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Comic-Con: Brian Wood on His New NYU Graphic Novel

Photo: Dan Kois

Brian Wood is tired. And no wonder: Even though he’s only been at Comic-Con for half an hour — taking the subway in from his apartment in Ditmas Park — he’s been working seemingly nonstop for the past year. He’s continued his immensely entertaining series DMZ, about a war-torn Manhattan, and Local, an Altmanesque trip around North America — and also launched a new series called Northlanders, set in the Viking era. Meanwhile, a reprint of his classic teens-with-superpowers book Demo is forthcoming. And on top of all that he’s writing a young-adult graphic novel for DC’s girl-centric Minx line about a quartet of NYU freshmen, The New York Four. We caught up with him before Comic-Con completely wore him out.

Where did The New York Four come from?
The editor at Minx called me and asked me to pitch her a New York story. I was surprised — I wouldn’t have thought of me for a YA book, although looking back I guess a lot of my stories, like Demo and Local, are sort of accidentally appropriate to that world. So I tried to make something in that vein.

What vein?
Well, it’s a story about four freshman girls at NYU, and I really tried to … put the characters in bad spots. I’m interested in what characters do when faced with hardships and bad luck. That’s compelling to me.

Because you learn more about them that way?
Yeah. And I tried to give the characters personality defects, you know? One is terminally shy and only communicates through IM. One has a real attitude problem about guys. I wanted them not to be cookie-cutter teen girl characters, you know, the perky cheerleader and the tomboy.

Other than making you tired, what does an event like Comic-Con do for a creator like you?
I feel like this is half a social event — I get to actually gaze upon my peers and co-workers once a year. But also, on this weekend I’ll meet hundreds of people who read my books, and they’ll all have questions.

Do you feel like you need to be on all the time as a result?
Sure, and that makes you tired for sure. And obviously I’m aware it benefits me, but it’s still fun. We lead such solitary lives in this business — I mean, I work at home and I talk to my cats and my kid, but that’s all I do. That’s what makes this industry different from pretty much any other entertainment medium — you know, there’s no place you can go and meet your, I dunno, favorite novelist all weekend. Even before I made comic books, I went to conventions.

Who did you want to meet in those days?
Geoff Darrow gave me a sketch of a dinosaur peeing. I still have it.

Comic-Con: Brian Wood on His New NYU Graphic Novel