SDCC 2011: G4TV’s Blair Butler

It’s been a long week, but we’ve got some great stuff from San Diego Comic Con 2011!  Over the coming days, we’ll be posting new interviews from our SDCC coverage to whet your insatiable appetites, and I assure you, you won’t be disappointed.

In the first of a few great interviews from the west coast, Open the Fridge talks with G4TV’s Blair Butler to discuss the new DCU 52, Locke and Key, and Blair’s own comic writing debut in the upcoming Heart.

A comic book geek to the core, Blair is all-around awesome, and we are so thankful that she took a few minutes to talk with us.  Make sure to check our her MMA-focused comic Heart when it comes out this fall.

Thanks a million, Blair!  Let’s do it again soon!

Open the Fridge: Blair, you must be one of the busiest people at this convention with all of the comic news coming from the floor. How do you deal with it all?

Blair Butler: You know, it’s nuts! I don’t sleep, and, sadly, I don’t go to parties (which I would love to do!) but we have 12+ hour shoot days every single day, which is incredible because I can cover so much stuff that I love. You know, I get to cover comics; I get to cover crazy collectibles – and there are both of those things in excess this year. This morning, we talked to Captain America, Chris Evans. So it’s been a rousing Comic-Con so far!

OTF: It’s already been so busy for us, too, we haven’t even had a chance to hit the floor so far! What are you looking toward most in the comic world this year? With the DC reboot, there’s a lot of news out there. What are you really forward to the most?

BB: So, obviously, first and foremost, DC is doing this massive reboot in September. All 52 of their ongoing titles are starting over at issue #1, including staples like Action Comics and Detective Comics, which were up to, like, the 600s now. Superman has jeans now! It has been a bit controversial, but it’s because they’re starting the origin story over. Lois Lane isn’t married to him anymore. So this is a huge reboot – new costumes, new characters.

But there are couple titles I’m really excited about: obviously, you have the big new Justice League book which is done by Geoff Johns – one of the best writers in the entire industry – and illustrated by Jim Lee, who is not only co-publisher of DC, but also artist of their flagship book! So that guy never sleeps!

There’s a book called Blackhawks that’s a war comic, a classic DC war comic. It’s getting this cool reboot, and the writer they brought in to do it [Mike Costa] is this guy who did what I like to call the HBO version of GI Joe [GI Joe: Cobra]. He did an adults-only GI Joe comic that the toy company actually let him do, and it’s amazing! So that’s going to be cool.

And Batwoman is one of the most interesting, diverse new characters that DC has created. She’s got her own book, and the artist doing it is a guy named JH Williams III and his stuff is unbelievable. And even more interesting, Batgirl, who, in the famous comic The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, was shot by the Joker and wound up in a wheelchair for life. They’re starting her all over. She’s going to be walking again. It’s really an interesting, controversial switch-up, but the writer behind it is this lady named Gail Simone – who is one of the most revered [writers] – and people are like, “If anyone’s going to be able to write Batgirl, it’s her.”

OTF: So there’s no more Oracle?

BB: No more Oracle! Oracle’s gone! It’s crazy.

OTF: That’s nuts! I didn’t even realize that they going that far with Batgirl…

BB: Yeah! It’s nuts! And they haven’t explained exactly how they’re doing it, but it seems fairly obvious from the early press materials that, either The Killing Joke never happened, or they’re resetting DC continuity before The Killing Joke. Really interesting stuff.

OTF: What’s coming from the other of the big two companies this year? What are we hearing from Marvel?

BB: Marvel, on the other hand… the biggest news is that they killed Ultimate Spider-Man. Hugely shocking! The great thing about the Marvel Universe that a lot of people don’t realize: there’s the regular Marvel Universe with Spider-Man and Captain America, [but] about a decade ago, Marvel made this “Ultimate” imprint that was a little bit edgier and their way to make contemporary new stories, new origin stories. Spider-Man is still a teenager; he never married Mary Jane. The Ultimate universe is getting this cool reboot, and they’re bringing on some of the best creators in the industry to take over those books. And if you love the Marvel movies, they’re almost always based on the Ultimate versions of the Marvel characters. So this is big news for people that love the Marvel films, and love seeing an integrated Marvel universe in the films. I think we all have been hearing rumors that the end of the Captain America movie has a pretty big teaser for the upcoming Avengers movie.

OTF: I hear that may have been leaked online…

BB: It might have!

OTF: Not that I’ve ever seen it, but I’m sure it looked amazing. Now outside of Marvel and DC, there are, of course, a lot of smaller publishers here and some not-so-small, such as Dark Horse and Image. What are you looking forward to from them?

BB: Oh, man. There’s a lot of stuff. Guillermo del Toro, the director of Hellboy, Hellboy 2, Blade 2, is doing a comic [with Dark Horse] based on a novel he wrote called The Strain, a vampire comic. I guess he had always planned for it to be kind of serialized, so it’s going to be a comic now, which is really cool.

IDW, one of my favorite newer publishers, has a book called Locke and Key, written by Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son. It’s great; they have some crazy collectibles for it on the floor. The artist is actually a trained architect. So when he designed the keys and the house in the book, he actually drew up blueprints, and they’re actually making the keys in real life and the doors that fit the keys – which is crazy! Joe Hill has the door in the comic in his house and a special ghost key opens it!

OTF: Wow!

BB: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. Another thing I’m excited about, Image Comics’ The Walking Dead has become this cultural phenomenon. The comic’s been turned into a great series in AMC. Robert Kirkman, the creator, is here and he’s like the mayor of Comic-Con! People love him. That comic is up to issue 85. And then, there’s so many cool creator-owned comics on Image. Tons of original art for sale. If I can recommend one thing to everybody, it’s go to artist alley, go to the Image booth. Artists have original pages from your original comics for sale; they’re not that expensive, and they are amazing one-of-a-kind mementos and souvenirs.

OTF:So what coverage can we expect from G4 this weekend for Comic-Con?

BB: We’re covering everything! We’re covering the big movie announcements. Sony’s doing Amazing Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. We might get some folks from those movies up on our stage. You’re going to get coverage from every major comics publisher; you’re going to get video game coverage, everything from Gears of War to some the just-announced titles out here. You’re gonna have movies, TV shows. There’s a huge TV show presence. Obviously, The Walking Dead is here, a lot of people Game of Thrones are here. You’re going to get a lot of really cool stuff.

OTF: You mentioned Locke and Key earlier. I know they were making the series for television…

BB: Right!

OTF: And some of the promotional stills looked great. I was looking forward to the show, and I’m sure you were too?

BB: Yeah! And here’s the crazy thing about that: the Locke and Key pilot was directed by Mark Romanek. I think he did One Hour Photo, but he’s a music video director. The pilot is great; the script is amazing. They shot the two hour Fox pilot, which is almost like a movie. Fox didn’t pick it up, but they did something they’ve never done before: they brought it to Comic-Con, and they’re showing it to all the fans here. And the demand was so unexpectedly crazy for it, they’re now doing multiple screenings. So this pilot, based on a comic book that’s kind of obscure, that probably would have been resigned to the shelf is now going to be seen by all of these fans and may even get a second life. You never know.

OTF: You can absolutely count on the fans here at Comic-Con to bring something like that back to the life.

BB: Yeah! Absolutely. This place is like… it’s kind of where people try and build buzz, or where buzz gets murdered. Because people will come here – and these are the hardcore fans – if they see a trailer that sets their world on fire, they’re going to tell everybody about it; they’re gonna Facebook it, they’re going to tweet it. But if they don’t like it… oh, my goodness, you might be in trouble.

OTF: Lastly, and most importantly, I hear you’re writing your own comic book now! Give us a little bit about Heart. What’s it about and who are you publishing with?

BB: It’s a four-issue limited series. It’s set in the world of mixes martial arts. It’s not based on any exisiting franchise or exisiting people. It’s basically the story of this young fighter named Oren “Rooster” Redmond, who is kind of aimless and can’t find purpose in life, and his older brother, who is very active in the world mixed martial arts and is a really successful cage fighter. This kid, Oren, follows his brother into it, thinking that he’s going to be a world beater, but life has some other plans for him.

It’s coming out through Image comics. The artist is a guy named Kevin Mellon, who people haven’t heard a lot of. He did some S.H.I.E.L.D. back-up stories for the Jonathan Hickman S.H.I.E.L.D. book, a comic called Lovestruck that’s coming out, and another book called Screamland from Image. He did the back-up stories in there. He’s really great, and I’m so excited to be telling his story. It’s very terrifying to be someone who critiques comics to be putting yourself out there, because you’re putting a big bullseye on your head, and if it sucks, everyone’s gonna tell you. But I’m really excited to tell the story. I’m so excited; it’s my nerdy lifelong dream to have a comic out there.

OTF: Well, we’re excited to read it. Thank you so much for talking with us. Best of luck with all of that.

BB: Thank you! It was absolutely my pleasure!

Once again, thank you, Blair! Make sure to pick up Heart when it arrives later this year!

Written by: Dwight Tejano

Dwight is the founder of Open the Fridge, which he started in 2008 and rebooted in 2010. Due to the nature of early adopting, his bank account is normally empty. He likes to sing in world-renown choruses to forget such things.

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