• Interviews 

    Multiversity Comics Presents: John Layman

    By | February 11th, 2011
    Posted in Interviews | % Comments

    Today on Multiversity Comics Presents, Brandon and I talk with Chew creator and writer John Layman, a Multiversity favorite. We talk with him all about his Eisner Award winning series, other upcoming projects, casting the potential Chew TV series, and a whole lot more.

    If there’s anything we missed from this interview, let us know what you’d like to have answered because we’ll be talking with John again at Emerald City ComiCon.

    Check out the interview after the jump.

    How’s everything going for you?

    Layman: Busy. I spent most of 2010 getting really far ahead on Chew and turning stuff down. I got to the point where offers were coming that I was so excited about that I couldn’t say no, so I started saying yes. It’s really hard to juggle a Bendis load of books when you’re lettering a lot of them and doing the production…I’m just not fast like a lot of other writers.
    Do you mind if we talk about a different project besides Chew to start?
    Layman: Sure.
    Apparently you’re writing a Godzilla mini-series with Alberto Ponticelli on art and Geof Darrow on covers.
    Layman: Yeahhhh (excitedly).
    I have to say, as someone who grew up watching Godzilla movies and is a fan of Chew, Unknown Soldier and Geof Darrow in general, that sounds like the best thing in the world.
    Layman: You can’t find a lot of it, because it hasn’t been officially announced. Chris Ryall twittered about it and mentioned it in a CBR costume. It’s not officially out there, but we’re doing it and that’s the team. Ryall asked me one day, because we worked together on Scarface, which was a blast, and people always credit Puffed but I think it was Scarface where I found my Chew voice. I think it was one of my favorite books ever but no one bought it.
    Chris Ryall and I had a really good time and he was like “do you like Godzilla?” And I said yeah. Then he said “keep this on the down low, but we’re doing some Godzilla stuff. Do you want to pitch it?” And I just had an idea that was there. So literally the next day by 11 – I got up early in the morning and just pounded out this pretty involved pitch and it was on his doorstep first thing in the morning – which for an editor 11 is first thing in the morning.
    So he was pretty shocked, but then we had to go through some gyrations with Toho and they came back and said it was too violent. I was like “this is Godzilla, right?” (laughs)
    It didn’t fundamentally change the story. We just kind of altered it and it kind of made it for the better. I’m a huge fan of Asian cinema. I love monster movies too, but I also love Asian cop movies. I wanted to pitch something that was half Oldboy, half monster movie.
    Nice! (laughter)
    Layman: So I’ve got this framed cop whose partner had been killed. Just one of these stubborn, Asian Dirty Harry’s who won’t stop no matter…even if all the other cops are corrupt and his name gets smeared and his partner gets killed and it’s basically him vs. the mob and the Yakuza and whatever.
    He gets ahold of the Mothra twins and basically makes them make Mothra do his bidding.
    YES! (laughter)
    Layman: So it’s half Asian gangster movie, half monster movie. So that’s exciting, and then they told me Geof Darrow was on covers and I just flipped. And the Ponticelli art is beyond gorgeous.
    I’ve actually been working on Godzilla #3 today even though I should be working on because I’m just so jazzed about it. (laughter)
    Continued below

    Has Chris indicated as to when this would be coming out?
    Layman: Summer. If it’s not my own book, I don’t pay too close of attention to when it comes out. The glorious thing about company owned work is it’s not my headache…it’s Chris’…or Bobby Curnow who is the editor.
    I enjoy not worrying about that shit. (laughter) I just get my scripts in. Get what notes come in, which have been pretty minimal.
    I also asked to letter it, because I love lettering my own stuff. So I get pages in and I letter it up and it’s flippin’ fantastic.
    I remember we talked to you last year about lettering at Emerald City and about how jazzed you were to talk to Richard Starkings.
    Layman: I gave him a red pen and said “go to town on Chew #9” and he did. It’s funny, because there’s no one better than Richard, but I didn’t necessarily agree with everything for Chew. I got his take and I was able to say “I agree with that. I see your point here but I’m going to do it this way. I’m learning from this.” It was really educational. You can’t talk to Richard and not learn a few things, but it didn’t tremendously change how I lettered Chew. It just changed a few different things on how I approached it.
    Another non-Chew we have before we jump into that, it was recently announced that you were writing the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man annual. What can you tell us about that?
    Layman: It’s actually bigger than that. It’s Spidey, Deadpool and Hulk. It’s a three part thing, but it was important to me as a person who resents paying a lot of money on comics to try and make each annual kind of self-contained. It’s a three part thing, but you’re like “I don’t want to buy Spider-Man, I only want Deadpool.” You’re still going to get a good story.
    That being said, it was really fucking hard to do a three part story with these major, iconic stories and make them self-contained (laughter).
    I went into it too ambitious, thinking “Wow Marvel’s come calling…I’m going to write Watchmen for them!” (laughter) I made it way more complex, and the further we got into it the more I kind of had to scale back and kind of get a bit more realistic. That being said, I’ve seen the art to the Spidey and Deadpool done, and it’s super fun. And I’m working on the Hulk.
    We can’t wait to read it. We’d actually only heard about the Spidey stuff with Lee Garbett, it’s pretty exciting to hear about the Deadpool/Hulk ones too. We’re excited to see a Layman Deadpool.
    Do you know who the artists are?
    Layman: I don’t know. I thought it was going to be Garbett. Now I think it isn’t going to be, but now I can’t say it definitively. I thought Garbett was going to be on all three, but today that may have changed.
    It’s funny because I was excited about Spider-Man and Hulk, but Deadpool as a character I was a little on the fence on. I like to find humor in character and situation, and someone like Ambush Bug and Deadpool are a little too like “hey look at me! I’m silly!”
    But once I started writing him, he was unbelievably fun. So I kind of have a new appreciation for the character.
    We’re not huge fans of him either, but it’s always nice to see someone outside of the status quo tackling the character
    Layman: I can see the appeal to him, but it’s not my style of humor.
    Fred Van Lente…I talked to him and he suggested approaching him like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. That sort of logic that you have to do with Deadpool. I didn’t necessarily do that, but I kept it in mind. If he’s suddenly got a bomb in his hand in one panel that he didn’t have when he walked into the building the previous page, there’s the suspension of disbelief because he’s Deadpool.
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    Yeah. (laughs)
    Layman: So the concept is…Steve Wacker asked for a yarn, he didn’t want anything tied up in continuity…anything too heavy. So we have a mishap that sends all three of them into a parallel dimension, which is great for me because I don’t have to worry about continuity. I can kill people and have fun…I just like playing around with alternate dimensions.
    And each character meets the…I don’t want to say the reverse of them, but it sort of is. Spider-Man goes into the parallel world and meets the Spider-Man who is sort of the equivalent of Superman and Batman rolled into one (laughter) – he’s super powerful, he’s super popular, and he’s a billionaire industrialist, not the lovable loser Peter Parker is.
    The Hulk and Deadpool annual sort of feature reverse versions of them, but in different ways. Each one is a different take. But I probably shouldn’t say more than that.
    That’s cool. We’ll let the story tell itself, but we’re really excited for it.
    Layman: The other thing that I’m doing…I’m doing something for Dark Horse with Sam Kieth. That hasn’t even come close to being announced, so I can’t say anything more than that, but that’s on my plate too.
    Does it involve a word with two x’s in it?
    Layman: No no no.
    That’s Sam’s baby, and I wouldn’t want to intrude on that. Sam and I have been friends for a long time and he’s crazy in the best way, so we were looking for an excuse to work together. So that’s pretty much all the stuff I’ve had on my plate, besides a Warcraft expansion and raising a kid. 
    And we’ve got foreign editions of Chew coming out in Germany, Spain, Italy and France. Germany’s was the first volume, and there’s some sort of food scandal going on in Germany right now (laughter) – tainted milk and eggs and beef – so all these German reporters, like the German version of Time Magazine, got ahold of me for to do an interview on Chew. So tons of international press.
    I love the fact that the last time we talked about how Swine Flu helped the launch of Chew…
    Layman: Yeah! Yeah! (laughter)
    And now Germany is going through some food crisis, and all of a sudden you’re a renowned resource for German newscasters.
    Layman: Nothing has happened in France, but just because France are such crazy foodies, the first edition sold out in pretty much record time. Now we’re back to press on volume one and we rushed volume two out. 
    The French are crazy about comics, so that’s a nice feather in the cap there.
    Layman: So it’s doing well around the world. Our only problem is Rob just had a kid. There was the holidays, and then there was…boy you guys are getting everything from me (laughter)…we agreed a year ago to do a 5 page story for charity in a Hero Initiative comic. So Rob had to finally get around to that. I’d been telling Rob “do a page a month…just slide one in.” But Rob’s too anal to do it that way. He’s got to do the whole thing or nothing. So he finally had to do that…and a five page story – colored and inked – takes about a week and a half of his time. Maybe seven work days.
    So that’s seven work days, we had Christmas, he had a kid…consequently, Chew #17 is far later than we’d like it to be. But Rob’s back on the job and is delivering a page a day basically. Chew is not turning into Battle Chasers (laughter), or any book like that that shits on its fans.
    We’re basically going to put something, a mea culpa in the letter page, that says “forgive us, this is a one-time only thing. We’re going to get back on track.” I think the audience will cut us some slack.
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    I think Kirkman went through that on The Walking Dead for a bit, where it was a little slower for a while, and then he churned out something like 15 issues in a year. And everyone was down.
    Layman: Adlard is faster than Rob, and he doesn’t color or letter. Walking Dead has four or five people on it.
    And Adlard’s a machine.
    Layman: Yeah.
    Want to get into the first question about Chew?
    Layman: Sure.
    2010 was a huge year for Chew. You picked up all kinds of accolades, made all kinds of end-of-the-year lists, it really just blew up all over the place and had great trade and issue sales, plus the Eisner for Best New Series – congrats by the way – how does it feel to be the Cat’s Pajamas right now?
    Layman: I tend to think that our time has passed now and that it will never be any better than it was. That’s just me being negative. I don’t believe we’re going to keep the momentum, but yeah, it felt great. We got two Harvey’s, up for a Spike Award, a couple Eagle Awards, and I don’t know if you know this, but we were in the Morgan Spurlock documentary…the Comic Con documentary he was doing. I am a character (laughter)…they actually followed me around and had cameras on me four hours a day during San Diego Con.
    Sort of the arc of my story…here’s the weird cosplayer girl, here’s the furry, here’s the guy trying to break in, and here’s the guy who’s broken in and is up for an award. Will he actually win the award? And we did, so my story gets a happy ending. That was probably the most surreal thing, as I was sitting at the Eisner’s – hungover out of my mind (laughter) – and we actually win and there are movie cameras on me, and I know this thing is going into a movie. It doesn’t get any weirder than that.
    That is fantastic. I was going to say, it does sound like you were being a bit pessimistic, but now that I heard that I have to agree – it is probably all downhill from here. (laughter)
    Layman: I think this arc is the toughest arc – 16 through 20 is the most challenging Chew arc because it kind of changes the status quo, and I always worry that people are going to desert us in droves. But then actually, when I think about…each, the next three arcs, at the end of each of them the book will be in a very different place.
    That’s a perfect transition into the next question. Last time we talked you told us that issue 4 was going to be the one everyone slept on. That was going to be the crux of the first five issues.
    Layman: Yeah.
    Then issue 15 came and we were completely blown away. First off, holy crap, that ending was so shocking. Then you look at number four and it makes perfect sense. What was the reaction like?
    Layman: The response…Chew fans seem to be smarter than the average fan, and maybe more accepting as well.
    We like to think so.
    Layman: There wasn’t anyone who got angry over this radical change. Like “I want a ‘what’s he going to eat of the week’ type thing and you changed it.” Everyone was cool and were like “where’s it going to go from here?”
    You’re talking about how Chew fans came in with the series, they stayed with the series, and you gained some I’d think. A year ago when we spoke, Chew was really picking up steam and today you’re still getting rave reviews. What’s so unique about this series that makes the momentum keep going?
    Layman: I do think that there’s an element of people…don’t know where it’s going. Even I can see that, where I’ll read this issue and think “no one’s ever going to figure out what the next issue is about.” Some people were pissed about 16, they were like “where’s the daughter? You introduce the daughter and then she’s gone?” (laughter)
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    Rob is literally any minute going to turn in the last page of 20. And I don’t want to say it’s a game changer in a big way like 15, but it’s one where you’re like “oh yeah, oh shit, that just raised the stakes.”
    I think it’s appealing to readers who don’t want to be spoon fed. There’s a lot of comic books out there where you get to the end of the issue, and Wolverine’s all pissed and is standing there with his claws, and you know what he’s going to do next issue. We’re doing our best to keep every issue a surprise.
    At least up until 22 or 23. We’re trying to make it twists and turns to the point where you want to buy it monthly because you can’t wait six months to see where the story is going to go.
    I have a theory about where it’s going, but I think that’s one of the cool things – everyone has a guess to see where it’s going. But it’s very difficult to figure out where it’s going to go issue to issue. I never would have guessed the ending of 15. I never would have ever guessed Tony had a daughter.
    Layman: That one is about as far out of left field as it gets. In fact, the ending to 20, I think, is pretty telegraphed from early on. I think by issue 17 I’m telling you what’s going to happen in 20, but you may not figure it out until you get there.
    That being said, you guys know about the 27 thing we’re doing right?
    Layman: We’re doing issue 16, 17, 18, 27, 19 and 20.
    Ohhh…I think I did read about that recently. The solicitation was the first time I actually read one and said “what the fuck?” (laughter)
    Layman: It’s for a couple reasons. A) I had written it and thought “you know, this is a good story. Let’s get it out there.” And then I thought, we’re trying to do fun things to keep the floppy readers from defecting to trade – ideally they buy both – but they pay our monthly rent. Otherwise we’re waiting for a check twice a year, which is pretty tough.
    So I thought we’ll do 27, and if you’re a floppy reader, you’ll see where the book is going to go.
    That is awesome.
    Layman: In like 9 months…you’ll be like “how, how does it get here?” Even though I’ll say is a bit of a cheat, in theory, that’s what it does. We’re not going to collect it until the sixth trade, and I’ve already written 26, so I know it fits seamlessly with 26. So if you’re a trade waiter, you’re going to be waiting longer by a couple months, but you’ll never know. If you’re a monthly reader, you’re going to get a peak into the future.
    From a business standpoint, the Layman wants money part of it (laughter), this thing is going to be so sold out by the time 27 rolls around that we’ll have to reprint it…which is free money.
    But the other part of that is Rob’s going to have a hole in his schedule so wouldn’t that be a good time to do a Poyo one-shot?
    (laughter and clapping) Ohhh! We would buy five copies of that. That plan is fucking awesome.
    Layman: Secret Agent Poyo!
    One of our questions was going to be when were we going to get more Poyo, and we answered that question.
    Layman: Actually, even sooner than that.
    Even better. I was looking at our previous interview and how we talked about the Poyo cover with “King of Cocks” on the cover, and that still amazes me. (laughter)
    Layman: Yeah, but we got Mother Cluckers in!
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    Oh yeah, we loved that. When we were doing our review of that issue, we could not get over that.
    Layman: No one complained! No one even blinked!
    Back to the family, issue 15 ended with the reveal that Tony has a daughter – Olive – going forward, how important is his family and will we see additional focus on them?
    Layman: Olive is important to the overall story, as is Toni (with an I), and Chow – Chow will always be reappearing. He’s got a big family, most of them want nothing to do with him. The big introductions were Toni and Olive.
    I wouldn’t normally tell you this, but I’m telling you everything else and also because Chew 17 is so late, Chew 17 is the food Columbine issue. It’s a bullied nerd with a food power who decides to get revenge against everyone who decides to get revenge against his school – and Olive goes to that school.
    (laughter) That is awesome. John Layman…you speak our language.
    Layman: It’s much better than 16. I always look at…you can’t love every issue the same. You don’t try to make crap, but there are some issues you like more than others. And everyone was really liking 16, but 16 is really not as good as 17.
    I thought I saw you tweet about that earlier and I thought “wow, I really loved 16. I can’t even imagine 17.”
    Layman: I also think…well, 18 is pretty rad. But 27, another reason I want it out there is that I love 27. A lot of the stuff I do doesn’t make me laugh…you know, doesn’t amuse me that much. But 27 just amuses the shit out of me.
    That is fantastic. Before we go on from 27, I think you said you were going to release 27 as a second print when you get back to it.
    Layman: In theory, by then we’ll have new readers, and it will be so sold out that I think we’d do at least a small reprint. That’s businessman Layman, who isn’t there that often and isn’t so smart, but every once in a while pops in with an idea. Really, I thought I’d already written the issue, it’s fun, so let’s do something different.
    I know Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld did this like 10 years ago and people are like “it’s Image all over again!” I was thinking, pretty sure Chew is going to do it a little different and hopefully better than Youngblood or WildCATs or whatever it was.
    I think you hit the nail on the head with that, and I don’t remember those being very good but I won’t naysay on those books.
    Layman: As I remember it, one actually did issue 25 around issue 12, but by the time it got around to that issue that continuity was so fucked up that it didn’t actually match. Which is pretty hilarious actually. (laughter)
    I think that was WildCATs, because I remember reading that when I was 12 and thinking “I don’t think this makes sense.”
    Layman: I’m going to mispronounce most of this, so far we’ve had cibopaths, saboscriveners, cibolocuters, and voresophics…
    I’d go along with those pronunciations.
    I have to say, the last issue with the voresophic, I laughed by ass of when Tony brought out the mint and the guy went through the wall. Are we going to see more food related powers down the path, and are you going to just keep inventing more and more?
    Layman: Actually, 17 has one, but we don’t spell it out too clearly and we don’t name it. It’s kind of like a “holy shit, what is this guy” power. 18 is Tony goes on a USDA suicide mission with all of the busty chicks and the pets. 19 Tony visits Area 51. 
    Oh my god yes.
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    Layman: And by visits, I mean he intends to eat something he doesn’t want to eat. And 20, he and Colby infiltrate a cult of egg worshippers (laughter) and that pretty much takes you through the fourth arc.
    One thing we go on and on about is, and we’re not sure if this is you or Rob, one of our favorite things is the little Easter Eggs on each page in the art.
    Layman: Those are about 90% him. He just does that to keep himself sane and people love it, so now we just encourage him to do it.
    We’re constantly finding stuff and it just adds an extra layer to an already great book.
    Layman: I was really sad because today, he sent me two pages last night and one of the first things I do every day as I’m waking up is drink coffee and letter them. There was one page where not only do I have to worry about the placement of the lettering but I try not to cover his signs. There was one page where I was like “fuck, I have to cover this incredible, funny sign of his” but there was no way around it because ultimately the story comes first.
    That was a bummer. I love them too. He must know that on some level, and must be doing it for whoever buys the page.
    I thought it was great that one of the characters was reading Tek Jansen.
    Layman: That was Charlie Chu. Charlie Chu is a real person, and I kind of said that as a joke because I knew this Thanksgiving issue was coming for a long time and I told Charlie, when we get to this Thanksgiving issue, we’re going to make you the distant cousin.
    Rob puts a lot of stuff in, but he sends me low res pages and I don’t necessarily see them. Sometimes we’re in such a rush when the pages come in, we’re just trying to get the issue to the printer ASAP, and I’ll do an interview and the person will be like “oh that Green Mile joke was so funny!” And I’ll be like “the what?!” (laughter)
    I even find stuff that Rob sneaks in there.
    We love it. It’s one of our favorite things of every issue.
    Layman: It definitely improves the re-readability.
    Last time we talked, you said 60 was the target for the final run.
    Layman: That’s never going to change. We might cheat with Poyo one-shots or things like that. The actual numbering is going to be 60. We did this five pager for the Hero comic, but we’ll have little things where it might add up to more than 60.
    Circle of Confusion is putting together the Chew TV show, and they’re the ones that put together The Walking Dead. You said there’s been some forward movement with it. What’s the status of the Chew TV show?
    Layman: Well…it’s not real yet.
    Circle of Confusion is doing what they did with The Walking Dead, as they’re putting together a team and then they took it to a network. And then they sold it.
    People have been like “oh man, are you spending that money yet?” And I’m like “there’s no money yet.” (laughter)
    Supposedly this makes it happen easier and it gives you better control over it. It was announced at SDCC that we’ve got Stephen Hopkins onboard, who did the first season of 24 and Californication and a really big movie resume, but his TV shows in recent years have gotten a lot of acclaim. So he’s onboard, but what we haven’t announced and can’t is that we have a writing team now, from a “popular show” that has been on the air for many seasons. They were working on a pilot script, and then the thing I was referring to is we actually got the pilot script.
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    Rob read it and I should have read it by now, but I’ve been sort of eyes on the prize trying to finish this issue of Godzilla. I can only focus on one thing at a time.
    If you need someone to go through it and make sure everything looks good, Brandon and I are more than willing to do that. (laughter)
    Layman: We read the first half, and unlike Walking Dead, which I think strived to be…granted there are differences, but they came into this thing…Chew’s a lot weirder and there are going to be more differences. We’re like as long as he’s an Asian guy and a lot of it is fundamentally the same, or in the same spirit, we can live with it. So we read the first half of the pilot, sort of the direction they’re going, and both Rob and I were like “yeah man, this works. Nothing you’re changing offends. Everything you’re changing…granted it’s different, but we can live with it.” That’s a pretty good sign.
    That’s very exciting. Previously you said you thought Ken Leung would be a perfect Tony Chu.
    Layman: And we’ve said that Felicia Day would be perfect for Amelia, and then Felicia Day started tweeting about how much she likes Chew. 
    Layman: So I got ahold of her through Scott Allie, because we did a signing together and he edits her on The Guild. So he gave me an introduction and now I’m in contact with Felicia Day. That could mean nothing. Her schedule could be different, but in our ideal world, we could say…oh yeah, we did the same thing with Ken Leung, and he now reads and likes Chew.
    I read you were trying to do that.
    Layman: I haven’t communicated with him in a couple months, but he’s a super nice guy and we would hope when this thing becomes more real, we can say “you know, this is our ideal. At least talk to him and see if money and time works for him.”
    This is a complete, obvious connection, but we thought it was funny that Ken Leung was your choice for Tony because we always thought Josh Holloway would make a good Colby.
    Layman: Yeah, Rob says the same thing.
    They even acted as police partners in Lost.
    Layman: When that episode came on, we were like “what is this, the pilot for Chew?”
    Is there anyone else you’d love to tap for specific roles?
    Layman: He’s sort of our dream Colby, but it’s funny because Stephen Hopkins once brought up the name Kiefer Sutherland. So if he might want to do something lighter after the grueling 24…I can’t imagine after 7 seasons he’d want to do another.
    But in the weird part of my mind, I think Kiefer Sutherland would make a very cool Colby.
    He really would. That’d be fantastic.
    Layman: People have said Ken Jeong for Chow, I’m blanking on the name right now, but the guy that plays Matsuda on Dexter.
    Absolutely. That guy is hilarious.
    Layman: He’s perfect. He can kind of play the jerk role but still be likable.
    Savoy is always the tough one. I’ve always said Brendan Gleason, you know, Mad Eyed Moody.
    I’d love that. That’s great.
    Layman: The guy who plays Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane). Some people have said John Goodman, but that’s one of those things that I don’t know. People have said Samuel L. Jackson for Valenzano.
    That’s kind of obvious.
    Layman: It’s a good idea, but he’s in his 60’s. I like Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale in The Wire.
    That would be great. Can I nominate Christopher Walken to play Poyo? (laughter)
    Layman: That’s great. That could definitely work.
    Last year you recommended Afrodisiac, which we loved. What have you been enjoying lately?
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    Layman: I’ve really been enjoying Sixth Gun and Locke & Key. I like Morning Glories, but it kind of seems like everyone likes Morning Glories.
    Locke & Key was up for a bunch of awards, and sort of the dick in me was like “it’s just because he’s Stephen King’s son. His stuff can’t be that good can it?” I was just turning to my wife every five minutes saying “this is one of the best things I’ve read in my entire life. It’s so, so good.” And then I wrote Chris Ryall and was like “man, this book is so awesome.” I think it’s just impeccably paced and completely beautiful.
    I love Gabriel Rodriguez’s art too.
    Layman: I think Sixth Gun is a lot of fun – it’s an Oni supernatural western. And I’m still reading The Walking Dead and Invincible because they’re too good to trade wait. And Scalped.
    Image has been picking up in waves, with Kirkman’s run, and then Chew coming out, and lately with new books from Nick Spencer, Kody Chamberlain and Jim Zubkavich pushing Image to greater heights. How does it feel to be part of this wave that is pushing Image higher and higher, and how do you feel to be part of it?
    Layman: I love it, but I’m also…Kirkman…every time Kirkman sees me he busts by chops about doing more creator-owned work. But Chew takes a lot out of me because every issue is its own self contained thing. I almost have to hit the reset button every issue. Where The Walking Dead just stops on a cliffhanger and then picks up. That’s not meant as a criticism, it’s just a different animal.
    Until I’m done with Chew, I just don’t think I have the mental facilities to juggle two long term creator-owned books. If I found something for a Ben Templesmith it’d be great to do a five issue mini-series, but I’m not actively seeking that.
    We talked about the Kirkman Manifesto last year, but I’m not sure if you’ve seen Steve Niles write-up on creator-owned works.
    Layman: No I didn’t.
    It’s just about how more creators need to get into creator-owned work. That’s a sentiment you seem to agree with.
    Layman: Yeah, yeah sure. It’s been really cool to write Spider-Man and Deadpool and all of that stuff. But there’s no bigger satisfaction than having people digging shit and characters that came out of your head, you know?
    There is a fanboy thrill of writing these characters that have been around forever and part of an iconography, but at the end of the day, they’re not yours.
    Whether it be creator-owned or be with the one of the bigger comic book companies, like Marvel or DC…
    Layman: You mean Marvel because DC won’t touch me.
    Really? What’s the deal with that?
    Layman: Well they never have. Every time I’ve talked to an editor at DC they say they have no idea what Chew is.
    What? How is that possible?
    Layman: No idea.
    We’ve had some weird problems with them in the past too, and it sounds like you’re getting a similar experience.
    Layman: This goes way back, and I shouldn’t say anything because I’m on very good terms with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, but prior to that I was not on good terms with Paul Levitz. And I was told I’m not going to work at DC while Paul Levitz is in charge. And so I didn’t. I think things have changed, but I think there is a lot of people there who didn’t get the memo. On the other hand, I haven’t been actively pursuing it because I have more than enough work, and once I get through all of this maybe I’ll come knocking at their door but, Marvel is really kind to me, IDW is really kind to me, so…it’s nice not to be lacking for work.

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).