Undoubtedly one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed writers in the world of comics today, mutli-award winning and NY Times Best Selling writer Dan Abnett has worked on some of the most iconic franchises in comics and literature during his lengthy career, leaving his own indelible mark wherever he goes.
However, in spite of his iconic runs on the likes of Guardians of the Galaxy – not to mention his fantastic creator-owned work such as The New Deadwardians and Dark Ages (both alongside the equally fantastic I.N.J. Culbard), when I found myself fortunate enough to sit down and have a chat with the man himself, the ten year old child inside me only wanted to talk about one thing… HE-MAN!
Here’s how the conversation went…
Big Comic Page: First off, thanks for taking the time out from your busy schedule to have a chat with us. Now, you took over the writing duties on DC’s ongoing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series back in issue seven. I know you’ve previously worked a lot of ‘franchise’ projects back in your Marvel UK days (Thundercats, Transformers, etc.), but never on a Masters of the Universe comic. How did it feel to be handed the reins of such an iconic franchise?
Dan Abnett: Exciting. Actually, it took me back to the Marvel UK days, when all the work was on those big franchises, even though MOTU wasn’t one of them. Then I realised how much scope Mattel was going to give me and it got even more exciting.
BCP: Were you particularly familiar with the He-Man universe before landing the DC gig, or did you have to do a lot of research to get yourself up to speed?
Dan: I was reasonably familiar, but I did a lot of research too, and Mattel was great in supplying me with core directives and reference.
BCP: DC seems to be opting for a far more grown-up take on the He-Man universe with this series, rather than the somewhat cheesy ‘adventure of the week’ style of the 80’s cartoons. Was that something that appealed to you as a writer – the chance to dig a little deeper into these well-known characters?
Dan: Very much. I liked the more ‘grown up’ approach they were after, the sense of it being a properly strong, sword-and-sorcery epic in a more realised world.
BCP: In the ten issues released since you’ve taken over the writing duties on the series, you’ve been working with no less than four different artists. Do you see the constantly shifting visual styles as a positive or a negative?
Dan: Sometimes that’s how it works with an ongoing book and its schedule demands. All the artists have been fantastic. I’ve loved every issue, and it’s been a pleasure to work with guys that talented.
BCP: The artist for the last few issues has been the supremely talented Pop Mhan. Is Pop going to be “the guy” moving forwards, or can we expect to see more changes down the line?
Dan: Pop is the guy now. He and I get on very well and his work is amazing.
BCP: Is there a particular Masters of the Universe character you enjoy writing for most?
Dan: There hasn’t been one I haven’t liked yet, but I am very fond of Teela and Man-At-Arms. Adora is very compelling too.
BCP: Similarly, are there any characters from this universe you haven’t touched yet that you’d like to get your hands on?
Dan: I’m hoping to get a chance to write Skeletor at some point ;)
BCP: The current ‘Origin of She-Ra’ arc is focusing on Despera’s gradual transformation into Princess Adora, then finally to She-Ra herself. Do you feel any pressure to ‘get it right’ with a character who a lot of young women strongly identified with growing up?
Dan: Of course. I hope I do. I think it’s a great story, and Mattel have been very cool about steering me towards the effect they want.
BCP: For me, one of the exciting aspects of this latest arc has been the introduction of Tri-Klops (a personal favourite of mine), who had been mostly absent from DC’s MotU output to this point. Can you tell us a little about your take on the character, and what we can expect to see from him in the next few issues?
Dan: He’s great. Pop actually made a mock up of the latest cover with me as Tri-Klops. He’s a mercenary, very calculating, very ruthless. I think we’re going to see a lot more of him.
BCP: Looking to the future, DC has just announced that this December, the current ongoing series will be replaced by He-Man: The Eternity War. What are you able to tell us about “The Eternity War”?
Dan: The Eternity War is epic. Truly epic. Light and dark, good and evil, an immense scale. I think it’s what MOTU fans have been waiting for.
BCP: There’s a lot of moving parts in this storyline for sure, making it pretty much a dream conflict for anyone who grew up in the 80’s playing with the toys like I did. Can you give us any tasters on what kind of showdowns fans can expect to see?
Dan: Not yet, for fear of spoilers, but the scale of it is like you’ve got ALL the toys in front of you… and more besides. It’s huge.
BCP: For He-Man: The Eternity War, the story has been developed by Rob David at Mattel’s Playground Productions studio. How much editorial control did they have over how things play out? I’m always curious about how things work with these big, established franchises. Are you still given the freedom to stamp your own unique mark on the story?
Dan: Mattel knows what it wants, and that’s a very cool place to be. Their direction is fantastic, and they steer the story to accomplish the continuity and story events they want to see. But they also let me do it in my own way. I get a great route map, but I then interpret it for the best story-telling effect. It’s the perfect way for a franchise to handle its property.
BCP: Are you going to be working on this title for the foreseeable future, or is there an end date to your involvement in sight?
Dan: For as long as they’ll let me :)
BCP: Masters of the Universe aside, you’ve got a lot of other projects with different publishers either underway or on the horizon at the moment. What else can we expect to see from you in the months to come?
Dan: Infinite Crisis for DC, Guardians 3000 (the original Guardians of the Galaxy) for Marvel, Battlestar Galactica for Dynamite, and two creator owned series – Dark Ages (from Dark Horse, out now!) and Wild’s End (for Boom! out this week). Then there’s game work (Shadow of Mordor and Alien:Isolation) and the novels I write for Warhammer… and an original Mighty Avengers novel for Marvel!
BCP: Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us, Dan. We can’t wait to get our hands on some of the titles you just listed.
He-Man: The Eternity War #1 is scheduled to ship on Wednesday, December 17.
You can follow Dan (alongside his with Nicola) on Twitter.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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