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The Excellence of Brandon Thomas

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

Brandon Thomas wasn't even on my radar, when I discovered EXCELLENCE. But after one issue, he had me hooked. Along with artist Khary Randolph, Thomas created one of my favorite books of 2019. With an interesting premise and insane art, this book was not to be missed.I knew I had to hear more about how this book came to be, so I reached out to Brandon to learn more. Hope you guys enjoy this inside look at this awesome new book.

Also check out my review of Vol. 1 here

COMIC LOUNGE: Since the series started, the reception has been insane. Everyone has been loving the book. What was your initial reaction when you heard how well the book was doing?

BT: It was pretty overwhelming, and still is really, cause it comes back with every single issue. You have a feeling sometimes when you’re working on something, that if you can just get it right, do your best job on it, that it’ll respond to people. Even with that, it’s been amazing and overwhelming and more than anything else, gratifying. We knew in our bones that EXCELLENCE was one of the things comics needed right now, and looks like we were right. And with the trade out now, we feel we can expose every single audience to it, so it’s exciting.

This is the best received project that I’ve done in a long, winding road in comics (16 years!), and it’s already opened up some exciting opportunities that you’ll be hearing more about this year and beyond.

COMIC LOUNGE: The journey that Spencer is going through is both familiar and fresh at the same time. How personal of a story is this to you?

BT: Well, it’s the most personal story I’ve ever told, and in many respects, Spencer’s relationship with his father mirrors my own. Having to combat and harness those feelings of being denied something you feel you more than deserved, is probably the main emotional theme of EXCELLENCE, and is something that I think a lot of people have felt throughout their own lives. I definitely have, and I’m pouring as much of that pain and confusion and frustration into every relationship in this book, and I hope it continues to come through.

Based on the responses, I think these feelings are even more elemental than I’d originally thought, and that authenticity is probably what is shining through. The world and the relationships feel very “lived in” and sometimes it feels like more “channeling” than writing. It’s all right there, I just have to get it down in the right, most dramatic way.

COMIC LOUNGE: The anger that flows through Spencer has made it hard for him to live up to his father's expectations. I love that he's kind of going on his own path and no longer seeks to please his father. What can we expect for Spencer moving forward?

BT: His biggest journey is gonna be taking that anger and doing something constructive with it, instead of allowing it to eat him alive. There’s always going to be an interesting push and pull to their relationship, and just because one of them gets a little further away from the other, it still doesn’t resolve the core issue, so it’s gonna be a problem for them both if they can’t get it together. Like it or not, they still need each other, and for a lot more than they think.

COMIC LOUNGE: The relationship between Spencer and Aaron is at the center of the book as well. With a new dynamic between them at the end of #6, how will their relationship progress going forward?

BT: Oh yeah, I really love this relationship, because like we keep saying, they should’ve always been brothers, but Raymond kinda set them in opposition to each other from the start, which ruined things. They’re not there yet, but you should get the feeling they’ve come to some kind of understanding, and realize finally they’re not adversaries. The question of how close they are now, and if this new paradigm can survive some dangerous challenges, will be explored in future arcs. But we were definitely leading to that moment of catharsis for them since the beginning, and now that they’ve reached it, only gets more interesting from here.

COMIC LOUNGE: Will future issues dive more into the Aegis and their history?

BT: Oh, absolutely. Not only that, but you’ll see how that history intersects with some key members of the cast, and one thing about this bo