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Bryan Hill Talks Killmonger, The Outsiders and More

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Bryan Hill continues to push the envelope with each new series he releases.

KILL MONGER: BY ANY MEANS from Marvel could have been just another tie-in for a character ij a successful movie. Instead, Hill delivered a deep exploration into the character, in one of Marvels best series this past year.

Over at Vertigo, Bryan has created one of the best crime comics to come out of the publisher since 100 BULLETS. It is one of the most relevant comics on the stands right now. Dealing with politics, racism and much more. The lead character, Richard Wright, is a man filled with anger and self pity, which makes it him so interesting to read about. With each passing issue, this series gets better and better.

In the next couple months we also get to see the release (Finally!) of BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS. If it's anything like his short run on DETECTIVE COMICS, it's sure to be another great read filled with action and humor.

COMIC LOUNGE: Since we last talked you've had a couple new projects come out. One of those was KILLMONGER. Can you tell us a little bit about the book? 

BRYAN HILL: First, my apologies for taking so long to get this to you. 

KILLMONGER: BY ANY MEANS is really me just exploring how a villain is made, how we can emotionally justify horrible actions, and how bureaucratic systems often pervert the good they're trying to achieve. 

COMIC LOUNGE: Was this a book you pitched or did Marvel ask you? 

HILL: I was approached by Marvel, but at first I didn't want to do it. I didn't want to do a book that was just a "tie-in" to a character that's having a moment in popular culture. Luckily for me, Wil Moss my editor, felt the same way so he encouraged me to make it more than the sum of its parts. When Juan Ferrerya was interested in coming aboard, that sealed the deal for me and I leapt into the task.  

COMIC LOUNGE: I think every great villain is able to make the reader sympathize, to a certain degree, with them. I think this comes across perfectly in the book. What has been your favorite aspect of writing the character? 

HILL: The greatest aspect of writing villains is the way, as a writer and human being, I can explore my own darkness through the writing. My writing is often about confrontation. I like to explore the darker, destructive aspects of my nature, and human nature in general. It was the extremity in comic stories that drew me to them as a kid, and that's the kind of work I want to have on the shelf. 

In a way, we writers are always writing back to ourselves, stories a love letters to people we were, emotions we may have had. That can seem insular, but we all share the same feelings and emotions, even if we don't have them all at the same time. I try to be as honest as I can be in the work so the people that connect to the stories have a sincere experience. 

COMIC LOUNGE: You also launched AMERICAN CARNAGE, from Vertigo. It has been, in my opinion, the best series to come out of Vertigo in years. Where did the idea for the series come from?  

HILL: That's very kind, thank you. 

In culture, right now, there are a lot of conversations about hatred and identity. I wanted to explore those things and use the value of Vertigo to do that exploration in a frank and uncompromising way. I believe that readers are able to wade through difficult things without hand holding and make their own choices, come to their own conclusions. 

For my own understanding, I did personal research, spoke to people with extreme views, sometimes with a little personal risk involved, but that's the great thing about being an artist, a storyteller. You can go places other people can't and report from the edge of human experience. 

COMIC LOUNGE: The book reminds me of 100 BULLETS, in art and style. Richard Wright, the lead character is everything you could want in noir book. He's damaged and intriguing. Where did you draw inspiration from when coming up with his character? 

HILL: A LOT of him is based on me. I'm not bi-racial, but I've struggled with personal failure and identity, with anger and righteousness. I drew on a lot of my own personal experiences for Richard, tempered by the crime-noir aspects of the story. 

COMIC LOUNGE: What are your long term plans for the book? 

HILL: It's a finite story. SHERIFF OF BABYLON was an inspiration for me (Tom King inspires me in a lot of ways). My hope is that when it's all collected and people can read it straight through, they have a unique and enduring experience that maintains its relevance even as the world changes around us. 

I suppose all writers want that, LOL.  

COMIC LOUNGE: Your BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS book was supposed to come out in Dec. But it got "cancelled". Can you talk about what happened and are is the book still happening?  

HILL: Hahaha. 

It didn't get cancelled. Just pushed back. The main reason was changes were being made to the wider DCU and I needed to incorporate those changes into the book. Support from DC has never wained. That was just a matter of making sure what I was doing fit into the larger universe. 

COMIC LOUNGE: You also announced that you were "retiring" from comics, please don't by the way, or are you just taking a break? What does that mean for your current projects? 

HILL: That was a thought I had, influenced by all the vitriol I see on social media and the lack of fun I was having creating in comics culture. I've come through that, and I'll be around for a while. 

I do wish people were nicer, though. 

COMIC LOUNGE: Are you working on other projects that haven't been announced yet that you can tease or talk about? 

HILL: I am, but I can't say anything, hahaha. Sorry! 

COMIC LOUNGE: What projects, outside of comics, are you working on?  

HILL: I'm writing on season two of TITANS. I have a couple of screenplay projects I'm doing and when my work on this season of TITANS is finished, I have an experimental feature I'm directing from a script written by my wife. Excited about that. 

COMIC LOUNGE: What does being a writer mean to you? 

HILL: A writer is someone that articulates their thoughts into stories or non-fiction pieces. As simple as that.

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