BEN RAAB can't believe he's been writing comics for over 10 years now.
Anyone interested in finding out just which books they've read but didn't realize he wrote, should check out his oh-so-cryptically-titled website, www.benraab.com.
All are welcome, children. All are welcome...
Lori G: Ben, you’ve been writing a good chunk of the
Phantom books that we have published here at Moonstone. And they have become quite the “phan” favorites,
that is for sure! Due out in November,
we have the Phantom: Death in the Deep Woods TPB vol. 1, shipping. It collects issues 1-4 of our ongoing Phantom
book that you penned. Can you tell our
readers how you became part of the Phantom family? How did it all begin, so to speak?Did Joe, Moonstone’s editor-in-chief, come to
you or did you come to him? Or was it
just kismet? |
Ben R: When I heard Moonstone was launching a new PHANTOM comic book series – the 1st in the U.S. since Marvel’s last attempt in the early Nineties – I contacted Joe and asked to have my name thrown into the hat. Little did I realize I’d get handed the keys to the kingdom! Turns out we had very similar ideas as to what the book could be and how to approach it. I shot him a few different ideas. We went back and forth with Hearst/King Features in making sure they fit their vision of the license, and the rest is history…
Lori G: I hear you are writing the Phantom for the newspaper strip overseas, or is it one of the Phantom comic book series from overseas that you are writing? Details please, for all the Phans out there, including this Moonstone Gal!
Ben R: FANTOMEN is the Swedish version of the Phantom series, published by Egmont
Scandinavia that’s been heavily inspired by the newspaper strips of yore. But unlike the strips, it’s a full-color
comic book replete with non-stop action and adventure in the grand Phantom
tradition of Lee Falk’s classic work. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on that book, but it was a
Lori G: So, tell us how
the whole world of the Phantom has treated you, what do you think of the whole
Ben R: The Phantom’s such a rich character, full of possibilities. Because of the family tradition of passing down the mantle of the Ghost Who Walks from one generation to the next, you’ve got a 500 year canvas on which to paint. That’s what makes him the most appealing to me from a creative standpoint, and what’s made writing his adventures so enjoyable.
Lori G: How about your partners in crime, here at Moonstone: Pat Quinn namely, he has penciled all of your scripts for the ongoing series, I believe. How did you two hook up?
Ben R: Pat and I either met at a convention once upon a
time ago or while I was still the Assistant Editor on X-MEN, I can’t seem to
remember which. What I do recall is that
I saw some of his samples and was really impressed by his talent. So, after I left Marvel and went freelance, I
contacted him to see if he’d be interested in helping me develop a new series
called CRYPTOPIA about a daring cryptozoologist who risks her life and limb to
prove the existence of so-called ‘hidden species’ conventional science says
Lori G: I know the Phans (btw, children, this is what the Phantom fans LIKE to be called, I didn’t just make it up!) out there would like to know how you go about writing a story for the Phantom? Are you trying to do things differently than what has come before?
Ben R: The most important thing I try do when I write a Phantom story is to have fun with the characters and take them to places they’ve never been before. I don’t like to retread old ground. I’m always pushing to find some unexplored aspect of the Phantom, his supporting cast and the world they inhabit. After 60+ years in circulation, you gotta mix things up or else it can get real stale real quick…
Lori G: Were you always
a Phantom fan? How long have you been
reading Phantom stories?|
Ben R: I’m actually a late convert. Wasn’t until I saw the Phantom movie on a flight back from Comic Con that I discovered how cool and interesting a concept this is. And it wasn’t really until I started writing for Egmont in ’98 that I finally began educating myself in the finer points of the Phantom legend. I’ve learned a great deal, but there’s still so much more!
Lori G: From a writing point of view, is the Phantom more of a challenge than some of your other work? Do you have to approach it differently than, say, your work on Green Lantern or Human Race at DC?
Ben R: Every project has its own unique challenges, in my opinion. What sets the Phantom apart from other comics, I believe, is the pulp nature of the series. It’s real world, but not real world. He has no super powers, but is definitely more than just a normal man. These are all aspects that distinguish the Phantom from other costumed heroes and make writing him an experience all its own.
Lori G: The Phantom has close to a 70 year history I believe, please correct me if I’m wrong, so do you try to take his history in to account when you write your scripts? To what extent do you do this?
Ben R: If it services the story I’m trying to tell, I’ll incorporate elements of the Phantom’s history. The recent “Aviatrix” 2-parter with its link to the original Sky Band stories is a prime example of that. Other times, I try to read between the panels of what’s come before and shine a light on details that perhaps no one else has considered. Like in “Curse Of The Phantom”, where I tackle the idea that there was more to the 1st Phantom’s liberation of the Bandar than was originally presented. Which can be both exciting and tricky simultaneously. That’s why I look to our expert consultants, Dr.Bryan Shedden and Ed Rhoades, for guidance on the continuity front.They are the undisputed masters of all things Phantom and the unsung heroes of this series. Their knowledge has helped me stay the course on a sea of confusing and occasionally contradictory Phantom facts and figures…
Lori G: I hear, that
there is a special Phantom project in the works at Moonstone, are you allowed
to give us any details? The Phans DEMAND
more information please!|
Ben R: So long as you guys don’t kill me for blabbing… The next Phantom project I’m
working on is called THE PHANTOM: LEGACY and it’s a 96-page epic retelling of
the origin of the Ghost Who Walks written and illustrated by the original
Phantom himself. His 1st
person memoir of the events that shaped what would become the Walker
family tradition specifically documented for and dedicated
to his descendants. In essence, it IS
the Chronicle of the 1st Phantom…
Lori G: I know you mentioned it passing earlier in the interview, but I think the Phans would like to know; what did you think of the Phantom movie with Billy Zane from a few years back? I know a lot of Phantom fans have issues with it, so I am curious what you think of it! I personally thought it was a fun entertaining movie, but that being said, there were definite issues evident.
Ben R: Was it a triumph of modern cinema? No. Did it play a little fast and loose with the concept. Yes. Does that matter? Only a little, really, in the scheme of things. For me, it was fun and it got me into the character. And that’s all I needed. (br>Now, I understand there’s a new Phantom movie in the works. Do I have ideas as to how that should be handled so as not to repeat the mistakes of its predecessor? Definitely. So, producers… If you’re reading this? Call my agent.Let’s do lunch…
Lori G: What other
writing projects are you up to these days, besides the Phantom-fun over here at
Moonstone? Give us a little peak into
those projects, if you could.|
Ben R: Aside from various screenwriting projects we’re
currently developing, my writing partner, Deric A. Hughes and I are devoting a
great deal of energy to LIVING IN INFAMY, the 4-issue miniseries we created
about a Witness Protection town for reformed super-villains, being published by
multimedia company Ludovico Technique (www.ludovicotechnique.com).
Lori G: One final
question for you Ben, in fact I ask everyone I interview: if you could have one
superpower, what would it be and why?|
Ben R: What makes you think I don’t ALREADY have one?
Lori G: Well, there you have it! Ben Raab DOES indeed have superpowers, it’s confirmed, and you heard it HERE first! Thanks a bunch Ben for taking some time to chat with me about the Phantom!
Well, here is a complete list of all
the Phantom comics that Ben has written for Moonstone.
You can ask for them at your favorite comic
shop or order them direct from Moonstone on this very website!
The Phantom: Ghost Killer Graphic Novel (limited availability, get them before they are sold out!)
The Phantom: The Hunt Graphic Novel (limited availability, get them before they sold out!)
The Phantom: Singh Web Graphic Novel(limited…yadda, yadda, yadda, you know where I’m going with this)
Phantom: Ghost Who Walks Collection COMING BACK INTO PRINT NOV 2005 With an ALL NEW cover by Doug Klauba!!! (reprints Ghost Killer, Singh Web and other stories by other writers)
Phantom #1 SOLD OUT
Phantom #2 SOLD OUT
Phantom: Death in the Deep Woods TPB vol 1 COMING IN NOVEMBER 2005(reprints issues 1-4 of the ongoing series)
Until next time,
Click here for great Moonstone Merchandise!|
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Sunday, April 20, 2014