Chris Roberson is the creator of Masks, a crossover event featuring Dynamite Comics titles like the Green Hornet, Zorro, the Shadow, the Spider, and more.
When you’re dealing with a crossover on this scale, how do you make sure none of the leading characters aren’t marginalized or stuck in a secondary role?
It can be a little tricky, to be sure, but the way I usually approach it is to treat the characters as an ensemble cast, as opposed to an assortment of individuals. It probably comes of a childhood spent reading Chris Claremont’s X-books and Roy Thomas’s Earth 2 titles, but I feel pretty at home dealing with a big roster of characters that are constantly bumping up against each other. You look for interesting points of tension between them, but also the points where they have common ground, and then just make sure that you’re moving the “camera” around enough to give everyone a chance to shine. That’s the goal, at any rate!
Did you do any additional research on any of the characters?
As with so many of the “dream projects” I’ve been lucky enough to write, I’ve been researching for this one since I was a kid. So I did go back and read a stack of pulp reprints and listen to old radio shows, but “research” was just an excuse I used to indulge in that stuff, if I’m honest!
Could you walk us through what the creative process was like for Masks?
It was pretty straight forward, actually. Dynamite asked if I had any ideas for a storyline that would involve all of these characters, and I immediately thought about the “Black Police Trilogy” of stories that ran for three issues worth of Norvell Page’s Spider magazine back in the 30s. In those three novels, New York state is taken over by an American analogue for the fascist groups which had risen to power in Europe in the real world, forcing Richard Wentworth to wage a guerilla war against the forces of “law and order.” The idea was that, while the Spider was off having his adventure, the other vigilante characters who were operating at the time would have also had to deal with this fascist police state. Dynamite liked the idea, and so I worked up a series outline, and then we were off to the races. It was only when I was writing the first script that I learned that Alex Ross would be providing the art for the first issue, which made things even more exciting for me.
Are there any projects you are currently working on?
Quite a few, actually! Rich Ellis and I are wrapping up the second Memorial storyline for IDW, which is being released first as a digital serial through Comixology, and will be appearing in print later on. Paul Maybury and I have started working on Reign, which is a new ongoing series that will be launching with Image next year. Dennis Culver and I are hard at work on new Edison Rex installments, being published digitally through my Monkeybrain Comics imprint at Comixology. And there’s a few other irons in the fire that haven’t been announced yet, but should start coming out next year.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Only that Masks is proving to be a ridiculous amount of fun to work on, and I hope that readers aren’t disappointed!