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The Phantom Reporter C’est Moi

Shortly after my first novel came out, I received a very kind email from Bill Rosemann, an editor at Marvel Comics, who expressed an interest in having me write some scripts for Marvel. Something about my fiction suggested to him that I might have something to contribute to comics, and he compared Benjamin Weaver, the protagonist in A Conspiracy of Paper, to the superhero Luke Cage. At the time, I had no idea who Luke Cage was, but now, as a fan of Brian Michael Bendis’s New Avengers, I get and appreciate the comparison.

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In any case, the offer was left open and unspecific. I grew up reading comic books and remained a fan into my 20s. Eventually I gave them up as a lot of the titles I liked lost steam, and as I ran out of time for leisure reading because of the demands of grad school. The cancellation of Keith Giffen’s brilliant and absurd series, The Heckler, about a superhero with no power but irony, was really the last straw for me.

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As enticing as Marvel’s offer was, I simply didn’t have time to reacquaint myself with the Marvel universe in order to propose something that I hoped would be accepted. More importantly, I had just published my first novel, and I was deep in a terrible case of 2nd-novelitis, trying to figure out just how the hell these book things were written. Trying to figure how to write a comic book script on top of that was more than I was willing to take on.

Then, last fall, Bill Rosemann contacted me once again. To commemorate their 70th anniversary, Marvel was putting together a series of single-issue books, each focusing on a minor character from their first decade, and each having been revived for the terrific (and sadly unfinished) miniseries The Twelve. I was offered my shot at The Phantom Reporter – cub reporter by day, scourge of the underworld by night. The timing was perfect, and so was the character, since there was no lengthy back story (very little was ever established about him), and no worries about the Marvel continuity. I could either do something with the character in his contemporary setting (see The Twelve #1, faithful reader, to find out what he is doing in a contemporary setting), or his native milieu of the late 1930s. I went with the latter, and chose to write the heretofore untold origins of the Phantom Reporter. I love origins stories.

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The issue, Daring Mystery Comics Annual #1, with art fantastically rendered by Jason Armstrong, comes out on September 2nd. In the meantime, you can read previews at Newsarama and Comic Book Resources.

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