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Comics Interview

Ron Marz ('Artifacts')

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Artifacts

© Top Cow

Company-wide crossovers are an effective way of generating media and fan interest, but Top Cow's Artifacts series is much more than a marketing gimmick. Weaving together multiple properties from the publisher's universe, the doomsday event kicked off last summer to much fanfare, and promises to bring lasting change to numerous flagship titles. We caught up with writer Ron Marz to discuss the comic's current arc.

This isn't the first time you've been involved in a major crossover project. What is it that attracts you to this kind of venture?
"Event storylines are usually the place that you can work the most radical changes to characters, and do some things that have real, lasting consequences. I think as a writer you can do something a little bit more unexpected in these storylines, which is an opportunity I always try to take advantage of."

What is the most challenging aspect of writing a series that brings multiple properties together?
"You have to make sure it doesn't become spectacle for the sake of spectacle. When you have a couple of dozen characters in a storyline, you have to be careful that it doesn't become just a series of crowd scenes and set pieces. I've tried to make sure the spine of the story always comes back to Sara and Jackie and their search for their daughter Hope. Obviously the scale of the story is much larger than just those characters, but to me they're the real heart of it."

How far in advance was the Artifacts event planned?
"We started talking about it in earnest probably three years ago. The real work of it commenced probably a year and a half ago, getting outlines written and logistics in place."

What is the best thing about tackling the doomsday scenario from a writer's perspective?
"Certainly you can't have any more at risk than the literal end of the world, or in our case, the end of the universe. There are literally no higher stakes."

Looking back at the success of the storyline's first arc, have you achieved all of your goals with the title so far?
"I'll answer that when we get to the end of the whole storyline. I think it's tough to judge something in pieces. One goal I think we did accomplish was to get the audience's attention right off the bat, and let readers know that it wasn't business as usual. The death in issue #1 seems like it accomplished that."

What can we expect from the second arc?
"First and foremost, a different artist, as Whilce Portacio takes over for the second arc. I think Whilce is absolutely doing some of the best work of his career on these issues. The storyline gets more expansive, as well as we introduce Cyberforce and Hunter-Killer into the mix. Thematically, the second arc is about science versus the supernatural, or in a larger sense, faith versus technology. The Top Cow Universe has always had a more supernatural side and a more sci-fi side, so I wanted to bring those two sides into the story and show them in opposition to each other."

There are some interesting ideas about good and evil in the series, in the sense that the protagonists aren’t always black and white. What do you find compelling about this kind of character?
"I think the more realistic your characters are, the more three-dimensional they seem, the more invested in the story the readers become. That's why I tend to be drawn to characters that have shades of gray, like all of us have. 'Good' and 'evil' in these stories very often depends on your perspective, not who's wearing a white hat or a black hat."

Can you give us any hints about the kind of changes the Top Cow universe will have undergone by the time Artifacts has concluded?
"That would be telling. Come along for the ride and find out. But I can say that we're not just going to hit the reset button like most other event storylines usually do."

Artifacts continues with issue #7, available from February 23.

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