EXCLUSIVE interview with Kevin Grevioux, writer of New Warriors v. 4

Kevin Grevioux, recently announced writer for the new New Warriors series, spoke with us about the new book, his thoughts on the past of the Warriors, and… mullets? You’ll see.

NWCC: Let’s start simple. Who is your favorite New Warrior, and why?

KEVIN GREVIOUX: I’d have to say it’s Nova. After Stan and Jack did their thing in the 60’s, there were a few characters that marvel created in the 70’s that were worthy of entrance into the original and quintessential Marvel Universe pantheon. Nova was at the top of that list. The only thing I didn’t like is that for whatever reason they called him KID Nova in the New Warriors in the beginning. I didn’t like that too much.

NWCC: It’s been revealed that this new team of New Warriors will consist of one returning member and a roster of new members. So… who is the one returning member and what’s the new roster?

KG: Sorry Charlie, but I can’t give that one away.

NWCC: Okay, I know. I had to try. How ’bout a hint?

KG: She or he is bigger than a breadbox!

NWCC: Not even a little one?

KG: They’re human. So I guess that narrows it down!

NWCC: Okay, fine. Be that way. Can you tell us who your artistic team is yet? How has it been working with them? Have their style(s) changed how you’re approaching the series?

KG: I know who the artist is, but Marvel will let fans know when they’re ready. But you’re gonna dig his work on this.

NWCC: What would you say is the strongest theme of your New Warriors?

KG: There’s a REAL strong one, but I can’t mention it without giving the surprise away. But I will say that one of the themes is SACRIFICE. And what will a person be willing to sacrifice in order to be a hero.

NWCC: What is the biggest obstacle this team of New Warriors will face?

KG: How to be a hero despite that fact that no one wants you do be.

NWCC: Having spent time in Hollywood, what would be your log line for this book?

KG: HA HA! Good one! The true log line would DEFINITELY give the secret of the book away. However “A” log line would be a group of young heroes try to make a name for themselves in a world that hates them.

NWCC: How do you think your film career effects your comic book writing?

KG: Well, it gives me a good sense of visual storytelling and pacing. Even though I’d say the pacing in comics is vastly different, it did allow me to find my way around a comic script.

NWCC: And speaking of which, what is the status of your other comic book projects through your Astounding Studios and Darkstorm Studios?

KG: Right now I’m in a holding pattern given that Alias, my former publisher, is doing only Christian books. I am still producing my books. Meaning they’re still being drawn and colored. I’m even thinking about self-publishing. But if I do self-publish it would be strictly be graphic novels. With the single issues only being released as special editions at conventions until I get the publishing company up and running.

NWCC: Will New Warriors be reminiscent either stylistically or thematically to any of these books?

KG: No. The New Warriors will be a fun book, but it will be taking a completely different approach to being and operating as a hero in the post Civil War Marvel Universe.

Thematically, were still talking about what it’s like to be a young hero and the angst that young people go through in finding themselves and who they are in a world that doesn’t understand them.

NWCC: What did you think of the previous volumes of New Warriors? What will you take from them, if anything? How do they influence your version of the Warriors?

KG: I thought they were good. The first one being the best, in my opinion.

NWCC: There have only been four writers to ever take on this book, and Fabian Nicieza’s influence was felt on most of them. Do you feel any pressure to make your own mark, but at the same time respect the legacy and history?

KG: I don’t know if I feel pressure per se. But I do feel that when you do comics you owe the fans a good working knowledge of what went on in the past. Also, I will say that as a fan myself I am an absolute FREAK with in comes to the sanctity of continuity. However, as professional I see the reason why it’s wrong to be slavish to it. That said, I’d like to explore and elucidate some things in the past in different ways. If this allows me to make my own mark, that’s a good thing. But truly, I just want to tell good exciting stories.

NWCC: With only one previous Warrior on the team, why should long time fans feel like this is “their” New Warriors?

KG: I don’t think they should feel that this is “their” New Warriors as if to say it’s not the New Warriors we all know and love. It’s just an evolutionary change in story and character dynamics. Going in a different direction to be sure, but it’s based on what others have done before them. In away, fans should look at it as another exciting chapter in the panoply of New Warriors mythology. It’s all connected and we’re just continuing the story .

NWCC: Recently you posted on the New Warriors Message Board I co-moderate to reach out to the fans. I know a lot of people appreciated that and are looking forward to interacting with you more. So thank you for that. How important is fan interaction to you as a creator?

KG: I think it’s very important. If for no other reason than to let the fans know that you, as a creator, are no different than they are. You want to let them know that you’re a fan as well and you empathize with them as far as what they feel about their characters and the people who handle them.

NWCC: In your post, you mentioned being a fan of comics, and Marvel Comics in particular, long before becoming interested in film. There’s certainly evidence to support this, as your website has scans of two fan letters you wrote that were printed in Marvel Comics in the 1990s. Both letters were very well-written and thoughtful and I’d like to take a moment to discuss them. First off, it’s been over 10 years since you wrote those letters and saw them in print. What was it like to first see both letters get the entire letters pages? With the benefit of 10+ years of knowledge, experience and hindsight, would you have written those letters any differently or do you feel they stand up on their own?

KG: I was FLOORED when I saw them printed. I’ve only sent in three letters to Marvel over the years, so I guess two out of three ain’t bad. I think the concerns I expressed in those letters are still valid in some ways. Although I think Marvel has done a lot with giving respect to black male heroes with characters like the Black Panther and Blade. And also with the way Brian Michael Bendis has allowed Luke Cage to become a real human being, and not just a super-powered ghetto jive-talker.

NWCC: Your letter that appeared in Night Thrasher #3 was particularly memorable. It was a direct reply to writer Fabian Nicieza’s comment in Night Thrasher #1 that “Dwayne Taylor is not a black man, but he needs to learn how to be one”. In your letter, you disagreed with this statement, and stated that “Mr. Nicieza himself has no idea what a black man is. He can’t possibly because he himself is not black”. Yet later in the letter, you compliment him on his handling of the character and that he should be proud. To some, these two positions could seem contradictory, as though you are suggesting that only a black man could effectively write and/or understand a black character. How would you reply to such a conclusion?

KG: Well, you have to remember that that letter I wrote was a response to a statement Fabian made in the letters page in the 1st issue of that series. He said, “Dwayne Taylor is NOT a black man, but he needs to learn HOW to be.” He challenged readers to respond, so I did. I for one thought the statement was born out of a classic ignorance of what “black” is supposed to mean, or look like as it pertains to African-Americans in this country.

To say Dwayne Taylor is not a black man, when obviously he’s wrapped in brown skin and is clearly a man of African decent, means that he’s not conforming to the prevailing social stereotype of what “real” black men are suppose be. Dwayne is strong, educated, well-spoken, intelligent and rich. Fabian wrote him in a way that I could identify with. He wrote a GREAT character. But when you say this intelligent well-spoken black man is NOT black by virtue of his social status then you’re making a social commentary of what black actually means. Basically saying that he may look black, but he doesn’t ACT black. Then I would have to say, then how does one black act?

Fabian clearly meant no disrespect to anybody African-American, but this was offensive to me simply because I was one of those, black kids who wasn’t considered “really black”. On one side, I used to get called “Oreo” and “white boy” by other black kids who weren’t middle class because I got good grades, I didn’t live in the “hood”, and I’d rather build monster models than play basketball. To them, comic books where only for white boys. On the other side, white kids in my neighbor hood didn’t know many blacks. The only blacks they knew were on TV on shows like Good Times and Sanford and Son. But I got the same grades they did. Maybe better. I read comic books, built models and played hockey. To them, I was an anomaly because they had been socialized to think that blacks don’t do those things. Sometimes they would slip-up around me a use the word “nigger”, but would say, “Oh, but not you, Kevin. You’re not like THEM.” As if the hobbies I kept and speaking the King’s English made me “less black” and thus one of the “good ones”. You see what I mean? You can’t compartmentalize people, no matter what culture they hail from, and say their “illegitimate” if they don’t conform to these egregious stereotypes. We live in a world where the best rapper, Eminem, is white, and the best golfer, Tiger Woods, is black. And there are still people in this world who would call Eminem race traitor or a nigger-lover, or Tiger Woods an Uncle Tom. So when Fabian issued that challenge, I took offense because I actually experienced what he was trying to say and felt his statement was dead wrong. Being black isn’t about a particular speech pattern, or a mode of dress, or breaking seven verbs out of ten you might use in a given conversation.

Still, all that aside, Fabian wrote a great book and a cool character. Dwayne was a hero. His skin color was irrelevant which is the way it should be. Courage has no color.

NWCC: In your letter, you also briefly mentioned Dwayne’s wealth, and advised the team behind Night Thrasher against having Dwayne feel ashamed of his money. The next year, Kurt Busiek took over as writer and had Night Thrasher throwing around his money to solve problems. What did you think of that storyline?

KG: It’s all in how you do it. I thought Kurt did a fine job.

NWCC: It’s a shame we won’t be able to read your version of Night Thrasher. In the end, do you feel Night Thrasher was able to reach his full potential as a character?

KG: I don’t really know if any character can ever reach it’s full potential. If there are more stories to tell, the character is just beginning. And much more could have been done with Night Thrasher had he lived.

NWCC: Your other letter was published in an issue of Cage, where you refer to Rage and a few other black comic book characters as “another ghetto talking ‘homepiece'” who seems “ignorant and stereotypical”. Do you still feel this way about the character? And should we assume he won’t be the returning member?

KG: I don’t like angry black characters. There are too many of them and it’s become a cliché. Rage did some growing so, it could be that we see him at some point.

And NEVER assume! And you know why!

NWCC: The New Warriors were always notable, to me at least, for having a larger number of minorities in their roster than other super-hero teams, for a time at least. Will your team continue that tradition in any way?

KG: Yes, this will be a multi-racial team.

NWCC: Okay, enough with the heavy socially conscious stuff. One last question: as a tribute to the original New Warriors, how many mullets will we see in your first issue of New Warriors?

KG: HA! None, if I can help it!

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