We were able to talk to the creative team (sans Stan Lee) behind Disney/Marvel/Stan Lee’s most recent written project. It’s called The Zodiac Legacy and Book One: Convergence was recently released. We get to talk to the Stuart Moore (co-writer), Andie Tong (illustrator), and Nachie Marsham (editor). The story follows a Chinese-American teenager, named Steven, who is thrown into the middle of an epic global chase when twelve magical superpowers are unleashed on the world. He’ll have to master strange powers, outrun super-powered mercenaries, and unlock the mysterious powers of the Zodiac. You know you’re already interested, but check out our interview just so you understand exactly why you should be even more excited. Stick around at the end of the interview and enter to win your very own copy, along with original character sketch by the talented Andie Tong.
To get the interview started, here’s a short introduction from the Marvel master himself, Mr. Stan Lee.
Intro from the creators:
Mr. Nachie Marsham (editor): A little bit of quick background on the project itself, a couple of years ago, I think this might have been back at the beginning of 2012. My boss, who is the associate publisher here at Disney Publishing, Rich Thomas, handed me this proposal for this story. That was from Stan Lee, through his company, POW! Entertainment. And he was like I think this is something that could come through Disney. And I think it’s something that could be really exciting. Can you take a look and see if this is something that you think could be an interesting book or a book series? There’s a lot of story in this kind of core bit of story. And I kind of thought he was jerking me around a little bit at first. So, I was like, oh, wow, okay. We got this in from Stan Lee. Of course, it’s Tuesday. That makes total sense. But it was, obviously, an actual thing that had come in from Stan. And when we were going over it, it sounded like the sort of thing that could be a really exciting story. And essentially, they were very excited clearly about working with us a lot and being able to help develop the story so that it could be the best possible book that we could have and to be able to work with us on the story and the art a lot. So, I reached out to Stuart and Andie, who I had both worked with a little bit in different capacities in my previous life when I was working at DC Comics. And both of them have a lot of experience both with prose and with comics. And this was really at heart a story that melted the core, the classic kind of thing that Stan had created in the past, but that he was excited about doing as a book, and we thought could make a really interesting book both just because the story’s was interesting but also from a kind of logistical standpoint.
You know, it’s kind of like he hadn’t done this. And he was excited about coming to this with this story as a book instead of a comic or a graphic novel or a series of books like that because he wanted to play in this pool. And not too shockingly, we were very excited to get the chance to do exactly that. So, again, that was a few years ago. And we’ve been working with Stuart and Andie ever since then, from the very early days of Andie sending in some character designs and us going back and forth with Stan and getting notes in and refining the look and the feel of the world, to us bringing in Stuart to actually get into the meat of the story and figure out how to make everything really, really work as well as it did in the final story, in the final book itself. And so, that’s kind of the foundation or the nuts and bolts, and probably the least sexy parts of the story itself that I could be beginning to talk about. But for the book itself, as you hopefully have seen from some of the materials and now, it’s the story of a 14-year-old Asian American teen, a kid named Steven Lee. He comes from the Northeast near Philly, who gets his eyes opened to this world full of magical super powers and larger than life threats. And he ends up getting taken on this global adventure where he finds out about this world where these 12 pools of magical energy, each of which is embodied by one of the animal powers of the Chinese Zodiac, gives people–both which turn out to be heroes and villains–super powers. And we go off on this roller coaster of a story from there. So, and I really can stop rambling and let Stuart and Andie chime in, as the people who are actually bringing all of this to life, a little bit if you’d like.
Mr. Stuart Moore (co-writer): Well, yeah, I’m just happy people are finally able to read the book because we have been working on this for a long time. It’s been very exciting. I won’t take up too much time, I want to get to the questions and everything. But one challenge of this book is because it is based on the Chinese Zodiac itself, there are a lot of characters. There were a lot of personalities we had to figure out. There were a lot of alliances we had to make sure worked between the villains and the heroes. And a lot of that will shift in future volumes, too. Things will not stay the same. We wanted to keep everything very firmly focused on Steven as the protagonist. But it’s also a very large canvas with a lot of room for different stories. And that’s pretty exciting to me.
Mr. Andie Tong (illustrator): Well, when I was first approached, I, you know, couldn’t believe it because A) it was from Disney, and B) it was from Stan Lee. We’re working on a major project with a legendary creator. So, the way I was first approached, the character was mentioned to me. Basically, I was born in the Year of the Tiger. And since Steven Lee also has the power of the Tiger, I thought this project was meant to be. I decided to try my best to create the characters and foresee them the way I thought would accentuate their powers and all that. The main character was decided and the powers that he would have. The others, I had the leeway to choose ethnicity and sex of the characters and which powers go to which one, although the powers were already divided into villains and heroes. But essentially, I got to create the characters from the ground up and to bring forth the look and feel of each character, with the guidance of Nachie and Disney. And it was really good. It was an exciting project, definitely. I thought this is not just superheroes. I didn’t want to completely go with them in tights. I just wanted to bring it down to realism, in the sense that they were wearing normal clothes. And the villains are more military-based. But they have these awesome powers. That’s something that’s different than a lot of hero stories out there. So, yeah, I hope I did a good job. I found working on the project was challenging because I came from a sequential background. And telling stories in panel is easy, but to tell a story in one image or rather just one image with everything in the background was something I was looking forward to.
(The Interview starts on the next page ——->)