Fred Pierce: Valiant Comics and the Very Best Comics PossibleA comics interview article by: Jason Sacks
Yesterday we spoke to Valiant Comics Executive Editor Warren Simons about the upcoming revival of the Valiant line in 2012. Today we speak to Valiant Publisher Fred Pierce. Fred is the former President and COO of Wizard Entertainment and was also part of the management team for the original Valiant. As you can read from the interview, Fred is extremely exited about next year's Valiant revival and can't wait to get their comics into the hands of readers.
Jason Sacks: The original Valiant line was much loved by fans. How will you be striving to revive that spirit of excitement?
Fred Pierce: By focusing on what made Valiant great to begin with – telling great stories with some of the best characters in comics! We are committed to great creative and every decision we make as a company is made with that goal in mind. We’re bringing back the original Valiant versions of the characters that fans love so much but we’re also making them fresh for a modern audience. While our X-O Manowar will retain everything that fans fell in love with – he will again be the Visigoth abducted by aliens, who steals the most powerful weapon in the universe and escapes only to find himself in the modern world – in true Valiant tradition we’re going to be pushing the status quo even further. The Valiant universe will truly be the world outside your window and Valiant stories will be even more sophisticated, complex and character driven while still being a hell of a lot of fun. Oh and wait until you see what we’re doing with interconnectivity between the characters of the Valiant universe. You’ve never seen anything like what we’ve got planned!
Sacks: There have been several revivals of the Valiant characters that have not really grabbed readers' attention in the way that the original line did. What lessons did you learn from those revivals?
Pierce: There was one other version of the Valiant Universe called the Acclaim Comics Universe, in which the original Valiant Universe was re-imagined by video game company Acclaim Entertainment. The Valiant characters were drastically changed to make them better-fit Acclaim’s needs in video games. While critically unsuccessful in comics, the re-imagined versions had remarkable success in video games launching several game franchises including Shadowman and Turok. We’ve looked at the Acclaim Universe very carefully and while it’s impossible to know for sure what happened behind closed doors, from a consumer stand point I think that universe strayed too far from the great high concepts and core make up of the characters that made Valiant so successful. As everyone knows, creating great characters is very difficult and Valiant is one of only three universes to do it successfully. To this day fans remember and love the Valiant universe for this reason.
Sacks: Why are you waiting till 2012 to roll out the revival?
Pierce: Waiting? We’re racing! 2012 is the soonest we feel comfortable promising smart, exciting, complex comics. Our number one goal is to continue the rich history Valiant has of top-notch storytelling, and creating comics of that caliber takes tremendous time and talent. We’ve got one of best teams in the business with experts like Valiant’s Chairman, former Marvel CEO, Peter Cueno and Valiant’s Executive Editor, awarding winning former Marvel editor, Warren Simons as well as some equally exciting names we’ll be announcing soon.
Sacks: Can you give readers hints about what to expect from the revival?
Pierce: A return of the Valiant style of comic books. Focused on out writing the competition, creating compelling characters and stories, giving readers an experience they can’t get elsewhere. If you know the Valiant universe, you’ll recognize all your old friends again but they’ll be tweaked for today’s style of cutting edge comics. If you don’t know them, I envy you. It’s going to be great for readers to experience these characters for the first time. Our goal is for the relaunch of characters like X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Shadowman, Bloodshot and Rai to maintain that tradition of anticipation when you look at the cover and open the first page. The universe created by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor Smith spoke to a generation in a way that no new universe had since the creation of the Marvel Universe. We’re going to work tirelessly to honor and extend that legacy.
Sacks: How will digital be part of your strategy?
Fred Pierce: The comic book store is the core of our industry and it is through the retailers that the interest and buzz for all comics is generated. Originally, it is through the excitement of the retailers that we will generate interest on all platforms. And it is through digital sales that a certain percentage of those readers will discover or return to the source – the comic book retailer. Great story telling will win out on all platforms.
Sacks: As the leader of a team that's rebooting a whole line of comics, what is your reaction to DC's "reboot" plans?
Pierce: Everyone at Valiant is The Team, I’m not particularly the leader, but I think that DC’s reboot is gutsy and could be great for the industry. The team there clearly wanted to do something to shake things up, which will hopefully bring attention to the industry and more people to the stores and to the medium in general. It’s got to be good for all of us!
Sacks: Anything else you'd like Comics Bulletin's readers to know about the revival of Valiant Comics in 2012?
Pierce: I’ve been very lucky to have been involved in so many aspects of our industry – I was at Valiant at the beginning, saw the industry through the eyes of Wizard Magazine and became very close with fans around the country at the conventions. We’re a tight knit club that’s smart, knows great story and art better than any other group, and gets behind the best and pushes it forward. I came to comics through Valiant and watched and participated in one of the momentous events of that decade. The Valiant Universe is tasked with speaking to today’s times and tomorrow’s times and we looking forward to creating the very best comics possible. Anything less just won’t make the grade.