Expect ‘Endless Crazy Surprises’ – Daniel Kibblesmith On The New Quantum And Woody! Series

by Hannah Means Shannon

On December 20th, 2017 readers will witness the kitsch, wise-cracking return of buddy cop-styled team up Quantum and Woody! from Valiant Comics. One of the few genuinely humor-based superhero comic books with a substantial history, the series features Eric and his foster brother Woody who, naturally prone to conflict, are bound together by a super-powering accident which makes a partnership  between them necessary to stay alive. They have to “Klang” their metal bracelets together once every 24 hours to preserve their cellular stability.

[Cover B by Geof Shaw]

Since Valiant’s re-launch, Quantum and Woody have previously appeared in an award-nominated series, and after a hiatus, the series catches up with the duo, now written by Daniel Kibblesmith, and drawn by Kano. But the scenario which readers will encounter in the first issue of the new series is one that sets up the challenges of the new arc–neither Eric nor Woody are speaking to each other, and only meet to silently “Klang” their bracelets in order to survive. And then there’s the question of who gets custody of the super-intelligent goat who may or may not possess the mind of their late father. It’s a complicated situation.

In a previous interview last Spring at C2E2, Kibblesmith gave us some insight into what has driven these brothers apart. But today he joins us to also talk about his entry into comics, comedy, drama, and working with the great Kano.

[Issue #2 Cover A by Julian Totino Tedesco]

Hannah Means-Shannon: Hey Daniel! We spoke before at C2E2 about the upcoming series of Quantum and Woody! and now that time has almost arrived.

In my initial interview, I asked you a lot about comedy and mythology, but I didn’t ask you much about your own involvement in comics. Can you tell us a little about what brought you to comics and how you got sucked into this highly addictive 4 color world?

Daniel Kibblesmith: Sure! When I was a kid, I loved Superman and Spider-Man as icons, the same way I loved Big Bird and Mickey Mouse, and my dad had a big collection of Silver Age comics stashed away, but they always seemed dusty and impenetrable to me. It wasn’t until I fell in love with the six-player wraparound X-Men arcade game–video games called to me a lot harder at that age–that I got curious about the characters and their minutiae.

That’s when I went back and fell hard into the world of old comics, which conveniently happened right around the same time as a lot of big comics-related watersheds for people my age, like Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men: The Animated Series, the collector’s boom and the Death of Superman. It’s like comics culture exploded at the exact time I started to appreciate it.

[Issue #2 Cover B with “Ultra Foil” by Geof Shaw]

HMS: And as for comedy in comics, what place do you think it has or should have? It seems like other countries have a wider range of genres in their comics than we often do in the USA, but that might be changing. Do you think people should associate humor with comics as much as capes?

DK: Definitely. I think it’s just a matter of separating the medium from the genre and discovering what you, as a reader, enjoy, the same way anyone would with movies or television. I’m sure for a couple decades, it probably felt like all movies were westerns, but just because you didn’t like westerns didn’t mean people weren’t still trying to reach you through that medium.

I think when people think “comedy in comics,” they think either Deadpool and Harley Quinn–funny superheroes who play with the rules of the medium–or they think comic strips like Garfield, etc. But I think the funniest thing in the world is Achewood, which is a non-kid-friendly webcomic that defies both of these genres, or the funny-because-they’re-true autobio comics from cartoonists like Julia Wertz and James Kochalka. In the case of Quantum and Woody! the comics are hopefully funny because the characters are lovable, flawed people making bad decisions at each other, in addition to being superheroes.

HMS: In the new Quantum and Woody! series, it sounds like family clashes are as big a drama as any supervillain could possibly be, but what are the brothers up against on a bigger scale, as far as you can tease at this time?

DK: As is often the case, their biggest antagonists are going to be each other. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be called upon to put their differences aside to take on a shadowy supervillain with a huge amount of leverage over Woody in particular. When we rejoin Quantum and Woody, they’re essentially “broken up” for good this time. So the question is, does Woody use this break-up as the push he’s always needed to tip over into his own worst impulses once and for all? Also, I think I can reveal this: There’s a giant “hedge man” named Thedge. Thedge the Hedge.

HMS: Can you give us an anecdote about what it’s like to work with Kano on this series?

DK: It’s consistently jaw-dropping. I don’t know if I have any particular anecdotes, other than just living in a perpetual state of wonder. But there was the time when another comics person asked me if I was scripting 17-panel pages for him to draw, and I had to explain, “NO, NO, NO, NO, I’d be a nightmare to work with if I was demanding this stuff! These formatting choices are all coming from his side.” When it comes to the art, my job right now is to not rock the boat.

The colors are also amazing and unexpected on the art I’ve seen so far.

HMS: Who is the color artist on the book? Do you have any thoughts on what this palette brings to the tone of the series?

DK: It’s still Kano! This is what we’re dealing with, people! I think I’m as visual as the next comics writer, but only recently have I realized how vital it can be to leave notes about time of day, characters’ moods, and other choices that end up rippling out through the color palette. But again, it’s largely storytelling decisions that Kano is taking and running with.

HMS: Are there any traits that you feel you personally identify with in Eric or Woody in this “untrustworthy ongoing series”?

DK: I want to clear this up–this “untrustworthy” thing was a miscommunication! You can absolutely trust Quantum and Woody! (Well, maybe not Woody.) I was trying to say that I, Daniel Kibblesmith, am the one who can’t be trusted. Also, that’s not true. But then again, that’s what an untrustworthy person would say, right? I think I hear robots’ heads exploding on the horizon.

As for relating to the characters, I think I was a Woody in my adolescence–a smart-aleck who thought he knew everything, and more often than not just made his own life harder. Now, I feel I’ve matured into more of an Eric, maybe having a little too much faith and reliance on the supposed “rules” of society, and feeling self-righteous about shutting down little transgressions like people talking in the movie theater. I want to be the superhero who brings movie-theater-talkers to justice.

[Issue #1 Cover A By Julian Totino Tedesco]

HMS: What do you think would be a “happy place” for Eric and Woody? What issues would they need to resolve or what realizations would they need to have to be living the good life again?

DK: Well, when we see them at the beginning, Eric gets what appears to be his dream job, and Woody has fame and adoration. It’s a reminder that the things you want feel different when they become the things you have. What’s really exciting (or scary) is change on the horizon. So what I’d probably throw at Quantum and Woody to make them feel happy and needed? Endless crazy surprises.

Thank you, Mr. Kibblesmith, for giving us some insight into this new comic series and your view of comics.

Quantum and Woody! #1 is currently available for pre-order, and we strongly suggest you start planning to pick up the first issue and the entire series.