Drew Melbourne Interview

Drew Melbourne. Freelance writer. South Bronx public school teacher. Stand-up comic. And now, comic book writer. His first book, ArchEnemies, debuts this month from Dark Horse and Westfield's Roger Ash recently learned more about this book.

Westfield: How did ArchEnemies come about?

Drew Melbourne: One day I thought to myself, "My roommate is the most evil man who's ever lived." And then I thought, "No, wait. Doctor Doom is the most evil man who ever lived!" And then I thought, "Crap! What if my roommate is secretly Doctor Doom?" I was pretty freaked out for that whole week. Then, after I calmed down, I wrote the first issue of ArchEnemies.

I'd never gotten a comic published before, so I stacked the creative team with talented veterans like Yvel Guichet and Joe Rubenstein. We pitched the series to a few different companies, and when Dark Horse offered to publish the series, we jumped. Well, I did. But then I'm easily startled.

Westfield: What is the story about? What can people look forward to in the mini-series?

Melbourne: ArchEnemies is the story of Ethan Baxter, a slobby slacker who is secretly the solar-powered hero called Star Fighter, and Vincent Darko, his neurotic roommate, who is secretly Star Fighter's sworn enemy, the Underlord. Star Fighter and the Underlord hate each other, and Ethan and Vincent are roommates, so they hate each other too.

The mini-series poses the question, "Can these two guys learn to live together, or will they stumble onto each other's secrets and kill each other?" Basically things start bad, get worse, and then something happens halfway through that sends things off in an unexpected direction.

All that, plus an origin, a power-up, a team-up, a break-up, a breakdown, a betrayal, a helpful fashion tip, sex, violence, vandalism, death, jokes, more jokes, young love, countless lies, and epiphanies all around. Though not in that order.

Westfield: Is the story focused more on the "super" aspect of Ethan and Vincent or on the two of them as roommates?

Melbourne: We focus on both, really. These guys are the stars of this comic specifically because they're roommates and they're super, so they're going to get into all kinds of situations that, say, me and my roommates don't get into. For instance: I've never walked in on my roommate while he was interviewing potential lackeys.

Realistically, ArchEnemies probably has less "in costume" time then your typical superhero book, but still more than a Bendis Daredevil comic.

Westfield: You're working with artist Yvel Guichet on the book. What do you think he brings to the story?

Melbourne: Honestly, without Yvel on the book, I wouldn't be talking to you today. I can write all the clever dialogue and surprising plot twists that I want, but it's Yvel's art that really make these characters come alive. It's Yvel's art that sells the roommates' apartment as a real, lived-in environment. That said, I'm also fantastically talented.

Westfield: If the mini-series does well, do you have more ArchEnemies stories you'd like to tell?

Melbourne: Yeah, absolutely. As I'm sure you know, it is exceedingly hard to launch a new series in today's market. If ArchEnemies takes off, I would love to do a sequel mini or even an ongoing. I have a few years worth of ArchEnemies stories sketched out on a napkin somewhere and a definite end point in mind for these characters. If I can shepherd them all the way from here to there, I would do the Snoopy dance of joy.

Westfield: Would you like to do more comics in the future?

Melbourne: That's the goal, sure. But it's funny. You spend a few years trying to get your first comic published, and you're riddled with doubt and insecurity the whole time, and you're always asking yourself, "Is this ever really going to happen?" And then it does, and that's fantastic, but suddenly you're facing all these new, much more frightening questions: "Are people going to buy my comic?" "Are people going to like me?" "Am I ever going to work again?" And ultimately that's all up to the readers. So we'll see what happens&

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Melbourne: Not that I should be talking about just yet.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Melbourne: Just a quick plug for our website. The URL is ArchEnemiesOnline.com. We'll be updating the site regularly with preview art, behind-the-scenes info, and all lots of other cool stuff, so we encourage everybody to stop by often!