Brian Wood: Demo
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Former Generation X writer Brian Wood is debuting a new comic series, Demo. Unlike his most recent work, such as Pounded and The Couriers, Demo features teenagers and mid-twenties adults who must struggle with having super-powers.

In what I've read about DEMO, it seems its similarities to GEN X go beyond the super-powered teen elements. As the PREVIEWS solicitation reads, these characters are "born wrong, flawed, doomed to struggle to adulthood and sort themselves out the best they can, totally on their own." This does seem similar to the X-Men's "Born to live in a world that hates and feats them."

Yeah.  Each is about feelings of alienation, individuality, and growing up different.  People have been dealing with that for thousands of years.  I had my share of issues with it as a kid.  Who hasn't?  It's why X-Men rings so true to so many people, and its why DEMO does as well.

The characters in DEMO aren't just teens, but people in their mid to late twenties as well.  I'm 31 myself, and it feels a little creepy to restrict myself to writing little kids.  I don't know how these middle aged teen superhero writers do it, personally.  It's weird.

The title "DEMO" describes an incomplete product, something in beta, being worked on, trial runs, imperfect, first generation... Such are the DEMO characters: born wrong, flawed, doomed to struggle through life and sort themselves out the best they can, totally on their own.  Whether it's a curse, or a blessing - its entirely up to them.  After all, being different is sorta like being unique, right?

I am hoping to go beyond the concepts that Marvel explore with the X-Men, move beyond their own boundaries, while at the same time focusing down on the characters themselves.  I hope to break some new ground here, try something new.

Are there any direct ties to Gen X or NYX, in terms of either unused characters or concepts?

A couple of the original characters I created for NYX, the ones I still have ownership over, will no doubt appear in DEMO at some point, as well as story concepts and themes, yeah.  I spent a lot of time developing my take on NYX, and even though its years old, I don't like to waste anything.

In most interviews, you sound frustrated with the super-hero genre. What do you think has exactly gone wrong with it?

Ah, I am not frustrated with the genre.  There is nothing wrong with it, except that its way too dominant in the medium of comics.  I just want to see more diversity if subject matter.  I do get frustrated with that from time to time.  Its hard to find comics I want to read, or ones to show to my friends and family that they will want to read.

But here I am doing one.  And I will do this one, and maybe another project at some point down the road, to balance out my sci-fi, war, action, love, and comedy stories I have and will have done along with them.

With comics like DEMO where you are in total control, what rules do you set for yourself? Do you set limits on what you will include, or do you include whatever comes to mind?

It's pretty much an open road.  With DEMO, I am trying to pay more attention to form, to my writing techniques.  Writing single issues is hard enough, but complete stand alone stories in 24 pages is HARD for me, because I like to pace slowly and take lots of room for establishing scenes, transitions, and I love big panel layouts.  So I am trying to get all that in there and and deliver a tight, complete short story.

Does the star on the back of all the DEMO issues have any symbolic meaning?

Not especially.  I like it as a design element, and both Becky and I come from punk rock backgrounds, and the star image is a common symbol for us both.

Many of your past comics had ties to music. Obviously POUNDED, but also many of you GEN X issues included references to bands or even featured songs in the titles. Will your love of music be evident in DEMO also?

Maybe.  I am writing the sixth issue of DEMO now, and not so far, but I wouldn't rule it out.  We'll see if the stories call for it.

This is mainly to clear up something really old, but a couple of years ago, after the entire flap that Marvel would publish THE AUTHORITY if DC wouldn't, Larry Young challenged Marvel to allow AiT/Planet Lar to publish a GENERATION X trade-paperback of your last five issues. Did anything more come of that challenge, or was that the end of the story?

Nah, Larry knew Marvel would never do that, and he just offered it to show how silly the Authority offer was.  I would love to have a trade of the Four Days arc, but it will never happen.

What plots did you have planned after the Four Days arc?

More Jono and Rana stuff, dealing with her crew of friends around NYC and his desire to take off and go live with them.  Some of it shared some similarities to Quesada's NYX, which I think is why I was first recommended for that job.

And I did want to politicize the hell out of Paige.  The environmentalist stuff in Gen X 75 was serious.

Do you keep in touch with Steve Pugh any more?

Yeah, we did that Vampirella/Witchblade oneshot a couple months ago from Harris Comics.  I love Steve, he rocks.

Some of your comics like CHANNEL ZERO and COUS COUS EXPRESS have attracted Hollywood interest. Do you  we'll be seeing a movie based on one of your comics in the near future?

I have two projects of mine in different stages of the Hollywood process, one being very very close, so with a little luck you will hear about that soon.

And inquiries have already been coming in from film studios about DEMO.

I've become fascinated with photography lately, so I was wondering if you still use film or if you've switched to digital?

I have a digital camera I use for simple stuff, but I have always preferred film.  Its makes a better image, simply put.

Do you prefer black and white photos or color?

Either.  Both.

Just from visiting your site's forum or reading your newsletters, you seem to have an active interest in politics, so I hope you don't mind if I ask you a few things. What are your thoughts on the Democratic nominees?

I love Howard Dean. Must be the fact we are both Vermonters.  He's the one I've been supporting all along.

How about the California recall?

I think the notion of a recall is silly and wastes a staggering amount of money.  They elected him into office, twice.  They should just deal with it and ride it out.  As an American and a soon-to-be Californian, its embarrassing, this circus we have now over there.

The recent changes to FCC regulations?

Anything that restricts in any way how info or entertainment is spread amongst us is a horrible thing.  The media should belong to all of us.

CHANNEL ZERO was a commentary on today's media. Do comic books provide enough of an audience to discuss such big issues?

I don't think the size of any audience should restrict whether or not a certain topic should be discussed. It's all about reaching the reader, be it one in an audience of 5 or 5 million.  If you are asking if its worth it, time and energy-wise, for me to use this medium for that subject matter, yeah, I think it is for me.

That said, Channel Zero sells very well, week to week, for coming on five years now, and for printed matter, it reaches a LOT of people.  It feels good to rack up those sales numbers, but I just like to make comics, and the sales records are secondary to that.

Do you think you'll ever work at a big comic company like Marvel again, or will AiT/Planet Lar remain your home for a long time?

I don't expect to work for Marvel, but I am always active in talking to people at DC and its studios.  I had fun at Vertigo, and doing the cover work for Wildstorm, so of course.

Planet Lar and I have a special relationship, a long history, and its very comfortable and free there, and they work like dogs for me.  But I am by no means exclusive to them in any way.

DEMO #1 hits comic shelves this November.