Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Diva Chats With Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew About The New "Dr. Fate" Series

When Red Dot Diva first got wind of Paul Levitz's latest DC Comics project "Dr. Fate", she never expected him to be working with Singapore-based artist, Sonny Liew. They seemed such an unlikely duo, as Sonny's quirky expressive style suggests that it may appeal more to a certain kind of crowd that may not be as familiar with Paul's extensive works.

But then stranger things have happened. In fact, Red Dot Diva thinks this fresh and unique collaboration is what makes the upcoming "Dr. Fate" series so intriguing!

Red Dot Diva *had* to find out more about "Dr. Fate" from both creators, and here are their answers to her nosy questions:

Red Dot Diva: How did this "Dr. Fate" collaboration come about?
I know Sonny’s work back to "Her Faith in Frankie" and always enjoyed his imagination. When Dan Didio and Jim Lee asked me to think about an artist for this new series with a very personal style, I suggested him, and was so pleased they were enthusiastic and able to work it out.

Sonny: Yeah Paul and I met each other at the Singapore Comic Con (STGCC) a few years back, when he was a special guest there . We’ve been in touch intermittently, and when he asked if I’d be keen to work with him on "Dr. Fate" it didn’t take me long at all to say yes. I’m still worried about how the art style will received though, but hopefully crossed fingers and toes will help a bit.

Red Dot Diva: What excites you most about this upcoming project? 
Paul: It’s my first new project for DC to start from my own pitch in what feels like forever, and the opportunity to do a version of a character I’ve loved since I was 9 with a thoughtful collaborator is very exciting. This "Dr. Fate" is tonally and structurally a bit different than the rest of the DC line, and a bit different from most of my work.  I’m very anxious to see the reception it receives.

Sonny: Getting to work with Paul is top of the list! That aside (despite the Shadow Hero) I haven’t really worked on a superhero series before, so this will be an interesting challenge. "Dr. Fate" himself is an intriguing character with a deep history, so I do feel honored to be able to play a role in this new chapter of his story.

Red Dot Diva: Which "Dr. Fate" incarnation would the series be based on (if not already revealed). Give us a hint, a bone, a tidbit. What should fans expect in the new "Dr. Fate"?
Paul: Since the very first tales, "Dr. Fate" has been anchored in Egyptian mythology, but has rarely explored it. As a young assistant editor I was fascinated by what Marty Pasko and Walter Simonson did with the FATE FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL, and I take some inspiration from that…but no specific direction.

"Dr. Fate" is an Egyptian-American young man (Khalid Nassour), living in Brooklyn with his parents, preparing for medical school, suddenly finding himself in the middle of a war between gods as Anubis sets out to flood the world.  The helmet, one of the great iconic images of comics, will be thrust upon him, and he’ll be very much over his head.

Sonny: Visually I think Paul was looking for a younger incarnation of the character, so I’ve tried my best to give him a more contemporary look and feel. We got to see a lot of images of young Egyptians through the media during the Arab Spring, and I do hope we’ll be able to capture the way those young men and women looked, the clothes they wore, the passions and idealism in their hearts.

Red Dot Diva: Will this new series be linked to any of the other series in the comic books?
Paul: Not yet, but eventually in the DC Universe, everything connects.

Red Dot Diva: What about the TV shows? Hardcore fans noticed the Helmet of Fate turning up in the “Constantine” premiere episode! 
Paul: That was so much fun.  And my foggy memory seems to recall Geoff Johns writing in into a "Smallville" episode in a future museum, too.  Who knows where it’ll show up next.

Sonny: I’m not really privy to any insider info! :p

Red Dot Diva: It seems like the golden age of comic superheroes in the world of TV and movies, with DC comic characters having the upper hand in the realm of TV (“Arrow”, “The Flash”, “Constantine”).  Have you watched any of these new TV series yet? What do you think of them and do you have a personal favourite? 
Paul: My favorite has to be "Constantine", which my son Garret had the chance to work on (check out the very fine print in the credits of episode 8). I wish everyone would give it another chance so they get to do more episodes.
(Red Dot Diva: Unfortunately, this was before the recent news of the cancellation of "Constantine".)

Sonny: I’ve only watched "The Flash" so far – it’s a lot of fun, with a compelling central arc, even if it does get a little silly around the edges. I look forward to every new episode, and for some reason always think of Sheldon Cooper dressed as the character when I watch them.

Red Dot Diva: When was the first time you realized you were a fan of each other’s works? 
Paul: I’ve always liked stories that play with mythology and gods, so I put "Frankie" in the reading pile from the beginning of its run, and thoroughly enjoyed Sonny’s quirky characters.  Visiting Singapore a few years back connected me with the local comics culture (hi, Diva!) (Red Dot Diva blows kisses), and I’ve been watching his experimental projects ever since.

Sonny: I was vaguely aware that Paul liked "Frankie", and it was a real honor that he thought of me for "Dr. Fate". I’m not the biggest reader of superhero comics, but Paul’s standing in the industry speaks for itself, and I’m going into this all kinds of nervous worrying about whether I’ll be able to meet all the demands he’ll ask of me on the series.

Red Dot Diva: In addition to working together for the first time, both of you are living in almost opposite time zones. Have these placed extra challenges working with each other?
Paul: E-mail works fine.

Sonny: Yes email works wonders. Type, type, send, send, sometimes we forget how astonishing a thing it is.

Red Dot Diva: Have you ever met a sorcerer? If not, when was the last time you experienced some real magic? 
Paul: Hmmm…I’ve known two witches in my life, but as far as I know no sorcerers.  And real magic?  That’s in every sunrise and sunset.  Or in the curse one of those witches put on Marvel’s CFO years ago, resulting in two broken legs a few minutes later…I’ve tried to stay on her good side ever since.

Sonny: I think Alan Moore is officially a Wizard of some sort, but I missed meeting him by a year in college (the comics society had invited him to give a talk a year before I got there). There’s magic everywhere, but never quite enough of it for everyone. I guess being able to see the joys and sadness of that I think is part of what makes us human.

Red Dot Diva: What would you do if you were entrusted with the Helmet of Fate?
Paul: Be scared stiff that I had lost my mind? 

Sonny: I’d wipe out the chytrid fungus and save all the little froggies. Though maybe that’d mean being called Dr. Frog instead.


For those who have been waiting for a sneak peek of the new "Dr. Fate" comic by Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew, an 8-page preview is included in this week's "Convergence: AQUAMAN #2".

Even better, the preview is also available as a free digital download on DC Comic's website as well as at Comixology, iTunes, Nook, Amazon and Barnes & So, go get it now!

"Dr. Fate #1" is set to go on sale on 17 June, 2015.

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