

For time consideration, working with a team helps the comic as a whole, especially as we go into all the plans for Bomb Queen in 2007.  I guess it's like Marvel's Civil War.  Do you want it now, with a fill-in crew, or do you want it later, done by just me?  Both are good, depending on the reader's view.  Personally I love doing it all, but I'm also a realist, and a businessman.  If I do it all, then I limit other things I want to do, such as the What If? Wolverine story I just wrote for Marvel. 

I have plans for other books, beyond, and including Bomb Queen.  But I am only one man behind the curtain.  I liked Angel Marin's colors on the first series, and Jason Embury's colors on the one-shot (Bomb Queen vs. Blacklight, released this August – ed.) .  I'd like to think my style is just different, not better.  I "paint" with my Wacom more than others.  It's just a matter of speed and consistency.  I'm still learning and I have time to burn, some don't.  They have more than just one book to worry about.

BF: The first series, Woman of Mass Destruction, introduced us to New Port City, a crooked town where Bomb Queen reigns supreme, heroes don’t stand a chance and politicians with good intentions at first are driven to madness. Where does the second volume pick up?

JR: In this series, we bypass some of that heartbeat of the City and get personal with the Queen.  Basically, things are running “smooth” in New Port City, once again.  A season has changed and we're on the cusp of Christmas.  The first series is old news, so new readers don't have to catch up to enjoy the current miniseries. However, for the perfectionists out there, the first series has a few undertones and characters that carry over.  

I decided, after the introduction of the city in the first series to switch gears to the Queen herself and to what happens when she falls victim.  In short, I bring a personal touch to her deadly personality, not the city. By the end of the series she will have grown as a character, which I think is important—so many write her off as a one-trick pony.  I can understand that because I'm splitting hairs here.  Shades of black and all that. 

Not everyone has the time to read between the lines, or see how the book develops, or how it picks up on details from volume to volume.  It's an acquired taste, for sure.  And I like it that way.  This is not a mainstream book.

BF: Were you pleased with how people responded to the first Bomb Queen mini series?

JR: Oh yes!  But, to be honest I was wondering where all the “hate” went?  Bomb Queen is created with a lot of "wrong" content.  The signals are mixed.  Is she a hero?  Is this a T&A book?  Whom does the reader root for?  Is this satire?  Am I being clever, or just poking fun at it all?  Am I being clever about acting like I'm clever?  Do I use too much, or too little nudity? It's all over the place.  And the reviews reflect that, which is good.  I'd be worried if everyone walked lockstep to the tune. 

I made the book to be the opposite of everything a standard "hero" comic should be.  Instead of protecting the people, she abuses them.  Instead of the hero winning, the villain is on top.  Instead of hinting at nipples under spandex, we see them.  Instead of a normal city, we have corruption and crime.  Killers, rapists, paedophiles, etc.  What is there to like about this book?  It's UGLY.  It's meant to be that way.  I'm amused when reviews attempt to find goodness in Bomb Queen, or even in my intentions.

Now don't get me wrong, I didn't create the book to NOT sell.  Clearly folks are buying it and the response has been great.  But this book isn't for mass consumption, it's not for everyone.  It's damaged goods and it'll be viewed by the individuals who read it, and what they bring to it.  This is the book you hide under the bed, not what you put on the shelf in the living room.  I wrote it for the dark side of humanity.  Perhaps more folks have that darker streak than others notice in today's market, who knows? 

Sales have gone up and they keep rising.  Stores report selling out of their stock.  At this point, Bomb Queen is infamous.  She rides well on mixed reviews.  People hear about it, they wonder about it, and they check it out.  I'd rather have that than be the comic you sum up in a sentence across the board.

BF: As you say, Bomb Queen is meant to stir some mixed reactions with it’s “over-the-top” attitude. Do you recall any “over-the-top” reactions from fans, at conventions for example?

JR: I have yet to hit the convention trail with full force since the [first] book came out.  To be honest, I don't know what to expect.  The only reactions have been online so far.  Email, forums, and review sites.  And as you know people wear their hearts, or their balls on their sleeve when behind the facade of the computer.  I think that's great!  The opinions are honest, open, and daring.  Nobody has seriously taken me to the carpet, yet.  The majority of comments are positive, the reviews are mostly positive, the others mixed.  And that's good.  It's not a book looking to make friends.  I challenge the reader with abuse.  

I only made it to one convention so far; a small convention in Oakland, CA. called, SuperCon.  I kid you not, the very minute I walked in the door with my bags a fan was at my side.  He was at a retailer booth asking if issue #3 was out.  The retailer knew me and said, "Well, there he is now!"  The reader followed me to the booth, I put my bags down and before setting up my table I just gave him the book. Perfect timing.  But other conventions?  Nope, not yet.   I have no idea what to expect from a large-scale convention.  I'm not sure how I'll handle someone in a Bomb Queen outfit coming up to the table.  I draw this stuff in the book as a gross knee-jerk reaction to comics, not to compliment it.  I'm not a fan of "booth babes" at conventions and I'd shudder to think my book put more naked women in the halls with families and children.

But fan reaction in the way of talking about the book, what I'm doing and their perception of it?  I'm open to hear that. That's where the fun is.

BF: If you were forced to pick one, what would you cite as the strongest point of the concept? The cynical take on our own society, the violence, or the fact that it stars a villainess instead of a heroine?

JR: I'd take the cynical view on society, because that package comes with everything.  The casual acceptance of violence, and sex and the mixed views of what we "expect" in society, in our comics, and our heroes.  It's a challenging direction.  I'll tell you, it's EASY to write what you should.  It's damn hard to write what you don't agree with.  I'm not out to defend criminals, rapists and paedophiles, but this story works on that platform, and the cynical view of society works hand-in-hand with that. 

We're fascinated by the dirty laundry on the news, but we don't get involved when it's on our doorstep.  We slow down to watch the car wreck on the freeway.  We want to see the blood, the violence, the sex, the rise and fall of celebrity.  In North America that's just how it is.  In fact, when I write Bomb Queen it's barely keeping up with the speed of traffic when compared to society in the "real world".  I swear I'm living in New Port City everyday.

I wouldn't pick the fact that this stars a villain instead of a hero, because one man's hero is another man's terrorist.   Bomb Queen is just an icon of all that's wrong with that city.  She's interchangeable.  It's the city that's jacked up.  The leader they get is the one they deserve.  There's a reason the character doesn't have a proper name, or a secret identity.  She's only known as "Bomb Queen" because she's an icon, not a person.  She reflects her society much like Gotham created Batman, or Metropolis is the home of Superman. 

I believe it's important that a character's environment plays a factor in its motivations, creation, and development—so often super hero stories ignore the city like grass under the elephant's feet.

To be concluded on Tuesday...

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