Interview: Chris Roberson on Boom! Studios’ Stan Lee’s Starborn

Stan Lee's Starborn

Stan Lee's Starborn

Chris Roberson is the writer of such comics as iZombie, Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Dust To Dust. This month, he writes BOOM!’s new Stan Lee’s Starborn. Westfield’s Roger Ash contacted Roberson to learn more about this new series.

Westfield: How did you become involved with Stan Lee’s Starborn?

Chris Roberson: I met the gang at BOOM! Studios at the 2009 SDCC, and managing editor Matt Gagnon and I ended up talking late into the small hours about our favorite science fiction writers on the last night of the convention. That lead to me writing the prequel to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, as well as to another project that’s still in development and too hush-hush to discuss.

I’d heard about the line of books they were doing with Stan Lee a while back, and knew that Mark Waid was going to be writing one of the books and overseeing the line. Then I heard that one of my friends (and fellow member of the Clockwork Storybook writing group), Paul Cornell, was going to be doing the second book, so I *knew* it was shaping up to be something pretty darned cool. A few months ago, Matt contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in writing the third book. I didn’t hesitate for a second, but *jumped* at the chance. Who *wouldn’t*, for a chance to work with Stan Lee, and to write alongside talents like Waid and Cornell?!

Westfield: How much contact do you have with Stan?

Roberson: Getting to meet Stan in person (and have breakfast with him, no less!) was one of the highlights of this year’s SDCC. But on Starborn most of my communication has been through Mark Waid, who is editing the line and has been meeting with Stan regularly. (The mere fact that Mark Waid is calling *me* to tell me what Stan Lee thinks of *my* ideas is something that my fanboy brain is still having a little trouble wrapping itself around…)

Westfield: Who are the main characters in the book?

Roberson: Benjamin Warner is a dreamer. He works in a mind-numbing office job, but his thoughts are always somewhere else. Since he was a kid, he’s been making up stories about an extraterrestrial civilization far across the galaxy, called the “Human Civilization.” He’s tried to turn his ideas in novels, but so far he hasn’t had any success convincing publishers to buy them. But he hasn’t given up hope yet.

Then his whole world falls apart when things that seem to be straight out of his made-up stories start attacking him in the real world, and Benjamin is left with only two choices—either his stories are somehow *real*, or he’s gone crazy.

Complicating matters is the unexpected arrival of his childhood sweetheart, Tara Takamoto, the girl-next-door. But *she* is quickly revealed to be a shape-shifting extraterrestrial warrior, who knows *far* more about what’s really going on that Benjamin could have ever imagined. And that’s when things get even *more* complicated.

Westfield: Are there any teasers you can share about the story?

Stan Lee's Starborn Cover B

Stan Lee's Starborn Cover B

Roberson: In the stories that Benjamin writes, there are different alien species on the various planets of a distant solar system, but they are collectively known as the “Human Civilization” because it is the humans of the planet “Homeworld” that are the ruling class.

The aliens who have come hunting for Benjamin as our story opens, though, refer to their solar system simply as the “Civilization,” and humans are now relegated to an oppressed underclass on one isolated planet.

What happened in the interim, and the reason why the humans are no longer in charge, is much of the driving thrust of the first few story arcs.

Westfield: You’re working with artist Khary Randolph on the book. What can you tell us about your collaboration with him?

Roberson: We’re in the very early stages, and so far the only stuff of Khary’s I’ve seen for the series yet has been rough layouts, but I was already familiar with his work and was *delighted* when they told me we’d be collaborating on the book. I can’t *wait* to see what he comes up with!

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

Roberson: I’m still hard at work on my creator-owned series with Mike Allred for Vertigo, iZombie, the first arc of which just wrapped up. It’s about a zombie girl detective and her friends in the far-flung land of Eugene, Oregon.

Superman/Batman #79

Superman/Batman #79

I’m also finishing work on Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?: Dust To Dust, the prequel to Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? for BOOM! Studios, and have just started scripting the second Cinderella miniseries spinning out of Bill Willingham’s Fables, Cinderella: Fables Are Forever. At this very moment, though, I’m fulfilling a childhood ambition by writing a two-part arc on DC’s Superman/Batman (featuring the “DC One Million” versions of the characters from the line-wide crossover that Grant Morrison orchestrated years ago), the first part of which comes out in December of this year.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Roberson: Working with people like Mark Waid, Stan Lee, and Mike Allred, and following in the footsteps of Philip K. Dick, Bill Willingham, and everyone who ever worked on World’s Finest? Seriously, I’m the luckiest kid in comics!