Marc Guggenheim & Vince Gonzales Interview (JAN-09)

 height=Superheroes. Zombies. Combine them and you get Super-Zombies, the new book from Dynamite Entertainment by writers Marc Guggenheim (Spider-Man, Young X-Men, and co-creator of TV's Eli Stone) and Vince Gonzales (former correspondent for CBS News) and artist Mel Rubi (Red Sonja). Westfield's Roger Ash recently contacted Guggenheim and Gonzles to learn more about this book.

Westfield: What is the genesis of the Super-Zombies series?

Marc Guggenheim: At a meeting between myself and Nick Barrucci, Nick pitched out the title, Super-Zombies. He wanted to know if I found that notion - the idea of mixing superheroes and the undead - interesting. I did, but I told Nick that I wanted to bring in a friend of mine whose love of the zombie genre matched my love of the superhero one. Vince is an expert on zombies.

Vince Gonzales: I had discussed a zombie comic idea with Marc and I guess he remembered it, because he called me up and asked me to work on Super-Zombies with him. Apparently, he told Nick I was an expert on zombies. I've been called a lot of things, but that's a first.

Westfield: As co-writers, how do you two work together? Who does what?

Guggenheim: We worked together in much the same way I work on my television shows - Vince and I would get together, sometimes via phone, sometimes email, sometimes in person, and talk out the world, the mythology and the overall storyline. Then Vince would go off and write an outline which I'd give notes on and additional discussion would ensue. The same was true for the actual scriptwriting process - Vince would do a first draft based on the outline and I'd come back with notes in some instances and rewrites in others.

Gonzales: Thank goodness for email and cell phones. When we started this project, I was still working full time as a correspondent for CBS News and Marc was launching a new TV show. As for the process itself, we usually would figure out a story line over the phone or in a quick face to face meeting. Then I would do a draft of the outline which Marc would review. We'd bounce it back and forth in emails until we had a version we both liked. The scriptwriting process went pretty much the same way.

Westfield: What can people look forward to in the series? Who are the main characters?

 height=Guggenheim: The series is every bit what you'd expect from the title, Super-Zombies - it's a superhero zombie story. At the same time, and admittedly paradoxically, it's not what you'd expect. There's a greater degree of complexity and mystery than the notion of superheroes plus zombies would normally suggest. As for the main characters, there are almost too many to name. We had to create an entire comic book universe from scratch.

Gonzales: We wanted readers to feel like they were visiting a fully-fleshed out universe... at its worst moment. So, we spent a lot of time creating the world the story takes place in and figuring the history, relationships and backstories for all the characters. Our hope is that after this five-issue start, we can go on to tell more stories in this universe, perhaps even setting some in the time before the arrival of what we call the "Reviver Plague" and the coming of the Super Zombies. As for the characters, we're talking about a pretty large cast. We actually came up with around 40 "powered" individuals. Some of them show up just briefly in the first five issues, but many have stories we'd like to explore in the future. Our leads are Neuron (the scientist whose vaccine saved the world from a series of plagues and may also have given some super powers), Promethean (one of the few plague victims Neuron could not completely cure), and a machine intelligence we call NANO. They're our Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Westfield: What can you say about artist Mel Rubi's work on the book?

Guggenheim: I can say it's the work of his career, how about that? It's really amazing. Mel's style is very fluid and dynamic and he really nailed the tonal blend that combining these two genres requires. It's a tall order but Mel makes it look effortless.

Gonzales: Mel has done fantastic work. The art is great. We always said we wanted to do something that felt more like an epic story. I don't know if the scripts achieved that, but Mel's art certainly put us in the ballpark. As part of our process, Marc and I created a packet of character bios for him that contained a history, a physical description, even some suggested symbols. Somehow Mel's copy got corrupted while being sent as an email. So, he did his first sketches and some of the first pages with just the script... and nailed it. The characters looked almost exactly as Marc and I envisioned them. We didn't know Mel was working without the bios until later.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Gonzales: I think there's an element of humor and fun in this project that people might be surprised by. When I think about the movies I like the best, they are the ones that take you on a roller coaster ride. You're laughing one minute, stunned the next, and then scared. Hopefully we achieved even a little bit of that.

Guggenheim: I definitely agree with Vince's comment that there's a cool blend of thrills and humor. I'm a big fan of mixing tonalities that way. The goal here is to start with this admittedly bombastic title and serve up a story that has a lot more going on than you would expect from it. We just wanted to produce a good read.

To link to this interview, use this link (right click and copy)