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Wildstorm: WildCATS 3.0 Cancelled
Posted 13/04/2004
Source Newsarama

Following the post Coup D’Etat Wildstorm Universe is an unstable place. Unfortunately, this means both within the fictional world as well as in the real. Wildcats 3.0 writer Joe Casey has informed Newsarama that the series has been cancelled. Shortly after he learned of the book’s cancellation, Casey spoke with Newsarama about his run and the series end.

Newsarama: First off, the specifics. What’s the last issue, and what reasons were given to you?
Joe Casey: Issue #24 [August] is the final issue. The reasons were completely financial. I hate it when I see people trying to spin things in their favor just to pump themselves up. Let’s just be honest here… in this particular case, it was low sales that did us in.

NRAMA: But the series got a boost from Coup D’Etat right? Was the decision made after the Coup boost trailed off?
JC: I honestly couldn’t say what the timing was in regards to Coup. I just got the call last week so I’m still kind of reeling from the news. But I knew the writing was on the wall when I heard they weren’t doing any more Wildcats 3.0 trade paperback collections - well, aside from some weird Cyberforce crossover tpb, I guess. As far as those are concerned, what’s out there now is all there is and -- as far as I’ve been told -- all there ever will be.

NRAMA: Where is that in regards to your storyline?
JC: Unfortunately, there’s not much closure for the long term plans Dustin [Ngyuen] and I had for the book. Hell, Dustin doesn’t even get to come back like he’d planned all along. Issue #24 is the final chapter of the “Coda War One” storyline and it was already written when the plug was pulled. I was actually writing issue #25 when I got the call, so when you read #24, it certainly feels like issue #25 is coming after it. But now that won’t be the case.

NRAMA: I got the sense that post-Coup, the WSU was more cohesive, with each title playing a particular, integral role in the larger picture. That wasn’t the case?
JC: I’m not sure if our current readers were actively clamoring for a more cohesive Wildstorm Universe. Quite obviously, I could be wrong about that. But my sense of things was that our readers enjoyed the books for what they were without having to explain how they all tied together. The Coup series was an event meant to throw a brighter spotlight on books we were all excited about, more than anything else.

NRAMA: Under your writing, Wildcats was different than anything out there in the market – it was challenging, mature, cerebral, and made some demands on the reader. In short, it’s hard to find a book like that out there today. Personally speaking, what kind of message do the low sales and cancellation send to you as a creator, and to say, industry-watchers?
JC: I hesitate to say… mainly because I don’t want -- myself or anyone else -- to give up on the kind of work that I personally enjoy in comic books. I’ve been more like a “cult writer” in the mainstream for most of my career and it’s been a relatively comfortable place to be. I hate playing it safe, and I don’t want other creators playing it safe either. Guys like Chaykin and Miller and Moore showed me that you can make demands on the reader in the mainstream and it can pay off, because they essentially created a new mainstream. Maybe Wildcats was a “book out of time”. Either we were ahead of the curve or too far behind it. I don’t really know. I just know I loved it. We all busted our ass on a work-for-hire book as though we owned it, not DC. Part of me takes pride in that kind of commitment. Part of me wonders if I was a chump to care so much…

NRAMA: Editorially, were you still getting support throughout the run, even though the book wasn’t seeing stellar numbers?
JC: Well, there’s two types of “editorial support”. There’s the kind we got from Ben Abernathy, who consistently went above and beyond the call of duty each and every issue. If there’s an unsung hero of this series, it’s Ben. Then there’s the larger version of “support” coming from New York. Obviously I wish we’d had more of that. Frankly, I’m not sure if there was a lot of enthusiasm from DC corporate about Wildstorm attempting a Mature Readers superhero line in the first place.

NRAMA: Speaking of the support though, wasn’t there any kind of Hail Mary that would come in? A return to costumes, Jim Lee covers, more punchin’ & ‘splosions and people getting kicked in the head?
JC: That’s what the whole “Coda War One” story was supposed to be! A big, sprawling action epic before we headed into what was to be the final act of our run. Plus, we were confident that Dustin might bring back some attention with issue #25, coming fresh off his run on Batman. I guess we’ll never know if that would’ve helped…

NRAMA: Well Sinatra, tell me about your regrets, if you have a few…
JC: Like I said, the entire “final act” of Version 3.0 -- as Dustin and I had planned it -- would’ve lasted from issue #25 until around issue #40. The aftermath of the mission to Greece, seeing how Jack Marlowe and the Halo Corporation were going to deal with the world energy crisis and the world’s reaction to that, a controversial Presidential election and its ramifications, the return of the real Ladytron, the “Junior Wildcats”, the last Coda, and really just playing out all the various character threads that began all the way back in issue #1… all of that cool stuff will never see print.

NRAMA: Do you think Wildcats 3.0 would have done better if it was told in larger chunks, given the density of the story you and Dustin were telling?
JC: I don’t know… the density was actually what I liked about doing the series. That and the characters themselves. Actually, I’m insanely proud of how we depicted this cast of characters, the time we took to explore their personalities, the unpredictability of their actions, etc. so I don’t know if I’d want to do it any differently. I basically wrote the series I’d always wanted to read. Maybe if the book hadn’t been called Wildcats… but, again, I liked the brand identity of that name. It certainly tied into some of the themes of the series. But Scott Dunbier told me he was faced with a similar situation a few years ago, when he morphed StormWatch - which was selling for shit, despite critical raves - into The Authority. Maybe we should’ve taken a page from that playbook, but hindsight’s always 20/20…

NRAMA: Personally, how do you work this over and deal with it in order to pitch again another day? It seems almost that, since the series ended, you one could end up with a “They didn’t like it when I tried something dense and a little off, so let’s try something about a guy who hits people. A lot.” – or – are you more philosophical about it – “It pushed the envelope a little more, so next time, someone can walk on the path I carved out and push some more…”?
JC: It’s still a bit of a raw nerve for me, since I had so much invested in this series from a creative point of view, but I have to say that I’d still rather take chances and reach for the brass ring rather than play it safe. The real challenge for future, similar series that aren’t standard fare is how to market them and reach the readerships that can sustain them. So, yeah… at the end of the day I’d prefer to push the envelope and fall on my face rather than just jump on the latest bandwagon and have an easier ride. I’ve worked like a dog for eight years to get to the point where I could take more chances creatively and I don’t really want to stop now.

NRAMA: DC just signed a deal to publish Humanoids’ books. What you were doing with Wildcats always struck me as more European in its approach. There seems to be some irony there – that on one hand, DC is embracing Humanoids, and work of that ilk, but can’t make it work on their own…
JC: If there’s any irony in this situation, I can’t enjoy it yet.

NRAMA: So where do you go from here? Frantic pitching, or do you already have some ins in other offices and editors?
JC: Well, at Wildstorm, I’ve still got The Intimates launching in October, a series that’s certainly different from Wildcats in form and function. Out of all of my industry pals, I’m probably closest to the guys who work at Wildstorm. I think I’ve done my best work for them, so hopefully there’ll always be more stuff to do for as long as Wildstorm lasts. If you’re asking from a financial point of view… this isn’t about money. Sure, I have to earn a living like everyone else but I try not to get “frantic” about anything if I can help it. I write comic books most of all out of love and if you’re going to have a lasting career in this business, you’re inevitably going to take your share of lumps. This is just one more, although I’ll admit it’s a particularly painful one… but that’s for reasons more sentimental than anything else. We had a story to tell and we were still in the middle of telling it when the rug got yanked away. That’s never fun.

NRAMA: Any last thoughts you want to get out there for the series’ readers?
JC: Well, for the readers that have stuck with us, I’m really sorry it went down like this. It’s certainly not the way we wanted it to happen. Okay, so there weren’t enough readers to keep the series going… but I’m damn grateful for the ones we did have. They really seemed to get what the book was all about and they enjoyed it for what it was, not for what it wasn’t - shout out to the various Delphi forums and the Millarworld forum folks, in particular. For me, I really loved this book, thanks mainly to the artistic collaborations that go all the way back to dragging current Eisner nominee Sean Phillips into Wildstorm for Wildcats Vol. 2 up until now with Dustin, Richard Friend, Francisco Ruiz Velasco, Pascal Ferry and Duncan Rouleau. Not to mention colorist Randy Mayor and the brilliant Rian Hughes as our cover designer. It’s consistently been the greatest experience of my professional life so far, much more so than I ever thought I’d have in this business. But beyond the behind-the-scenes stuff… it was the characters, too. I’ve lived with these particular characters for the past four years. It’s definitely tough when you’re so attached to something to see it go away. But this was DC’s call to make and they’ve made it.
Reading this really makes me wish I had picked up the book on a regular basis. Sure, there are always back issues to be had, but now I'll be reading them knowing that at 24 its all over. Personally, I'll admit that I was a bit put off by the way they kept trying to relaunch Wildcats in the past, but I've always enjoyed the Wildstorm universe and the characters within.

Perhaps I shall have to devote some funds to picking up this last incarnation of a once great book.

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