Interview: Matt Wagner Talks Genre-meshing In Legendary Entertainment’s ‘The Tower Chronicles’

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There’s a new publisher on the block, but not one who is unfamiliar with comic books. Legendary Entertainment is best known for their production of comic book film adaptations such as, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and the upcoming Man of Steel, now they are jumping straight into the world of comic publishing. Their newest book, Tower Chronicles, is co-created and written by the veteran Matt Wagner, who has made his living off franchise titles “Grendel” and “Mage”.

“Tower Chronicles” follows the super natural bounty hunter John Tower. While the idea for this character wasn’t Wagner’s originally, he quickly took the reins to build this massive story over years ago. The series is broken up into 3 volumes, each with 4 64-page issues. The first issue hits this Wednesday, September 26th in comic shops everywhere. Matt Wanger sat down with GreenBasterd for Bloody-disgusting to talk about the book, Legendary Entertainments, meshing genres, and more.

BD: This stories protagonist is a bounty hunter John Tower, for our readers who are unaware of your new series can you give us a run-down of the story?

Wagner: The Tower Chronicles is trilogy, each book is 280 pages, following a super natural bounty hunter named John Tower. The 3 books are broken up into 4 prestige-size volumes, 68 pages each. The central character is an aloof, tough-as-nails, Clint Eastwood type of guy. You’ll see that there’s more to him that meets the eye, hunting monsters is more of a means to an end as opposed to a his destiny of destroying all super natural beings. As you read on there are more and more layers to his character peeled away, there’s a lot of rich content to this story.

BD: I’ve read the 12 page preview and I have to say I’m looking forward to see how this story develops, will this book keep up this pace that the preview starts?

Wagner: Yeah, the pace keeps pretty fast throughout, of course it has to slow down at times for dialogue and plot building. I find the first volume a little denser than later parts of the story. Working together with Simon Bisley, we grew more accustomed each other’s style, and in the end I couldn’t have asked for more with him. When he shows me sketches, I’m like “woah!” it’s better than I could ever have imagined. The art team is really doing an amazing job on the series, inker Rodney Ramos and the colourist Ryan Brown are great. The images are very full, they look almost like they’re paintings.

BD: How has your experience with Legendary and Tower Chronicles been different from some of the books you’ve done in the past like Grendel and Mage?

Wagner: Well I’ve been in the industry for 30 years, Grendel is a long story where a demon/spirit transfers from host to host so the story extends over long periods. The other is a modern time era story of a common man turned hero called Mage. The thing that my stories have in common is that I’m a genre-mesher. John Tower is a sort of costume hero, though he isn’t like the average one, there are supernatural monsters which adds horrific qualities, there are also elements of dark fantasy and historical fiction as well. It works together for richer text or narrative arc. How I got involved, actually, is Legendary Entertainment CEO Thomas Tull approached Bob Schreck, who I have worked with for decades, and asked if he knew a good writer who could take this raw idea and create the story with their own ideas. He said, “hey I know just the guy”. It ended up being much bigger story than they planned once I took the reins and started writing the story and it went from one graphic novel to three. I was giving a lot of back ground on the character because hey if he’s killing monsters then the reader is going to want him to kill some but I also wanted to add a lot of contemporary issues that just came about. Simone’s artistic style was perfect for the book and the direction I wanted to take it.

BD: Legendary Entertainment is a new publisher, was it different than working with some of the bigger guys?

Wagner: Yes, it was different for sure. The big name publishers are like well-oiled machines that have been around for a long time and know what they’re doing, I find it neat to be at the beginning of publisher making its way into the industry. Legendary is going from film to the comic realm which means they have all the resources of the big publishers, but just haven’t quite figured out the publishing side of the business. So, even though we had all the resources to do what we wanted it still has an indie feel to it in a lot of ways.

BD: You were approached by L.E.’s CEO Thomas Tull with this character/story idea, how much of it is your own tale?

Wagner: No, no, it was actually Thomas’ idea. But once I agreed to come on board, it was up to me to make all actual characters and to make the creative decisions. This was done by me not by a committee or anything as they say. This isn’t a movie in the comic book form, it may grow to that one day, but this all started strictly as a comic book from the get go. Pulling this off has been a mystery that un-spools slowly.

BD: As a co-creator, did you have any input for the art/paneling? Would you have liked to have drawn it?

Wagner: I have done many collaborations in the past, and I know that I want to write for this one and draw for others. Simon is perfect for this book. Two years ago at San Diego Comiccon, we did a panel to launch Legendary Entertainment and it was there that they announced The Tower Chronicles. At the time we had no art though, just the script ideas and my character designs. This is like an anime where you have people making character designs but then give over the power to the artist to bring these characters to life. Bob knew Simon from Hellboy so he asked him to paint a picture for display and he captured the essence of the character in one single fucking image, which is really tough to do when all he had to go off of is a written description.

BD: Given that Legendary Entertainment is a production house, do you think Tower Chronicles has what it takes to be a blockbuster?

Wagner: It has the potential to be one for sure, and that’s what Legendary Entertainment is all about. They’ve done many comic adaptions in the past including the Dark Knight Trilogy and the new Superman movie. This is a comic book first, but sure it would work, who knows down the line.

BD: Are you currently working on any other projects?

Wagner: Like I said, this book is pretty massive, I’m still working on it as is Simon and both of us still have a lot of work left to do. We’re all really excited about this and I think readers will really enjoy the story we are telling.

The Tower Chronicles Volume 1 hits stores on September 26th from Legendary Entertainment.