In November, Image announced the long awaited return of the series “Nowhere Men”. Eric Stephenson, Jordie Bellaire and Fonografiks return with new series artist Dave Taylor and Emi Lenox for the new arc starting in issue 7 this January. Since the last issue’s release in October of 2013, fans have been dying to know when the Eisner nominated series would be arriving back on shelves.
We were able to talk series writer and co-creator, Eric Stephenson and new series artist, Dave Taylor about “Nowhere Men” and its return. They talk about returning to the series with expectations, the future, and the new art direction. A big thanks to Eric and Dave for taking the time to answer our questions about “Nowhere Men”. The series will return to comic shops January 13th and you will be able to request the issue from your local shop be ordered till December 21st.
First off, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions and congrats on the return on a wonderful series. Eric, how does it feel to be back? Dave, how does it feel to be joining the series?
Eric Stephenson: Good, but a bit scary, I guess. It’s been a long time, and knowing what the marketplace is like, there’s no real knowing if there’s still an audience for the book or not. We’ll see!
Dave Taylor: It’s no secret that I was, and still am, a fan of “Nowhere Men”. I don’t read that many comics these days, for various reasons including lack of time and being reaaaaaalllly picky, so to be offered the chance to work on a book I follow and admire is extraordinary. I’m a lucky guy.
What can readers expect from the series in its return? Do you guys have big/long plans for the series now?
ES: More of the same doesn’t sound terribly exciting, I know, but really, the book is picking up where it left off. Issues 7-12 more or less conclude the initial story. There’s the possibility we could do more, but that really depends on how this next arc goes. I’d always figured it could either be a cool 12-issue series or something that ran for a while. There’s lots of things that can be done with this world, but again, it comes down to whether people want more or not.
“Nowhere Men” had a great critical response and had a strong following from comic fans. During the hiatus it seems the support and love for the series has only grown. For the team how has the approach been going into an issue when not only coming off a break but also with large amount of excitement/expectations for its return?
ES: It’s not too different of me. A lot of this was either fully written or planned out a while ago, so it’s just a matter of getting back into the groove. Issue seven was easy — that was done back in 2013 — but there are things I’m tweaking as I get into the other scripts.
DT: I was very aware of the love the fans have for this book, and I was very aware that I had a huge responsibility to those fans. Being one of them helps me realise Eric’s script as respectfully as possible, as best I can.
How do you best welcome readers back into a series that on its own was so well layered with mystery and jumped at times between past and present? Is there a similar method bringing readers into a new artist team with Dave and Emi?
ES: Emi’s pages for issues seven and eight have been drawn for some time, and they’re kind of their own thing — they’re pages from a character’s sketch diary — but beyond that, it’s really just a case of picking up the threads of the ongoing story and continuing.
DT: From my point of view, the script reads as it should do, with the same voice, and it’s my job to keep a graphic style that was established in the first series. Like everybody else, I have no idea what’s coming, what Eric’s got planned, but right now, it feels like the book I fell in love with.Continued below
For Dave what has it been like coming onto an established series and when readers see your work what will they notice about what you have brought to “Nowhere Men”?
DT: I’m no stranger to jumping onto an established series, but this felt different, more personal. Batman had been illustrated by hundreds of artists before I got hold of him, for example. Taking over from Nate, an artist and designer who I respect a great deal, has been a unique experience. He created a universe that felt solid, real. Because of that, it’s been a pleasure to work within that universe, and add to it. Hopefully, my interpretation of Nate’s universe will be accepted by the fans, and they’ll forgive me for maybe doing things a little differently from time to time.
Has the creative process changed with the addition of new artists? Is there a new approach knowing the strength of both Dave and Emi?
ES: Well, I wanted Emi to do the sketch diary pages because that’s what she does. I loved her Emitown work, and she’s a good friend, and I thought it would be fun to have her involved. Instead of just having articles and ads and things like that, we’ve got this sketch diary for a few issues. With Dave, I’m still learning new things about how he works with every page. For most of the first issue, Dave was working with previously established characters, but as we move along, he’s designing new stuff and it’s been really interesting to see the differences in his approach from what Nate was doing. They’re both very detailed artists, but in different ways.
During the hiatus was there a lot of reworking the plot/script having the time to step back and look at the series (although I imagine being the publisher of Image keeps your pretty busy)?
ES: Not really, no.
“Nowhere Men” was one of the sleekest and most unique looking books in recent memory with its use of back matter and design (Fonografiks does an amazing job). “Nowhere Men” is a look at what comics can be when it uses the full use of the medium. How important is it to the team that “Nowhere Men” achieves that look and feel and is there more comics can do to evolve?
ES: There’s always more comics can do, and part of the reason I wanted to do, say, this sketch diary that Emi is drawing is because I didn’t want to just get stuck in the rut of doing the same types of things we did in the first six issues. Ideally, we’ll be making changes to the design and content of the book with every issue, because really, why not? I just hate the idea of putting out a 20-page story and then an ad farm in the back. People pay $2.99 or $3.99 for a book, and I feel like they should get as much out of it as possible.
DT: One of the major selling points for me when I picked up my first copy of the book was the complete lack of junk in there! I’ve never liked comics being filled with advertising, I’ve been quite outspoken about it in the past. To continue to evolve, comics must always respect the reader.
Have your influences for the series and the world of “Nowhere Men” changed at all going into the second arc especially with the always rabid changes in science, pop culture and social media in our real world? As an artist Dave do you find influence in the real world for elements you are tackling in “Nowhere Men”?
ES: Yeah, there are always new things to consider, although it doesn’t always present itself in the pages of the book in a crystal clear fashion. I jot down a lot of notes about things that can go into the book, based on things I read, see, hear, whatever, and sometimes those things manifest themselves in strange or completely obscure ways.
DT: Absolutely. In fact, Eric often points me towards real world elements to help tell the story. The real world is vital to the series, as a contrast to the world within the book.Continued below
When reader finally finish issue 7 what do you hope they feel?
ES: Like the book they’ve missed is back.
DT: Anticipation for issue 8!
Lastly, for Dave. With Eric being pretty much one of the most influential men in comics and publisher of Image Comics, is that scary that he is your writer? If you need help you can blink twice!
DT: I’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing names from the industry, some historic figures and hugely respected creators, it’s made my life as a comic book artist an intense pleasure. Eric is no exception, though he is exceptional! Without sounding too creepy, I will say that as soon as I met Eric I knew I wanted to work with him.