Superheroes “like they used to be done”, written and drawn by Spaniards for the US comic book market.
Screenwriter Pedro Angosto and several Spanish artists work in the universe of Big Bang Comics.
In the last three decades, Spanish artists have managed to position themselves among the best in the US comic book market, such that there are around a hundred who regularly draw the most popular Marvel and DC collections.
But for writers it is much more complicated. That is why we highlight that Pedro Angosto Muñoz, who has spent his life spreading comics and popular culture through media such as his blog Hombre de Bronce or his collaborations with Graphiclassic magazine, and has written scripts for Big Bang Comics, a universe that is virtually unknown in Spain but has a 30-year career in the United States. And he has done it together with great Spanish artists. We have chatted with Pedro about these comics that want to recover the magic of the so-called “Golden Age” of American comics.
– What is this Universe of Big Bang Comics? When was it born and what are its characteristics?
The Big Bang Comics universe is a universe of pastiche Marvel and DC characters, in the manner of Marvel’s Squadron Supreme or Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, Supreme and Alan Moore’s 1963. The universe began to be published at the beginning of 1993, with the first adventure of Knight Watchman, although some characters such as Ultiman & Ultragirl had already been presented 40 years ago in the original Megaton Comics imprint of Gary Carlson. Characters such as Dr. Weird have also been incorporated, coming from fanzines and having been published since 1963.
The funny thing about Big Bang comics is that, in the 90s, they told stories of DC (style) characters (and later, Marvel) but written and drawn as in the 40s and 60s, imitating the styles of writers and artists. Now those retro styles are alternated with totally current ones for the adventures that take place today.
The original 4 issue series was published by Caliber Comics, then Image Comics for the bulk of the series, and later was solicited and distributed by AC/AmeriComics. The series is now sold digitally and print on demand (excellently) on the Indyplanet.com website, still written and overseen by creators Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker.
Those interested can get them here: https://www.indyplanet.com/big-bang-comics or order back issues on the publisher’s website: https://bigbangcomics.com.
-What do you think was special about the “Golden Age” comics and how have you tried to transfer it to these new versions?
Well, I have been a fan of all ages of American comics, at least until the most recent, in which, like so many fans, I have stopped recognizing not so much the characters but the way the stories are told.
But yes, I have always been fascinated by characters from the Golden Age, Marvel’s Invaders or DC’s Justice Society and All-Star Squadron, rescued from oblivion thanks to authors like Roy Thomas or James Robinson.
When I first read them, they inhabited the alternate world of Earth-2, and a parallel earth always offers great creative possibilities. Also, the characters from the Golden Age have that archetypal, original quality, and a Pulp adventure tone that I guess is what fascinated me.
In Knights of Justice, JSA pastiche characters that already existed in the Big Bang Universe, I wanted to emulate the stories of the 1940s Justice Society in All-Star Comics, creating a group of enemies analogous to the Injustice Society and evoking that style of adventures and the carefree and naive tone of those comics, sadly still unpublished in Spain.
-There are many Spanish artists working for the US, but very few scriptwriters. Why? How did you get involved?
Without a doubt I got “in”, before and now, by presenting my proposals accompanied by incredible artists 15 years ago like Carlos Rodríguez, with whom I published in Femforce, Shadowhawk and Big Bang (Personality Crisis, a pastiche Justice League adventure). Now I’m working with Pablo Angosto and Jorge Santamaría. Without them, I have no doubt that anybody would have paid me very little attention. In all cases, it also helped to have published with Dolmen Círculo Justiciero, which was already exactly that: a pastiche of the Justice Society.
I think by now it’s clear that both Marvel and DC and other American publishers, while loving hundreds of our artists, have a policy against employing writers whose native language is not English, or they would have already hired so many great Spanish comic-book writers.
It is not something that bothers me. The “majors” are not doing the kind of comics that I like, nor do I have any professional ambition to do now. I’m happy to play with these characters that are just as good as the others and sometimes better. And luckily, Gary is an excellent editor who catches any mistakes I make writing in English.
-Some of the characters in which you have collaborated is Whiz Kids. Who are they? Tell us about your story? What superheroes are they going to remind us of?
The Whiz Kids are the Teen Titans of Big Bang Comics, the sidekicks of the adult superheroes of the Round Table of America.
They first appeared in what I think is the most famous BBC issue, The Criss-Cross Crisis, a tribute to the JLA/JSA team-ups that had artwork by penciler Steve Adams and inker Jim Brozman, and a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. They returned in a one-shot featuring a second line-up, more in line with that of the 80s.
-What challenges do they face in this adventure?
Our adventure, which replaces some of those new members with newer ones created by Jorge and yours truly, is a tribute to Marv Wolfman and George Pérez’s New Teen Titans and pits them against the conspiracy of a mysterious criminal organization whose immortal leader is after the Holy Grail.
The Robin analog in our version is called Kid Galahad, or Galahad as an adult, hence the Arthurian tone of the adventure. The story is similar to The Judas Contract but remains a very personal story that can only be told with the Whiz Kids.
-Tell me about the work of Jorge Santamaría, Juan Moreno and Ulises Kuroshima in Whiz Kids. What would you highlight about them?
Jorge is the first artist I collaborated with on a regular basis in over 25 years, and he went on to work for Marvel on Avengers: Celestial Quest.
Now he works in animation and his drawings, which were already spectacular then, with a lot of good influence from the style of master Carlos Pacheco, are much more so now. It is a luxury to be able to count on him for this adventure and he is doing his life’s work, at least until now. Let’s hope he does even better later.
Juan Moreno is an excellent inker with whom I already collaborated a few years ago and we couldn’t be happier to have Jorge on board.
Also for the second issue (of three) of Whiz Kids we have the Madrid colorist Ulises Kuroshima who, despite not having done superhero comic-type color, is doing a more than impressive job, guided by Jorge’s experience.
The other collection you have worked on is Knights of Justice. Summarize its history for us. What superheroes are they going to remind us of?
They also appeared in Criss-Cross Crisis, and, their origin aside, a one-shot pitted them against a Nazi version of the Marvel Family.
-What challenges do you face in this adventure?
The origin of the adventure was realizing that the JSA had never had any encounters with the mythological world of Wonder Woman, so here the group from the 40’s visit the Greek underworld to rescue Venus (the pastiche version of WW) from the Pluto’s claws
-Tell me about the work of Pablo Alcalde and Simon Loko in Knights of Justice. What would you highlight about them?
Knights of Justice is the first complete comic that Pablo has done and it surprised me enormously with each page. As usual, now it continues to improve and evolve by leaps and bounds.
Simon is another old acquaintance who has made a perfect color for the retro/classic approach to comics, also working together with Pablo. And he doesn’t stop putting out his own comics, don’t miss them!
-Will we some day see these comics in Spanish? Will you do more comics with Big Bang? What projects do you have?
Well, some publishers have been interested in them, but we still don’t have any firm offers. We would love to hear from some! And I think Spanish readers too, if only for the drawing.
It is strange that these comics have not been published here – not only mine, but the previous ones – when we all know that much less interesting and crucial things are being printed. Big Bang Comics is part of the revival of the “Sense Of Wonder” of the 90s. Although the works of Busiek and Moore are more famous, Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker did it first.
Jorge just finished drawing the second issue of Whiz Kids, which will appear in a couple of months, and he still has the grand finale to go.
While making these comics I have reconnected with tons of artist friends, tremendous talent and a real joy to work with. And I have new projects for them to get published by Big Bang. I make them tailored to the artist, to show off their talent and have fun, giving me the pleasure of imagining that I am working with the “real” characters.
With Luis Lorente, we prepare the return of the Round Table Of America (the JLA of this universe).
With Joan Vives I am working on a proposal for Doctor Weird, a sort of Spectre/Dr. Strange in which both Jim Starlin and George R.R. Martin took their first steps. I take some elements from Martin’s mythology for Whiz Kids. Dr. Weird is the character that inspired the look of both Vision and Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy.
And Pablo and I are developing the proposal for a new project involving the Perez’s Avengers styled National Guardians.
There are another couple of artists doing some other little things that we hope to reveal soon and many others who collaborate with us doing pin-ups and others, like Angel Bernuy.
I would like to do something with the Pantheon of Heroes, an homage to the Legion of SuperHeroes and Ultiman, similar to Alan Moore’s Supreme, as best I can. But I depend on the availability of the artists.
I hope readers will give these comics a try, and they certainly won’t disappoint fans of superheroes “as they used to be done”.