LSCC 15: Ron Marz on John Carter, Convergence, and The Protectors

At London Super Comic Con last weekend, I had the chance to have a quick conversation with the prolific comic book writer Ron Marz about his current and upcoming projects. Marz has a long career that includes lengthy runs on Marvel's Silver Surfer, DC's Green Lantern, and Image's Witchblade. Currently he's writing Dynamite's new John Carter series, John Carter: Warlord of Mars - a series that received an excellent 5/5 rating from Comic Bastard's very own Jason DiGioia. Ron was very friendly and gave some great answers to my questions, so I'd like to thank him again for taking the time to talk to me.

CB: You're currently writing Dynamite's new John Carter series; what was your inspiration for the new stories you're telling with the character?

RM: I'm really just trying to tell stories in the tradition of the original novels, I discovered that stuff as a kid. Edgar Rice Burroughs was a huge influence on my writing so I'm trying to write stories that I feel like would fit in with the stories that he told in the novels. I'm just trying to walk in his footsteps.

JCWoM01-Cov-A-CampbellCB: John Carter has been around for over 100 years now; why do you think the character has been so enduring and able to stand the test of time as he has?

RM: John Carter is really the forefather of so much of what we do in terms of fantasy and heroic literature. He's the basis for Superman in a lot of ways, he's a strange visitor from another world who has powers beyond those of everybody else. Obviously there are huge fingerprints of John Carter on Star Wars, on Avatar and just so many things that are staples of our pop culture. I think people are influenced by John Carter that don't even know they're influenced by John Carter.

CB: The John Carter movie of 2012 wasn't hugely successful; do you think the film did anything wrong or do you think the character just isn't meant for that kind of mainstream exposure?

RM: No, I think the character is absolutely meant for mainstream exposure. I just think the marketing for the movie was terrible, and I think in a lot of ways Disney  had decided that the movie was going to be a failure before it ever came out, and kind of wanted to wash its hands of it. I'm baffled that you would do a movie set on Mars that didn't have Mars in the title! So I just think there were a lot of missteps, and I think they kind of ran away from the fact that it was this enduring 100-year-old property that had influenced Star Wars and Avatar and so much other stuff and it came from the creator of Superman. It felt like to me that it ran away from what made the story and the concept as strong as it is, rather than embracing it.

CB: You've also got some DC work coming up as part of Convergence, an arc on Batman and Robin and another on Justice League International, and I was wondering are you able to tell us anything about those?

RM: I can't talk about the specifics of it because they really want to keep it under wraps. But I can tell you that I had a ball working with Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson on Batman and Robin, and Mike Manley on Justice League. They're each only two issues so we have to go in and tell a succinct, really - not quick story - but we had to get to the point of it very quickly. So it's a very focused story and the real push for us was to tell character based stories with these characters, our marching orders weren't just to do a big fight scene. They really wanted to focus on the characters and what made them tick, so that's always a pleasure.

3767883-cover+issue+1+finalCB: Comic book events have been coming under fire recently by some fans saying that the quality of them wavers quite a bit; what do you think the future holds for comic book events in an industry that is focusing more and more on indie stuff and smaller stories?

RM: We'll always have comic book events in the big universes because people buy them: that's the long and short of it. People might complain about events, but they still buy them. When the audience doesn't buy events anymore, that's when events will end. But as long as they are a sales success, they're going to be a tool in the publisher's toolkit to generate sales. To me it's not a problem with events in general: when people complain about events they're talking about specific execution of events, the overall concept of an event comic. Do they go on too long? Sure, often they do. Do they not stick the landing as often as they should? Yeah, absolutely. But, when an event is really good - when Infinity Gauntlet comes out and it's a comics changing event for the time, and it sets people's imaginations on fire - I think events do that better than anything else. Those are the ones we all responded to as kids; when all the heroes are together, everybody pays attention. To me it's more about individual execution than it is the overall concept.

CB: Recently you were a part of NFL star Israel Idonjie's comic book The Protectors; how did you get involved in that project and are you going to be working again with them in the future?

RM: I was introduced to Israel Idonjie - or Izzy as everybody calls him - by a mutual friend and we just hit it off really well. I think an even bigger part of it is that Izzy's a football player - he loves comics, but he's a football player - so he lets me do my job for him. He lets me be the writer of the story and he trusts me with his babies. That's why the relationship has been so great, we've brought in Bart Sears to do the art, it's been an overall success because everybody is allowed to do what they do with Israel supporting us. We just announced that The Protectors comic is going to make it's debut on the Madefire app as a motion book, the specifics of that announcement will be made at C2E2 by Izzy. But that's where the partnership is and then we'll be doing more stuff beyond that.

To keep updated with Ron's work, you can follow him on Twitter at the easy to remember handle @ronmarz.