Friday, November 14, 2014

Welcome to Marvel, CM Punk - Hope You Survive the Experience

VIA: Phil Brooks, aka CM Punk, trades the wrestling ring for the comic book page with a story in February's Thor Annual!

CM Punk: He’s the best in the world—and he’s now a Marvel Comics writer!

In February’s THOR ANNUAL #1, Punk—real name Phil Brooks—teams up with artist Rob Guillory, joining a star-studded lineup of creators tackling the God of Thunder. We pinned the former pro wrestling champion to get a sense of what he’s got planned for Thor, just how deep his comics cred goes, and more. How did this project come together?

CM Punk: I can’t remember, and I knew you were gonna ask me that. I’ve been thinking for the past two hours like, “How did this all come about?” I mean, you know I’ve been pestering people at Marvel. I think it might’ve been…well, I think I met you at San Diego Comic-Con 2011, something like that? Yeah, a while ago.

CM Punk: Yeah! And I wound up talking to [Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso and it was always kind of like, “Yeah, yeah. We’d love to have you do something! We’d love to have you do something.” And you know, I was always just so busy. I think I just pestered all the right people and the right things kind of popped up. How exactly it came up, I can’t really, exactly remember. I can’t remember who said, “Hey. Wanna do Thor?” You know what I mean? That pretty much blew my mind. I have to say, it’s been a long process. Have you ever written a comic-style script before?

CM Punk: No. No. [THOR ANNUAL editor Jon Moisan] forwarded me a bunch of scripts that I can look at, like specifically he’s sending me Thor books, and he sent me scripts for them so I can see how scripts can be broken down into the actual comic book form. He sent me normal ones and he sent me Marvel Method, so I’m, I guess, learning on the job, which is pretty exciting. I also think it’ll bring a different perspective to the way certain stories are told. For sure! What did you think of the Marvel Method? Because Dan Slott writes in that way, which I always find fascinating and cool, and he’s been doing AMAZING SPIDER-MAN for so many years. It’s a totally different style.

CM Punk: Yeah. I think Marvel Method might be easier to grasp if somebody’s never written a comic book before, so I’m kind of leaning towards that. I think it helps that I picked [an] artist who I was already friends with, and can speak freely to. I think he’ll get it, you know what I mean? I think the e-mails that we’ve sent back and forth now regarding the story, you could probably print. I just think they’re entertaining. “Hey, what if we do this?” and it turns into the next big e-mail chain. It’s hilarious.

This is the first time Rob Guillory’s ever worked for Marvel, so I think that’s pretty exciting. And I think he wants to tackle certain things in a different, almost selfish way—kind of the same way I do, you know? Like, technically this is my first comic book writing assignment, and I’m writing Thor, which is pretty heavy. It’s not an independent. It’s not an offshoot story. I’m writing Thor, one of the Marvel heavy hitters. They make movies about him now, if you didn’t know. And I think we’re both almost looking at it like, “Man, if we never get another assignment from Marvel, then we have to write and/or draw as many Marvel characters as we possibly can!” And I think this kind of gives us the freedom. I think we’re kind of under-the-radar, and there’s not really a whole lot of pressure on us to deliver some sort of a magnum opus as a 10-page backup story in an annual, so I think we have a lot of freedom that could be really fun. You’re buddies with THOR writer Jason Aaron, right?

CM Punk: Yes. Did that influence how you looked at the story and what you wanted to do in this project at all?

CM Punk: It’s just exciting for me because I think as far as modern comics go, I think Jason Aaron’s definitely one of my favorites. I always cite him and Ed Brubaker as [suggestions] for people who say, “Oh, I don’t read comic books. What should I read?” Read these guys. Because the way they tackle the super hero stuff is excellent. And they also create their own stuff, which I think is excellent, too. It’s kind of the best of both worlds because you can see what they do with household names and all the other insane characters they come up with out of their own creations.

But I think it helps me, just knowing him, and the degree of being comfortable with him and being able to e-mail him and say, “Hey, how ‘bout I do this?” And really, the only thing he said to me was, “I need a story about young Thor. Tell me what you think.” And the first idea that popped into my mind was the first thing I pitched to him, and he said he loved it, so we’re running with it.

I read comic books in trade paperback, and that might wind up changing now that I’m a comic book author. That might kind of change the way I read things. I’ve been reading a lot of PDF stuff because Marvel’s been sending me stuff, but that’s more or less homework. I travel so much that single issue comic books never really held up, and I’d be able to have trade paperbacks in my bag, and it’s just easier to read. I haven’t gotten a chance to read the new THOR yet. Thor is a woman, it made national headlines, everyone’s mad about it without remembering Thor used to be a frog and Beta Ray Bill had the hammer and, you know, it’s kind of ridiculous that people get so mad about this character. But I think that it in turn shows the love they have for him. I don’t know why Thor is unworthy of the hammer, but that’s been in my head.

So the idea was, let’s do a story about young Thor as kind of a brash, bratty teenager who’s like, “I’m totally worthy of this hammer. My dad’s full of [expletive]. I don’t know why I’m not ‘worthy’ of the hammer. Look at all this cool stuff I did.” And it’s more or less like a drinking story. He’s gonna be sitting around with a few choice characters from the Marvel Universe, and they’re all gonna be drinking, and Thor’s gonna basically be complaining about essentially why his dad won’t give him the keys to the car. I love it. You mentioned you haven’t written a comic script before, but it’s not like you haven’t been creating for years and years. Playing a character on TV and in wrestling rings for so long, how did that affect how you approached this kind of creative endeavor?

CM Punk: You know, I think I’m more suited for it just because I’ve been reading comic books my entire life. Wearing tights in front of thousands of people and kind of, almost play-acting, I think down the road, it might give me some sort of insight depending on what kind of characters I’m writing and what the story is, but I’m not really sure it prepared me so much for being able to script a comic book.

I’m definitely prepared to fall flat on my face, I think. If anything, [wrestling] got me used to understanding that failure is part of a process, and the only real failure is if you don’t try. Like I could be nervous and bite my fingernails, worried that I think my book is gonna be a piece of crap, but I could be not doing it, and that would be the true failure. I was particularly thinking about the promos and stuff, because I imagine that was you creating a character, telling stories.

CM Punk: Oh, yeah. I definitely understand that. But I think that’s gonna come out more when I get to write a whole lot of dialogue, and it really will depend on the character and stuff like that. So yeah, I think it definitely helped me try and get into a different person’s skin, to see the world from their point of view and talk how they would talk and articulate the things that they would articulate. I think that would definitely help me. You talked about getting into the mindset of other characters. Who else in the Marvel Universe do you think you’d want to take a crack at?

CM Punk: Oh, I think, my original pitch to Axel Alonso in 2011 was, “Let me write Punisher.” In my mind, for some odd reason, I’ve just got this Punisher story in my head, and I think it’s super, super awesome. I can read Jason Aaron’s Punisher and everybody else’s [take on the] character and it’s good, but I think that my Punisher story is pretty badass. So everything I do for Marvel is going to be leading up to, “Please just let me write my Punisher story.” So until they let me do that, you’re gonna get all kinds of other stories about all kinds of other characters until they satisfy this need I have to write Frank Castle.

The THOR ANNUAL, on sale in February 2015, will feature stories from CM Punk and Rob Guillory, Noelle Stevenson and Marguerite Sauvage, and more! Keep checking for more details!

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