I’m once again very proud and humbled to have with me one of the creative forces–one might even say the ORIGINAL creative force–behind CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY for part 2 of a Q & A session: WILL SHETTERLY!
ME: For those who have wisely decided to read all of CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY for themselves on your site, they know that in addition to super strength, all the augmented characters in CC develop mental abilities. A lot of these abilities rely on dreams. What is the importance/significance of dreaming to this series? Yourself? Being alive and creative?
WILL SHETTERLY: Hmm. I wasn’t consciously trying to do something with dreams, but now that I think about it, the first story was all about Jeremy trying to find his dream. So I’ll claim credit for that having been a brilliant plan of mine, though it was just luck. Or maybe my subconscious was doing better work than I realized.
ME: Of the first series, which issue(s) are you the most proud of? What, looking back, makes you cringe?
SHETTERLY: Oh, I won’t think about what makes me cringe! But the first story I was really proud of was the Miss Dixie story that was originally published in #6, I think.
ME: The pacing of the last two issues seems rushed compared to the preceding 10. Was this intentional? It seems like you had set out with the intention of doing 12 issues from the word go, so do you wish you had given yourself more pages/issues to tell the first story arc?
SHETTERLY: I do wish I’d planned things better. Basically, it was speed up the story or roll a grenade into the room and kill most of the cast.
ME: The letter pages were a pretty big thing in CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY. You had several people who wrote in after each issue with detailed thoughts and speculation on the CAP time line. (As an aside, I really enjoyed how the reality-hopping of the last issue was almost an homage to the couple of preceding years of letters about alternate histories.) In the years since have you remained at all in contact with these letter writers who seem to have become such an important part of your life then? Do you still debate via email(or snail) the what-ifs? Also I can’t help but notice one Mr Neil Gaiman wrote in with some lovely words early one. You have since written a tale for a SANDMAN short story collection, and he has given you some love in an introduction to a Sandman trade. Is CAP responsible your guys friendship?
SHETTERLY: Neil and I met in England at a comic book convention. He’d just come out with Violent Cases, I think, which we thought was great.
ME: There was some flack a few years ago with someone rediscovering CC and pointing out the racism of just the idea of such a book. In fact, on the comments section of THE COMPLETE CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY someone thanks you for such a ‘pro-confederate’ book. Having just re-read the book I find it neither racist or pro-confederate (in fact, quite blatantly the opposite considering how it ends). What are your thoughts on someone seeing the worst in the book even if they have read it (I’m just assuming anyone calling the book racist hasn’t read more than the title)?
SHETTERLY: I think some of the people who call it “pro-confederate” were actually just saying that I was trying to be fair to both sides. As for the people who said it was racist, I don’t think any of them read more than a few pages. There’s a good reason for the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
ME: So at the end of the first series (which was, again, self-published and 12 issues long), you made the comment that series two–which was to be called “CONFEDERATES”–would be out about 6 months later. As we now know those six months came and went and now new series. In fact it would be about two years before the book returned–this time published by Marvel’s EPIC line. It was once again called “CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY”, but this time only 4 issues long. Was this the same storyline you had planned for ‘CONFEDERATES’? Did you plan it to be only 4 issues, or did you have to truncate it? Getting back to the self-publishing question, how was it having a publisher who was not you on series two? Were there any compromises that had to be made? If the best of all worlds existed and Cap had become a huge mainstream hit after series 2, would you have preferred working with EPIC (or another publisher) or would you have liked to go back to doing it all yourself?
SHETTERLY: Confederates would’ve been a continuation of the “Yankee UFO” story that I put on the web here:
http://captainconfederacy.blogspot.com/2008/03/yankee-ufo.html The superheroes would’ve stayed in the background for most issues. The idea was to focus on more ordinary people, sort of like what Kurt Busiek ended up doing with Astro City. I can’t remember if we had given up on doing Confederates when Marvel asked us about doing a Captain Confederacy story for Epic, but I know we quickly set Confederates aside.
ME: The second “CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY” series finally introduces us to others heroes of Cap’s world that had only been hinted at or rarely glimpsed in the first series. How formed were these characters before you started series one (and how had they changed/evolved by the time you finally got to use them in series 2)? Is there anyone you wish you had gotten more screen time, or wished you could have shown but didn’t find the room for(like the Native American hero who appears only on the “Who’s who” back cover)?
SHETTERLY: Oh, I wish we’d had time for all of them! El Brujo might’ve been my favorite, but if so, only slightly. I really wanted to get to the Indian Nation, but there just wasn’t room for it.
ME: Not to open a total can of worms, but at the end of the last issue of series 2 you mention ‘big plans’ you had for Cap if the series had taken off. Sadly, that didn’t happen (the store I was buying the issues from as they came out didn’t even order issue 4. In fact, I just randomly happened upon it a year and a half ago at a convention. I never even knew how it all ended until recently when I re-read the whole series). So going beyond what you had planned nearly 20 years ago–and boy has the world changed in 20 years!–what kind of world do you think Cap and co. would live in today? Would Islamic/Christian insanity have engulfed Caps world? Would the broken-apart governments of their Northern American continent have united in some kind of post-9/11 incident? Would a “War On Terror” even exist in their world as it does here, or would they have more of a Tim McVeigh problem? Would Hurricane Katrina left The Free Louisiana devastated, or would the quasi-science fiction technology you have in Caps world not have made it the ecological disaster ours is? Would Kate be their world Obama?
SHETTERLY: If it had continued, it definitely would’ve continued to reflect the world we live in. The Captain’s world started off as a darker world than ours, but I think it would’ve become a brighter one. A black female president certainly could’ve happened.
ME: I don’t have a 15. I just really, really, really want to thank you for you time and for CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY. I’ll never forget what you and Cap did for me in steering me down this path of sequential doodlin’. Thank you very much, Will!
SHETTERLY: Aw! I’m glad you’re continuing to have fun with your comics!
And that’s that for the interviews! Many, many thanks once again to VINCE STONE and WILL SHETTERLY for donating their time and thoughts. As far as ‘covers’ of their CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY…there are only 5 left to go…see you back here next week for the cover of #12–the final issue of the first series!