Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Gerry Duggan

The busy writer takes a moment to talk A+X, Deadpool, Nova and more!

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Nova #10 preview inks by Paco Medina

By Jim Beard

Writer Gerry Duggan believes that staying busy’s a good thing, and that means shouldering a bevy of books that spreads him out over the Marvel Universe at large.

In addition to his regular duties on the ongoing DEADPOOL, he’s also taking over NOVA, heading up a multi-issue A+X arc, and locking onto the just-announced Infinite Comics project, DEADPOOL: THE GAUNTLET. Where’s he get the time to tackle so many cool series and work as a TV and film writer and stay sane? Follow along with us and we’ll ask the man himself.

Marvel.com: Gerry, how's it feel to be taking on so many projects with Marvel? What's your average writing day like, as far as how you juggle all your books?

Gerry Duggan: I have lots of late nights, because that’s the part of the clock that has the most peace and quiet for me. My son is too young to understand why I cannot always play with him. My days are also spent writing for Nerdist, and little TV things that pop up here and there.

DEADPOOL: THE GAUNTLET and A+X are my third and fourth concurrent projects, but both will be winding down for me as 2013 ends. I’m talking to editors about something new to pick up when those gigs are completed. I’m having a lot of fun, and so far I only have the Blind Al and Richard Rider fans boycotting me, so I’m calling year one at Marvel a success.

Marvel.com: So, do you see any themes or threads throughout your current projects?

Nova #10 preview inks by Paco Medina

Gerry Duggan: I think I try to find some comedy in everything, even if it’s just a quip before dying. The A+X story feels a little like an out of control car, in a good way.  Neither Captain America nor Cyclops are known for their humor, but I’m going to try find ways to get some laughs without busting their characters. My tastes as a comic reader are pretty “meat and potatoes;” I want action, a couple of laughs, and I need some character development. I try to use those ingredients in every issue. A re-inventor of the wheel I am not. I hope any script with my name on it would be surprising. What fun is it to plunk down your cash and then have events unfold in exactly the way that you’re guessing they might? I love being able to change gears when you turn that page.

Marvel.com: What's the most exciting thing for you about taking over NOVA? What makes for the very best Nova stories, in your opinion?

Gerry Duggan: I’m so excited to be writing Sam Alexander. He’s got the “great power” down pat, but not the “great responsibility.” This is my big chance to write and inexperienced hero, which doesn’t come along every day. Sam’s inherited a helmet that makes him one of the most powerful people in the Marvel Universe. Sam didn’t have a Danger Room, or a Stick. His folks are trying to raise a smart, morale young man. And that inexperience and moral center are all the ingredients you need for action and comedy. I am very lucky to get the opportunity to work with editors Steve Wacker [and] Devin Lewis and of course the fantastic art team of Paco Medina, Juan Doe, and David Curiel. These guys make me look good—literally and figuratively.

A+X #14 preview art by David Yardin

Marvel.com: What can we expect from your first NOVA arc?

Gerry Duggan: We’re going to meet new characters. I’m not sure how long they’ll be around for, but that’s always fun for me. The first arc really begins with Sam “putting one in his own net” so to speak. Sam’s triumph of super-heroics is washed away when Beta Ray Bill arrives on Earth with a bone to pick. That’s when Sam realizes he’s made a giant mess. It’s about wanting to help, but making matters worse, cleaning up mistakes, learning about new and dangerous environments, and then there’s girl problems, money problems, and bullies both here on Earth, and up in space. 15-year-old kids are always getting into trouble. Writing Sam out of trouble is fun.

Marvel.com: What have you set out to do in A+X, as far as handling a showdown between such polar opposites as Captain America and Cyclops?

Gerry Duggan: [Writer and director] Shane Black has had a profound effect on me. His script for “Lethal Weapon” is a still a work of art. It has everything I want out of my entertainment. Action, comedy, some deep character moments. He’s still at it of course, with “Iron Man 3,” and his excellent “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” Shane’s stories don’t go where you think they should, and is there anything an audience should value more than that? A surprise is the greatest gift you can give your audience. Especially in this day and age of endless trailers, and preview pages, and flat out spoilers. So I hope the journey in this A+X story will be a surprise.

A+X #14 preview art by David Yardin

We pulled on story threads that go back to Lee and Kirby, Claremont, Morrison and Millar. If they’re lucky, the story will provide some common ground for Cap and Cyclops to ignore their many differences for a short time. It won’t end with a fight, or a handshake, but an understanding. I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the excellent Martin Brest film “Midnight Run” is also an inspiration for this story. It’s about two men that despise each other who are forced on the road together.

Marvel.com: Any revelations you've come across writing Cap and Cyclops in A+X? Anything that the characters have told you that has surprised you as a writer?

Gerry Duggan: They’re both cut from the same cloth, their teams depend on them, and they’re both capable of bearing the weight of the world on their shoulders. That’s why there’s really only room for one of them in the same room at the same time. That friction is an opportunity for all the character moments, comedy, and drama a writer could dream of. I’m surprised that I can truly say I think they’re both right in their ongoing disagreement.

Cyclops was not in his right mind when Xavier was killed, and Captain America’s right that Xavier deserves a jury’s decision. Summers is a fugitive from justice; that’s not going to sit well with Rogers, who just wants a trial. Summers knows he can’t get a fair trial—who on Earth can accurately judge him? It’s not like you can find 12 men and women that know what it’s like to be possessed by the Phoenix Force. I suppose the short answer to your question is how much I can sympathize with the position of both men. One way that Cap has surprised me will have to wait for the end. He whispered a few choice remarks about aliens and America and I was grateful he did.

Deadpool #19 preview art by Declan Shalvey

Marvel.com: What will make DEADPOOL: THE GAUNTLET a worthy story to stand on its own apart from the regular series and as an Infinite Comic?

Gerry Duggan: Well, the kernel of the idea is an older one that [DEADPOOL co-writer] Brian [Posehn] and I discussed when we were first submitting ideas to Marvel for our run. It was obviously retooled and rewritten not just for tablets, but also to incorporate Deadpool’s lonely position after one year in our care. It’s a fun on-ramp not just into Deadpool, but the Marvel Universe. Tablets and phones are the new check-out stands and magazine rack. These electronic surfaces are going to be the single most important location where new fans can get hooked. THE GAUNTLET is making the most of this new way to tell stories, and you have to credit Jordan D. White and artist Reilly Brown for that. I’m learning a lot from those two on this caper. Without spoiling anything, there is going to be at least one new important character in Deadpool’s life that arrives in this story. This person’s arrival is well-timed for Wade. He’s in need of a friend. The hope is our regular Deadpool audience will pick up these stories, and that we can bring new eyes to our regular run. I’ve been surprised at how much I’m enjoying writing these chapters.

Marvel.com: What's the key to writing the character of Deadpool in general for you?

Gerry Duggan: The question we used to be asked was “What happened to the two voices in Deadpool’s head?”—and for one answer, check out the DEADPOOL ANNUAL. However I consider the two voices to have broken the fourth wall, and have become the two writers. Perhaps when we’re wrapped and one person writes for him the captions would return?

Deadpool #19 preview art by Declan Shalvey

Marvel.com: You've been blessed with a whole host of amazing artists on your projects; I won't ask you to pick a favorite, but can you say a little about each one of them?

Gerry Duggan: Marvel has been very generous in collaborators. They launched our DEADPOOL with Tony Moore and Geof Darrow, and have committed time and again to maintaining that level of quality on a double shipping book. Scott Koblish, Mike Hawthorne and Val Staples anchor the best rotation in comics. Declan [Shalvey] and Jordie [Bellaire’s] last issue is at the printer now, and their contributions speak for themselves. I hope everyone remembers these names when it comes time to nominate artists for the Eisners. They’re all that good.

I’m lucky again on NOVA to have Paco, Juan and David. These gentlemen are at the top of their game. Every page from these guys is a joy. Their art doesn’t look like it was work. You can see the love right there on the page.

I even hit the jackpot on the issue of UNCANNY AVENGERS that I co-wrote with Rick [Remender]. Some guy named Adam Kubert illustrated it. It’s not fair that I’ve collaborated with him in my first year at Marvel. Not fair to other writers that have been waiting patiently for the same chance, and certainly not fair to Mr. Kubert. I’ll always owe Tom and Rick for that treat.

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