Supernatural, Entourage, and Deadpool: Pulp writers take on a new creative project with Oni Press’ Brik (Interview)
The successful creative team of Adam Glass and Michael Benson (Deadpool: Pulp and Luke Cage: Noir) have a new creative project with Oni Press. Brik debuted this July, with issue #3 hitting stands on September 21st. The first two issues centered around Drew, a teenager, his family, and his struggles. The character of Drew has already lived through struggles in his young life and by the end of issue #2 the creative team has set up a number of additional challenges. Instead of hiding, Drew finds a family legacy that empowers him to stand up and prepare to fight back.
GWW: Supernatural frequently centers around folklore, what makes comic books a better medium to tell this story than television?
AG: I wouldn’t use the word “better.” There are “different” ways to tell stories and Brik is one of those kind that I believe plays on many different multi media platforms. It can be a comic book, TV show or movie. Because even though there is a giant mythos to it at its core it’s about humanity.
GWW: You have written comics together before, how is this collaboration different from your other experiences? What are some of the benefits of previously writing together?
AG: Because of our past collaboration Mike and I have a short hand. We use to write in the same room together, but now we have a cup of coffee, or talk on the phone and then we take turns beating it out and going over one another’s material. IF one guy feels stronger about a character, or plot point they take the lead on it.
MB: This is the forth or fifth book Adam and I have written together. The big difference in this process was the complete freedom in writing the characters. Because it was our own book, we were able to take liberties with the characters and didn’t have to worry about continuity. Like Adam stated, we have a short hand with similar tastes so if something new were to show up it was traditionally a welcomed addition to the book.
GWW: After reading the first two issues, you seem to be creating an atmosphere that is more grounded than traditional super hero comics. Yet your style doesn’t push into the territory of a stylized, gritty graphic novel. What are your influences for your work on Brik?
HS: Mostly inspired by movies, animation, and Comics. Anything I can get my hands on really; love the illustrators of the fifties and sixties.
GWW: How did the concept of Brik come about? Was this something that grew out of research for Supernatural or was this an idea that was swimming around since childhood wish fulfillment?
AG: Being two Jewish Kids from NYC we wanted to write a love letter to the city we love and the comic books we grew up on. I was always fascinated by the Golem and so was Mike, so it was really a no brainer for us. It started with the simple idea of “What if you were a kid with a remote control to a Frankenstein Monster?” What would you do with it? How would you act? And I’ll tell you what, I wish I had my own Golem as a kid. That would have been awesome.
MB: We both individually thought of doing a Golem story so when it was brought up in a brainstorming session, we jumped on the concept and developed the character to have an urban flair. We turned the traditional tale of the Golem into our own story. When people ask me to describe the project I tell them it’s a mash-up between A History of Violence and Iron Giant. The book also details a lot of experiences we had as kids growing up in New York.
GWW: Do Glass and Benson know what they want to accomplish visually or do you have some visual autonomy to creating Drew’s world? What is the atmosphere of the world you are trying to create?
HS: Mike and Adam had a pretty good idea of what they wanted. The world had to be dark and gritty, sort of like old New York from the
80s and 90s.
GWW: What attracted you to the golem myth?
AG: At it’s heart it’s the original monster story. The Golem has always been a story with a double-edged moral. On the one hand the golem is the longed-for champion of a defenseless people, triumphant testimony to the power of faith. On the other hand he is a reminder that creation is God’s prerogative, not man’s, and that trying to emulate God is a presumptuous and dangerous business.
MB: There are so many different versions of the Golem tale. I always felt it was right out of one of those old Marvel books like “Strange Tales of the Unusual” or “Tales of Suspense.” The origin story had a real comic book feeling to it and felt timely in the type of stories that should be told now. Also, as Adam stated above, I’m a sucker for stories about man trying to play God and what the consequences are for doing so.
GWW: How significant is Chechnya to the story? Since there are lots of potential nationalities to give an immigrant mob, how does this choice play into Chechen folklore around the golem?
AG: Chechnya was part of Russia until the 1990’s and around that time a lot of Russian Immigrants poured into NYC. And with any new influx of immigration, crime becomes rapid and the first people they tend to repress is their own. There are many hard working Chechen people in the U.S. but in this story we decided to dive into its criminal activities. Russia has a long history of Antisemitism, so our protagonists are the perfect bad guys for our Golem story. But I want to say even though Drew is Jewish I believe this story works for any people who have been repressed by another group. It’s a universal theme of the little guy finding a way to stick up for himself.
GWW: Given the Jewish mythology around the golem tale, what was your research process for Brik?
AG: The first and only story I remember is that of Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague who was said to have created a golem in order to protect the Jews of Prague when they were threatened with violence and expulsion. He succeeded; but then the golem got out of control, went on a rampage and had to be destroyed. What I love about the Golem is the mythology is that it’s wide open and that means there is a lot of ways you can go with it.
MB: For me it was reading a lot of books, comics and searching the web.
GWW: Your depiction of the golem seems to take inspiration from some of the Jewish artwork around the tale. What was your process for designing the creature and why did you settle on that design?
HS: Golem was inspired by Concrete and Benjamin Grimm. We wanted to stick with the traditional version but just a little update. The Golem had to stick out in the world but not be a sore thumb.
GWW: Are you envisioning Brik as a limited series or is this a world you are hoping to create for other writers to play in? Where do you see the series going?
AG: Love to see Brik turn into a series. I think the adventures of a young boy and his Golem running through the streets, alleyways and rooftops of NYC has endless possibilities.
MB: I’d be thrilled to see Brik as an ongoing series. There are so many more stories we’d like to explore.
After reading the first two issues of Brik, this creative team is just getting started. The way that Glass and Benson have approached the golem mythos creates a lot of excitement moving forward. Harwinder’s art is an excellent fit for the harsher, dirtier corners of New York where the story takes place. In spite of the mystical powers that create the golem creature, Drew is a character that anyone can identify with. While not every kid has interactions with organized crime, Drew’s broken home, loss of family, romantic crushes, and threats from bullies are issues anyone can identify with the desire to have power to take action. Brik has launched a series with a lot of potential and a meaningful story to tell.