New Brighton Archeological Society author and GeekDad favorite, Mark Andrew Smith, has a new comic book in stores today, Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors. The comic tells the story of a school that exclusively educates and trains junior villains so that they might be supervillains one day. Smith and artist, Armand Villavert, have great fun bringing these evil apprentices to life and letting them bloom into real bad guys. In anticipation of the comic’s release, we were able to ask Smith a few questions about the new book and the winter accessory that will be all the rage this fall.
GeekDad: With New Brighton Archeological Society selling well, New Brighton Archeological Society 2 on the way and now Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors, you’re turning into an all-ages machine. What draws you to this material?
Mark Andrew Smith: I started Gladstone’s at the same time as New Brighton Archeological Society. They have a similar tone of new worlds and fun and wonder but also they’re in entirely different settings because this one is a Super Powered and Sci-fi action world where New Brighton is fantasy. So this Gladstone’s is Sci-Fi and New Brighton is my Fantasy all-ages book.
All-ages is first-rate to write because you can throw everything into it and create a fun and entertaining universe where anything is possible.
Part of it is the era I grew up in and having a nostalgia in later life for Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was a ritual to wake up when the sun rose and watch them until sports came on the TV. Then I’d go and play with the action figures from the cartoons I just watched. It was a great time to be a kid in the mid ’80s.
I also want to get the next generation of readers into comic books and that’s important to me to create material that they can pick up and that their parents are excited about them reading. Comics have a good future and it’s our duty to put in the elbow grease to ensure we keep cultivating and expanding comics for new generations of readers.
By being an all-ages creator I’m doing my part to bring in new readers and ensure the future of comic books. Does that make me a hero?
The idea that Gladstone’s might be the first comic book someone has ever read is a pretty cool one.
MAS: Gladstone’s School is a renowned institution that teaches the basics of villainy to the next generation of super-villains. The series follows the adventures of the newest class, which includes Kid Nefarious, Mummy Girl, Martian Jones, Ghost Girl, and the Skull brothers. As the series progresses, they unearth the School’s — and their parents’ — hidden past.
GD: Speaking of Kid Nefarious, where can I pick up one of those supercool scarves he wears?
MAS: I would sport one of those. I’m a big fan of Tom Baker as Doctor Who and that’s where I got the idea. Huge scarves are cool!
GD: There are quite a variety of characters in this one — did you have fun with the creation of the cast?
MAS: It was great to create this cast. I’m looking forward to the future and creating even more characters in the Gladstone’s Universe.
I got to create so many different types of villains and put them into a team and in the future the cast is going to grow. When Armand came aboard the characters really took on a life of their own. My favorite characters as of now in Gladstone’s are the Skull Brothers who are a mysterious pair. Their costumes are great and Armand did such a wonderful job of character design.
GD: Armand Villavert does the art and does a great job of creating some really great characters — you can really feel their personalities. How’d you meet up with him?
MAS: Armand had just finished a series called ZAPT! and I saw his art and instantly knew he was the perfect artist for Gladstone’s. He has a very animated style and the characters personalities really all come through and shine because of his work. I met Armand on through the web and I haven’t met him in the real world yet. I hope to this year.
GD: Aren’t villains really just heroes who didn’t get enough hugs early in life? Do you think if they had “Friendly and helpful compliments” class instead of “Victory speeches 101” the world would be a better place? It might have saved Ironsides — he seems to have a softer side.
MAS: In the Gladstone’s Universe they’re second- and third-generation villains and it runs in the family. So these kids are really well-adjusted and normal. Each villain comes from a different place and has a different goal and they all believe themselves to be the hero of their own story. The world would be a better place if they did have a “Friendly and helpful compliments” class instead of “Victory Speeches 101” but Ironsides would probably work in tech support in that world, or maybe he would have invented Facebook. I don’t know.
GD: Is this an open-ended monthly?
MAS: We’re going to keep Gladstone’s on target for a monthly. I hope it’s one of those things that’s around forever, to be honest, and outlives me.
I think with Gladstone’s it will be more of a greater success because it’s aimed at the direct market, in a monthly format, and is a book with superheroes. Well, super villains, actually. Adorable ones.
Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors hits comic book shelves everywhere today. Be sure to check it out!