This December, Valiant is bringing back everyone’s favorite Adopted-Brothers-Who-Can’t-Be-Seperated-For-More-Than-24-Hours Superteam, Quantum and Woody in an all new ongoing series written by Daniel Kibblesmith (“Valiant High”) with (honestly stunning) art by Kano. We talked to Daniel about his process, balancing his hot shot TV writing career (Late Night with Stephen Colbert) with comics, and what he’s bringing to the table for the new series. We are also thrilled to share three exclusive pages from the first issue, which you can find at the end of the interview.
Okay, so you’re writing “Quantum and Woody.”
Daniel Kibblesmith: Yes.
I saw the preview pages. They look amazing. Kano, it’s like on a whole other level. What’s it been like working with him?
DK: It’s all done through the editor. We’re working with Danny Khazem at Valiant. So he’s working with both of us. Everything I get comes through him, and it’s the best part of my day. It’s so invigorating and intimidating at the same time to be on a book with him. Now that I wrote the first script, obviously, having seen nothing from him other than the early character designs. Now that I’m seeing what’s rolling in, all I want to do is write in a way that continues inspiring that and to be able to keep building each other’s game up.
Right, because he has a really unique storytelling style. For example, the nosebleed explosion.
DK: Right, right, which is not something that’s in the scripts.
DK: But it is a phenomenal choice. So yeah, you’d be an idiot not to take gifts like that.
DK: I totally expect that those gifts will keep coming, but now that I really have an idea of the scope that he’s working on, I want to aim high and try to push him, but I honestly think he’s just light years ahead of all other human beings.
Yeah, really amazing work. “Quantum and Woody” is a humor-tinged book. If you look at stuff in comics, TV, all kinds of mediums these days, there’s this trend where ostensibly comedies are really the best pathways to explore character in really interesting ways, almost more than the big blockbuster stories. Comedy books are really becoming ways to get deeper into characters. How are you approaching that with “Quantum and Woody?”
DK: Yeah, I totally agree. I know certainly a lot of the comedy I watch, there are shows like something like Transparent or Orange is the New Black. When the Emmys come around, those are comedies.
DK: But they’re incredibly layered character dramas. I tried to get my wife to watch Baskets with me. She said, “Is this another one of those comedies that’s sad and not a comedy?” So “Quantum and Woody” is really funny, and I get to write a ton of jokes for it, but I think that the readers and creators are figuring out that that’s a tool to plumb emotional depths and it’s a way of revealing personality, it’s a way of revealing vulnerability. Especially, “Quantum and Woody” has always been a satirical book, right out of the gate in the ’90s. In an era where everything is politically charged and all media is bleeding into satirical territory, I think that the baseline for storytelling has moved a little bit. I think comedians have always been really, really good at finding sideways ways of telling the truth. So I would love to see it more. I’m a fan of so many people who started in comedy or also do comedy, people like Ryan North and Chris Hastings.
DK: James Asmus before me was a playwright and a comedian. So yeah, I’m honored that–because we’re also clowns–I’m very honored that we’re being given these chances.
In terms of your day, how are you balancing writing jokes for TV and then you get home and start writing comics?
DK: Pretty much, yeah. It’s a real day job, night job distinction because at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, only on CBS, at The Late Show we’re always on. If we’re not actively working on an assignment, then we’re on call for re-writes or breaking news. So it’s not really the kind of thing that you could take your lunch hour and go write a couple of pages of comics. So there’s this kind of…we try to have dinner every night and do a decompression [at home]. Then you start your second work day.Continued below
So “Quantum and Woody” is an ongoing, right?
Are you coming at it from like, well, here’s this funny scene. Or are you thinking in arcs? When you sit down and think about “Quantum and Woody,” what’s your mindset in terms of that?
DK: Because I’m fitting it into an already pretty packed schedule, I just chase inspiration. So if I’m having shower thoughts sometimes like big plot points, or reveals, or set pieces will come to mind. Then if I’m walking home from work, then I start to have more of a conversational rhythm going on in my head. I’ll try to map out, sort of let my mind be a blank slate and let them do some bickering. Maybe an edited version of that conversation will come out. Then there’s a lot of weekend binges where I’ll either write a lot of pages or will break story. So it really depends on how I’m fitting it into my day. Like all writers, I think different moments of the day are conducive to different tasks that are in front of you. So if I have a lot of time, then it’s scripting, or breaking stories, or pitching future arcs. Then there’s the background noise of, oh, I’d love to do something with luchadors. It just comes out of nowhere. I’d love to do a one-off where they fight luchadors to pay off Woody’s gambling debts or something like that.
Hey, if that comic comes out, everybody act surprised, okay?
Yeah, spoiler alert. Are there any discussions or broader talks about Quantum and Woody’s place in the current Valiant universe? Or are you kind of in your own little pocket?
DK: A little bit. Nothing that we’ve really committed to and also nothing that I would want to give away, but “Quantum and Woody” was the first Valiant book I read. One of the reasons that that’s possible is because it’s sort of quarantined from the rest of the Valiant universe. They have other books that are on the lighter side or the sillier side, like “Archer and Armstrong,” I think you can read without knowing that much about the Valiant U. And Faith is very intertwined in the Valiant U, but her solo adventures I think are really accessible to new readers. But “Quantum and Woody” was my first, and now that I do know the Valiant characters and I got a taste of writing a version of their personalities in the “Valiant High” alternate universe story, I am really excited to try to do team ups and try to bring them into the bigger Valiant U because their personalities are very distinct and very complete. A lot of the fun of Quantum and Woody is watching them clash with each other, but I also just as a fan want to see them clash with other characters whose personalities are also very complete. I think a lot of comedy and also a lot of character revealing moments could come from throwing other superheroes into the mix.
In terms of the legacy of “Quantum and Woody,” where are you coming at it from? What are you bringing to the table in the scope of their history?
DK: Yeah, it’s hard because it’s all good. I went back and re-read the Priest and Bright stuff, and it is shocking how good it holds up. I mean it’s like 15 years ahead of its time easily. So things like David Aja, like crazy grid, time lapse panel layouts, or Deadpool fourth wall breaking, or like the social satire that was there at the beginning in a time when comics weren’t really doing social satire.
It’s incredible. I try not to think too much about my own role in it because it gets very intimidating.
But I know that I have a comedic sensibility that I can bring to it. I know that I have a satirical sensibility that I can bring to it. And I’m also a giant fan. So what we’re focusing on with this first arc is especially the relationship between the two brothers and the inherent metaphor of Quantum and Woody that they’re adult siblings who can’t get rid of each other, which would work even if they didn’t have golden bracelets that they had to clang together every 24 hours.Continued below
Even if they didn’t have that superhero device, they would still be adult siblings who couldn’t get rid of each other because that’s how it works.
So we’re definitely focusing on their relationship, and delving deep, and getting them to a new status quo. Then from there, I think, off to the races.
What’s the progression been like for you? Over the past few years, you’ve done one shots. You did “Valiant High.” Now you’ve got this ongoing series. How’s that been for you as a comic book writer?
DK: I’m thinking about law school. No, it’s incredible. It’s a dream come true. I went to film school for college, and I got a job as a projectionist when I was there. It turns out that the projectors were too loud to actually watch movies. So while I was still watching a lot of movies, what I was doing way more was falling in love with comics again as a young adult and reading all of “Swamp Thing” or all of “Sandman,” like you do. Every career I’ve ever pursued, I was also pursuing comics. It’s like anything. You do it for free because you love it. You make friends in the community. Eventually, somebody has a budget and they kick you an official job. I just try to meet deadlines so that I can keep up. Do a little more, do a little more. This will be my first ongoing.
And I am extremely, extremely excited and flattered that it’s characters that I love. It’s characters that in all honesty I’ve had my eye on for a while and sort of hoped, “Hey, I’m doing a little bit more work for Valiant this year. I wonder what they’re thinking for Quantum and Woody.”
And now I have to wonder what I’m thinking for Quantum and Woody.
Right, it’s a shift. One last question. Have you had any input on the many, many variant covers for “Quantum and Woody” #1?
DK: No, I just…Danny Khazem, my editor, texts them to me while I’m at my day job. I just reply with a lot of exclamation points.
So I don’t know. I don’t know what artists. I won’t say any artists out loud because I don’t know who’s been revealed.
But the variant cover thing alone is it’s like we hit the bottom of the ’90s, and broke through, and found more ’90s.
So everything old is new again. Everything you thought you hated, you secretly loved the whole time.
Yes, there does feel like a lot of back coming back these days. Well, we’re definitely looking forward to it.
DK: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Thanks for sitting down.
DK: Any old time.
Quantum and Woody #1
Written by Daniel Kibblesmith
Illustrated by Kano
Sometimes… you embrace your destiny. And sometimes… you and your trouble-making adopted brother find yourselves trapped in a scientific lab explosion that grants you $@&%ing awesome super-powers. As a result of their accident, Eric and Woody Henderson – aka Quantum and Woody – must “klang” their wristbands together every 24 hours or both dissipate into nothingness. Which makes superhero-ing pretty awkward when you’re not on speaking terms at the moment. See, Eric has been keeping a pretty big secret: He knows who Woody’s birth father really is… and where he’s been hiding all these years.