Comic book and film maker Kaare Andrews will be doing something very unique in April: not only will he be taking Danny Rand out for a solo run in the new ongoing Iron Fist, the Living Weapon but he will be handling just about every creative chore on the book except printing and stapling.
Such dedication is little seen in comics, reminiscent of the days of King Kirby at DC and Jim Starlin at Marvel.
To get to the bottom of all this, Cosmic Book News M.E. Byron Brewer met exclusively with Andrews somewhere between K’un-Lun and Midgard. Our own Master of Gum Chew filed this interview.
Cosmic Book News: You have been gone from the comic book scene for awhile. What does this return mean for Kaare Andrews? Will we be seeing more work in comics from you?
Kaare Andrews: I know it feels like I've been out of the game for a while but I never really left. That would be like asking me to walk around without my skin on. I took a hiatus for about a year to direct another feature film and as I was wrapping that up, had a conversation with Axel about what I might do when I came back. After spending so much writing energy in film, I was excited to return to writing comics and Axel asked me to take a look at Iron Fist and see if I had any response to the character. I had painted some Iron Fist covers in the past but didn't really understand the core of the character until I started reading those first issues in Marvel Premiere. Once I read those, I knew I had a way "in" and I knew I wanted to commit a significant amount of time to work on this book. I came up with a short paragraph about what I wanted to achieve and Axel and the others became excited. And away I went...
Of course by that I mean, away I went into researching the project. It's a part of the process that I really enjoy but it also happens to be the part of the process you don't actually get paid to participate in. So after about a month or so of hardcore research, I had put together a robust document that broke down all my characters, themes and plot for the next year. But it is the document I keep returning to, to stay on target, and stay on theme.
Kaare Andrews: I had to take Danny back to K'un-Lun because that first story, for me, defines Danny's core. And it's a story that's been mostly forgotten. And forgotten by Danny most of all. But as the son of two counselors, I know that if you don't deal with your past, your past will find a way to deal with you. This story is about the consequences of a character who spends ten years training to kill a man that murdered his parents, and refuses an offer to live among the gods, so that he may return home and take his bloody vengeance. That is a dark past. That is exciting and pure martial arts story telling.
With a return to K'un-Lun is a return to the characters that come from this world. But this isn't a story where Danny teams up with his old friends to save the world. I have no interest in that kind of a story. For me, martial arts movies are about a singular journey. I keep saying this, but Kung Fu isn't a team sport. It's about the enlightenment and journey of one man. Read Siddhartha, it's all in there. These are the origins of marital arts. One man versus another. One man versus a hundred. One man versus himself.
Kaare Andrews: I will promise you this. Danny Rand will never have been punished the way I am punishing him now. I love to just put my characters against impossible odds and see if they survive. This is Danny's reckoning. And there will be blood.
Kaare Andrews: This is actually my second long form as a writer-artist. I had previously written and drawn Spider-Man: Reign. I've also written and drawn a lot of single issue stories, have written a mini for another artist, was a writer-artist on
Kaare Andrews: Well, the best part of a collaboration is the surprise of it all. The, "Oh, look what Jimmy wrote for me" or "look how Bill drew this story". And by definition, that surprise comes from working with someone who is not connected to your core of creativity. There have been many great collaborations through the years and I've loved working with the most amazing writers around-- like Mark Millar, Warren Ellis and Zeb Wells. But I found out a long time ago, and this is just my process and not a broad definition of everyone else's situation, but FOR ME... the more aspects I take on, the better my work becomes. It's like I'm still writing when I'm coloring and I'm plotting by pencilling. The separate processes become one singular process. And instead of trying to drive the machine or work a part of the machine, you become the machine itself. And for me, that is when I'm at my best. When there is no safety net. No one else to blame, no one else to prop you up. I'm saying, I'm not so much a master of singular aspect of comics but a disciple of the totality of comics.
And especially now, in the writer-driven era of comics, the writer-artist is a unique process. And it creates a unique result. I would even go so far as to say that if you're goal is to create a different type of comic, you have to approach it in a different type of methodology. And it's no coincidence that all of my heroes, all of the game changers from Steranko to Miller to Eisner, where writer-artists.
Kaare Andrews: Let's be very clear. I have no interest, zero, in mocking the genre. It gives me no pleasure to give a wink to the audience. I'm approaching this book as nothing less than the examination of the soul of a human being who turned down immortality for the promise of death. I'm not saying there won't be lighter parts to the book, a yin to the yang. But those moments will be character driven and earned. As will the darkness that follows.
Kaare Andrews: I can sum it up most easily like this. In film, I am leading a team of a hundred people towards a goal that I may not have originated and every day is a compromise, collaboration and negotiation. It's a team sport. In comics, it's me in a dark room and every single compromise is one I make with myself. It's pure Kung Fu.
I love film and comics equally and in many ways they balance my artistic make-up. They really are Yin and Yang. And I plan on keeping one foot in each medium for a very long time.
Kaare Andrews: My only hope is that they leave that first arc with an overwhelming desire to read the second.
Kaare Andrews: I'm 100 percent focused on keeping Iron Fist my priority and everything else is being put in the backseat. I'm having the time of my life and this was the right time to commit to this project. Everything else falls away. I'm wrapping up issue 5 as we chat, so look forward to a monthly book on a monthly schedule. I hope you all pick up the book and have as much fun reading it as I did creating it.
Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kaare Andrews for taking time to answer our questions. We would also like to thank Marvel’s Chris D’Lando who helped make this interview possible.
“Iron Fist, the Living Weapon” hits stores in April!