There have been some creators that I have had the pleasure of speaking to multiple times. The reason for that is they are consistently putting out high quality content. Titles that not only entertain and amuse readers, but also inspires thought and conversation. Writer Mark Russell fits neatly into that category. Whether it be for his popular Billionaire Island, My Bad, or his contributions to the Edgar Allen Poe Anthologies with his Monster Serials.
However, in this case, we are discussing his third chapter in his Second Coming series with Ahoy Comics Second Coming: Trinity, along with artists Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk. For those who are not aware, Second Coming involves what happens when you mix a Superhero and his roommate, Jesus (yep, THAT Jesus).
But things have gotten more complicated by this third installment. Sunstar (our erstwhile hero) and his wife have become parents, due to some kind intervention from God for looking after his son. Now Sunstar must mix fatherhood, and superhero work with Jesus trying to develop his followers while still being around for occasional babysitting duty. Who could keep a baby safer than the son of God? So, let’s welcome back, talented writer and now Eisner Award Winner, Mark Russell to GVN Talking Comics.
Eisner Award Winner
GVN: Always nice to connect again with you Mark. Since last time we talked, you won a 2022 Eisner for Best Humor Publication with your series Not All Robots with artist Mike Deodato. Considering your gift for writing comics with a humorous and often satirical edge, and having been nominated several times for past projects, I was excited that your work was finally recognized. Do you go into a project even thinking about such things or do you focus more on writing the best story you can and what happens, happens?
MR: In my experience, there’s no point in trying to write with sales or critical reception or any of that in mind. Some of my biggest successes were things that I thought were going to get me kicked out of the industry and some of the best things I’ve ever written hit the market with a dull thud, never to be heard from again. The zeitgeist is a flock of starlings constantly changing direction so there’s no point in writing for acclaim or in a vain attempt to capture the zeitgeist. All you can really do is write something that you love making and hope for the best.
Volume 3 of Second Coming
GVN: However, our past conversations tend to center on the brilliant work you do for our friends at Ahoy. Including Billionaire Island with Steve Pugh, your Monster Serials along with Peter Snejbjerg in the Edgar Allan Poe Anthologies, My Bad with Bryce Ingman and Peter Krause and of course, Second Coming with Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk, which is starting its third Chapter with Second Coming:Trinity. After you ended Second Coming: Only Begotten Son, was there any doubt in your mind that there WOULD be a third Chapter?
MR: I ended Second Coming: Only Begotten Son assuming we’d do a third volume, but since I’m not actually the one paying everyone, I figured I’d better check with AHOY. Luckily, they were not only interested in a third series, but we’ve been approved for a fourth one, too, I’m hoping to write five or six before we’re all done.
GVN: Which is great news for fans of the series. So, the first Second Coming began its life in a cloud of controversy with Ahoy picking it up after DC/Vertigo decided against running it. In retrospect, it was great news for Ahoy and even better for fans who were allowed to read the book and make their own decisions about it. Since then, through the 2nd volume, it has entertained and perhaps opened eyes to seeing religion as something that doesn’t necessarily have to be taken so seriously while still inspiring thought. In writing the first two chapters and now this third, have you reached the point where you don’t worry as much about outside reactions to the series (other than your readers) or is that still a concern?
MR: Anyone who wants to hate-read “Second Coming” is welcome to do so. That will be four dollars, please. I think I’ve always operated under the assumption that you write for the people who like your work. That it doesn’t matter how many people don’t like it so long as there’s enough people who are into it. So I don’t know if “Second Coming” still has any malicious haters out there, but if so, it’s far too late for them to do anything about it. So they’re not really my problem.
Making Characters Relatable
GVN: The funny part of that is there ARE people who would spend that $4 just to complain. Oh well, their money spends just like those who love the series does. But I digress. Part of the charm of the series is that you depict all of the main characters as very relatable. Which is a pretty good feat since we are talking about Jesus, God, and a Superhero. Giving readers characters they can identify with while finding the humor in the situations (which is ALWAYS easier when someone ELSE is going through it.) Was that an important part of the storyline as you continued with the 2nd volume and now the third?
MR: Yes, definitely. I want the readers, if only momentarily, to see the characters through their own perspective. To hear God explain himself. To understand how Cranius got this way. Because I think simply writing people off as malicious or evil (and many ARE simply malicious or evil) absolves us from the work of asking ourselves what kind of conditions are likely to produce these kinds of people. And I think that’s the real thought experiment behind superhero comics. What is it in our world that produces either a Lex Luthor or a Superman? At least, that seems like a more interesting way of thinking of superhero comics than simply as professional wrestling for people who can fly.
Dealing with Being a Superhero
GVN: AbsoIutely! Now, I hope that I’m not giving too much away but I had to ask. I can’t help but notice that Ken is sometimes…what’s the word?? A number or words come to mind but let’s just say…a JERK! (There…I self-censored myself). What’s up with THAT?? Even his buddy noted it. But I guess all heroes can’t be boy scouts.
MR: I think it would be hard to be a regular guy with Sunstar’s powers and not be a jerk. At least some of the time. And I don’t know that he’s any worse than any of the rest of us, it’s just that when he does choose to be a jerk, the consequences of it are amplified because of his enormous power. When I was a kid, I knew someone who owned a dachshund, and every time anyone went over to their house, the dachshund would be yapping away at them, gnawing away at their feet. But nobody was too threatened by it because it was a tiny dog. I knew someone else who had a great dane that was the nicest dog ever, but when it barked, the heart of everyone in the room dropped through their chest. Power amplifies moral fallibility.
Bunkhead Mishaps: Coming to Kickstarter
GVN: Thanks for your time as always, Mark and for your thoughtful responses. Before I let you go, since I know you’re a busy fellow, do you have any other projects you can talk about coming up? Perhaps an upcoming Kickstarter featuring cartoons by some Writer Guy?? 😊
MR: Bless you. Yes, I have a Kickstarter for my first ever book of cartoons, called “Bunkbed Mishaps.” Please subscribe to it on Kickstarter. Many fine rewards.
Ahoy Comics Second Coming: Trinity Issue#1 by Mark Russell, Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk releases on April 5th. You can go to Mark’s Kickstarter campaign pre-launch page here.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.