Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Ed Brisson is a comic book writer first garnered attention on his self published work such as MURDER BOOK. Since then he has gone on to write great runs on books like IRON FIST, OLD MAN LOGAN, and CABLE over at Marvel.
He's currently wrapping up EXTERMINATION, which deals with the time displaced 'Original Five' X-Men. This week, along with fellow writers Kelly Thompson and Matthew Rosenberg, he will help relaunch the long awaited return of UNCANNY X-MEN. The book's initial arc "X-Men Disassembled" is a 10-part weekly story that is set to turn the X-Men's world upside down.
Next month he is also launching the finale to his Old Man Logan story, DEAD MAN LOGAN. The series is going to be the 'final' Old Man Logan story, which is sure to be another action packed story and finally wrap Logan's saga. Also next month, Ed is relaunching X-FORCE, with most of the original team coming back, including the younger 'Kid' Cable.
With Ed's knack for writing action packed stories and amazing characterization, the X-Men books are in good hands.
Comic Lounge: So, your first published comic book, MURDER BOOK, was self-published. How long were you working on that book before you published it? Would you recommend that route for other writers/artists trying to break into the industry?
Ed Brisson: MURDER BOOK was far from my first. I've been self-publishing since 1994. MURDER BOOK, however, was the first book I did after deciding to stop drawing and to just focus on my writing. More on that below.
I started writing MURDER BOOK on April 13, 2010. It was actually my birthday and I was in a bit of a mood about my place in the industry. I'd been self-publishing for 16 years at that point and had made zero headway. So, I decided to focus on what I really wanted to do (writing) and tell stories that I really wanted to tell (crime).
I think the first story was completed and launched online in June 2010. From then, I kept trying to keep up a habit of a new story every couple months, posted online for free. Every time I had enough content for a single issue, I would print them up to sell at cons. Initially, I would do short runs of about 50-100, but, much to my surprise, managed to sell through them quickly, so instead did larger print runs of about 1,000. Then in 2015, Dark Horse Comics collected and published an omnibus of MURDER BOOK.
The "Murder Book Method" worked well for me and is something I do recommend to others trying to break in for sure. Basically, it involves creating short, self-contained black and white stories, published online for free, later collected into print editions to sell at shows.
The one thing that a lot of writers/artists/aspiring creators do that I think is a mistake is that they try to come out with a huge, epic story from the start. That's a huge commitment. If you're a writer, it means you're going to be spending thousands (tens of thousands!) of dollars to tell your story. With MURDER BOOK, I wanted to create these shorter, 5-20 page stories that could be completed easily, posted online and then consumed in one sitting. I wasn't trying to get someone's attention for a 5-year project, I was trying to get their attention for a 5-minute read. I wanted to grab a reader and engage them as quickly as possible. And, it worked.
Comic Lounge: How did your work first get brought to the attention of the big publishers?
Brisson: By sheer luck. I was at C2E2 in 2013 and, at the end of the show, I had 2 or 3 copies of MURDER BOOK left over. Rather than taking them home with me, I just handed them out to the first few people to come by my table. I didn't know it at the time, but one of those people happened to be a Marvel editor named Lauren Sankovitch. Lauren read the issues and emailed me a couple of months later to see if I'd be interested in filling in for Nick Spencer on a couple of issues of Secret Avengers.
Unfortunately, she left not too long after those issues came out and it would be a couple years before I managed to line up anything else at Marvel again.
I got my big break there when Axel Alonso happened across the MURDER BOOK collection that Dark Horse released in 2015. He dug it enough to suggest that Mark Pannicia hire me on to write Bullseye in late 2016.
Comic Lounge: When did you first decide that you wanted to be a writer?
Brisson: It was a gradual realization that I fought against for a long, long time.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a comic book artist. After high school, I went to university to study Fine Arts to hone my skills. Around the same time, I started looking around for writers to work with. Now, this was the 90s and the internet was not what it is today. I would go on BBSs and forums looking for folks and manage to find two who were local. I met with each to talk things over, but did not feel either was a good fit. Neither had any published work to their name, but came at me with REAL attitudes. Their thought process was that they were the idea men and that I was just someone pushing a pencil around a piece of paper. They were just arrogant, with no reason to be. Their writing was terrible.
So, I started writing for myself instead. At the time, I had no designs on being a writer, I was just doing it because I needed to have something to draw from. However, as the years passed, I realized that I enjoyed writing a great deal more than I enjoyed drawing. Eventually, as mentioned above, I stopped drawing altogether.
Comic Lounge: I first discovered your work on IRON FIST and OLD MAN LOGAN, both of which I really loved. What did you like most about working on those characters?
Brisson: These were my first two ongoing books at Marvel and it felt weird to be given two of my bucket list characters right out of the gate. It was thrilling.
For IRON FIST, it was great to really lean into that vibe of old Shaw Bros Kung Fu flicks. I watched a lot of those films when I was younger and ODed on them through my 20s. It was great to know that I hadn't wasted hours of my life, I'd done research!
As for OLD MAN LOGAN, it was because I'm a long, long time Wolverine fan (see below!) and Old Man Logan is the perfect distillation of the character.
Comic Lounge: You also wrapped up a short run on CABLE and "killed" him in EXTERMINATION, what do you find most appealing about that character?
Brisson: Cable's a character who was introduced into comics when I was a teen, in a series I was in love with. I've been there with him since the start and have loved him from the moment he appeared on the page. I love that he's tied into the Marvel universe so deeply, that he's one of the children of the X-Men, so feels, in a lot of ways, like the first real next generation.
One of the things I love about Cable is that, because of his time travelling, you can do a lot of interesting a fun stuff with him. He still has a lot of missing backstory, which has been fun to think about and is something that I'll be diving into going forward.
Comic Lounge: What can you tell us about EXTERMINATION and where the idea for the story came from?
Brisson: In its infancy, the idea was something that I'd been working on for OLD MAN LOGAN. A story where every time-displaced mutant would be in the crosshairs of a new baddie I'd been developing. But, the story got set aside because it didn't fit with the plans we had with OLD MAN LOGAN and felt like something that was bigger than what you'd want to do in a solo book -- something that would involve so many characters, that Logan would be pushed to the background.
So, I stuck it in my back pocket and sort of forgot about it.
Then, at the Marvel summit last October, the problem of what to do with the time-displaced Original 5 X-Men was raised. I threw the idea out to the room -- a very simplified version of it, anyway. It's a story that works better for a group like them.
I honestly didn't think it would go anywhere but was offered the project based off of that pitch. It's changed a lot from the initial concept, but I'm really happy with how it all came together.
Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia have been a dream to work with.
Comic Lounge: You are one of the creators in charge of relaunching UNCANNY X-MEN, many readers, including myself have been waiting for this relaunch. How did it feel when you were offered this project? Who were your favorite X-Men characters growing up?
Brisson: I was elated. I grew up reading UNCANNY X-MEN, so getting the chance to work on the book, it was completely surreal to me.
Growing up, Wolverine was always my favorite. Mostly because he was a badass, but also because he was Canadian. Being a Canadian, we're overwhelmed with American media and it's seldom that was see Canada represented. So, I gravitated toward any mention of Canada. But, also, WOLVERINE. Come on. Dude is the best.
Beyond that, I would say Cyclops. To me, he's one of the most relatable. He was leading one of biggest teams in the Marvel U and yet was constantly filled with self-doubt. That self-doubt and constant introspection often led Scott to do some foolish things, which feels more real to me than a leader who seems to always have the right answers or who always does the right thing. And, when he screwed up, it was usually big. He carried the burden of the entire X-Men, maybe the entire world, on his shoulders and you can see how it wears at him.
Comic Lounge: Can you tease anything coming up in UNCANNY X-MEN?
I mean, not much anyway. What I will say is that this run is about the X-Men's own legacy coming back to bite them in the ass in a time where mutant/human relations seem to be at their most strained.
Folks following solicits will already notice that we've got Nate Grey/X-Men and Legion popping up. This is a story about the Grandchildren of the Atom (to steal from Matt Rosenberg). There are going to be a lot of really big, world-altering moments that I think readers are going to really enjoy.
Comic Lounge: Is there any other books you're working on that you can talk about?
Brisson: Sure! Starting in late November, we're launching DEAD MAN LOGAN. the big, final Old Man Logan story. Logan's dying and still has a lot of unfinished business to attend to. Dead Man Logan will largely be Logan tying up loose ends -- loose ends like Mysterio, the man who, in Old Man Logan's timeline, caused him to kill all of the X-Men. That's not a box that Logan's going to leave unchecked.
We've got lots of big battles and some crazy stuff in store. With a title like DEAD MAN LOGAN, it's probably no surprise where we're going. This one's all about the journey.
I'm thrilled to be working with Mike Henderson. I've been following his work closely for...I don't know how long. I did just recently find an email I'd sent him way back in 2011, telling him that I'd love to work with him on something one day and it feels good to finally have that chance. He and I have been discussing a lot of really big and crazy action pieces that I think people are going to love.
And, of course, it's always great to have Declan Shalvey on covers. He's one of my favorite cover artists going, so this really feels like a blessing.
We've also got Nolan Woodward on colors. I haven't worked with Nolan before, but I have colors for #1 in my inbox already and they're incredible. The perfect compliment to Mike's art.
Then in December, I've got X-FORCE with Dylan Burnett. The book reunites (most) of the original line-up (Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Warpath, Shatterstar, Domino) as they go on the hunt for Kid Cable. He killed their mentor and they've got some questions.
Kid Cable, meanwhile, has teamed up with Deathlok, are traipsing about Europe and seem hellbent on setting off an international incident that could put ALL mutants at risk.
Both books are going to be a ton of fun and I can't wait for people to get them in their hands.