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Cla$$war's Rob Williams Entertains You

Posted: Thursday, December 11
Posted By: Craig Lemon
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Rob Williams has been making a splash on both sides of the pond, like many successful comic book writers before him. Willaims took the time to chat to Craig Lemon, SBC's Senior Editor, about the recent release of Williams' Cla$$war, Book One trade collection.

Craig Lemon: Tell new readers something about why they should pick up the collected edition of Cla$$war?

Rob Williams: Well, donít take my word for it. Go read the reviews. Wizard voted us the best indie superhero book of 2002, SBC gave us 5 out of 5. We were very lucky in the reviews we received, for the most part, and it wasnít just the comic press that praised us ≠ Esquire magazine ran something in the UK, in London the Financial Times and the London Metro newspaper gave us a plug. Itís cool that the mainstream press liked what we were doing.

As for the comic itself? Well, all those people loving Trev Hairsineís art on Ultimate Six should pick up Cla$$war as itís the book that broke Trev in the States. He inked himself on Cla$$war and it looks beautiful. Trevís work has this real sense of drama about it. Heís one of the best in the business and he says himself that Cla$$war issue two is probably the best work that heís ever done. So it looks good.

And as for the story? Well, all those people who like Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and big real-world superhero comics like The Ultimates, they should love Cla$$war. Itís the story of American, a super-soldier, who begins to question the real reason for all those wars heís been fighting in for the United States over the years. He discovers the truth behind whoís really running America and when he goes awol his teammates, the super-team Enola Gay, gor looking for him to shut him up before he can instigate a full-scale revolution. Itís Rage Against The Machine meets Superman, with West Wing-style political manoeuvring and some extremely widescreen action sequences.

CL: From your point of view, how close did the final product come to what you'd envisaged when writing the book?

RW: It really came out better than I couldíve ever hoped. When I wrote Cla$$war #1 it was the first comic script Iíd ever attempted. I figured I might try and publish it independently if it was good enough, so when Com.X picked it up, gave it to a killer artist in Trev and provided it with some sublime production values ≠ well, I was very lucky to get such a big break.

Re-reading the collected edition now, thereís always things youíd like to have back so you can tinker. Mostly itís bits of dialogue that, given the chance, Iíd play with a tiny bit. But, for the most part, I think it stands up extremely well. The pacingís fast, the characters are solid and thereís good action sequences. Iím extremely proud of Cla$$war #2 ≠ I just think itís an extremely good comic book. The art is superb, colouringís great, and thereís some excellent character stuff, even if I do say so myself. A personal favourite is the scene where Heavyweight returns to the neighbourhood where he grew up. I love shows like The Sopranos and The Shield, where thereís a real humanity to villains. Just when you think theyíre utter bastards they do something that momentarily redeems them and makes them three-dimensional. I think we did that there. Trev and I were talking about this the other day. We both said if everything we produced was of the standard of Cla$$war 2 weíd be very happy indeed.

And, of course, Cla$$war has the American-Heavyweight punch, which seemed to garner us a lot of attention.

CL: When Travel was announced as the new artist, did you have any communication with him, did any changes to your script come about for his preferences as opposed to Trevor's?

RW: Not at all. Trev and I talked a lot about the scripts and the art. Changed things on each otherís behest. Thereís been none of that with Travel. Weíve exchanged a few emails but mostly heís just done his own thing on it. Different artists, different ways of working. Travel's pages look wonderful. He's got a Travis Charest vibe going on, which is no bad thing.

CL: What have we got to look forwards to in #4 to #6?

RW: We pick up where issue three left off. American and Isaac are in Glenada, trying to get evidence to prove that the US forces have been doing deals with the islandís drug lords. Back in the Nevada desert we show whatís really been going on in Area 51 all these years, with the scientist who created American being called out of retirement to give birth to another superhuman, and things donít exactly go to plan there. And Enola Gay are closing in on American, with Icon and Confusion, in particular, starting to go seriously loopy and off the rails. By issue six thereíll also be the rematch between American and Heavyweight. Place your bets. Oh, and the Presidentís going to go down in history too. I donít want to give too much away.

CL: Any further developments on Cla$$war II?

RW: Not at the moment, Com.X and I have talked about it. The story was always meant to be 12 issues, and I know how itís going to end, who comes out alive, who doesnít. Iíd very much like to do it but this is independent publishing weíre talking about. We need to sell enough copies of the Cla$$war trade to show that the demand is out there for us to bring it back. Unfortunately good reviews donít always translate to sales. Itís up in the air. I guess it comes down to the fact that if enough people want it, weíll do it.

CL: What else have you been working on in the meantime?

RW: Iíve been doing a fair bit of work for 2000AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine in the UK. I wrote a series called "Asylum" which, frankly, I was a bit disappointed in. It was the first time Iíd done a five page a week serial and I made some mistakes with tone and pacing. So, you try and learn and get better. What doesnít kill you makes you stronger. I wrote a series for the Judge Dredd Megazine called Family, a story of gangsters with super-powers. That turned out fairly well. Iíve also recently done a Star Wars Tale for Dark Horse, with some beautiful art by Cary Nord. I was very pleased with that. It was a really nice little eight pager, and being a Star Wars fan when I was a kid it was a thrill writing Han, Chewie and the droids. That was fun.

CL: And what's coming up in the next six months?

RW: Iíve all-but-finished a new series for 2000AD called "Low Life" ≠ a story of an undercover Judge in Mega City 1. Itís being drawn by the frankly-bloody-excellent Henry Flint and every time I get a page through from him Iím a very happy camper. Iíve written another series for 2000AD called "Breathing Space," a murder mystery on Dreddís Luna-1 colony. Iím not sure when thatíll appear. Iím also doing a mini-series for an American company. Iíve just finished writing issue one of that, but I canít say what it is and who itís for yet.

The Cla$$war trade should appear at some point after issue 6 has been released. Thatíll feature all six issues and a new ten-page introduction story to go with it. Weíve got a superb artist lined up for that. No official announcement yet though.

CL: Thanks for your time, Rob!

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