The following is an interview with the writer Aubrey Sitterson, illustrator Chris Moreno, and Roddenberry Entertainment’s Trevor Roth, which is the creative time behind the superhero graphic novel WORTH, which was released today through ComiXology. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor Barbra Dillon chats with Sitterson, Moreno, and Roth regarding the inspiration for the graphic novel, how it stands out from other caped crusader tales, and what is up next for the graphic novel.
This interview was conducted on April 11, 2014.
Barbra J. Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: What initially inspired you to write this superhero graphic novel, and how would you describe its story?
Aubrey Sitterson: The initial core concept for WORTH – a superhero who has to learn what it is to not be super anymore – came from the fine folks at Roddenberry Entertainment, but the things that inspired me came from a variety of sources. A big part of piecing the story together and fleshing out that original idea was deciding to set the story in Detroit, which led to the socially conscious, even revolutionary, counterculture of the Motor City in the late ’60s playing a big, big role. Everything from Marxist politics to protopunk rock ‘n’ roll like the MC5.
BD: What do you hope that readers will most take away from the story?
AS: One of my big goals in writing WORTH was to bring some subtlety to all the requisite superhero action. I hope that after reading WORTH, folks will be left with some things to mull over and ruminate regarding man’s relationship with technology, how time can pass us by, and the difficulties of communicating with and finding your place in the world around you. These are big, big ideas, and I don’t claim to have any answers – that would make WORTH propaganda, not a story – but I hope the story encourages people to think about these issues a little more.
BD: How did your creative partnership on WORTH come about, and how would you describe your creative process?
Chris Moreno: I’d previously worked with WORTH‘s editor, Paul Morrissey, and he’d recommended me for the gig. I read the treatment that Aubrey had written and was really blown away by how much flavor he’d layered onto an already intriguing concept. It had all of my favorite things to draw: robots, Detroit muscle cars, old people . . . It was also firmly rooted in developing great characters. I had a blast drawing the scenes of Worth and Elliot arguing and getting into it with each other. One of the things I love about comics is the give and take between artist and writer, and how each can feed the other’s creativity. When I’m reading a great script, it fuels me to deliver visuals that augment the storytelling, and, hopefully, it fuels the writer by showing them what I can do to help portray their vision. At its best, the sum is greater than the parts. That was definitely true with me and Aubrey’s collaboration.
AS: Our partnership came about through the grace of our editor, Paul Morrissey! I was already on board with the project, but we needed an artist who was as adept at small, subtle character moments, as the big, bombastic action scenes. Thankfully, Chris had worked with Paul before and was still in his Rolodex. For a comics writer, a good collaboration is one where your partner does everything you ask well. But, a truly great collaboration is one where your storytelling partner makes tweaks, changes, and suggestions that make the final product even better. What’s better than “truly great?” Because that’s what this creative partnership was like.
BD: Did you have an idea in mind for the art style when you first read the script, or has the artwork developed as you have worked on the project?
CM: I tend to take more of an animation approach to comics, meaning I tend to let the art style develop out of the story. I’m a firm believer in using the art to serve the story, first and foremost. So, when I read the script for WORTH, set in the rundown streets of Detroit, I saw a style that was very loose and gritty, but mixed with sort of a classic ’60s comic book feel. I don’t know how close I came to achieving that, but it definitely informed how I approached the work.
BD: How did Roddenberry Entertainment first become aware of this series, and what intrigued you most about the story?
Trevor Roth: WORTH found its origins within Roddenberry Entertainment and was originally developed internally before we decided to take it the way of the graphic novel. The story of its beginnings is actually the basis of the book’s afterward. We were most intrigued by the concept, because it allowed us to explore one of today’s most important issues, man’s relationship with technology, within the context of a really riveting story. In addition, it had the unique ability to provide a novel perspective while telling a relatable, almost universal, story. We all know what it is to fall down and be faced with the challenge of getting up again.
BD: Although the full graphic novel is now available in stores (and will be released digitally on April 16th), is there a chance that the series will continue on even further?
TR: If we are doing our job right, then each project we take on opens a door to a new universe for us and our audiences. If you are asking if there are more amazing stories to share from within the universe of Grant Worth, the answer is “absolutely.” I can’t make any promises as to if and when you might get to enjoy them, but the stories are definitely there for the taking.
BD: Do you foresee or are there any plans in the works for WORTH to be adapted into another medium, whether it be film, TV, or animation?
TR: Do we hope we created a graphic novel compelling enough that a studio or network would want to adapt it? Without a doubt. But, to be clear, first and foremost, WORTH was created to be an amazing, thoughtful, dynamic graphic novel. We do our best to stay extremely focused on any medium we are working within until the job is done, as to create the most powerful piece of entertainment possible before asking where else it can go.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
CM: I’ve been doing a lot of work in animation lately. I was the art director on the first season of Xiaolin Chronicles on Disney XD.
AS: I’ve got a few comics projects in the hopper, but none are ready to be revealed to the harsh light of day quite yet. In the meantime, I hope folks will follow me on Twitter at @aubreysitterson, as I’ll be sure to push the bejeezus out of them once I’m allowed to talk about them. Also, if you’re a wrestling fan, you can check out my weekly wrestling talk show, STRAIGHT SHOOT, on YouTube at youtube.com/aubreyrex, or as an audio-only podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about the comic books or graphic novels that you are currently reading?
CM: I’m loving the hell outta Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore’s new Ghost Rider at Marvel. Again, I’m a sucker for old muscle cars, so the fact that the new spirit of vengeance is rolling around in a Dodge Charger is a thrill to read.
AS: The funny thing about trying to create your own projects is that you very quickly start running out of time to enjoy other people’s projects. Because of that, I’ve got a humongo stack of books I’m way behind on. Things I’m excited about circling back around to include: Johnny Ryan’s fifth Prison Pit book, Prophet by Brandon Graham & co., the new editions of Miracleman that Marvel is putting out, and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.
TR: Right now, I am actually re-reading Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Obviously, it’s not the newest book around, and, hopefully, everyone reading this interview has already read it, but if you haven’t, you should! It’s amazing – from story, to world creation, to characters!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about WORTH?
CM: I would really love it if reading WORTH got people into looking into the history of Detroit, an amazing city that’s gone through this incredible transformation that we touch upon in the book, and our characters sort of mirror that journey. Also, put on the MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams” when you read the opening scene.
AS: The first chapter is available absolutely free on ComiXology, so there’s no reason for you not to download it and check it out. If you dig it, you’re in for a real treat once you read the full book.
TR: First off, “thank you.” As cliche as it sounds, we live and die by our fans, and we are just happy to hear that we created something they want to learn more about. We’ll be heading to WonderCon and Comic-Con this year, so come and see our panel, ask questions, and say, “Hello.” WORTH will definitely be a topic of discussion. We also created a great website, www.WheresYourWorth.com, that you can visit for updates and materials we plan to add.