Michael Turner Interview

Artist Michael Turner is best known for his work on Image's Witchblade and Fathom. Now, Turner has started his own company, Aspen MLT, and is set to lauch his first series, Soulfire. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently spoke with Turner about Soulfire and what's on the way from Aspen MLT.

Westfield: Soulfire is the first series from your new company, Aspen MLT. Why did you decide that now was the time to start your own company?

Michael Turner: Over the last few years, it's been kind of a life change for me with the cancer and the surgery and the recovery. It gave me a different perspective on life. It's one of those things where you want to live every day to the fullest. I just felt that it was time for me to go out, grab the reins myself and do my own thing. It wasn't that anything bad happened. There wasn't any instance that happened and I said "I'm out." It was just a life decision. I really wanted to get out and try my own thing, and I felt it was the time to do it.

Westfield: One of the things that I find interesting about Soulfire is that it's your first title due to reader votes. How did that idea come about?

Turner: It actually came about because I had come up with Soulfire several years ago. It was called Dragonfly then, but I'll tell you about the name change in a minute. During that time, I also developed the Ekos concept and I really liked that one too. I really wanted to draw them both. However, I knew I couldn't draw them both at the same time, but I also couldn't decide on which one I wanted to start with first. So it basically came about like that. I said, "I don't want to decide, so let's let the fans decide." I've been to over 34 store signings on one promotion and different conventions. I like going out and meeting the people and I wanted to involve them in my new projects.

Westfield: Since you mentioned it, why the name change for the book?

Turner: We're already getting movie interest in the concept, even before the book comes out, all based on the Wizard preview. With the Kevin Costner movie that came out called Dragonfly, we would have had to change the name anyway. It would have been, from the comic book known as Dragonfly, now called something else. For the legal aspects of it, we decided to go with a name that was different. Michael Turner's Dragonfly: Soulfire was a big mouthful, so we just decided to go with Soulfire. And it actually fits exactly what the concept is about. Without giving any secrets away, it deals with people's inner strengths coming out and magics of sorts.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the story of Soulfire?

Turner: It's going to be a big adventure. Jeph Loeb and I are working on a really cool story that spans the entire globe. You get to see what the world looks like in 150 years. It's not a post-apocalyptic future though, it's as if things were going along as they are today. We're going for a fairly optimistic future. It's not going to be Utopian, it's not going to be Armageddon. It's going to be pretty normal, but with the advances of 150 years or so. You also learn that there's a small underworld that's been around since way back into the past, that has this "magics" of sorts. We meet some of the characters, and all of a sudden, it turns into Dragonslayer, where this huge mechanical dragon starts raking across the land and doing all this damage. And we don't know why. So you learn through the story what's going on and who's controlling the dragon. We find out who the bad guy is, and some people come along on a journey to teach this kid (Malakai) how to use his abilities. It's one big adventure. It's a fun story.

Westfield: Who are some of the character?

Turner: There's Malakai, who's the little boy. Grace is the girl with the dragonfly wings. There's a character called Benoist, who's this big, brawny guy that has mechanical arms and legs. He has all these vehicles that he can control. He kind of hooks into his vehicles and he drives them that way. He has weapons and tools and all kinds of stuff integrated into his body. There's another girl named Sonia who has this big disk/shield-type weapon and there's all kinds of fun things she does with that. A new thing for the kids in the future is mood hair. So, when Sonia's happy, her hair's all bright and happy; when she's sad, it's black. Her hair's even going to change with her expressions. That's some of the characters. I have a bunch more, but that's all I'll tell you about right now.

Westfield: Is this planned as an ongoing or a limited series?

Turner: It has an ongoing world, but I'm planning it as like the first movie. You're going to get the beginning, middle and end of the first movie. You don't know who's going to live and who's going to die. If it's successful, then we're going to come out with the second movie. It's going to probably be 8 to 10 issues long.

Westfield: How did Jeph Loeb become involved with the project?

Turner: Jeph Loeb and I have been friends for a while. Even back in the Awesome days, I was talking about doing some stuff and we talked about wanting to work together. It just came about when these two projects happened. I was also talking with Geoff Johns about Ekos, and it all happened at once. I didn't even know at the time that Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb had an office together, and I'm really good friends with both of them. So, we just started talking about it and they got into the competitive spirit, and it just happened. It was like, "You wanna do this?" "Yeah!" It was a very easy thing.

Westfield: How much of the story that we're going to see is yours and how much is Jeph's? How do you two work together?

Turner: As of right now, we've just started working together. The story that I have is something I've had in my head for two years. Jeph has a great way of taking ideas and making them work. I can't tell you exactly right now how it's going to happen, because we've started the whole story process and haven't actually scripted the stuff yet. We have plots that we're working on right now though. So far, it's a good mix. We're both having a lot of fun with this. The stories are coming out really quick and really cool. I'm very happy about it.

Westfield: What other projects are on the way from Aspen MLT?

Turner: After Soulfire, I'm more than likely going to do Ekos. I really like that concept. That'll be my movie for next year. After that I have another one called Checkmate. That's a pretty interesting little story that I was actually pitching as a television show. It deals with real people being used on a chessboard of a city. It's a neat little concept. There's another one that I have that's a kid detective story that I've been talking to a movie studio about. There's another one that I'm working on with a very, very popular video game designer. He and I just started talking about this one, so I can't really talk about it yet.

But we've got a lot of things going. We've got some sculptures coming out. My mom actually is a professional sculptor who did the Fathom bust that we just put out to order. It's so much prettier than you can see in the pictures. It's just great. She's working on some other stuff; some Soulfire stuff right now. We've got a whole bunch of items getting ready to come out. I feel like we're just getting ready to unleash ourselves on everybody. I just can't wait for people to see everything.

Westfield: Will Fathom be returning?

Turner: Yeah. Fathom is going to have a big return. Talent Caldwell, who did Killian's Tide, has really grown as an artist. His stuff is just phenomenal. I can't wait for people to see it. He's starting to work on a mini-series right now. Also, in the Aspen #1, 2 & 3 books that are coming out, Geoff Johns and I are doing a big 36-page story. That will lead into Talent's mini-series which has some new characters. It's called Fathom: Dawn of War. That's going to be coming out right after Soulfire #1. The mini-series then leads into the relaunch of Fathom #1. I'm talking to a really good writer about working on that series right now. That book's probably going to launch in December.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Turner: I wanted to thank everybody that stuck by me through all the really hard times that I had. This is like the beginning of act three for me. I'm really excited about everything right now. The energy in this new company is very, very positive. I wanted to thank the people here; Frank Mastromauro and Peter Steigerwald and Talent Caldwell for sticking by me. We have a really cool family over here and we're really looking forward to coming out on the scene.