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|THE WRITERS: BEN RAAB|
Recently, Hero Realm reviewer Keith Kilburn got a chance to conduct an exclusive interview with comics writer Ben Raab. Mr. Raab has worked for both Marvel and DC previously, and has done several freelance fill-ins and one-shots. Mr. Raab has an exciting project launching this summer at DC, entitled LEGENDS OF THE HAWKMAN, which focuses on Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Special thanks to Mr. Ben Raab for taking his time to contribute to HERO REALM.COM!
KEITH KILBURN: First off, on behalf of Hero Realm let me thank you for agreeing to grant this interview. I know you are busy and I'll try not to keep you from your work any longer than I have to.
BEN RAAB: Please. Any excuse not to work is a welcome one. :)
KK: Knowing that your new to the comic field, I'm going to use this interview to cover more than just your recent involvement with Beast Boy and the upcoming Hawkman Mini-series, but also your involvement in anything else you might have coming up.
BR: Okey doke.
KK: Who is Ben Raab?
BR: The guy answering these questions.
KK: For those reading who might not be familar with you work beyond Beast Boy, can you give some insight as to where we can find your other work?
BR: Well, let's see...my career in comics began back in the summer of '93 when I joined the Marvel editorial staff as an intern. In January '94, I was hired to be the edit assists on the X-Books, a position I held for about two and half years before becoming Marvel's first online editor responsible for launching their AOL and web domains. By January '97, I had accumulated enough comics work to go freelance, and I've been on my own ever since. Most people know me for my run on EXCALIBUR, though I've done a host of other books including several X-Men-related mini-series and one-shots as well as fill-in work on AVENGERS, 2099, DAREDEVIL and WHAT IF? (to name a few).
KK: Of the work you have done so far... What is your favorite and least favorite comic work? And can you tell us why?
My most favorite so far -- that's already been published -- has to be the UNION JACK limited series. Not just because I got to take a relatively obscure character and breathe new life into him for today's audiences, but because I got to work with my good friend, the incredibly talented artist, John Cassaday (currently of Planetary fame). That book really was a creative turning point for me, and I'm eternally grateful for it.
KK: How did you break into the comics field, and who gave you your first job?
BR: I got my first writing gig while I was an edit assists at Marvel. Turns out the guys in the AVENGERS office needed someone to do a 10-page back-up story in AVENGERS #375. Assistant Editor Matt Idelson knew I was looking to break into writing comics at some point, so he convinced editor Ralph Macchio to let me take a crack at it. He agreed, and my Giant-Man story helped round out that double-sized issue.
KK: What advice would you give a rookie trying to break into the field?
BR: Quoting Neal Peart of Rush: "Courageous convictions will drag the dream into existence." (Extra credit for my fellow Rush-geeks out there who can cite the song that's cribbed from!). That's sorta been a personal credo of mine when it comes to being a freelancer. If you want it badly, and you stick with it, no matter what, it WILL happen for you.
KK: In terms of sales and the shrinking marketplace, what do you think of the current state of the comic industry? Is it struggling to hold on?
BR: I don't think about it. There's no point in it. I'd rather focus on my work and improving my craft as a writer. Sure, I want to do my part to help the industry to "rebound" or whatever, but the only real way I'm gonna make a hill of beans difference is by becoming BETTER at what I do for a living.
KK: Assuming you had the power to make changes in the industry, what would you do to increase sales and readership?
BR: Promote literacy in education. Get comics in the schools. Have them taught in both art and literature classes. Make people aware that they're out there, and that modern myths are being made right under their noses, but they don't know it.
KK: Why the Beast Boy mini-series? I mean of all the Titans related characters that you could have chosen, from favorites such as Nightwing or Flash, to the obscure, like Gnark or Protector, what made you choose Beast Boy?
BR: Because this was a character that nobody was doing anything with. It would've been a lot harder to convince DC to let me take a crack at one of their main characters who's already got something going on in their own books, or in the Titans series proper.
KK: Will we see more of Beast Boy and the new and improved Flamebird together again? And if so, can we expect to see Matt Logan along for the ride?
Absolutely. Fellow BEAST BOY scribe, Geoff Johns, and I co-wrote this year's TITANS ANNUAL, which not only guest-stars Gar, Matt and Bette, but also introduces an all-new hero we've created: the samurai warrior, Bushido.
KK: Some of the fans on the Titans Message Boarda at DC Comics have noted that Menagerie couldn't be as old/young as she is due to DC continuity. Was this intentional, in conjunction with her using her shapeshifting powers to mask her true age? Is this something that you and Geoff Johns have planned, wanting to build the mystery of the character? Or is she just a psycho messing with Beast Boy's mind?
BR: "Menagerie"? You mean, "Gemini", right? Yeah, we noticed everyone trying to calculate her age online. Suffice it to say, the truth is a secret Geoff and I aren't prepared to reveal...yet. ; )
KK: I read that your work on 'The Phantom' for a Swedish based company and the new character 'Bushido' has been compared to him in that they are both generational heroes. Was the 'the Ghost who Walks' an inspiration for the young new hero set to debut in this year's Titan annual, and how do they measure up to one another in terms of powers and abilities?
BR: Very much so. I love the Phantom, and being able to script some of his ongoing adventures for both the Swedish and Australian audiences is a real treat. He's definitely infected my subconsciousness on several levels, and is starting to invade some of the new characters I've been creating lately. Bushido being a prime example. They're both are heroes of filial legacy, they both fight for honor and justice, but the comparisons end right about there. Though both men are sworn to uphold life, unlike the pure-hearted Phantom, Bushido has no qualms about taking it, too. This is going to be a serious issue for him to deal with after he meets the Titans and learns that maybe there is way to be a hero without shedding blood.
KK: Is the story set for this year's Titans Annual a sequel to the Beast Boy Mini-series, and if so does this mean we can expect to see Titans West returning soon?
BR: We see it as a sequel, yes. As for the Titans West, well...
KK: You have teased the fans on the Titans Message Boards for months about an upcoming special project that you have in the works... would you care to spill the beans to Hero Realm and give me an exclusive?
BR: See previous evasive answer.
KK: Is there any chance that the Protector will be joining this new team? In the event you are unfamiliar with the Protector, he made his only appearance in continuity in the Titan's Anti-Drug issues.)
BR: The Protector....? Hmmn.....I do recall seeing him in the script for the TITANS SECRET FILES lead story Geoff and I wrote. But what exactly was he doing there? Hmmmn...can't seem to remember right now...
KK: What will the title of the Hawkman mini-series be, and will Hawkgirl be joining him?
BR: It's called LEGENDS OF THE HAWKMAN and yes, Hawkgirl -- Shayera Hol --will be there, right beside him as always.
KK: What sort of price can the fans of Hawkman and Hawkgirl expect to pay for this soon-to-be legendary mini-series?
BR: Good question. Not really sure. It's 3 issues long, prestige format,staring July 19th. I imagine you'll be able to find the exact cost of each issue when the next Previews comes out.
KK: What can we expect to see in the Mini-series? Will this be the Golden Age Hawkman, The Silver age Hawkman or the more Modern day Hawkman?
BR: This is sort of a "Year One" Silver Age adventure, featuring the Thanagarian Hawkman and Hawkgirl, soon after they first came to Earth. An homage to the Gardner Fox/Joe Kubert BRAVE & THE BOLD stories.
KK: What can you tell us about the Storyline of the Mini-series? Will there be guest-stars and cameos, or will it focus on just the Hawks?
Basically, this is a story about a young married couple dealing with the decision to make a new home for themselves in a foreign land, the things that threaten to tear them apart -- literally and figuratively -- and their realization that the only place like is home is with each other. The Hawks are put to the ultimate test by an exiled Thanagarian demon hellbent on satisfying a millenia-old vendetta, the heretical sect of monks that worship him, and finally, the ancient Thanagarian gods of yore. It's BIG, baby! I'm talkin' HUUUUGE!
KK: Can you, in 25 words or less, tell the readers why they should read your current work, the upcoming Titans annual and the Hawkman Mini-series?
BR: "Why?" Here's two: OR ELSE.
This section is dedicated to those artists and writers who have contributed at different times throughout the history of Hawkman. Check them out.
Ben Raab: Hawkman IndexLegend of the Hawkman #1-3, writer
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