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I originally conceived it in the wake of Trinity, when Dan Didio invited me to do something else for DC and encouraged me to come up with some sort of dream project.

I was exhausted from the weekly treadmill of Trinity, and my “dream project” ideas got pretty weird - at one point, I had this outline for an interlocking series of mini-series involving the Dreambound, Tomorrow Woman, and a few others, including an old Steve Ditko hero named the Odd Man. And my idea was to make him odder still, a character who wasn’t quite connected to his reality, to the point that he could see ours, and was using it as part of a plan to coordinate all these other heroes in some epic struggle that was happening on an unimaginable plane of reality.

Anyway, I really didn’t have the health to pursue any of the ideas I’d come up with, so they all fell by the wayside. But I realized that the ideas I’d cooked up for the Odd Man would fit some thematic elements that had gone on in the background of Astro City, and some characters already in there. So we built the Broken Man out of that, and he fit into Astro City wonderfully.


-- Kurt Busiek

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We always need new superheroes. But actual new ones, reflecting the modern day, rather than reflecting yesterday. Unless reflecting yesterday is the point of the story. But the idea that we don’t need new superheroes is like not needing new romances or new detectives. The moment you don’t need new characters in genre stories, the genre is as dead as Latin. It’s not a crime that superheroes don’t age, but it’s a problem that superhero series don’t more often age and die and get replaced. Imagine if Kinsey Millhone and V.I. Warshawski and other modern (well, relatively) PIs couldn’t get an audience because Sam Spade and Race Williams were taking up all the shelf space. If you’re writing X-Men and your metaphors are about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, that’s not all that much more modern than if your metaphors are about the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Ask yourself new questions, and put the results in your stories. Steve Englehart juiced up Captain America by asking what Captain America meant to the early 1970s. What does he mean now? What does Superman represent to the world? How does that, whatever it is, fit into the world today? Same for Batman, same for Wonder Woman. Tell stories you couldn’t tell ten, twenty, fifty years ago. -- Kurt Busiek

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Comics don’t rip off pop culture anywhere near enough any more. Krypto and Ace the Bat-Hound happened because of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD happened because of James Bond and the Man from UNCLE. Comics used to omnivorously devour whatever was popular and make it part of the mix. Usually two years too late, but they were in there trying. Kung fu popular? Have some kung fu heroes! Blaxploitation? Gotcha covered. But at some point, greedily chasing trends started to be frowned on. And the Big Two comics got to be a lot more about maintaining the old stuff than chasing the new. I think that was a point when comics lost a lot of vitality. If Pokemon had happened in 1965, there’d be a Spider-Man villain today named Monsteroso, who hunted & trapped monsters he used to do crimes. -- Kurt Busiek

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Too many first issues think it's enough to tell you who the characters are, and the immediate situation, but assume you already know the world, the context, the overall foundation. Particularly at Marvel and DC. A first issue that walks you in to the world, like a good novel or movie, that tries to be a foundation, rather than just the next chapter, feels like a rarity these days, all too sadly. [...] Too many first issues, though, are like "Here's the names and powers, you know the drill." Well, no, maybe we don't. Walk us in, give us a place to stand, a sense of the setting, the foundation. -- Kurt Busiek

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'Western Detective Fiction thinks Dupin important as he was formative to the genre but does not consider him the paragon of the type. Imagine a world where we could say "Apollo is a more interesting character than Superman" rather than "Apollo is derived from Superman."' -- Kieron Gillen

'I’m trying to imagine a world in which Apollo is more interesting than Superman. No knock on Apollo. But yeah, in other forms, inspiration is a legitimate springboard to creation; in comics it’s looked at askance.' -- Kurt Busiek

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A story about the problem with superheroes, from the Dark Horse Big Book of Monsters...

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