Tom Taylor – Exclusive House of Geekery Interview
When Supanova came to Perth two weeks ago we were lucky enough to snag comic writer Tom Taylor for a chat about Earth 2, his character of choice in Injustice and why we need more all-ages comics. We apologise for the unforeseeable delay on bringing this interview to you.
G-Funk: Hello Tom.
Tom Taylor: Hello.
G: The big news is your new work with DC. What have you been working on?
TT: Most recently has been Injustice and we’ve just signed the deal to write the Earth 2 universe.
G: Have you had a great deal of freedom to do what you want with the Injustice universe?
TT: We had a small amount of limitation, we knew what had to have happened by the time of the game. I have had a huge amount of freedom and I’ve had an absolute ball writing it.
G: We’ll get to Earth 2 next, but while we’re on the topic of Injustice…it is one of the most talked about comics this year. Was this expected?
TT: Well, it’s what you hope for but you never except it. Injustice went absolutely gangbusters in the sales which is great. It’s been popular but a few people are hating it. There’s a lot of contentious issues and nasty things that happen to beloved characters. There’s been some things that I’ve had a hard time writing let alone having to read. So it’s been good. Talking about it is good.
G: When you say there were things in Injustice that were hard to write, can you give us an example?
TT: Spoilers, obviously. What happens with Lois right at the very beginning was incredibly hard, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write. I love Superman and Lois and having to write scene where something that horrible happens to them was very, very hard.
G: I think the image of Superman punching the Joker is what shocked most people.
TT: Yeah, that’s a cool one as well. Mike S. Miller drew that incredibly well, getting Batman’s reaction in the back of it, the colorist was great, there’s quite a bit of gore to that one…I liked that. It’s turned into a meme as well – I’ve seen the Joker as X-Box and Superman as PS4, which is very apt.
G: Harley Quinn and her fake moustache has become a meme as well!
TT: Yeah! I loved writing Harley, totally fell in love with her as soon as I started writing her. That issue with her and Green Arrow is probably my favourite in the series.
G: Is Injustice the comic book series going to continue?
TT: Yes it’s going to continue. It is finite, I know when it’s going to end but we’re not quite there yet. I am currently still writing it.
G: Do you think it will take on a life of its own and become its own line?
TT: I don’t know! I know when it ends and I don’t know if there’s any future for it beyond that. I’m writing to my ending and after that I have no idea. Hopefully it will, it’ll be nice.
G: Have you played the game?
TT: I have played the game. A lot.
G: Which character?
TT: (Looks embarrassed) I really like playing as Aquaman.
G: He surprised everybody!
TT: Yeah! He’s got awesome ranged moves so you can do the little trident thing and the throw and the little **shing** where it comes up underneath them…you get to feed your friends to a shark, and you don’t get to do that every day. That’s to much fun to say no to.
G: Moving onto Earth 2: will you get the same free reign on that as you did on Injustice?
TT: To early to say. It’s very early days in that gig. I’d love to, obviously. The more freedom you have the better you write. The best jobs you do are the ones where everyone trusts you to do the job and that’s what I’ve had on Injustice. Hopefully we’ll see something similar with Earth 2.
G: As a fan, and after seeing what you did on Injustice we expect to see something good. No pressure.
G: Are you going to be working closely with Nicola (Scott) on this one?
TT: Yeah, absolutely. We got together at a cocktail party last week in Sydney. We chatted and left the party to chat in the foyer for a couple of hours. We’re very good friends and it’s amazing that we get to work together on something like this. It is coincidence, it’s not something that we engineered to happen. It came up and they had me in mind for some stuff and it turned out that Nicola was on it and it was “this is going to be great, let’s do it”.
G: Can you give us any idea what to expect?
TT: Nope. Not yet. To early. Not talking about it at all. I’ve got so many interview requests and they all want to know and I’m not writing anything just yet. It doesn’t hit until October and we’re still a way off. James Robinson’s run hasn’t ended yet and I don’t want to spoil anything that happens in his before ours…and big things happen in his.
G: If we can’t talk about that, we’ll talk about The Deep. One thing on my mind, if you’re doing more work with DC, where does that leave The Deep?
TT: As far as the graphic novels go we’re slowing down a bit because James (Brouwer) has a pile of other work to do. I’m happy to write it whenever but we both need to eat while we do that. Technicolor has optioned it to be a 26 episode CG animated series and both James and myself are very, very involved in that. We’ve written the trailer, it’s been shown all around the world and it looks incredible. I’ve written the first couple of episodes and James has been heavily involved in the art direction. We’re very busy with that as well.
G: Will it be sticking to the story of the graphic novels?
TT: You’ll see all new characters, some will show up in the books as well. In the third book I know who shows up and what happens even though I haven’t finished writing it, and you’ll see them in the series. They’ll be a lot of new faces.
G: When can we expect volume 3?
TT: I don’t know. I have no ETA for you.
G: Are they going to find Atlantis?
TT: I can’t tell you that yet.
G: Can you tell me anything? Any preview for The Deep?
TT: If you’ve read the second one you’ll know that they find something that shows them the key to Atlantis. The next book will be them looking for the key to Atlantis.
G: Looking forward to that! What was your influence for The Deep, because I see it as something from the Voltron era of my childhood.
TT: It kinda is a bit. It’s like (The Mysterious) City of Gold. I just wanted to write a book that I could read to my kids. Something that I could read to my kids and enjoy as well. I was reading a lot of all-ages comics and I hated them. I thought they were stupid, and dumb, and not entertaining, not written for adults let alone kids. They were written ‘for kids’ but they weren’t written with anyone in mind. It drove me mad. I wanted to write a good Pixar movie in a comic, and that’s what I set out to do with The Deep. I loved the idea of doing something non-violent because I write some incredibly violent things and I can’t say “here my 7 year old and 3 year old, take a look at what daddy did!”
I wanted to write something that was for everybody. That’s what I set out to do with The Deep and hopefully we achieved that.
G: I think you have. Now onto Star Wars. As I said before (prior to the interview) I haven’t touched Star Wars since the prequels. What can you give me to get me back in?
TT: You should read my latest my latest Darth Maul: Death Sentence and Star Wars: Blood Ties which is my most critically acclaimed one. It’s the story of Jango and Boba Fett and it’s about something Jango does that has ramifications for Boba Fett’s life. It won the Stan Lee Excelsior Award last year, which is a big award in the UK. It was voted by 77 schools across the UK as their #1 book. I like when young people read comics – go figure. There should be more of that. That’s a very good one, I’d check that out.
G: Do you think that the comic industry has gone to adult?
TT: Absolutely 100%. I won’t pretend otherwise. Comics are predominately written for 18-55 year old men. Sure there’s a lot of future in that but we have to find the next gen. I love comics because I read them as a kid and they were suitable for me as a kid. They were great Silver Age stories and we need to find those again.
G: When my kids are old enough to read comics I’ve got Ultimate Spider-Man for them. What would you recommend for a new-comer?
TT: There are good all-ages comics out there. All the Batman Adventures, Superman Adventures, Teen Titans…there are good books for kids without a doubt. There just needs to be more of them and there needs to be more that appeals to everybody. People hear all-ages and they think “ah, it’s for kids”. That’s not true. I know adults who love Pixar movies more that kids do. It’s about appealing to everybody. I think more comics need to do that.
Tom’s work is widely found in any comic store, and his work in The Deep, Star Wars and Injustice is all earning critical acclaim. Go and read it.