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By Andrew (2007-11-18)
The 18th Wild Cards volume, Inside Straight, is due out in January, 2008. That in itself is quite an achievement for you and everyone involved. You've dubbed it the "next generation" triad, what can we expect? All new characters? Any old generation cameos?
There will be some old generation characters making cameos, but the emphasis will very much be on a cast of new characters. One of the things that dawned on us when we revived Wild Cards was that, unlike the traditional comic book universes, they don't operate on comic book time. I say this as an old comic book fan. I started reading Spiderman in the sixties when Spiderman started--at which time Peter Parker was in high school. And what was very cool is that he then graduated high school and went to college and met a whole new group of people. I thought that was very cool, you know, that time was passing for me because I was pretty much Peter's age. I graduated high school and went to college pretty much the same time Peter graduated high school and went to college. Except I only spent four years for my bachelor and had one year in Grad school and then I was out of college. And Peter stayed in college for like twenty years. And then he got out and he got a job and he got married. Peter Parker used to be older than me, but now he's much much younger than me. It's comic book time. And Superman, you know, he originally came to earth in the twenties. If you start reading him in the thirties, he crashed in the twenties but now he came to earth in the 80's. Traditional comics play fast and loose with real time. Wild Cards has never done that. We're very solidly rooted in real time.
Things like the tumult of the sixties and the Iran rescue mission situation and the HUAC hearings are very much a part of the Wild Card past and we don't change the dates on those or play fast and loose. The downside of that is that it means are characters are getting old. The Turtle, you know, is closely based on me but is several years older than me. He's now in his sixties. Another character, Fortunato, the last time he appeared he was like in his late sixties. We got a bunch of geezer heroes here so we decided that the time had come to introduce a new generation. The young people, the kids that have been born in the Wild Card world. Who will have a different way of looking at it too. Aces and jokers are as much a part of their world as television and airplanes were to my generation. When my mother's generation was born there were no airplanes, and when I was born airplanes were just part of the world. We got a whole new group of characters. Some of them are great characters and we think they're going to be a lot of fun. And the old characters, those who haven't died, yeah they're still around and they may pop up from time to time, but when they will they'll be their age. No one is going to be Peter Parker and perpetually 23. Well, except maybe for Golden Boy, who doesn't age and looks perpetually about 23. He's still a geezer inside, however.
The series has long been known for tweaking history, and it seems recently there are a lot of things, current events wise, that could be used as material. Can we expect to see Jokers and Aces shipped off to a Guantanamo Bay, or some Ace Axis of Evil?
There's a certain amount of reflection, yeah. We're certainly cognizant of what's going on in the world. It's not going to be as one for one, though. For one thing the Wild Card Universe has some historical differences from our universe, because of things that have changed in the past that have produced a different history line. Places like the Middle East and India Pakistan are different because of the interventions of the Wild Card characters. Like India and Pakistan are one country in the Wild Card universe. They never separated because Gandhi who was trying to prevent that when he was assassinated was not assassinated in the Wild Card universe. He was saved by Black Eagle. And the Middle East is different. There's been a Palestinian state since 1948. This means that we can't just see what's going on in the news and put Aces in it because the history is very different. Certainly, there's a level of reality that grounds Wild Cards, that informs the universe and that's still very much present.
There are a lot of different authors involved in the Wild Card universe, and each one has brought their own characters and story threads to the mix. As the editor of the series, can you talk some about the process involved with each book, how you go about roping all these ideas together?
The process has evolved over the years. We've been doing these books since 1985, and after 17 of them I kind of know what I'm doing. I usually have some general idea about what the subject of the book is, or the triad, and we start with kicking ideas around. We frequently do a lot of these in triads, so there will be what we call an over-plot that connects each of the triads together. Some threats, some villains, some antagonists of some sort that goes through all three books, and is finally dealt with in the final book. But at the same time we want each book to have a certain sense of completion. For the ones that are individual stories the story has to have a sense that it's not just a series of incidents. In some ways it's some of the most challenging writing that you'll ever have to do because you're essentially trying to serve three plots at once, and have three resolutions: the story resolution, the book resolution and the triad resolution.