Monday, November 26, 2007

Kirk Kushin talks about Super Teen*Topia

Kirk was interviewed by Gearalt Finlay for Silver Bullet Comic Books

Kirk Kushin: Still a Teen at Heart
By Gearalt Finlay

Kirk Kushin is going back to High School with Forcewërks Productions' Super Teen*Topia. It is a teen adventure in the tradition of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Kirk sat down with Silver Bullet's Gearalt Finlay to talk about the new series from Alias Entertainment.

Gearalt Finlay: What is Forcewërks Productions?
Kirk Kushin: Forcewërks is the organization I created with Mark R. Root Sr., to develop and produce our film, multi-media and comic book projects.

Finlay: Is this your first comics?
Kushin: No, we actually entered the comic publishing field a couple years ago when we licensed the rights for B.A.B.E. FORCEto another company. We decided to publish the series ourselves after their option expired. Hopefully your readers have enjoyed some of our past issues. You can check them out at

Finlay: The art is by Ergo Comic's Gonzalo Martínez, how did the two of you get together?
Kushin: I hired Gonzalo to do a short for Dr. Chaos: American Idyll and I really liked his style. But it was when I met him in person in San Diego that we really hit it off. He was interested in doing more B.A.B.E. FORCE work, he's very partial to Agent Nicolette but I had something else in mind for him. 

Finlay: Were you familiar with his work on Dr. Mortis, Claudia en la Red or Holed Up?
Kushin: I was familiar with his other work, but again, it was really the short he did for us that impressed me. I see a lot of Paul Smith in Gonzalo's renderings and I've always liked that style, it's reminiscent of animation and the characters are very affable.

Finlay: Gonzalo lives in Chile how do you get everything worked out shipping the scripts and art internationally?
Kushin: Actually if it wasn't for the Internet this comic wouldn't be possible. Even though he's in Chile and I'm in California, it's like being next door! I email him the full script and he emails me the pencil scans. Mark and I look them over, make any tweaks and send them back for inking. Laura Abella downloads the files directly from Gonzalo and makes them come to life with her colors. From there - they come back to Mark, who preps them to send to our letterer Michael David Thomas. From those proofs I adjust the script a bit and then we finalize and upload it to Alias.

Finlay: What sets Super Teen*Topia apart from all the other teen super hero comics?

Kushin: They don't become X-Titans clones. There's no jet, no danger room and no unstable molecules available to these sixteen year olds, so they have to manage as best they can. Some members of the cast don't even want to super-heroes, so the book focuses on high school life as opposed to fighting some costumed villain every month. I keep calling it "Ferris Bueller in tights" and that's a pretty good description.

Finlay: Who are the main characters?

Kushin: Paige is the solar powered girl-next-door. She loves horses and never causes her parents any grief. Until she develops powers. Cam is the water-wielding prankster who has no interest in ever putting on a costume and is the reluctant hero of the bunch. Diva is the tk powered life of the party and enjoys being.a diva. Kevin is the daydreaming comic-book fan whose powers don't quite measure up to his fantasies.

Finlay: Is this similar to the movie Hero High?
Kushin: Actually I never saw the film, but I did see the trailer and it looked like a parody of the X-Men "lifestyle." The characters in Super Teen*Topia aren't part accepted members of the super-hero culture in their world, so there are no flying busses or anything like that. They are regular teens in a world where super-powers are fairly common. 

Finlay: Are these costume heroes who go to the same high school, or just high school students with super powers?
Kushin: That's a great question and something I've been hoping to elaborate on. I would have loved to have them all at the same school, but that seemed too improbable. It's bad enough that Cam and Kevin are classmates, but I needed the common setting to draw from because Cam is very involved in student council and his life revolves around it. This frustrates Kev, who thinks they should be out trying to "make a difference." Paige is home schooled and Diva attends a performing arts school, like you see in Fame. How they all come together is something we show in the first issue. But again, they don't become a typical crime-fighting unit, it is more about having a peer group, finding a friend they can relate to.

Finlay: Is the series more comedy than action?
Kushin: Super Teen*Topia is very character based, so there are both light moments and lot of "teen angst." Not the dark moody kind, but the "I love her why doesn't she love me" kind. But this is a comic book with action, so we see powers in use both in the "real" life and in Kev's fantasies.

Finlay: You have been quoted saying "If Stan Lee and John Hughes had a love child -Super Teen*Topiawould be the result." It's a great line but what does it actually mean?

Kushin: Thanks, I like that line too. It's meant to convey this: when Stan Lee created the Fantastic Four forty years ago he offered reader's a new look at the super-hero. I'm taking the Marvel mythology I grew up with and merging it with the "suburban teens coming of age" motif. This thinking stems from the question I've always had, "does everyone with powers have to don a costume and have a cosmic nemesis to be a hero?" Super Teen*Topia says no!

Finlay: You have a 99¢ issue zero listed in the current issue of previews, can you make any money from a 99¢ comic?
Kushin: If you believe in your product you have to be willing to stand behind it. And honestly it's an insidious tactic because once I get hooked I'll get your money for a long, long time!

Finlay: Is this an on-going series or a mini-series?
Kushin: Currently it is a bi-monthly title, but depending on sales we will adjust to a monthly schedule. It's really up to all the readers. But based on the positive reaction I've gotten from the book so far, I'd say this series is going to be a big hit for Alias. If you look at the sales of Spider-Girl and Invincible there is a readership out there hungry for this type of story. 

Finlay: The series is billed as a "super soap" can we expect multiple storylines that end a different times?
Kushin: Yes, like all good soap operas there will be ongoing storylines as well as things that are wrapped up in one issue. Super Teen*Topia is like a TV show where you get one complete story per sitting, but there's enough mythology to drag you deeper into the world. For example in issue #2 they go miniature golfing and all the action of the story happens during that one little outing. If that doesn't sound like a fun comic, I don't know what does! So plunk down your dollar and pick-up issue zero!

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