Before it was an Amazon show or a burgeoning media empire, and even before The Walking Dead — both the TV series and the comic — existed, Invincible was there. While writer Robert Kirkman had written comics, he never had a hit before. It may have taken a minute for it to get there, 1 but Invincible proved to be just that — and a long-running one at that. The number of independent superhero comics that ran for as long as it did, with 144 issues over 15 years, can be counted on one hand, and few of them maintained the quality this series crafted by Kirkman, artists Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, and assorted others like Rus Wooton, Bill Crabtree, and Cliff Rathburn did throughout its run. As I once wrote (and voiced!), this series often did live up to its tongue-in-cheek tagline of “The best superhero comic in the universe!”
That all started on January 22, 2003, when Invincible #1 arrived in comic shops. It was quite the journey, one that found its lead Mark Grayson going from a non-powered, relatively ordinary high school student to an A-list superhero to a husband and father to the leader of a people that had not previously been his own. During that same time, its creators grew up as well, going from young, relatively untested storytellers to some of the biggest names in comics. It was quite the glow up for all involved, it seems.
With that anniversary here and Skybound rolling out a wave of new Invincible releases, I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Kirkman about that journey, and how the series went from a story with a ton of potential that was on the verge of cancellation all the way to what it’s become today: a giant hit, and one that celebrated the love each of its creators had for superheroes throughout its entire run. We popped on Zoom to discuss all that recently, and you can read that conversation in full below, with it being edited for clarity. It also contains spoilers.
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So, we’re going to start with an easy one, Robert. How old does Invincible being 20 years old make you feel? Because I’ll tell you what, it made me feel pretty damn old. I still remember going to get the trade when I was first getting back into comics, back when I was in college. And that was a long time ago.
Robert: It makes me feel like I’m about 100 years old. I think back on those 20 years and it seems like so much time has passed and so many different things have changed in my life. And then at the exact same time, I think back on the early days of Invincible and I can remember them like they were yesterday. So it also feels like only two weeks have passed, which having those two things kind of coinciding is very bizarre. It somehow makes you feel even older and scared of growing old because you’re like, “Wait a minute, that was two weeks ago and now I’m 44 and, oh God, I’ll be dead next week.”
I don’t mean this pejoratively, but you were a kid when Invincible launched. I mean, when I was 24, I wasn’t doing anything of use. I went to work, I would go out to bars afterwards, I would hang out with friends, and that was pretty much it. (laughs) You were creating this entire universe that is now an Amazon show.
But the series ran for quite some time, starting with #1 and finishing with #144. When it ended, Mark’s story was in a wildly different place. I’m interested in when you were a youth and you were starting this book originally, what do you feel like Invincible started as versus what do you think it ended up as? Do you think its goals and objectives, and maybe especially what it meant to you as a storyteller, evolved during its run?
Robert: It did in a hundred different ways.
One of the most obvious ones is if you read interviews from me at the time about Invincible, I’d talk about how I wanted Invincible to go on forever. I would frequently talk about how I long for the days of when Invincible has a completely different creative team handling it, and I’m some old man that’s going, “Ah, these kids don’t know what the hell they’re doing, and the book sucks now.”
And that was a serious plan. I wasn’t necessarily joking. I wanted Invincible to be just like every other superhero book and have a different creative team that takes over and goes in different directions with it. I was really excited about the idea of being able to read the book as a fan and be like, “Oh my God, I never anticipated things going this way.” And then as I got older and I guess more mature, I started thinking, no, Invincible plays against type and it’d be cool if unlike every other superhero book, this was a story that had a beginning, middle, and an end.
And I started to…it’s not that I cared about the story more, but I started to see the story differently. I started to see it more as a whole piece, as opposed to let’s have some fun and do some cool stuff and try to entertain people along the way. So that definitely happened. In the early days I identified as that teen, Mark Grayson, dealing with his father issues and everything, because I was only in my early twenties and my teen years were very close in my memory. And you can see as the book evolves, Mark has a kid and Mark gets married, and you get to see him go from being a teen all the way through adulthood. And that was the journey that I was on over the course of the series, to a certain extent, too. So I was growing and changing almost in the same way that Mark was as I was writing that book.
I do think that’s one of the interesting things about the book and how it’s perceived — and this isn’t saying everybody views it as such — but a lot of what people point to with Invincible are the super heroics, the crazy violence, the punching through planets, the political machinations, and everything like that. But ultimately, it proved to be about family. It was in the beginning too, to some degree, because of what you said about the father issues and his relationship with his mom and everything like that. But so much of Mark’s journey is about building his own family in all the different ways that means, especially by the finale, which is really about his legacy, almost.
Do you feel like that was always the heart of the book, or do you think that’s something that became more important as the story progressed?
Robert: I think it was always the heart of the book, to a certain extent. Everything involving that Mark and Nolan story, with Nolan’s betrayal and the reveal that he was sent by the Viltrumites to take over the planet. All the family stuff leading up to that was essential to making that work. And then coming out of that, what Invincible always strived to do was take very human stories, very real dynamics that we all experience, and put them through a superhero lens.
So that reconciliation with your father after some kind of turmoil or whatever, that’s a very real thing that is a very human story. But when he is on another planet and he has fathered a child with an alien race, and there’s other people in your family that are also trying to take over the galaxy, that’s a superhero twist that just spices things up a little bit. But those things don’t work if you don’t have that foundation, that core of family drama that everyone can relate to.
Yeah. I mean, that’s where the heart of the Omni-Man twist is. As much as it’s about a superhero that protects the entire world turning against it, it’s also Mark’s dad turning on him.
Robert: Yeah, that’s what makes it interesting. If it was just a villain that was trying to take over the world, the book probably wouldn’t have lasted that long, and no one would be talking about it now. But because it was someone’s father, and because you got to know them as a family, and there was all that kind of stuff to it, it heightens things a bit.
I did want to bring up the idea of ending earlier than it would, I think somewhat famously. Invincible was once on a path to ending considerably earlier than it did, somewhere in the teens or something like that.
Robert: Yeah. 13 was planned to be the last issue for a few months.
When did you realize, “Oh, this is going to work.” Not just from a sales standpoint, but that it was just coming together.
Robert: We had the Guardians of the Globe death in #7. And when we had launched issue #1, we were kind of a middling launch as part of that superhero line that Jim Valentino had set up at Image. I think we were the third book out of the five. Our sales kind of cratered pretty quickly, and the book was coming out in somewhat erratic schedule and our sales dwindled to the 4,000 to 5,000 range, which is not great. That’s usually cancellation level, especially back then at Image.
And that was around issue #6. So I was like, “Oh, we can hang on a little bit, see how this Guardians of the Globe death goes, but I think it’s going to be a struggle to get to issue 13 so that we can tell the full Nolan story.” I was able to talk to Eric Stephenson and Jim Valentino to give us a little bit of a runway to allow us to keep the book going, because we weren’t quite losing money, we were just not making any money.
But it was very much me talking to Ryan (Ottley)…Ryan came on with issue #8. That was originally a fill-in, and when he did the issue, Cory and I were talking and Cory was like, “Look, I’m not a monthly guy. If this guy wants to draw the book, let’s have him draw the book. I’m never going to be able to keep up with a monthly schedule.” And so I went to Ryan and was like, “Hey, you want to take over the book? But just so you know, it’s probably only be going to be going for four or five more issues.” (David laughs) And he was like, “Yeah, cool. That’s fine, let’s see what happens.” But the sales for issue 10 leveled off, and then the sales for issue 11 crept up by 100 copies or 150 copies.
I was like, “Huh, maybe something’s going on.” (David laughs) And so after it crept up by 150 copies, it kept going up. Issue #12 jumped up by 500 copies, and issue #13 jumped up by 1,000 copies, and by then it was on its way back to where it had started with issue #1. When issue 11’s numbers came in, it was like, okay, keep it going. We’re going to see how long it goes. But even then it wasn’t, “Oh man, we’re going to be around for 15 years now.” It was like, “Okay, we can keep going month-to-month and see how things are going.” But luckily sales kept continuing. I think we were somewhere in the 20,000s when I was like, “Hey, this book might last.”
I imagine Ryan was probably not expecting to be drawing this book for 136 issues or whatever. Cory drew some them in there, but still.
Robert: And that’s the thing about doing a book that lasts that long. You’re in it month-to-month going, okay, what am I doing this month? It’s that journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step kind of thing. You’re not paying attention. You blink and you’re on issue 50, you’re not even really thinking about it. It’s just every month you do another issue and you just keep going and keep going. And if I had gone to Ryan and been like, yeah, I want you to take over this book and you’re going to do it for 15 years and draw over 100 issues. He’d have been like, “That sounds like a lot of work, I don’t know if I want to do that.” But if you just keep your head down and you keep working, eventually it just happens.
I remember back in the back in The Walking Dead’s letters column, you were talking about how you guys were going to keep going as long as you can, up to 300 issues or something like that. Obviously, it did not get there.
Robert: I think I got tired. (laughs)
I don’t blame you. You had too many long runs going.
I do want to say for me as a reader, I was a much easier sell than the rest. Granted, I was a trade reader. It was one of the comics that got me back into comics, but as soon as Mark threw the trash into space, I was like, “Oh yeah, I’m in on this book.”
Robert: Oh, great. (laughs)
I was an easy sell.
I do think that’s one of the interesting things about this book, and also something you experienced with The Walking Dead as well…a lot of times, all it really took for people to get on board is to read it. And that kind of hit in waves, it seems. There were the early hardcore fans who were reading it from issue #1, there were the initial trade readers, permanent trade readers, compendium readers, converted show fans, all these different groups. I imagine that once you got to that uptick of 100, it was like enough people were starting to pick it up and talk to their shops and everything, and then it just started forming momentum, or at least as much as that can exist in a comic book.
What is that experience like from the inside, where people keep discovering the work from completely different places and different times? Does that feel a little strange, when somebody’s like, I just read the first issue of Invincible in 2023?
Robert: That’s what you want. That’s the thing that keeps a book going. I mean, as we were continuing to write the series, you’d get letters of like, “Oh yeah, I started with this issue and then went back and got all the issues.” It’s great that modern comic readers have that line accessible.
Whether they’re getting things digitally, or going out and getting compendiums, or hardcovers, or individual trade paperbacks, or whatever. It’s not like it used to be, where you’d just pick up with issue 250 and be like, this is where I start, and I guess I’ll catch up as I go. But that new lifeblood that’s being continually pumped into the series is why it keeps going.
Speaking of what you’re talking about, where readers were kind of picking up and then going back to read what they missed, at least from what I understand, this is your own version of the superheroes you grew up on. This is you giving into that love.
I think a very underrated arc in the series is Reboot, the one where Mark goes back to the beginning of the story with his memories intact. It’s like a what-if where it…well, I was going to say in continuity, I don’t think that’s technically correct save for Mark, but whatever. It plays out in a version of reality. It’s like this dramatic story, one that’s not entirely unlike something we’d get in other superhero stories, but it’s also a very Invincible take on it.
When you were writing Invincible, did you find yourself looking at tropes within the superhero genre and just wanting to play with the ideas and kind of twist them? Was a lot of it you trying to find your own twist on those big ideas, without just having a cover band type mentality?
Robert: Yeah, I am a huge fan of superhero comics, and I was reading superhero comics every month while doing Invincible. So a lot of the things that happened along the way would be me playing with tropes.
I get to issue #50 and I’m like, you know what? We haven’t had a big costume change. A book always does that. Let’s do a big costume change. And the fun part of that, being a comic book fan, it’s like, okay, I can’t wait…we’re going to introduce this costume. Everyone’s going to hate it, and then after a couple years, we’re going to stop using it, and everyone will ask for it to come back because it’s their favorite costume.
Robert: That’s what happens.
Robert: And that ended up happening. People are like, “Oh, the blue and black era of Invincible, that’s the coolest era.” So that’s a lot of fun. And then we have a secondary side character wear the Invincible costume for a while and take over as the new Invincible. And so that’s a trope. Every now and then I’d be like, the bad guy never wins in superhero comics. Let’s do a story where the bad guy wins. And so we ended up doing that. But yeah, there were various different things that were me playing against what usually happens in a superhero comic.
The Reboot story’s a good example of that. Behind the scenes, you’d have people writing in letters that are like, “Oh, the book’s been going on for a long time, do you think it’s time for your reboot? When are you going to restart it with a new number one?” That kind of stuff annoys me as a fan. And so I’m like, well, we’re never going to do that, but let me see if I can figure out some fun way to do that, while also poking fun at what a mistake it usually is when comic books do that.
And that story does exist in continuity, because it matters. It has ramifications to the larger story of Invincible. So in that way, it’s very different than what most reboots are. A lot of it was done to poke fun at Marvel and DC, and a lot of it was to cockily be like, “Look, we can do this better than you can.” (David laughs) That was always fun. But yeah, it was always from a place of love, because we love superhero comics, and so it was fun to be able to play with those tropes.
I can’t believe that the comic that would call itself “the best superhero comic in the universe” would cockily make fun of other superhero comics. This is unbelievable. (laughs)
Let’s talk about Ryan and Cory.
Cory Walker designed the core cast and started the book off on the right foot. Ryan Ottley stepped in, came in, thought he was going to be doing a short run, and then delivered 100 plus issues of amazing. I do think one of the most underrated parts about it is, when you look at Ryan’s early work and then you look at where he finishes off, he goes from a very good artist to one of the best superhero artists in comics. He’s unbelievable. They both could not be more important to the success of the book. What’s this book without them? Can you even imagine it?
Robert: No, definitely not. I mean, the two of them working in tandem was something special as well, because Ryan brought this visceral action to the book that Cory is good at, but not quite to the same level as Ryan. And then Cory has this innate costume concepting ability, where he can just break something down into shapes and everything looks familiar yet unique. And so they’re both bringing what they bring to the table to Invincible to make the whole something that the three of us could have never done separately.
All comics rely on the visualization that the artist brings to it. So the thought of me doing Invincible by myself…it wouldn’t even be fun. Because the fun of Invincible is going, yeah, this guy does this, and this is crazy, and this big thing, and let’s see what these guys do with it. It was a challenge for me to try and come up with the craziest looking characters or the craziest scenarios and see how these guys spin it into reality.
Yeah. I mean, it’s probably a lot easier to write. Like when Nolan, Mark, and Thaedus punched through Viltrum. It’s probably a lot easier to write that than it is to actually draw that. I’ve never drawn that though, so I can’t really say.
Robert: Hey, it’s not easy to come up with eight consecutive two-page spreads that all make sense, and tell a story… Look, there’s a lot of work that… No. (laughs) It probably took me a day to write all eight of those pages.
Going back to it, one of the fun things about messing with superhero tropes is you’re not just messing with tropes. You’re also messing with the rhythms of superhero readers in a way that’s actually really rewarding.
Robert: Yeah, and it’s fun too because negative reactions are not always a bad thing.
Yeah, you want people to care.
Robert: Yeah, it sometimes seems like flippant, I guess, but it’s like if someone is mad about the right thing, that’s also valuable, almost more valuable than, “Hey, this is great. I love this.” So yeah, I loved the feedback of getting all those letters along the way.
I did want to ask about the length of the series. It was 144 issues with a giant-sized finale. How early on did you know that was where it was going to end, and what made that the time to go, beyond the fact you might have been tired?
Robert: Pre-pandemic, when I did interviews about the end of Invincible, I gave an answer that was probably more accurate than the answer I’m giving now. (laughs)
Alright! I’m excited for the not-accurate answer.
Robert: But I’m pretty sure it was around issue #100 or so…it started as an exercise. I was like, issue #100 has happened. It might have been issue #111 when the Robot stuff happened, without spoiling things. I was like, okay, I need to keep things fresh. I need to keep things exciting. You know what would be a fun exercise? Let me imagine that the book is ending and see how I would get to an ending. I may not end it there, but that will at least give me something to work towards. So that’s kind of the mindset that I got into. And I started going, okay, so how would I end it, and what would the ending need to be, and what would I need to do to get to that ending? And it resulted in a lot of cool storylines along the way, but over time I was like, “Oh, I think his ending’s pretty cool. I kind of like this ending. That would be a good ending for the series.”
And eventually it just kind of settled in. It was kind of like, be careful what you wish for, or it was a little dangerous for me to be like, let’s imagine that maybe the book’s ending and write to that. Because it solidified, becoming something that I liked, and it seemed to encapsulate the series in a good way. And when you write a thing where you’re kind of adding to it and evolving it along the way, when you get to an ending where you’re like, wait a minute, this ending makes it seem like I had this planned from the beginning…that seems like a good ending. This ending’s going to make me look like I had meticulous notes for the entire series along the way, but I didn’t.
And then around about halfway through that process, Ryan contacted me and was like, “Look, man, am I going to draw this book for the rest of my life? This is the only thing I’ve ever done in my career. I might want to do something else one day.” And it was just a discussion that we were having where he was like, “I’m not saying I’m quitting, but is there an end in mind? Is there anything coming?” And I was like, yeah, actually I have been thinking about the ending. This is when it would happen. And he was like, “Oh, okay.” So we were kind of both at the same time thinking about what the ending could be, or that Invincible needed an ending, to a certain extent. So we were aligned in an interesting way that we weren’t even aware about.
I love that it started with a theoretical exercise, where your theoretical solution was just too good. You came up with too good of a solution. (laughs)
Robert: I don’t like how arrogant I’m sounding in this interview, suddenly. (laughs)
Oh, whatever. You sound great. That’s the interesting thing, though, it’s not like you could come up with this ending, and then just finish it in three issues or something like that.
It always has to have a buildup, because otherwise it’s going to seem terribly inorganic. I guess you could have just ended it with one day Dinosaurus shows up and beheads Mark or something like that, and you’re like, I guess the book’s over. But that would not have been very satisfying.
One thing I think is interesting about the finale, and I’m not saying that this is something you’re going to do, I always loved that the B cover to the final issue is a throwback to the first issue. It’s a very perfect little setup, but also the ending, it’s not a hard period.
It’s an ellipsis. I’m not saying you’re going to go back, but do you ever look back at that ending and think, maybe Ryan’s not busy right now, maybe he’s rested up, maybe we could do this again?
Robert: I mean, I never felt that more than when I was writing that final issue.
Robert: So every day since I finished writing the final issue, I feel that urge less and less. But while I was writing the final issue, I was writing plots down for future issues. Because I was like, oh yeah, this could lead to this and then this would happen, and then this could happen. And I have a whole notepad of various different things I could do if the book had continued from that point. But seeing the response to the ending and also getting to go back to the beginning in TV show form and getting to tell the story all over again and tweak things along the way, that’s kind of scratching that itch in a big way. And so it’s keeping me from destroying our legacy (David laughs), and going back and doing a book that is mediocre when compared to the 144 issue run. That’s the thing that is definitely holding me back.
I mean, that’s a classic superhero trope, though. You want to live up to the superhero tropes, right?
Robert: These are the thoughts I have in my head from time to time. It’s like, come on, you got to come back and do that bad six issue miniseries that people want to forget. (laughs)
Hell yeah. That’s a legacy you’re living up to there. I do think one thing that’s interesting about that is revisiting it with the Invincible TV series…looking back on the comic, one of the most surprising things about it is how long you waited to get to the Omni-Man twist. And then in the series, you understand early on that there’s something going in a way you don’t in the comic. I remember watching the first episode with my wife, she’s like, what’s going on with Omni-Man? I’m like, I’m not saying anything.
And you kind of know. It does seem like if you had it to do over again, which you did, you wanted to seed that in a little bit earlier, almost, because you went through it once. Was that what played out there?
Robert: Yeah, I have to give credit to Jim Valentino here, because that twist was originally going to happen in issue #25 of the comic.
Robert: That was the plan, yeah. And so they were talking to me about numbers around when issue #5 or #6’s numbers came in. They were like, “Yeah, it’s not looking good. This is not a good trend.” And I was like, “Yeah, I know, but there’s this big twist coming.” And Jim asked, “When? Issue 25. And he goes, “Robert, there ain’t going to be an issue #25. You might want to move that up.” (laughs) And I said, “Uh, okay, I’ll move it up to issue 13.” And they were like, “Can you move it up to issue six?” And I said, “Nah, I don’t think I can pull that off.” But I was able to get that Guardians death in issue seven as kind of the precursor to set up the big twist.
And so, I had already had that process in the comic, where it got moved up, and then it got moved up, and then it got moved up. And then yeah, looking back at the comic, and also in the world of TV, especially now in the crowded landscape that we’re in with two or three new shows happening every week, you have to set the hook early and you have to get your audience invested. Especially on streaming services, they monitor who moves from episode one to episode two to episode three. And if you’re not picking up those viewers, if you’re not carrying them for multiple episodes, they cancel your show almost immediately. So, I was like, I have to end the first episode with something where people are like, I have to watch the second episode right now.
And so that’s when it was like, “Okay, that has to be the end of the first episode or we’re sunk.”
I know it worked with a lot of other people, but it worked on my wife, so good job by you.
Robert: Thank you so much.
Alright, let’s end with a lightning round. I want to ask some questions that are very specific to the history of the book, but not plot related.
Robert: Okay, great. I hope I remember them.
So first, favorite character design. Cory did a lot. Is there one that stands out in your mind?
Robert: Oh, that’s hard. Maybe Kaboomerang.
That was a great name too.
Robert: I’m pretty happy with Kaboomerang.
It’s a terrible idea, to be honest. (laughs)
Robert: No, it’s the best. (laughs) The boomerangs explode and they come back.
Yeah, it’s great. Who doesn’t want exploding boomerangs?
Robert: And then he did another character for that run called El Chupacabra.
Oh, that was a good one.
Robert: I think that’s one of the best costume designs he’s done.
I know that you like original art. What’s your favorite memory receiving a page from one the artists, or a favorite memory? Is there one where you were like, yeah, this rules, I want this page.
Robert: There’s many, many times in the later issues of Invincible and Walking Dead, where in the script it says, “I want to buy this art, so don’t sell this art to anybody. If you’re going to sell it, when you’re going to, make sure you sell it to me.” And a lot of those are two-page spreads of heads (David laughs), because I’m a big fan of when you turn a page in a comic and it’s just a gigantic head saying something.
I’m pretty sure Chris Samnee references that in RC Coda, 2 which I think is hilarious.
He’s like, “I never got to do the double page spread with a giant head. It’s the Kirkman Spread.”
Robert: It’s a great schedule saver for the artist. It’s easy to write for the writer. It looks cool. I love those things. So there’s a lot of them. In the early days of Invincible and The Walking Dead, I was broke, so I didn’t get any art from that stuff. And my collaborators were also broke for the most part. So if they could sell that stuff for 100 bucks, that stuff was gone. But yeah, requesting pages in the script, I think, sometimes annoys people, but I got to get first dibs. Come on.
You’re cornering the market. (Robert laughs) It’s just using the advantages you have presented to you.
Next question. Most surprising fan favorite character? Is there somebody where you’re like, I can’t believe this character is beloved, but they’re beloved?
Robert: I don’t know. I like most of the characters in some way. I can’t think of anybody where I was like, that guy stinks. Why do people like him or her?
You’re not surprised about the giant fandom for Kaboomerang online?
Robert: I’m 99% sure there is no big fandom for Kaboomerang online (David laughs), but it’s possible that there’s a corner of the internet that I have missed. I think Dinosaurus is a little sillier than people think he is.
Oh, he’s really silly.
Robert: I guess I’m a little surprised that people like him so much because I did think he was possibly a little too goofy to be a major villain in Invincible for a while. But yeah. That’s me stretching for an answer, though. I love Dinosaurus.
Actions speak louder than words, I guess. Because he is silly, but also does very not silly things.
Robert: Fun fact, he was also named by my son, who was, I think, five or six at the time.
Oh wow. He’s got a gift.
Robert: We were playing with dinosaurs, and I was like, my dinosaur’s name is Dave. What’s your dinosaur’s name? And he went, my dinosaur’s name is Dinosaurus. And I was like, well, I’m writing that down. (laughs)
This is not even a question. I’m just curious if anyone else ever said this. My friend Brandon had a theory for years.
It was that Allen the Alien was quietly a bad guy. Even going into the finale, he was like, “This is where we get it. It’s going to happen.” Did anyone else think that Allen was suspect, or was Brandon well and truly insane? I just want to tell him this.
Robert: He’s insane. I don’t think I ever heard that theory. I don’t know why he had that theory.
Robert: It was certainly never a thing that we even considered. Yeah, that’s ridiculous. I mean, he does kind of do bad things, to a certain extent. I mean, he was going to release the Scourge Virus, so there’s a little bit of gray area with Allen.
Yeah, everybody’s got some gray area.
Robert: He never went full bad guy.
That’s true. I think he thought Allen was going to be a deep Viltrumite sleeper agent. He would have to be pretty deep at this point.
Robert: He could pop a secret mustache out of the bottom of his eye.
I could see it happening. Next question. Was there a character you quietly wanted to include more often, but you just couldn’t fit them in?
Robert: I mean, there were a lot of side characters that I wanted to include more. I would’ve loved to have done more Filip Schaff 3 gags. Those were always fun. I would go long stretches and be like, oh man, I haven’t done anything with Filip Schaff in a while.
Definitely Best Tiger. Some of those random characters that got added later on to the Guardians of the Globe…by then, the book was rolling, and there were so many different storylines going. I didn’t get to kind of key in on them as much as I would’ve liked to, like with earlier characters that I keyed in on. So yeah, Best Tiger. Definitely El Chupacabra. Those guys.
I feel like that’s a pretty classic superhero thing where readers always have a preferred side character. I actually just talked about this on a podcast. Mine’s Stilt-Man. I like Stilt-Man because he is stupid and ridiculous, but he is also amazing. For some reason, if you tell me Stilt-Man’s in a comic, I will 100% buy it. But if you tell me Wolverine is in it, despite the fact he is my favorite character, no. I’m only going to buy the Stilt-Man comic. That’s just how it works.
Robert: Sleepwalker is my guy in that respect.
There we go. Next question, is there anything that you would change looking back, or are you pretty satisfied with how everything ended up playing out?
Robert: I’m definitely pretty satisfied with how everything ended up, so I don’t know that I would necessarily change anything. If I read issue to issue, there’s definitely issues where I’d be like, I could have packed more into this issue. This issue’s not packing as much punch as I would’ve liked.
But overall, there’s not anything where I feel like there was a huge misstep that I’m embarrassed about. There’s definitely a couple of subplots here and there that never got resolved. There was a janitor in the early issues that was spotting Mark and Eve changing costumes, and he saw that they were superheroes. I was setting that subplot up, not remembering that they’re leaving high school very soon. (laughs) And I was like, oh damn, I totally set that up and there’s nothing I can do about that.
Oh, you know what? Here’s one. So the graduation cap gag. Mark throws his graduation cap and it lands in England, and a cult is started where British people start worshiping this graduation cap. In the storyline, people start bowing to him because the cap lands on his head. That happens, and then it’s not picked up until issue 90-something when the Flaxan invasion starts, and it starts in London. You see that cult and they all just get squished. So that’s the end.
But Paul Grist and I were talking about doing an Invincible/Jack Staff crossover at some point. And I was like, oh my God, I have this amazing subplot going where this graduation cap lands on this British guy, and all these weirdos in England just start worshiping this guy because a graduation cap lands on his head, and this weird cult starts forming. And they could be the villains.
And I don’t know for sure, but I feel like he might have been offended. Like I was making fun of British people or something. And he was like, yeah, I don’t want to do that. And then discussions kind of petered out after that. So I was a little upset. But if that hadn’t offended him, maybe there would’ve been an Invincible/Jack Staff crossover, and that would’ve been real cool.
I mean, that could have landed anywhere and started a cult. It would’ve been a very surprising experience for whoever was involved.
Last question for you. What arc or scene do you think are the ones where you hear the most from fans? Is there something that is just above and beyond? My thing was the Viltrumite War, I was ride or die for. That was the big, classic explosive superhero crossover. Is there a scene or arc that you feel like is the most popular one?
Robert: Yeah, the Conquest fight.
Robert: I think the Conquest storyline, bar none. I almost don’t even want to give that answer because it’s boring. Because it’s like, yeah, the Conquest fight. Everybody loves Conquest. Everybody talks about that big fight between him and Mark, and them smashing their hands together and everything.
People love Conquest.
Robert: Well, they love to hate Conquest.
Robert: The Conquest thing definitely is up there. I think the Monster Girl and Robot on Flaxan arc, I think people like that one.
That’s really good.
Robert: I’m very partial to the Mark and Eve on Talescria raising Baby Tara. Where there’s no superhero stuff for a good five or six issue stretch.
It’s really good.
Robert: I remember hanging out with Erik Larsen and being like, “Oh my God, the book’s not even going to be a superhero book. It’s going to be a sci-fi book. They’re going to be on this alien planet, and it’s just going to be about them raising their daughter. It’s going to be insane.” And Erik was like, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Are you really doing that?” (David laughs) And I was like, “Yeah, it’s going to be great.” And he said, “I don’t know, man, that seems kind of weird to me.’ And I told him, “I’ll show you.” And then eventually Ryan asked, “Can we put them back in superhero costumes? I don’t want to do all this sci-fi stuff.”
So maybe Erik was right.