Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Home  >  Features  >  The Voices of Valiant Part 4: James Asmus




James Asmus is a man of many talents. Starting out in theater and stand-up comedy, James made the switch to comic book writing in the mid-2000s and hit the ground running! Making his name on some X-Books at Marvel, including Gambit and Generation Hope, the writer is now part of the Valiant Comics stable, re-launching Quantum and Woody to critical acclaim. In our newest Voices of Valiant installment, James sits down with Joe Kach to discuss his road into the comics industry and his upcoming plans for Quantum, Woody, and their pal Goat!


Quantum, Woody, and James


MightyVille: Were you a fan of the Valiant titles in the 1990s, and if so, which ones stood out to you the most?

James Asmus: Most of Valiant in the ‘90s missed me. I feel like the real boom, especially for Quantum and Woody, that run happened in my blackout period for comics, when I was in college and couldn't afford to buy any. And so I ended up picking up things slowly once I was getting heavy into comics, in the last few years. And Quantum and Woody was sort of the first one recommended to me based on the other books I was buying, and I absolutely loved it. Its very much my sensibility. And from there I started dabbling out with some of the other ones. I got a bunch of Shadowman, as I had lived in New Orleans for awhile, that intrigued me with the whole voodoo culture. And from that I ended up getting the Dr. Mirage books, because of those connections, and I really liked that dynamic. That said, I am fully in support of them making Dr. Mirage a woman in current continuity, because, honestly, the old Valiant did not have a deep bench of female characters. I think it’s a good move and it opens up a new way to take that story.

What’s going on in the title that you are excited about or what's coming up that you can tease?

Well ... this is the first time I've been allowed to talk about it, but working on Goat #0 was a blast!  When I did my initial pitch for the book, it looked almost exactly like the first four issues do. I was amazed with the degree they were like, “Okay, go write that!” I’m used to publishers being much more like, “Okay, those are great ideas, but we can’t let you do that,” and that was not the experience on this. And at the end of my pitch document for the first four issues, I was like “and if we keep going, we can do this, and we can do this, and we can do this..." and one of them was Goat #0, instead of all of their usual #0 issues. I will say this-– it's probably the most ridiculous issue of the series, but Tom Fowler drew that one. He has had no shortage of ideas that he’s wanted to work in their as well, so we kind of worked on the plot together. But the issue, aside just being a romp through pure enjoyment, also revealed a very important piece of the ongoing story. It’s something I’m really excited that they let me do in terms of the story. It’s really an issue I was really excited about. I am really enjoying writing this arc we’re doing that just started, but that’s less of a tease, because it’s already happening. It’s focusing a little more on Eric’s back story and his nature. We're also talking about connective tissue and where to make first contact between Quantum and Woody and the larger Valiant universe. There’s going to be a little nod and an Easter egg or two in this arc.  




Fred Van Lente teased that there was going to be a crossover with Archer and Armstrong and another Valiant team. That ended up being The Delinquents. How did that come about?

From the beginning I have always said an eventual crossover between our books feels like it makes the most sense in terms of first real deep contact between Quantum and Woody and another title. I feel like that’s the one that I feel that the fanbases, the dedicated fans of those specific books, would be more excited for. If I said we were going into X-O Manowar, they would probably be like, “What are you doing?!” That’s not to say I wouldn't like to get there at some point. That would certainly be an interesting crossover. 

I also have probably have the most personal relationship and history with Fred as well. I co-wrote a play with his wife last year, and so I think I’d be the most comfortable giving and taking with him.

What's most fullfilling about writing Quantum and Woody?

They are boldly-flawed people. That’s how I connect with characters most quickly and most sincerely, when I really feel I understand their flaws. And these are guys who just wear it on their sleeves.  Woody has probably too many flaws to name at the moment, but joyfully so. He’s kind of unapologetically self-interested, but nonetheless has an undercurrent of genuinely caring for people. It’s just if he doesn't have to worry about it, he’ll worry about himself. Whereas Eric, I view him as very, kind of doomed, tragic guy. He is someone who works hard to be his absolute best, but just kind of always misses something and it ends up being the thing that will swing around and bite him in the ass. And he’s someone who wants to be great and will just keep failing. I think it’s really easy to cheer for a character when you see them truly aspire to something admirable, and Eric very much wants to be an excellent man and believes in justice and helping people, but then he just can’t quite pull it off, or he reads the situation wrong. That makes him a different kind of comedy than Woody. It’s a nice contrast for me to be able to write, and it’s a guy who is really easy to cheer for. I think hopefully that balances things out when Woody is at his most insufferable.  




So, one question that’s unrelated to Valiant: I know you've done stand-up comedy. Are you touring? Do you still perform?

No. You know, that is such a demanding career. To be really “doing it” as a stand-up comic, you need to spend so much time on it. I had got to the point where I had a 45-minute set that I felt really good about and I was doing it multiple nights a week for four or five years. It just got to the point where, truthfully, I realized to keep growing I would have to go on the road and I did not want to do that. Which is not to say anything against the people who do it, but I think I would have had a hard time being happy in that lifestyle. Especially once I found a woman I loved and wanted to sleep under the same roof as... We got married. I don’t know why I made it sound like some weird, ancient co-habitation (laughs). And once I realized I could write comics and be happy, I just kind of wanted to do that. I love comedy, and I still do some improv and some other performance, but stand-up just kind of demands that you keep doing it and that became increasingly at odds with what I wanted with the rest of my life. 

So Quantum and Woody is a great vehicle where I get to flex the comedy muscles. I’m trying not to just work in my old stand-up, but there are definitely things that would have turned into stand-up material that instead turned into Quantum and Woody. Opinions I have or beliefs of mine, or just comments I have on things that work their way into there. Certainly the similarities between hipsters and homeless people earlier on, that was absolutely something that came out of conversation. I was like, “Oh, I have a place for that!”

Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it. 

No problem!




Let us know what your favorite arc of Quantum and Woody has been, and don't forget the next chapter of the World's Worst Superhero team: Quantum and Woody Must Die, coming January 2015! 


More Voices of Valiant on MIghtyVille:

The Voices of Valiant Part 3: Fred Van Lente

The Voices of Valiant Part 2: Cary Nord

The Voices of Valiant Part 1: Christos Gage


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