Valiant Entertainment is heading into the rest of 2019 with the launch of a ton of new titles from the cap of Joshua Dysart’s “Harbinger” work with “The Life and Death of Toyo Harada,” to miniseries events like “Fallen World,” to the newly announced “Bloodshot” relaunch. At C2E2 we had the opportunity to sit down with Valiant Senior Editor Karl Bollers to discuss his career in comics and what the company has cooking for the spring and summer. You can find that interview below, and some more details on Valiant books from their “Valiant Uprising” panel from the con.
Karl thank you for taking the time to do this. So you’re Senior Editor for Valiant Entertainment. For those of our readers who maybe don’t know exactly what an editor does, or how you got to where you are, or what a senior editor works on, could you maybe describe a little bit about your career path as a writer and editor first at Marvel and then at some other places and sort of what your day to day at Valiant looks like?
Karl Bollers: Wow is that the only interview question. [Laughs]
Where do I begin? I got a college internship at Marvel when I was 20, and that was basically my in into the industry. I’d always been a fan, always loved comics, knew i wanted to work in comics for many years. That was always my path. I knew I wanted to work in comics, so when I was in college and the opportunity presented itself to get this internship at Marvel I applied and was accepted and looking back I’ve been in the industry since. I sold my first story as an intern. That was really…it really boosted my confidence and made me want to do it even more.
I went back to college and then when I left college I got a job at Marvel as an assistant editor. That basically showed me, along with the internship, how comic production proceeds. It was really cool I got to meet a lot of industry greats that I never thought I would meet, learned how to make comics, and eventually moved up…I was also the submissions editor. I was wearing a lot of hats. Couple of people whose samples I saw were Steve Skroce who went on to do storyboards for The Matrix, Patrick Zircher who later became a Valiant artist, a lot other guys. That was pretty much my path. I became an Associate Editor before Marvel went bankrupt in the 90’s, and was laid off. I didn’t survive that. But I kept on doing freelance writing for them, so I was always a presence as a writer for several years.
Eventually I fell out of being an editor and I was mostly focusing on doing writing. That was the thing I was doing. I knew I could edit, but the opportunity didn’t present it and I had more of a passion for writing. It wasn’t until after 2010 that people actually started approaching me to edit their books. I found that…even creators who were contacting me for feedback on their properties, things like that. That was really validating and I thought to myself, “Hmm I could go back to being an editor if I wanted to. I think that would be good” I found that in addition to writing, I also like collaboration. I like figuring out story, and working with other writers to do that is really satisfying to me.
So Valiant. I had met Warren Simons in 2008, 10 years ago, when I was actually Internship Coordinator at Marvel. I went back to them for a little bit. I can’t get away from them. I met Warren, which was great because, you know, we hit it off right away and we saw that we were like minds. We both left Marvel shortly thereafter. He went on to become first Executive Editor and then later Editor-in-Chief of Valiant. We stayed in contact over those years. He even sent me a bunch of trades to get my opinion on them and see what I thought. It wasn’t until last year that he reached out to me and he asked, “Hey would you be interested in coming on board as an Editor?” I think I was really bad about it. I was like “Yeah, sure why not.” And he said, “Well send over your resume, and I’ll send you some sample scripts to edit.” For some reason…I was working this other job and it was really hectic and two weeks went by and I hadn’t really responded or followed up. And he calls me and says, “Dude I need your resume.” [Laughs] “Ok, Ok.” So I sent it and sent him notes on the sample scripts he sent me and then the very next day they were like “We want you to come in for an interview.” So here I am.Continued below
Working at Valiant has been great. It’s very different from Marvel. It’s a smaller sandbox which I love. The characters are basically unknown. I love the fact that here’s a chance to take something relatively unknown, relatively new if you think about it, and sort of shape it and mold it for a new generation and new audience, while pleasing the old fans. Because they are out there and they are really loyal and we’re glad to have them on board.
Very cool, thank you. What was your first introduction to Valiant comics and their characters?
KB: My first introduction to Valiant comics and their characters was in the 90’s. They were, you know, an upstart company. There were a lot of companies starting in the 90’s and they were one of them. Actually, they started in 1989, but I didn’t find out about them until later. It was a Jim Shooter company and I saw he was working with Barry Windsor-Smith. Barry Windsor-Smith is one of my favorite artists of all time. So that was like incredible. And yeah that was my introduction to them.
I didn’t really read any of the 90’s stuff until much later, after the fact. I was working at Marvel at the time and they were sending us DCs, Marvels. There was just too much to read after a while. I think the first Valiant comic that I actually read was the Acclaim version of “Ninjak.” The video game, I think Kurt Busiek version. It was different. But I saw that Valiant was offering something that Marvel wasn’t, or that the Big 2 weren’t, I thought that was really cool. Interesting.
When I had the opportunity to write for Valiant with “Archer & Armstrong” [#24], I was like “Hey this is pretty cool.” And I had read a bunch of the trades. I liked what the company was doing.
So transitioning into talking about Valiant’s current output, what are the projects you are working on as we speak?
KB: Currently working on “The Life and Death of Toyo Harada” which is, sort of, writer Joshua Dysart’s opus to what he calls the Psiot Cycle, which is his entire run of “Harbinger.” He’s handled those characters, sort of shepherded their path, since 2012. So “Life and Death” kind of brings everything full circle and closes out that storyline. It’s really exciting.
I’m working on an upcoming miniseries called “Killers,” which is a Ninjak spinoff. If anyone recalls, the last Ninjak series we did was called “Ninja-K” where we found out that he was just one in a line of Ninja operatives that have worked for MI6 since the First World War. He was the letter K. We’re sort of picking up on that, because it was a popular idea, and leaning into it. We’re going to be focusing on some of the other Ninjas that served in that program before him and send them on a cool adventure. Will they necessarily work together or want to kill each other is the question.
And then there’s “Fallen World,” which I love. “Fallen World” is our five-issue, event, miniseries through the spring which takes place in the year 4002, which is essentially the future of Valiant. It focuses on Rai, who is one of the characters in our stable who exists in the future, and follows his journey now that he is on Earth trying to find a path and who to be.
So right now at Valiant there is a lot of new creators who haven’t worked for Valiant before, and others moving on from the company. Just recently it was announced that Tim Seeley and Brett Booth are relaunching “Bloodshot.” You’ve also got Vita Ayala, Tini Howard, and Alex Paknadel doing stuff for y’all. What’s it like getting to work with this new wave of creators coming in?
KB: Oh it’s incredible. It’s always great to have fresh voices on board. And a lot of these creators are Valiant fans and they have a passion for these characters, as passionate as the last round of creators that worked on our books. So it’s always great to keep things fresh, bring in new blood. The one thing I fear is that we don’t want to develop a house style where people can say “That’s a Valiant comic.” We always want to keep people guessing and on their toes, and entertain most of all. So that’s been a great resource.Continued below
In your opinion, what is it about Tim Seeley and Brett Booth that made them right fit for “Bloodshot” in this moment? Especially with him getting his own live-action movie next year?
KB: Well, with “Bloodshot,” every time we do “Bloodshot” we want to keep it fresh and have a new take, while staying true to what came before. With this version of “Bloodshot,” we noticed that Bloodshot in previous iterations we had done, it had been sort of gritty, very grounded, and this time we figured let’s go in a different direction. What if we made a superhero comic? What if we made something that was colorful, lots of action, super villains? And Tim was the right choice for that. Seeing the work he’s done for DC and Image, he’s a talent to watch out for. I’ve known Tim since he was an intern at Marvel. I met him in the late 90’s when he was just starting out. So for me it’s great to see him working on one of our flagship characters and really doing a great job. And Brett’s art, Brett does great superhero art, so I think it;’s a great mix and I can’t wait to see how that run turns out.
Likewise, you have another former Marvel editor who joined Valiant in the last couple months with Heather Antos. We know she’s working on “Livewire”with Vita Ayala, but what’s it like having her on board with Valiant? What kind of energy does she bring and what kind of fun projects is she working on that you might could tease?
KB: Well Heather brings a great energy to the company. Having worked at Marvel she has a lot of contacts. She’s incredibly smart, incredibly talented, and she’s fun to work with.
I’m looking forward to the books she’s working on. I don’t know if I can really say what they are, because it’s too soon. Not gonna say that just yet. But we’re really looking forward to…not just the stuff Heather’s working on but also Lysa Hawkins is there as well. She’s a former Editor from Marvel and DC and she’s working on some great stuff. David Menchel, whose an Associate Editor, he was just promoted from Assistant not too long ago. He’s really talented. I think he’s going to be a fantastic Editor, possibly one of the best in the business one day. And then there’s Assistant Editor Drew Baumgartner who works with me closely, who will be working with me on several upcoming projects. We’ve just got a really great team, really smart people, and I’m excited to work with them.
Y’all teased a little bit at this con some upcoming stuff. There was that teaser image that Juan Jose Ryp drew and then an “X-O Manowar” teaser that Christian Ward for that title which is relaunching in the fall as Matt Kindt winds down his run. Is there anything more you’d like to say or tease about any of those projects?
KB: I could.
KB: Will I? That is a good question. [Laughs]
Fair enough. Well winding down, It’s been a little over a year since Valiant was acquired by DMG and I know there was a moment there where fans were worried about the comic side of Valiant being swallowed by the movie side, but y’all are obviously still publishing new titles and different books than y’all have the previous year before. What would you say to those folks that still might be a little anxious about the future of Valiant Entertainment?
KB: Well I would tell them…I can’t stop them from feeling that way. I’d say take a wait and see attitude. Look at what we’re doing and let the work speak for itself and not internet rumors or your own fears as to what may happen. They’re probably feeling this way because they’ve seen this happen at other companies, and I just say take a wait and see attitude. We’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all.
Well Karl thank you for taking the time to do thIs, is there anything else you’d like to tease, promote, or talk about before we wrap?Continued below
KB: Just want to say Stay Valiant!
“The Life and Death of Toyo Harada” #2 hits shelves April 10th, “Fallen World” #1 on May 1st, and “Killers” #1 in July.