In the first of what will hopefully be many conversations with some of the men and women who effort to influence and amaze within the realm of comics, we got the chance to speak with legendary genre TV writer Jane Espenson, the co-writer of the Husbands hardcover graphic novel that hit shelves today.
In our interview, we talk to Espenson about translating her landmark sitcom to comic books with co-creator Brad Bell, taking Husbands into an entirely unexpected direction on the page, the passion of Team Husbands, and how she got Neil Gaiman to write the book’s foreword.
Why take us on a tour of genres with the Husbands comic? Was there a concern that the show’s premise wouldn’t translate as well, or did you and Brad (Bell) just feel like having a different kind of fun while giving fans of the show something new?
Jane Espenson: It was Brad’s idea, and I love it. I always felt that something Joss (Whedon) did really well with the Buffy season 8 and 9 comic books was to lean into stories that we couldn’t have filmed – like Dawn as a giant. Also, we wanted to explore these little moments of learning that happen early in a relationship – communication, trust, and so on, and it occurred to us that starting with those values and then finding an iconic world that fit the value… that it would make for powerful pairings. And it did. Oh, and the fantastic worlds gave us an opportunity to also match the worlds with artists to bring them to life.
Speaking of the fans, I’ve loved some of the fan art on HusbandsTheSeries.com; amazing achievements in fondant and picture drawing up there on that site. What are some of the most outrageous Husband’s fan creations that you’ve seen?
JE: Fondant! Ha! Yes – we have seen, and eaten, at least one Husbands cake. Amazing. And we’ve seen t-shirts and gorgeous artwork. I’d love to see someone come to one of our signings in cosplay Cheeks and Brady outfits – baseball jersey for Brady and zebra robe for Cheeks, perhaps? But as of now… most outrageous? I’ll take the cake.
You’ve assembled quite a list of artists here — Ben Dewey, M.S. Corley, Natalie Nourigat, Ron Chan, Tania del Rio. Were there any challenges that came with writing for a new style almost every time out, and how did you ultimately decide which artist drew which issue?
JE: Dark Horse brought us all the artists except Tania, who was already part of Team Husbands – she does all the design work for the series. We loved all the art and worked with Dark Horse to decide which artist fit which story and era. We wanted something very clean and classic for the superhero story, and something ornate and dense for the mystery story… and we got that. It didn’t affect the writing of the scripts, but it was wonderful to see how the interaction of script and art made something totally new and greater than the sum, you know?
Can you talk a little about getting Neil Gaiman and Russell T. Davies’ seal of approval, how that happened and what industry support like that means to the Husbands-verse?
JE: Yes, the book has a foreword by Neil Gaiman and an afterword by Russell T. Davies, both of which make me grin and shake my head in delight and disbelief. I already knew Russell, from working for him on Torchwood: Miracle Day, and I knew he loved the series, but I didn’t know if he’d like the books. When he did, I didn’t hesitate to ask him if he’d like to say something, because he is the most eloquent of men. Neil, I had never met, and still haven’t, actually. But we had already connected over Twitter, and he wrote us a charming foreword. As he is king of the modern graphic novel, that is still stunning to me. Getting that kind of support for this new aspect of Husbands – that means everything.
What are fans who have already bought the digital editions of the comic going to get with the hardcover? Apart from coffee table enhancement and bookshelf superiority, of course.
JE: Extra content! Art! Character sketches! A glimpse at some script pages! A little discussion of the evolution of one of the pages! A full color photo ad for the series! The book is gorgeously produced, too – clever layout and vibrant colors. There’s still something about having it on actual paper that is totally different.
Is there a chance for more comics in the future, maybe something with Brad that isn’t Husbands related? How about a Husbands season 3 release date?
JE: I’d write anything with Brad, so I could see that in the future, but there are no solid plans for more comics yet. As to the rest … stay tuned!
If the fans demand it and if they show a willingness to support it financially through crowdfunding, can we ever expect Husbands… the movie?
JE: Ha! Someday? Why not!
The Husbands hardcover collected edition is available at your local comic shop and you can follow Team Husbands @TeamHusbands