Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the collected Billionaire Island trade paperback! As with all of AHOY Comics’ releases, this trade is sure to be packed with incredible bonus features. What will readers have in store with the upcoming collection?
Mark Russell: In addition to all the billionaires? Well, for one thing, there is an introduction by the immortal Brian Michael Bendis, a fully labeled tourist map of Freedom Unlimited (Billionaire Island), some character designs by Steve Pugh, and a mercifully brief foreword by myself.
BD: In looking back at the development and production of the series, what can you share with us about your creative process in working with artist Steve Pugh?
MR: We spent most of our time talking about the characters. What they would look like, what breed of dog Business Dog should be, which people in the real world they were loosely based on. I think that’s always been our approach. We talk about the world we want to create and who’s going to be living in it and from there it’s a lot easier to construct the stories.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Billionaire Island’s story has connected with and impacted readers, especially in light of the incredible critical and fan response to the series?
MR: It was sort of cathartic for me to write, because I was able to cram so many of my frustrations with the world and where it’s heading, but also my firm, possibly misplaced faith that we remain a species worth saving. I think it may also have been cathartic for readers feeling the same way.
BD: Your series, Second Coming, will also soon be returning for its second story arc. Is there anything that you’re able to share regarding the return to the religious satire?
MR: Okay, here’s a couple of teasers. Jesus hears about a Christian theme park and he thinks, “Where better to start my new church on Earth than surrounded by thousands of people who already believe in me?" And, of course, the theme park just lets him go on stage and preach, thinking he’s one of the many Jesuses they’ve hired to give the approved theme park presentations. Also! Sunstar opens office hours so he can take suggestions on ways he can better serve the human race. Which is not a bad idea, actually.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
MR: I’m working on Superman vs Imperious Lex, a short miniseries, with my Billionaire Island and Flintstones compatriot Steve Pugh. It’s about the planet Lexor, where Lex Luthor is loved and worshiped and Superman is the most hated man on the planet. A lot of other things in the pipeline, but none that I can discuss yet.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Billionaire Island and Second Coming?
MR: The best way to learn about them is to read them.