Interview: Writer Roger Langridge Talks Muppets, Snarked, and Thor The Mighty Avenger

Though Roger Langridge has been working in comics for years, he’s probably best known now for two comics he didn’t finish. Or rather, he did, they just haven’t been finished by the Publisher. The first is Muppets, the second is Thor the Mighty Avenger. Recently at HeroesCon we chatted with Langridge about those two titles, as well as his upcoming Lewis Carroll epic, Snarked:

MTV Geek: Let’s kick things off talking about Thor The Mighty Avenger, which I’m sure you get questions about… ALL the time.

Roger Langridge: [Laughs] Well, certainly this show.

Geek: Why this show in particular?

RL: Well, it’s a hero oriented show, really. And it’s very comics-centric. With the small press shows, that tends to be very off their radar more, they’re more concerned about my old stuff. “The funny ones,” as they like to call it.

Geek: Not to start off on a negative bent, because I love the series, but… It didn’t sell very well.

RL: This is true!

Geek: But, at the same time, it’s had a bit of a snowball effect, gaining fans after the series was cancelled.

RL: It’s the kind of book that was never going to do well in the Direct Market. It was going to sell well – ever – it was going to be when it was collected in some form, and available in bookstores. It wasn’t really for the Direct Market, really… That was my brief, not to write it for them, but for a general audience. And then they wouldn’t sell it to the general audience, so… [Laughs]

Geek: Why is it that a title like this doesn’t work in the Direct Market?

RL: I think if it doesn’t quote unquote “matter…” You know, there’s a zillion titles you have to buy to keep up with the Marvel Universe, and if my title – however good it might have been – isn’t part of the Marvel Universe, and you have a limited budget, and you want to keep up with this ongoing soap opera, the one that “doesn’t count,” is going to be in trouble there.

Geek: One thing I wondered about – and I’m curious to hear from your perspective – while I was reading the book, I wondered if it turned the “casual” fan off that there was a very slow burn with Thor’s character. It wasn’t like every issue he said, “Well, I’ve learned a lesson, and now I’m a changed man!” Even by the eighth issue, it felt like he was still a little bit of a jerk… But he’s trying.

RL: I think that’s part of his personality, you can’t suddenly have him stop being a jerk overnight. He’s got to learn that lesson the hard way, I think. I tried to make it so that every issue did stand on its own, and there was some sort of resolution for some sort of conflict in every issue. But, I was thinking in terms of a twelve issue arc, which would make him a different character at the end than he was at the beginning. That was one of the boxes I was asked to “tick” when I took on the job.

Geek: There have been… Rumors about how much has been completed. I’ve heard there are four completed outlines, and that’s about it.

RL: Yeah, when I first submitted the twelve issue outline, that was… I stuck to it pretty closely. At one point they were going to cut it back to ten issues, and then I was told it was twelve issues, and then it was going to be an ongoing. And then I was told it was eight issues. So I stuck basically to the twelve issue outline pretty closely.

Geek: Where does the Free Comic Book Day issue fit in?

RL: That goes between eight and nine. So I would have changed my outline for number nine a little bit… Loki was going to be in that one, but he was in a different place at the end of the Free Comic Book Day issue than he was at the end of issue eight. I would have had to find a way to bring him back in, but it wouldn’t be that different.

Geek: I’ve gotten the impression that there might be some movement on the last four issues. Is that correct? Or not at all?

RL: If there is, they haven’t told me. [Laughs]

Geek: Can you talk a little bit about your collaboration with Chris Samnee on the book?

RL: I got really, really lucky with Chris. When Nate [Cosby, Editor of the book] got the ball rolling on this thing, he sent me a couple of different samples from a couple of different artists, and the first one he showed me was a manga influenced style, and I said, “Yeah, we can work with this.” And then he sent me Chris’ stuff along, and, POW! This has got to be the guy. He was obviously so right for the book, and he can do anything. He’s got this kind of Alex Toth kind of sensibility, he’s got these great acting – he can do great acting moments. He can do anything you ask him to draw… Seemingly effortlessly. He was perfect, I was just thrilled to get him.

Geek: How would you characterize your experience working with Marvel on the book?

RL: Pretty good, actually. Pretty hassle free. There were a couple of wobbles where they weren’t quite sure who the audience was, and they’d ask me to make it a little more child friendly, particularly towards the end. But nothing that really compromised where the book was heading, it was a good experience all around.

Geek: Let’s talk about Muppets a bit, since you’re sitting here drawing Muppets.

RL: As is my wont.

Geek: You left Muppets at a certain point, why is that?

RL: Well, the main thing – apart from the fact that I was feeling a bit burned out after two years of it – my Mother had cancer, she lives in New Zealand, and I wanted to take some time off in order to see her for, what I thought might be the last time. As it turns out, she’s recovered from chemotherapy. You know, she’s not going to be the same woman ever again, but she’s going to be around for a while longer. So that’s good news. But at the time, I thought it might be the last time I’d ever get to see her. So I informed BOOM! that I’d take some time out – in fact, I informed them I was leaving the book, because I was ready to go anyway. They said, finish the story arc you’ve already started, and we’ll leave it there. Between the time I decided to leave, and the time I finished those four issues, the Disney license was… Whether it expired, or it was bought, I don’t know the details – but BOOM!’s time was no longer.

Geek: And now they’re being republished by Marvel.

RL: Yes, that’s correct.

Geek: Correct me if I’m wrong, but there’s one or two lost issues in there?

RL: Four issues! There’s a four issue story arc, it would have been a complete book, which I’ve drawn all of, and I have no idea what’s happening with that.

Geek: Whenever you have the Muppets, their job is always to skewer the medium that they’re in. Was that something you thought about going in, that you really wanted to play with the comic book form?

RL: I thought since it was a comic, it seemed redundant to do the exact same thing you could do on television, because then why not just watch the DVDs? Why not take advantage of the fact that it was a different medium, and give readers something they wouldn’t have gotten from watching the show. Try to evoke the feeling of the show, but the details can be different. You’ve got an entirely different form, so why not?

Geek: Have you seen the trailer for the new Muppets movie? Any opinions?

RL: Nope! I’m kind of Muppeted out. [Laughs] I’m not even curious. I’m sure it’ll be great, though.

Geek: Moving on, big news is, you’re doing a new book with BOOM!

RL: It’s called SNARKED, as in “The Hunting of the…” As you’ve probably guessed, it’s inspired by the works of Lewis Carroll. The Walrus and the Carpenter are the main protagonists, along with a little girl who is – for the purposes of my story – The Red Queen, and her little brother, trying to find The Red King, her father. So a quest story, with lots of other Lewis Carroll elements thrown in. But it’s my own story, not an adaptation, or sequel or anything like that. I’m just playing in that world – or a version of that world, I suppose.

Geek: There’s been a lot of what you might call “Mash-Up” titles lately. What – as a writer – draws you to something like that?

RL: Well, I’m a Lewis Carroll nut, and I’ve always been since I was a kid – so that’s part of it. I didn’t pick it arbitrarily, it’s because I had a passion for the material. Also, I think, it’s just useful, in a market that’s flooded with product, to have as a hook, a character that the audience is going to recognize. It gives you that tiny little bit more visibility than you would have otherwise. From that point of view, I thought it was giving readers something they could assume some sort of familiarity with. I thought that was probably a good way to go.

Geek: Are we going to see Alice at any point?

RL: No. No Alice. Lot’s of other characters, but no Alice. I think Alice’s visit was a one-off thing – or a two-off thing if you count Looking Glass. There have been so many attempts to have Alice wistfully remember her time in Wonderland, having her as a regular visitor just seems wrong. Also, I don’t think she lends herself to the wacky spirit that I try to have in my stories.

Geek: That actually fits nicely into my next question. What IS the tone of the book?

RL: Well, the Walrus and the Carpenter are slightly seedy, slightly vaudevillian, which is very much my nadir, I suppose. It’ll be – hopefully – funny, but with a little bit of heart in it as well, because it will be a long story. So having gags for just twelve issues, or whatever it’s going to be would be a bit wearing after a while. It’s got to have some sort of emotional center as well. So I’ve constructed a story that’s going to take the characters from A to B to C to D to E to F, instead of like a sitcom, where you go from B to A again.

Geek: Are there any other characters we’ll see coming up? The Jabberwock, for example?

RL: You’ll see versions of… A Jabberwocky… How shall I put this? There will be lots of resonances, and there will be lots of characters from the Alice books, who will pop up in unfamiliar places, or in guises you might not expect. Like I say, I don’t think of it as a sequel, I don’t think of it as being Carroll’s world, necessarily. I think of it as being my version of Carroll’s world, and I’m playing pretty fast and loose with it.

Geek: Anything else coming up for you?

RL: Coming up, I’ve got a story in the Storyteller anthology that Archaia are putting out. And I’ve got a story in Nelson, which is a graphic novel a bunch of UK creators are putting out – basically telling the story of a girl’s life, with each creator doing a chapter, and each chapter telling a year in the girl’s life. That’s coming out this year, I think. Oh yeah, I’m writing something for Marvel, but I can’t talk about that yet.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was done before John Carter: A Princess of Mars was announced as the Marvel title! So that’s what that was.]

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