Interview - Brendan McGinley (Bankshot Comics)

If you read the site last week, you would've noticed that there is a new new webcomic out called Heist from Brendan McGinley. You might recognize McGinley from such works as Hannibal Goes to Rome and Mail-Order Ninja (end Troy McLure voice).

And if you don't recognize him or his works, now's a great time to get know something about his new work Heist, the first issue of which is available over at Bankshot Comics online for FREE. So hit the read more link to get your read on of the interview.

Omnicomic: How would you describe Heist to the casual reader?

Brendan McGinley: The world's greatest supervillain breaks into the superhero headquarters to steal the most powerful object in the universe. Broken bones ensue. I would say whether you like the 'splodiest fights or much more meaningful conflicts, both are evident in this tale. Our anti-hero is willfully shallow to start with, but he gets his butt and ego kicked up and down this story, and what is the soul if not suffering and aspiring? And anyway, there's sex. People still like that, right? Or has it been replaced by The Jonas Brothers?

Editor's note: Neither Omnicomic nor McGinley are endorsing the Jonas Brothers...unless the endorsement involves face punching.

Omnicomic: Where did you get the idea for Heist?

McGinley: Elder and I kicked around a joint Epic pitch (remember that?) back in 2003 I think it was. We wanted to use losers from the Marvel Universe like Dark Messiah and the Kilgore in a good, old-fashioned team caper gone wrong. It got shelved while we worked on the projects that have thus far made our odious names, "Mail-Order Ninja" (Elder) and "Invisible, Inc." (McGinley). I dug it up one bored evening and started kicking around better ways to do it.

We knew, essentially, the maguffin had to be worth the risk. I think it morphed a bit into a DC pitch because that's where we'd met and people knew us--maybe as hacks, but at any rate, they know us. It had to be a DC pitch at any rate, because that's how we got the idea for an assault on a satellite base (does Marvel have any of those?), which is pretty secure. From there, it was pretty easy to see Geist's adventure and his relationship with the crime syndicate N.U.L.L. as a perverse telling of a classic fable, already becoming more and more obvious.

We don't hide it, but it's more fun to notice. That laid out the structure, which did half my work for me. Yeah, so I retooled it, ran it by Elder for a thumbs-up, and then tapped Andres, who'd thought he'd escaped me when "Star-X" began treading water, and he was game. Who doesn't like to illustrate an unrepentant bad guy and charming hedonist? When we meet Geist, he's living the life James Bond fantasizes about: wealth, women, will to power. The problem is when you start off like that, there's not much to pursue.

And if you're dumb, I suppose you can sustain it a very long time and not get bored, or at least not realize you are, but if you're a clever fellow like our Geist, it's depressing to run out of challenges before you're 30. Fortunately, omnipotence chances by, which is interesting until it's the same problem blown even flatter. So there's a turn of events in issue three that was plotted for me by some author long ago. I'm kind of proud to say there's a neat spin on it that comments on an extreme in comics about as far as can be from the over-the-top adventures you're seeing in issue one.

Omnicomic: There is definitely a magic and sorcery undertone in Heist. Why go with this angle for the story?

McGinley: It's unavoidable when you go with the source material we did, or at least, inessential. What does it profit the story to explain it from a scientific perspective? The original story is flipped enough. Anyway, writers love magic because writing IS magic; you're giving certain premises and pulling out unexpected fulfillments with a flourish. Within fiction magic is a set of rules you establish outside accepted reality, to the utter convenience of your story, and unlike sci-fi, no one can say "THAT would never work!" It's built-in suspension of disbelief. It also posits some interesting limits. So we decided very early, "Look, this is what Geist can and can't do. He can't be a complete phantom."

So we defined quickly that he's not simply intangible and invisible, he's actually a ghost. He's not even in this world, he's just navigating it and staring at it, no more than a pigeon is on the ground even though it's flying over it and can see everything going on. Neither one can do that forever. The pigeon would die of fatigue and Geist would slip into the ghostly veil where he operates, beyond which is...what? No one knows.

So he's got to come back into our world, which is why you see him in the opening, popping in and out, frying the entire security system so they won't be able to review the tapes and see him without his mask. He can't isolate his powers, as you see when he gets captured. There's no turning his arm intangible and leaving the rest of him solid. That'd take his arm off even if he could pull his field that tight.

What else? He can't pick an object up without turning tangible himself, so when he attacks Pax Americana's satellite later on, he has to turn the keyboard intangible and remove it rather than reach through it to rip out wires unless he'd like to amputate his hands. All of these are magic and require no explanation, only illustration. Generally, I think if you're going to invoke the science, it's because it's an integral part of the story, part of the plot or character development.

Omnicomic: How did you get hooked up with Joshua Elder, Andres Ponce and Rocio Zucchi for Heist?

McGinley: Josh and I were DC interns in 2001, and we kind of marked each other for that same trajectory: "By gosh, we're going to be writers." I mean, we were unpaid interns in New York City. We already knew we could handle poverty. We became friends and stayed in touch. We're good sounding boards for each other's ideas as well as couches to crash on come the convention season.

Andres I'd seen on Mark Millar's message boards posting some fantastic art. I hit him up to work on this Shakespearean superhero romance (it's pretty much as bad or good as it sounds) called "Star-X" and then went home with a stack of that week's comics. I really liked the art on this Image title by Jay Faerber called "Firebirds," so I checked to see who it was, and..."Oh. It's that guy I just agreed to work with." He's a really affable fellow and I suppose I'm going to have to visit Argentina someday just to meet him in person.

It's only now that I realize I'm engaged in this bizarre relay-collaborative product with someone I've never conversed with outside a computer. Isn't that kind of post-Victorian? Like when you read about lengthy pen-palships between two scientists or tin-knockers or something? I like and trust Andres a lot more than most folks for whom I've bought a pint. He was the second Argentine artist I'd joined forces with, and I have to say--you can't go wrong with those guys. The community is just fantastic; I'm working with a bunch of artists, mostly from Buenos Aires, all top-talent. You could stack a bullpen with them.

So that's how I found Rocio, via her agent Matias Timarchi, who works with a couple of the people I've contacted. Her coloring is ABSURDLY GOOD. It's what I'd envisioned for Andres' art since the first page, and the best part is, she's the whole package. She can do some lineart that would make you weep, painting, everything. Blizzard/Tokyopop just plucked her for "World of Warcraft" and it's incredible what she's capable of. I swear, I'm this close to moving down in Argentina to run a studio, there's that many people I'd like to work with there.

Better to just assemble them under one roof and buy them lunch.

Omnicomic: Is Heist strictly online, or are there plans for it to go to print at some point?

McGinley: Heist is online for now. Color's expensive, superheroes are cornered, and internet's a distribution method that reaches waaaayyy further. My thinking is, it gets to print eventually. So once we're done, it goes to either floppy issues or straight to trade. But that's a good deal for everybody, right? If you're still reading after three issues free, it's probably worth it to you to buy the book. And if it's not, well...Byrne-steal it and spread its gospel.

Omnicomic: Any chance for crossover within the Bankshot universe (perhaps Heist has an issue featuring Hannibal)?

McGinley: No, "Hannibal Goes to Rome" I'm trying to keep separate. It's real history, and it feels dirty to try and link it to my own projects. Now in complete contradiction of that, there is a bit of backstory in the Second Punic War just because it's my great interest until "Hannibal" is done and it's out of my system. But no, no crossover with what Mauro's drawing. Our villain (hero? Antagonist.) is sort of a Bronze Age Dr. Strange, and he wishes to create the world that should have been, and it's tenuously connected to another book I'm doing, called "Citizen X." So there's the incest you've been waiting for.

But definitely don't look for Geist popping in the background of "Hannibal" or anything like that. Maybe if I get shameless I'll link him up with Iron Will from "Iconography." That'd be a fun first appearance for Will.

Omnicomic: Anything in the future for other Bankshot Comics' works that we can look forward to?

McGinley: Well, I'll be kicking off DOSE #3 material with a piece called "Doom/Tuck" as soon as I can ink and color it. Down, down, down the line comes "She's Famous Now" a Shavian/Nietzschean teen romantic comedy, and "Reaping Profit," in which a charming young salesman becomes Death, the conqueror of worlds. Those I'm biding my time till I can find the right artist.

There's "Black Ambulances," a paranormal, paranoid thriller I'm para-writing that's just what it sounds like. And when the artist gets back from a well-deserved vacation, up comes "Citizen X" for all the readers who wish Hannibal had won. Then, in November, I sleep.

Omnicomic: If you yourself had a confidant named Jin, what power would you want it to grant you as a magic ring?

McGinley: MORE. TIME.