Black Ship Interviews Todd Black

Todd Black Profile

 

Black Ship Books: So what drove you to create your own superhero comic?

Todd Black: I grew up on superheroes, literally. I vividly remember watching Batman: The Animated Series with my father. Then there was Spider-Man, Superman, Justice League, and on and on. Then when I was 18 I found out I had a comic store near me, and wanted to read more about the heroes I loved.

Eventually, I asked myself, “what would my superhero story be?”, and Guardians was the result.

BSB: How did you and Alex Garcia meet and decide to create together?

TB: Ironically, we met because of another project I had called Guardians. Totally different one for the record. I had him doing some art for that, and we went our separate ways. Then, he saw an ad I put out for a comic artist, and he wanted to help. So after weighing my options, I hired Alex as my Colorist, and later my Letterer.

So we made Guardians #0 alongside an artist named Eng Chee Chua, who later had to bow out due to other obligations. So Alex told me in an email that he’d be willing to do it all. Pencils, inks, colors, letters, all of it. How could I refuse? And now? We’re eight issues in, and working on the ninth. All because Alex stepped up in a big way. Couldn’t do this without him.

Guardians

BSB: Guardians seems like a series about gods coming closer to humanity, but how would you summarize the overall theme in your own words?

TB: Well, I think it’s important to note that I don’t see my characters as gods, or even demigods, they’re…almost indescribable in a way. Because they’re not human, but they’re not deities either, as readers have both seen and noted. They have limits, and they can die, as Chaos almost did in their first battle with Tempest. I felt that was important because if they’re indestructible, there’s no real tension in what they face.

As for what the series is overall? I’ve said to people that Guardians is a tale about hope, based on two guys who need it the most. That might sound odd, because my Guardians honestly have something that most people don’t: a purpose. But for them, or at least one of them, it’s not enough. Guardians isn’t just a superhero comic, it’s a tale about life, and the people we have in our lives. It’s about being more than what we think we are, in some ways being better than what we are. Element and Chaos are meant to bring hope and peace to Delta City, but as time goes on, the people are going to give that to Element and Chaos.

BSB: Were there any characters from the Big Two that greatly influenced you in the conception of Guardians?

TB: Honestly? No. Lol. And that’s not an insult, it’s simply that I knew what I wanted Element and Chaos to be. Funnily enough, after reading the comics, some people have told me that I have a Batman/Superman dynamic going on, or that they remind people of Thor and Loki. I love the comparisons, but my Guardians are just that…my Guardians.

BSB: Are Element and Chaos representations of your own power fantasy?

TB: YES!!!!!….heh, heh. Kind of, actually. I’ve always thought of myself as a two-being kind of person. There’s the person you want to know…and the person you don’t…not murderous…but scary. Element I saw as the “lighter” side of me, while Chaos was my “darker” nature, yet one with a sense of logic and purpose. So when I thought about making superheroes, I just knew that’s what I wanted to make. It’s a dichotomy of what we are as humans. There’s a pure side, and there’s a more…crude side for lack of a better word. Not evil, but not as flexible.

I feel I represent that well in Guardians, because Element wants to be amongst the people of Delta City to show they’re more than just Guardians. Yet, Chaos wants to hold firm to the mission they were given because he believes if they get too involved in the people’s lives they’ll get distracted and others will get hurt.

BSB: Most of the villains revealed so far have not had a backstory or much development yet. Will there be a revelation as to where they come from or some more background details revealed down the line for the more significant villains in this universe?Guardians _8 Cover

TB: It’s a tough thing for me to be honest. Because on one hand, I want to have deep villains, but on the other hand, I don’t want to dawdle. I want to fill a very rich universe, and if I take three, four, or five issues to try and flesh them out right off the bat, I feel I’m missing some good opportunities.

With Tempest, who was our first villain, I went for a straight up supervillain. He wants to destroy the city, and the Guardians have to stop him. You got some insight into his mentality, but that’s about it. When he returns (and yes, he WILL return), you’re going to get more on his backstory, and you might be surprised where exactly his powers come from…

With Phase, I did a more hands-on approach. He “attacked” frequently, and you knew by the end of his first issue why he did what he did. Will he get more backstory later on? Sure. But he’s a very simple “villain”, which is something you need at times. Not everyone needs a tragic or super deep backstory.

However, with Frequency, the villain whose arc we just wrapped up, I went for a full-on backstory. By reading the story, you learned that they were incredibly smart. And then the twist at the end of #6 really drilled home that Frequency was NOT like Tempest or Phase at all. They had a motive that was pure, but how they went about completing their goal wasn’t. That drive made Frequency different. For me, Frequency is a villain who I can’t wait to return to. Cause the last page of Guardians #7 is the kickstart to their next villainous plan.

As we go on with Guardians, and I get out of my “build-up” phase, we’re going to go deeper into these villains. Which is great, and I want to do that. But for now, I’m balancing good stories with characters on both ends. It’s great to get the backstory, but it’s also important to focus on how the Guardians deal with these villains. Our upcoming arc, “Deadly Silence”, gives very little backstory to the villain itself, but the way it’ll be done will leave a bunch of mysteries about what all is at play in Delta City.

BSB: Is Guardians your first published comic or are there other Todd Black books we should be on the lookout for now or in the near future?

TB: Guardians is my first comic. Like I said, we have eight issues out, with a ninth in the works right now. As for my other writings, I have a few things in the works. If anyone is a big Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra fan, I suggest they check out a story I wrote that I truly think could be third series. I call it: Avatar: Spirit of Earth. It’s a 66 chapter story across four books, delves deep into the worlds of Avatar, and it’s a fun ride. I have art for it, an intro video in the style of TLA/LOK, and I might just have some animations from the chapters themselves in the works…

BSB: Can we expect Guardians to have a spinoff and possibly a shared universe like other comic book superheroes?

TB: I would LOVE to do a spinoff of Guardians. Part of my initial strategy going forward is trying to bring in a bunch of characters one after another so that I can gauge how people react to them and see how popular they get. I honestly do have 2-3 ideas for spinoffs that would bring even more life to the Guardians universe, but for now, I need to focus on my main title.

BSB: Outside of comics what else does Todd Black enjoy doing?

Watching TV (mainly superhero shows and cartoons!), playing videos games, and writing. I’m a simple guy with simple tastes.

BSB: The Guardians are near-perfect beings, but what would you say is your greatest talent and greatest flaw?

TB: I would disagree with that actually.  They’re very far from perfect, it just looks like they are. You see them and how they use their powers, and you think “what can’t they do?” But…they can’t do a lot. They’re only starting to know how to talk to people, and even then, they’re nervous around the citizens they’re trying to protect. Element is naive at times, and Chaos is sometimes too critical. They both have very logical points of view, which makes their brotherly dynamic compelling, but sometimes they hold on too tight to their points of view, especially at the beginning.

The first couple of arcs of Guardians was meant to show them breaking their initial thought bonds and slowly beginning to evolve into more rounded beings. They have to grow in order to be what Delta City needs them to be. And that just might be something completely different than what the Guardians think Delta City needs them to be.

 

BSB: Thanks a lot, Todd!  For fans or potential fans who want to catch up with the Guardians series or get future details, check out the Guardians website and the social media pages below!

 

Marcus E. T.
About Marcus E. T. (74 Articles)
Marcus E.T. is a creative writer and journalist who enjoys reading manga, watching good movies, learning odd skills, traveling to new places, and playing video games when he isn’t trying to develop science fiction and fantasy stories of his own. Having had several short prose stories published, he also hopes to write comics and screenplays, but loves meeting creative people who inspire and entertain others.

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