Comics: Bill Morrison Reveals Relaunch Plans for Roswell and Lady Robotika

Things to Come—Bongo Comics’ main man reveals his personal projects slate for 2012

By , Columnist

In this final installment of TMR’s exclusive extended interview with Bill Morrison, long-time Creative Director of Bongo Comics (publisher of The Simpsons and Futurama monthlies) details his personal slate of projects he’s got planned for next year. Topping the list is a revival of Lady Robotika, the sci-fi comic series co-created and -written by Jane Wiedlin (of the legendary rock group the Go-Go’s).

That project will be followed in short order by the return of Morrison’s beloved fan-favorite series, Roswell. And then, as if that weren’t enough, he’s going to…

Perhaps it’d be best if I just let Bill tell you all about it, himself.

Roswell Secret Saucer Society pin.jpg

Is there anything happening on the Roswell front?

Well, Roswell is something that I keep telling people that I’m going to revive. I really want to revive it.

It’s wonderful, because every time I go to a convention—without fail—somebody comes up to me, at least one person (per show), and says, “Hey, when are you going to bring Roswell back? I really love that book. I really miss it.”

And I’m thinking, “Geez, that was…what? Eleven or twelve years ago, now, the last time I did a Roswell story!”

Right around there, yeah. (It was 1996-1999, actually. -Ed)

So I’m amazed, number one, that people even remember it, but it also is really encouraging that people have the fondness for it that they seem to have.

Roswell LGM Bogovision poster 1996.jpg

And I actually have a story arc that I’ve written. The way I have it planned out it’s about eight issues long, so it’s a big story. And right now, I’m working on Lady Robotika with my writing partner, Jane Wiedlin, and that’s taking up most of my extracurricular time.

So, that’s my extracurricular project at the moment.

Is that new Lady Robotika tale is for next year?

Yeah. We’re working on the third issue right now. We put out two issues with Image Comics, and the problem with it was…

Well, the problem with the whole Direct Market (i.e., the comic shop distribution system) is when you’re soliciting a comic book, you don’t really have sales figures for the first issue by the time you’re soliciting the third issue. So, unless your comic sells in huge numbers, it’s really difficult to keep a comic book going in the early stages.

So, basically, we put out the first issue and sales were pretty modest. Then we put out the second issue, and the sales went down.

lady r image from atomic battery studios facebook page.jpg

But then we started getting attention. We got some really good reviews. People were saying, “Wow, this book is great!” “This is not what you would expect from a celebrity, because they usually just lend their name (and likeness) to a comic book and they don’t have anything to do with writing it. But it’s obvious from reading this that Jane Wiedlin was very much involved in creating these characters, and writing the script,” which is all true.

But it wasn’t enough to help us keep the book alive, because the orders for issue three came in and we just couldn’t justify keeping it alive. It was costing us too much money, and not enough money was coming in. So we decided not to do a third issue with Image, but we are still dedicated to keeping the book alive.

So we decided, “Let’s try the digital route.” So I’m working on the third issue. We’re going to have it available digitally when it’s finished. And then, once we get to issue six, since that completes our first story arc, we’ll actually come out with a printed version, a trade paperback collecting the first six issues.

But prior to that, issues three through six will only be available digitally.

Bill M and Jane W signing Lady R pic.jpg

So, once I’m done with that, then my plan after that is jump right on Roswell and revive it. I’ll probably start that process by coming out with a trade paperback that collects the original series, the original six issues, just to sort of reintroduce Roswell to the public. And then I’ll come out with the new story after that.

OK. Have you decided on exactly what digital distributor you’re going to offer Lady Robotika yet?

We’re probably going to go with Comixology, if only because Image has an app on Comixology which already has the first two issues available in digital form. So you can get Lady Robotika #1 and #2 digitally right now. And we don’t want people to have to go to different sites to keep reading Lady Robotika.

So, even though it won’t be available in the Image section of Comixology.

That makes perfect sense.

Bill Morrison at easel.jpg

Is there anything else on the horizon? Any con appearances or signings coming up, for instance, or are you done with those for the year?

I’m actually doing an art show that’s being planned for April, 2012, in Wyandot, Michigan, at a gallery called the River’s Edge Gallery. And it’s not going to be comic-related at all. It’s all celebrity images.

Caricatures?

Not caricatures, but just kind of Pop Art imagery.

Ah, paintings, then?

Paintings, yeah.

Devil Coke image.jpg

Another side of your work being revealed, it sounds like.

Yeah. I did a gallery show there a few years ago, and it was basically a retrospective of 20 years of illustration and comics. They really enjoyed it, and asked to have me back.

So they said, “We’d love to have you do another show.” But I basically cleaned out my closet for the first show, and I didn’t really have a lot of new material to show. So I thought, “Well, if I do another show, I want it to be all original things that people haven’t seen yet. And I also want to have a theme.”

River's Edge Art Gallery storefront.jpg

So it’s all going be very much thought out, preplanned. I don’t want to talk about it just yet, but it is going to be really cool and fun.

That’s excellent. And it also gives us all something to look forward to.

Yeah.

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