Comic book fans know writer Brian Wood from critically acclaimed titles like DMZ and Northlanders, along with writing the limited series Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega for Marvel and Conan The Barbarian for Dark Horse (starting February 8th). Along with those writing duties, on February 1st Wood introduces his latest creator-owned title, The Massive, in the pages of Dark Horse Presents #8. Working with longtime collaborator Kristian Donaldson, the story begins as a prologue before going…massive…later this year. We had a chance to talk with Brian Wood via email about The Massive, writing for the legendary anthology Dark Horse Presents and more.
Brian Wood: The Massive is my next big creator-owned project, following pretty much immediately in the footsteps of DMZ and Northlanders, and will be a multi-year ongoing monthly book. I know we’re mostly talking about the three-part Dark Horse Presents run right now, but that’s just the opening salvo. This is a major project, probably the biggest launch of my career. That’ll kick off in June.
The Massive is about a near-future, post-crash world where the very fabric of society is being torn to shreds by massive (heh!) environmental upheaval. A small group of hardcore environmentalists are stuck in the middle of the chaos, coming to grips with the fact that a) they failed to save the planet, and b) its sort of up to them to figure out what’s going on, since what’s happing to the planet is in direct opposition of any climate model ever run. The book is political without being preachy… and its sci-fi in a very grounded way. It’s action but not a war book like DMZ. And it has the same sort of “man in harsh climate” vibe that Northlanders was shot through with.
Andy Burns: As a writer, how does your approach change when it comes to working on a monthly title of your own versus a case like The Massive, where you’re contributing to an anthology?
Brian Wood: Well, since these DHP stories are prequels in a sense, I had a few objectives to handle… I had to write these three stories as not only short stories that could stand alone, but also as effective representations of what is to come. I had to appeal to two potential audiences at once, in the space of 8 pages. It wasn’t anything I’d done before, and, like DMZ, The Massive is a huge world-building project. It required a lot of self-editing to figure out what gets into those 8 pages.
Andy Burns: The Massive looks to be quite different from Conan or Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega (a stellar first issue, by the way). I’m wondering if you could go into some detail as to what your writing process is when working on multiple titles and how you divvy up your time?
Brian Wood: I try to assign a week to each book, if I can, so I can organize my brain in some way that makes sense. But these past couple months I was writing six books at once, which was a little insane. But since DMZ ended, and Supernatural wrapped up, and Northlanders is almost done, its a little more sane now.
Brian Wood: Not really. Any difference is really in the density of the script, the choices that I make as a writer. I’m sure from the artist’s POV its no different from anything else.
Andy Burns: The Massive is your own creation, while both Conan and the X-Men come with their own mythology, or baggage depending on one’s outlook. As a writer, do you ever have a preference as to which sandbox you play in? That is, a shared universe or one you’ve created?
Brian Wood: It’s a no-brainer. I hope I can speak for all comic book creators when I say that working on your own creations is the way to go. It’s not always financially possible, but from a creative standpoint? Come on…
Andy Burns: How many issues will The Massive be a part of Dark Horse Presents?
Brian Wood: Three issues, DHP #8-10. And like I said, The Massive proper kicks off in June.
Dark Horse Presents #8 is in stores and on the Dark Horse Digital App February 1st. Thanks to Brian Wood for his time and to Aub Driver at Dark Horse for making it happen.