An In-Depth Discussion with the Creative Team Behind Dead Man Logan
"It's not called 'Alive Man Logan'": Ed Brisson, Mike Henderson, and Nolan Woodard preview what to expect from the series.
Dead means dead.
The writing’s been on the wall for months now…Logan is dying. And he ain’t getting any better. Sick from the adamantium coating his skeleton, his search for a cure has led to nothing but dead ends. He knows it's coming, but bub, he has some business to take care of first.
Recently, Marvel.com gathered Ed, Mike, and Nolan for a roundtable discussion about coming up with the concept for the series, baking in references to the story that introduced the character, and what it's like to kill Old Man Logan.
Marvel.com: Ed, how this series get its start? Where the idea came from?
Ed Brisson: One of the things that I’d been doing in OLD MAN LOGAN was really sort of grinding Old Man Logan down and wasting away his healing factor, giving him more losses than wins. And trying to show his age, showing how that affected him. Then when it was clear that Wolverine was coming back, there was a discussion about like, “What do we do with two Wolverines running around?”
So because I’d been grinding him down and pushing him in that direction, it made sense that we use that opportunity to tell Old Man Logan’s final story. And set it up in a 12-issue thing where it’s called DEAD MAN LOGAN, and you know it’s coming. It’s not called “Alive Man Logan”…he’s dead at the end.
One of the things that I really wanted to do was come full-circle to the original OLD MAN LOGAN story and give him a fitting end to it all.
Marvel.com: Speaking of the original OLD MAN LOGAN, there’s such an iconic look to that story arc—Nolan and Mike, I want to hear about how you guys came on board and what excites you about the material, knowing that this is Old Man Logan’s end. What makes this a special experience?
Nolan Woodard: For me, honestly, it’s about it being finite. Which, believe it or not, gives me more room to play with color because it’s not going to reset. So I can kill the color and it doesn’t matter. This doesn’t have to continue. There’s a freedom that I’m trying to explore. I’m only working on issue #4 right now…still have got a ways to build...but that creative control and that ability to enhance, not just scene by scene, but throughout the entire story, is something a colorist doesn’t always get to do. And I’m loving it! And I’m loving working with Mike’s lines. He’s so expressive and full of energy. It’s fantastic.
Mike Henderson: Yeah, I’m with him. I honestly agree. I think the finite nature of this adds a lot of gravitas in the drawing of it that we wouldn’t necessarily get in an ongoing series. Endings are always a bit more satisfying to draw than starting, although there’s excitement in starting something, but there’s a real satisfaction in ending something.
Marvel.com: This is such a unique opportunity in the world of comics; what specifically about the finite nature of this story lends opportunity for new creative ground, to be bolder and make more definitive choices? When you’re sitting down and doing the work, how does that impact the decisions you’re making?
Ed: For me, one of the things that I’m enjoying about the process is that everything matters. In the end, everything will matter. Everything that happens from issue #1 onward has a definite cause and effect on where we go. And there’s a thing when you’re writing an ongoing where you’ve got to pick up a character and leave them in a place where another writer can come in and pick that character up and run with him, so you can’t fully break them. This is a chance where we can really just break him… It sounds cruel, but we’re going to break Logan so hard through this. But in such a way that’s not cruel, that’s not mean; it fits with his story. It fits with his arc.
We’re going to come back full-circle to the original story. And the ending, which was one of the first things that I sat down and planned—how exactly it’s going to end—is such a fitting end. And knowing that ending, you can go back and plant seeds along the way. And anything, every loss that he experiences, has an actual lasting effect that we’ll see throughout the series.
Marvel.com: Does that resonate with you two on the artistic side of things? Knowing that every decision, every line, every color that goes into it is going to have a big impact and is going to be part of this definitive linear progression. Does that speak to you in that same way?
Mike: Yeah, that’s something I’ve been conscious of from the beginning really, showing the wear and tear that this whole process is taking on him. I got a sense of that when I was working on DEADPOOL VS. OLD MAN LOGAN. So world-weary and beat up this guy was, and now we’re turning it up to 11 and really just grinding him down to the bone...or to the adamantium in this case.
Nolan: I know where it’s all going, so it allows me to plan a lot more with my palettes. The beginning of this series starts out pretty bright and saturated and that’s on purpose, because I know where it’s going. So that’s changed my color choices a lot, knowing definitively where we’re going to end up.
Ed: I’ve got to add here, the thing that really, really appeals to me about telling a finite series, why all three of us are here, is that we have this chance to have one creative team from start to finish to tell this whole story. I think you get that great unified voice. And the three of us are telling the story that only the three of us could tell together. And I think that people are going to feel that coming off of the page—the passion.
Marvel.com: Without spoiling anything, obviously—what were the early chats you three were having about this story? Where'd you start?
Ed: I would say Mike and I sort of talked early… Mike and I have kind of known each other a few years. I think the first time I reached out to him was back in 2011. It was a while ago.
Mike: Sounds about right.
Ed: When we first started talking about this series, I think we hopped on an email chain or we were messaging each other, and just sort of talking about where it was going to go and where it was going to end. Sort of giving some ideas and then asking Mike what is it that he would like to see and do in the book so that we can have both of our, in terms of the inks and the writing, voices in there. And it feels like a true collaboration.
Mike: We chatted pretty early about how everything is going to go at least loosely. Stuff I want to draw…I mean, there’s always going to be plenty of Logan berserking and murdering everyone in sight, so I knew I was going to get plenty of that.
Nolan: I kind of talked rather broadly about the direction I wanted to go in the colors, and the guys have been really supportive of it…it’s been rather freeing.
Marvel.com: The very nature of the fact that this is the character’s farewell...what does that mean to you as creatives?
Ed: I’m going to go last this time. [Laughs]
Mike: I see ending a character as a pretty big responsibility. There’s some stress that goes in with that, but that’s the kind of thing that gets you out of the bed in the morning to make comics. It’s a pretty weighty thing and you have to give it your best, so that you can send this character off—a character that means a lot to a lot of people—send them off, give them a proper farewell. That’s really important, really exciting stuff. It’s great creatively for me.
Nolan: There’s something solemn about this. It was UNCANNY X-MEN that got me into comics to begin with. Like Mike said, it’s a big responsibility and an honor to be a part of this character’s final chapter.
Ed: Yeah. For me, it’s a really cool thing sending this character off. And for Old Man Logan, it’s something that feels natural too. It feels like this is the right thing to do with this character. So, I like that we’re doing something that’s not forced.
One thing I love about this is I remember when we were talking about this in the [Marvel Comics creative retreat] and I think it was George [Beliard, Marvel Comics' Manager of Talent Relations] who said, “You should call it ‘Dead Man Logan!’” I’m like...that’s amazing because then we don’t have to worry about not spoiling the end. We can walk around and tell people that we’re killing him. It’s so liberating. We don’t have to worry about it. We don’t have to worry about trying to hide this from people, and I think that we can get more emotional meat from it because people know it’s coming.
And that’s almost harder, right? If we know someone’s going to pass versus it happening suddenly… There’s a lot of stuff that I want to touch on with Logan, because one of the things I love about Logan is that he tries so hard to be a father figure but is also literally Marvel’s worst father. And sort of kind of reconciling these two things…and that is a big thing that has been driving him through OLD MAN LOGAN.
Nolan: I’m with you on that.
Ed: Like, he’s out there killing people, but this is really what’s driving him and I think that’s something that’s really going to be at the forefront of DEAD MAN LOGAN. My goal is that at the end, he dies and I want people to be bawling. I want people to have to go out and buy a new issue because they cried into the issue they were reading. I’m really hoping that we can get that emotional punch, but again, it feels natural for the character.
There’s a writer that I saw talk a while ago and he’s said, “Sometimes you want to give that twist ending, you want to surprise people, and sometimes you just want to take the plane in for a landing.” And I feel like we’re doing that. It’s going to be an exciting ride along the way, we’re going to hit some turbulence and stuff, but ultimately, you know where you’re going.
Marvel.com: Obviously, this is such a collaborative series. What have you enjoyed most about working with each other? What's special about this team to you three?
Ed: For me personally, I hit Mike up back in 2011 wanting to work with him. Mike and I sort of broke into comics around the same time.
Ed: So, for me, I’ve always liked Mike and Mike’s work. I think the stuff he just recently did on DAREDEVIL was just incredible. And so I’m excited to be doing 12 issues together with an artist that I’ve genuinely been wanting to work with for more than half a decade. And then when they brought Nolan in, his work just suits Mike’s art so beautifully. And the color choices are so smart. And when he’s talking about planning…the book starts almost light, and it feels like a really fun adventure that just gets darker and darker as it goes. And you can see that in the coloring too, which has been really great.
Nolan: Yes! Yes. Yeah, the trust these guys are showing me has been wonderful because I know I’m starting out really bright and that kind of palette may not speak to the end of this man’s life. But it is on purpose and they’re trusting me, and I really appreciate it all.
Mike: Ed sort of laid out our little backstory. Sometimes you never know how a team’s going to come together and with this one, I had no anxiety about how we were going to work together. I knew the second I was asked to do this that I wanted Nolan for this. I’d seen enough of his work that I was more than happy to just sit back and let him do his thing, give him as few notes as possible. It’s clearly worked out for the best because this stuff looks dynamite. Can’t wait for everybody to see it.
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