THE SOURCE: How do you write the first line of a new series?
FABIAN NICIEZA: I don’t think about it that way, I think about the first SCENE of a new series. I try to do something that introduces us immediately to the characters or sets the tone of what the book will be about. In LEGION LOST, I was able to introduce the tone and theme of the book on Page 1 then introduce our characters on pages 2-3, so I feel the opening scene worked!
How do you introduce a new hero or villain?
I just try to come up with an inventive way to bring them in, make them do something or say something unexpected, try to set the page up in a way that allows for a dynamic intro panel either to start the page or end the page. The goal is to try and introduce new characters doing something that both helps define who they are, what they’re about and how they do things — plus trying to have a memorable or catchy line in there too! Easy, huh?
What was the first comic you ever worked on?
I wrote a DC Guest Meanwhile… column in the early 80′s — my first paying work — $25! After I got a job at Marvel, my first real freelance job was interviewing Stan Lee for a Marvel Age article in 1985. My first published comic book work as a writer was Psi-Force #9 in 1987.
Who was the first character you followed?
Superman and Batman. My brother and I came to the U.S. from Argentina in 1966 and those were the first characters we recognized on the old comic spinner racks, plus the Adam West-Batman show was on TV back then. We learned how to read and write English from comics.
What was the first comic book you read?
Don’t remember. Likely in Argentina, a magazine called Antiojito y Antfias — though at 3 or 4 years old, I doubt I read it, but I still remember the characters.
What was the first piece of original art you bought?
I have received original pages from various artists I’ve worked with, and paid for a few pieces as well, but I have no idea which one was the first I paid for.
On your creative process:
Breaking down an individual issue is hard enough, especially with a team book like LEGION LOST, but breaking it down into multi-issue story plans gets even more challenging, especially with something like the new DCU. WIth so much happening in so many titles, it’s hard to plan too far in advance for fear that you will learn about something happening in another title that you might want to tie into or you find out a new take on a character excites you enough that you want to use them in your own book.
So basically, you need to balance self-contained elements for an issue, along with on-going subplots, along with an overall “thematic thru-line” for an arc so that when collected, it reads as a complete packaged.
For LEGION LOST, we really wanted to tell an opening arc that was very focused on the core characters coming back in time, feeling disoriented and dispirited, unable to ask anyone in the present day they know for help — and in many ways, fearful of doing anything for fear of making a bad situation worse.
The first 6 issues takes place over a week-long, desperate, rushing search for Alastor, the terrorist who came back in time to release a deadly pathogen. We even have a running clock telling you how many hours have passed since the pathogen was released and we also get glimpses of how it is beginning to spread, creating human/alien hybrid known as Hypersapiens.
By the end of the first arc, the heroes will all have been affected by the spread of the Hypertaxis pathogen, the media will know a deadly virus has been released across the planet, the lost Legionnaires will be blamed for it, and they will be wanted outlaws who are trying to help save the very world that is casting them as pariahs.
So the breakdown of this multi-issue arc wasn’t as hard to plan because it had its core elements defined by both its beginning — Legion group arrives back in time — and its end — they fail! So everything had to be built within the context of knowing the beginning and ending of the first arc, raising questions, answering some, leaving others lingering, etc.
I’m several issues into the scripting of LEGION LOST now and I think it’s a pretty unique book and a very interesting addition to the DC Universe. Pete Woods is drawing the living daylights out of the book and I think fans are going to really enjoy what we’re doing!
Skitch Commentary:I don’t mean this to be insulting, but I was surprised to hear Nicieza came to America in 1966. I didn’t think he was anywhere near that old. Though I guess it makes sense, I’ve been a huge fan since the early 90’s.Really looking forward to reading his work on Legion Lost. LLTL!!! Total geek moment here, but I wish DC would get their flight ring out early so I can read Legion Lost wearing it. And keep your eye out for my review of Legion Lost #1 coming next month.