Interview: Brandon Graham on ‘Prophet’, graffiti, and ‘King City’

No less an authority than Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool has openly pondered whether Image Comics’ remodeled and rebooted Prophet will be the first “spectacular hit” of this new year. Adored by critics and comic royalty like Warren Ellis the book paints a bleak future with a unique brush, recalling the concept of the 90s original, yet carving out its own path thanks to the work of Simon Roy and Brandon Graham, the Eisner Award winning creator of King City. Earlier this week I had the chance to speak to Graham, here’s what he had to say.

How familiar were you with Rob Liefeld’s original Prophet run?

Brandon Graham: I was aware of it, but back when they were out I was more into reading stuff like Heavy Metal magazine and Dragon Ball.

It’s been interesting to try to mine that original run for information now. I just read an old Wizard magazine interview with Liefeld and Platt where they mentioned that Prophet can communicate with anything from computers to whales. It just seemed like an offhanded thing, but even with that it’s another step to more ideas about where the character could go. Computerized whale brains?

The visual style has been described as, “European” which is a big left turn from the classically macho and muscular Liefeld visual style of the original. What inspired that, and was it a conscious effort to do such a 180 in an effort to put your own stamp on the character and the book?

BG: I think it looking European was mostly on the shoulders of my pal Simon Roy, who’s drawing the first chunk. But I think we’re trying to come from that same kind of teenage boy comics that the original run was, just our own version of it. Stuff like Moebius or Enki Bilal is all classy and French, but it’s still got a lot of space marines and lazer beams in it.

How bumpy was the transformation from graffiti artist to comic book artist and what pushed you toward that switch?

BG: I identified as a comic artist early on, I got much more into graffiti because that was the scene I was around. I think of them as cousin art forms.

But then going into the business of comics with any graffiti ideals was strange.

Whether it’s a good or bad thing, comics doesn’t have the competitiveness or cockiness of graffiti.

Has working with Rob to bring Prophet back from the dead inspired a want in you to possibly explore finding a way to re-launch King City?

BG: I kind of feel like King City was the baby I had to sacrifice to get my work noticed. I’d certainly like to do more with it.

I suspect even if It wasn’t an issue of the rights being tied up I wouldn’t get back to it anytime soon with all the other kinds of comics I want to be making.

Speaking of that, what kind of comics are you looking to make and is there any classic character or classic character type that you want to explore in your career?

BG: A lot of what I’m trying to do is just make something that’s as exciting as the stuff that I’d read that made me want to spend my life making comics.

There’s a lot of characters that I think would be fun to make comics about. Part of this version of Prophet is me trying to something along the lines as the 70s John Buscema Conan comics. As much as the idea of a Conan barbarian type is thought of as a caveman with a sword, I was really impressed with how those comics handled that character. They kept him sharp.

Jason Tabrys

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The former editor-in-chief, Jason still reappears in the rafters of our fair site from time to time but he now spends his days leaping from one place to another, trying to put right what once went wrong. You can still find his words across the toxic constellation that is the… More »

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