I recently exchanged a few e-mails with Richard Pulfer and Luke Perks, the art and story behind Blue Yonder.
Apollo:How did you come up with the world of Blue Yonder?
Luke Perks: Well, from the beginning I think we wanted to do a slick “Teen Titans” kind of book. But for me what it has turned into is something completely different. I think the world ofBlue Yonder is our “Apology” to the Silver and Bronze of comics, as well as our attempt at a step forward.
Everyone seems to be doing everything they can to slash and burn their 80 years of history instead of actually putting in the effort to bring those characters and their histories (blemished or not) into a new era. Especially in the eighties and nineties, the “Modern Era”, there was so much hope and levity which was essentially trashed and thrown to the curb in favor of darker superheroes without capes. I’m not saying that all those comics were bad, I’m as big a fan of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane as anyone, but I think we’re over the cynicism and we’re ready to believe again.
Richard Pulfer: But on the same note, we’re also writing this as an olive branch to the Modern Age as well. Despite the over-emphasis on nihilistic anti-heroes, some good concepts and characters came out of that period that were swept under the rug by the friction between old school and new school. “Blue Yonder” is all about all these characters – whether Modern Age or Golden Age – banding together to fight for the next generation. So we set up our story to have a multi-generational foundation.
Apollo: What character is your favorite?
Richard Pulfer: Definitely Frog, mostly because he’s based a little off myself. I came up with the character while reading an article on what frogs represented in a variety of cultures. I rolled all of these attributes into one character, and Frog was the result. I also thought about heroes like the ones seen in “Mystery Man”, and pondered what would happen if such characters weren’t jokes, but instead, experienced working class stiffs out of their pay grade. That’s where Frog and a lot of other characters in the Claremont came from – they make an interesting foil to a powerful newbie like Blue Yonder.
Luke Perks: I should say that I love Iron Agent because he’s based on me and he is a character I’ve been writing for a while. But I have to say that my favorite is Yuri, the Claremont building’s “Super”. First, I love that in a building filled with ex-super heroes, he’s the only with the moniker of “Super”, and second, he’s an awesome combination of “Cold War” era Bond villain and Nikola Tesla. How can you not love that?
Luke Perks: I try to get Richard to plan about 50 pages ahead, but I think he prefers to just write as we go…I try not to think about it. (Laughs)
Richard Pulfer: Actually, I plot out the storyline on note cards about six months in advance, and I have the scripts written roughly three months in advance. But what blows all that preparation out of the water is the revision stage. By the time I’m done editing for typos, making sure the description is clear for our artist Diego, and checking that the continuity is consistent from page to page, it really feels like I’m writing week-by-week (Laughs).
Luke Perks: You know, the hardest part is to take things “one step at a time”. We know what we’ve got is something special, and we love it so much want to bring it to the masses as quickly as possible. But as with a web comic or start-up of any kind, we are doing everything we can to build slowly and meticulously so that we don’t jeopardize the quality of the work as well as burn any bridges before their built.
Richard Pulfer: Definitely what Luke said. It is very easy to get ahead of yourselves when you are writing a webcomic. When you are putting out one page a week, there’s an ever-present temptation to get the work out faster to cover more ground on the story. You really have to remember to take a breath and take it one step at a time. It’s definitely quality over quantity in this industry.
Apollo: Are there any comics that inspire you?
Richard Pulfer: Well, the first one which comes to mind is automatically “Astro City” – the way Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson use superheroes to hit home very personal characterization is part and parcel what we are trying to do with “Blue Yonder”. I also liked youth-oriented teams like the Teen Titans (especially Peter David’s “Young Justice”) and Allan Heinberg’s “Young Avengers”. And last but not least, anything with a multigenerational feel, like Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ “Kingdom Come” and James Robinson’s “Starman”. I’ve also been reading a lot of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s “Atomic Robo” lately.
Luke Perks: All comics inspire me in some degree. I love classic adventure books with good endings. A lot can fit into that mold. But I’ll read a melodramatic study so I can say that I read it. I think if you are going to spend a lot of your time bringing a comic into the world, you might as well make sure it doesn’t waste people’s time. As far I’m concerned the only way to ensurethat is to be a big reader, know the history, and try to say something new.
Apollo: Any last words for potential readers of your comic?
Richard Pulfer: I hope there’s something for everyone in this webcomic, whether you are a seasoned comic book fan or a relative newcomer. We’ll keep putting out pages as long as we can, unless we break the Internet.
Luke Perks: We are doing this for you (the reader), not us.