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Strange Tales

Strange Tales Spotlight: Brian Maruca

As the STRANGE TALES hardcover hits shelves, the 'Afrodisiac' writer takes a trip to the grindhouse with Brother Voodoo

By Sean T. Collins

Consider him the Power Man to artist Jim Rugg's Iron Fist. Writer Brian Maruca has made waves on the indie-superhero circuit with a pair of killer collaborations with Rugg: The homeless teenage girl turned skateboarding ninja saga Street Angel (from SLG) and, more recently, a lavishly illustrated homage to the African-American comic-book heroes of the '70s called Afrodisiac, starring the super-powered pimp of the same name.

With AdHouse Book's January release of Afrodisiac still making waves, Maruca took some time out of basking in the acclaim of the project to talk to Marvel.com about his similarly-themed contribution to STRANGE TALES: A down'n'dirty story of voodoo and vengeance starring the Avenger of the Supernatural himself, Brother Voodoo. Check out Maruca's thoughts on blaxploitation, his Marvel memories and his take on Jericho Drumm's recent promotion to Sorcerer Supreme--then conjure up the STRANGE TALES hardcover, which hits comic shops this Wednesday!

Marvel.com: How did you and Jim hook up with the project? How did you settle on Brother Voodoo as your subject?

A page from Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg's Brother Voodoo story
Brian Maruca: Aubrey Sitterson, one of the initial editors on the book, contacted Jim because he liked our work on Street Angel. As with most of my involvement with comics, it's because Jim has connections.

As for how we picked Brother Voodoo-we had a list of guys we were going through, just trying to figure it out. We pretty much wanted a low-profile guy, and Jim was kind of getting into blaxploitation genre at the time, so it was a pretty easy call.

Marvel.com: Your book Afrodisiac is a parody of street-level '70s blaxploitation-inspired African-American characters, like Brother Voodoo. What draws you to that era and those kinds of characters?

Brian Maruca: That's a toughy. I don't really have an answer. I guess growing up in the '70s makes that era familiar-but being too young to really remember it makes it entertaining to revisit. I don't really think about that kind of stuff too much. Specific genres just give you specific parameters to work with.

Marvel.com: Now that STRANGE TALES has come out, what did you think of it?

Brian Maruca: We were really happy with our story. It was an interesting experience. Who wouldn't want to take a shot at using some Marvel characters?

Marvel.com: What's the division of labor between you and Jim?

A page from Brian Maruca and Jim Rugg's Brother Voodoo story
Brian Maruca: I do writing and Jim does pretty much everything else--including writing. I think he keeps me around out of pity. He did let me do the coloring on one of the Afrodisiac stories. I liked doing it, but I'm just not very good at it.

Marvel.com: Aw, don't sell yourself short! Were you a Marvel fan going into this project?

Brian Maruca: I used to collect comics in the '80s up til maybe '91--all Marvel stuff. I got hooked on the Frank Miller DAREDEVIL stuff and the first SECRET WARS. My favorite moment right now is probably looking back and realizing that there wouldn't be any real resolution of the "who's tougher" argument that should have been settled by Spider-Man vs Wolverine. My buddy thought it would be Spidey and I was pulling for Wolverine. A draw? That settles no arguments. Anyway, I really loved that era, [but] once I got out, I somehow managed to stay out. Now all the air-brush coloring, computerized lettering and decompressed stories would just confuse me. I'm old. New things scare me. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: What else have you been up to lately?

Brian Maruca: Let's see...Afrodisiac hit the shelves in January. Other than that, I got nothing. If artists out there are looking for some collaboration, or someone to do poor but enthusiastic color work, drop me a line. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: One last thing: Brother Voodoo recently took on the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme after Doctor Strange relinquished it--he's now Doctor Voodoo. What's your take on this development?

 Brian Maruca: Magik was robbed. [Laughs]

Pick up your copy of the STRANGE TALES hardcover, on sale March 3, 2010!


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