Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Exclusive: Scott Lobdell Talks "Red Hood And The Outlaws" Post-Craziness

Welcome to Red Hood's Den, the official blog for the Red Hood and the Outlaws facebook page....because I can't figure out how to add a blog there, dammit. Join the other Hoodies for constant updates on Jason Todd and the other Outlaws at:

For our first official post we've got a big one for ya. Scott Lobdell, writer of Red Hood and the Outlaws, Teen Titans, and Superboy in his first interview since issue #1 hit stands and broke the internet. He talks with Mike about all things Outlawed.

Mike: What's Jason been doing since he last busted out of Gotham, and is he more of a mercenary or vigilante at the moment?

Scott: We learn in issue two that Jason's scope is (and has been) more international than people realize... that he has used all the money he's taken from one crime lord or another to build himself a series of safe houses around the globe. In true Jason fashion, however, that only means he's made a lot of enemies the world over.

Alas, you've only given me a choice between mercenary and vigilante and I don't really see him as either. To be a merc he would have to take money for his exploits -- and while he certainly "takes money" from individual criminals or empires, he only gets it as the spoils of a war on crime.

Being a vigilante would mean that he's going around taking the law into his own hands and I don't see him that way. It is more like he becomes aware of a problem and then finds himself compelled to solve it. (Like when he learned his friend Roy was being held in Qurac.) I think currently he's taking a break from his war on crime (taking a break makes him different from the Batman in yet another way), but when Essence tells him about the slaughter of the All-Caste he once again finds himself putting on the red hood.

Mike: Now with Roy, his history has branched off from the old DCU, did the split with Ollie occur from finding him out about Roy's drug addiction or is there much a bigger story you plan to flesh out?

Scott: Way bigger, and way more fleshed out. What we'll discover, and you can see hints of it in the first and second issues if you read the fine print, is that Roy's relationship with Ollie was more of a partnership through the founding of Q Core, and less that mentor - sidekick relationship than we've seen in the past. But fear not, that onion will be peeled back over the course of the first eight issues.

Roy is a fascinating and complex guy. Anyone dismissing him as "Jason's lackey" does not come close to understanding Roy or his relationship to Jason.

They are equals. Like Butch and Sundance.

Mike: And with Ollie's status as an international "outlaw" hunter now, have you talked about a crossover with the Green Arrow team?

Scott: While there is some cross pollination planned, Ollie isn't the one who instigates their encounter.

Mike: In the first issue we bounced from Qurac to Martinique to Chicago to the Himalayas. Is the globe-trotting going to be a staple of the book?

Scott: Yes! They are, after all, Outlaws... so they don't have the luxury of staying in one place for too long.

That said, wait until you get a look at Kori's home away from Tamaran in issue 6!

Mike: Obviously the big talk for this month has been the stuff with Starfire. Can you tell us a bit about who she is to you, maybe even who she's become to you now in light of the uproar over her characterization?

Scott: Who she is is pretty much who she is in the first issue. She is an alien who doesn't see the world the same way we do. Shocking! LOL!

Okay, maybe not so shocking.. considering that even on Earth there are many different ways to see the world around us. Heck, people have actually gone to war with each other over their interpretations over who God loves more. I've been to the Middle East where there were three doors to be seen in the entire town, and I've lived in doorman buildings along Central Park -- and trust me when I say that the people who live in each have very different outlooks on things like community and possessions and family.

She is a princess from another world who spent years as a slave in some of the harshest death camps in the universe. To think that we have any idea how her unique world view has been forged by these experiences feels otherworldly to me.

And while I know this is going to make some people angry, the constant wailing and gashing of teeth and tearing of clothing and the shouts of "Unclean! Unclean!" that have made their way across the internet have not altered the pending storyline at all.

How could it? Imagine you are watching a movie and some people in the audience start shouting at the screen... so one character on the screen starts doing what the audience tells her to do. Then another group starts shouting, no, she should do this instead! It would be chaos! LOL!

The story that was pitched is the story that is being written and we'll see how people feel about it when the story is read in its entirety.

Mike: You're no stranger to controversy, having officially outed Northstar as a gay man in Alpha Flight #106 back in the early 90s, a milestone breaking from Shooter's policy of "No openly gay characters" at Marvel. What's controversy in the age of 'round the clock internet comic book journalism feel like?

Scott: What is that curse "May you live in interesting times"? LOL! It kind of reminds of that Twilight Zone episode where there is this wonderful small town that is suddenly disrupted by aliens conducting an experiment in fear and paranoia. It takes a few switches of lights being turned on and off on one side of the block or the other before people are shouting and screaming at one another. I'll read these message boards and one person will put forth an ill-informed interpretation of something I've written... and before you know it people are shouting and screaming over the interpretation and not what was written.

Probably the best example is a line that Kori doesn't have much of an attention span where humans are concerned has somehow become she is Dori from "Finding Nemo" -- within the hour you have people typing in all caps about how she was never like Dori and I must have never read Starfire before or I would never dare think that way about her! (Um... she is nothing like Dori. If that is the starting point in the conversation I'm not even sure where we find common ground to move the dialogue forward.)

Mike: It has seemed to help orders for future issues though huh?

Scott: Apparently. But I have no idea what the actual numbers are.

Mike: Have you been meeting with the fan base, the Hoodies, at relaunch events, and how's that been?

Scott: So far my experiences have only been positive. But then I would imagine if you are standing on line to have your book signed it is because you ARE a Hoodie and the book means something to you and so our dialogue is going to be about how we both enjoyed the book. I suspect that the people who are out there burning their copies of Red Hood And The Outlaws aren't running out to the comic book stores to get their ashes signed. LOL!

I am purty sure I'll get an earful at the conventions.

Mike: Has DC been supportive?

Scott: Nothing but!

Mike: I know you'd mentioned collaborating with your artists to work out costume designs over in Teen Titans---have you been working with Ken Rocafort on the any of the Outlaw costumes, or design for Crux?

Scott: There is very little collaborating with Kenneth. It is more like I write "We see Jason dressed as Robin but it shouldn't be the green bikini bottom Robin we're used to seeing" -- then a few hours later he sends a single color sketch that makes me want to spend the next ten years writing the adventures of Jason Todd "The Robin Years" because he just looks so damned awesome! LOL! So most of the time I just wait for my mailbox to be filled with the wonder that is Kenneth Rocafort.

Mike: Speaking of Crux, we haven't met him just yet but you've spoken pretty openly with regards to back story about the character who will be the 4th Outlaw, how would you describe his personality?

Scott: Let's wait and meet him together, shall we?

Mike: Can we expect another woman to be joining the Outlaws anytime soon?

Scott: Nope. At the risk of sounding sexist (Who, me?!)... Princess Koriand'r is proving to be more than woman enough for the series!

Mike: When the book was announced you said it was really about redemption and the power of friendship. Are you going to go deep and really flesh out Jason's life before Batman as a way to reflect on him now? I mean he grew up and lived on the streets for years, had a dad who worked for Two-Face and got killed, a step mom who shot junk and died, and a mother who sold him out to the joker and got them both killed. That's a lot of baggage to play with.

Scott: There was a comedian who used to do a joke "I lost my emotional baggage at the airport. So that means someone somewhere is walking around wondering why they suddenly hate their father."

I don't see Jason as someone who walks around with his emotional baggage. Yeah, he's clearly been a bit obsessed about Batman and the Joker for a while now... but we'll see over the next few months that he has a lot more going on in his head and his heart than that.

Without trying to sound sappy, redemption is more about how to move forward than about dwelling on the past.

So, Hoodies... To the future!