The GeeksverseDoug Wagner talks about I.C.E.

Doug Wagner talks about I.C.E.
Published on Monday, July 4, 2011 by

On this July 4th, it is fitting to interview the writer of I.C.E., a project from 12 Gauge, that is concerned with protecting America. I.C.E. follows a group of immigration control protecting America’s borders. Recently previewed as part of the 12 Gauge Free Comic Book Day offering, the buckshot edition of I.C.E. is coming soon. Check out what writer, Doug Wagner, has to say about I.C.E., 12 Gauge, and all things comics and then tell your local comic shop to get you a copy of the buck shot edition.

When did you start reading comics?
Doug Wagner: The earliest I can remember reading comics was around the age of 6. I visited my father every weekend, and the drive was about an hour. Excruciating for a little hyperactive kid, but probably even more so for my poor dad. So every Saturday morning, my dad stopped at the closest 7-11 he could find to buy me a Slurpee and one comic from the mythical spinner rack. I started out with usual – Casper, the Flintstones, and the Fantastic Four. I imagine it was the only way my dad could tolerate me for that long in a car alone.

What was your favorite comic title as a new reader?
Wagner: I’d have to go with the comic that started me down the path of collecting…Uncanny X-Men #141. Up until that point I was just a casual reader picking up whatever looked like the best story on the rack. The second I finished my first issue of Uncanny X-Men I became obsessed with comics.

What attracted you to the collaborative genre of comic writing?
Wagner: That’s simple. I LOVE comics. It’s possibly the only visual form of storytelling where anything is possible on any given page. There’s no special effects budget to worry about, no shooting locales to fret over, and fewer egos to appease.

Your career goes back as far as Malibu comics but most of your comic career has been focused on Image Comics and the 12 Gauge Comics. How did you hook up with Keven Gardner, Brian Stelfeeze and 12 Gauge Comics?
Wagner: The birth of 12 Gauge, huh? Well, it all started one night when Keven Gardner and I were talking comics, fantasizing about what we’d do if we were publishers. Who we’d hire? What type of books we’d publish? Then the unthinkable happened. I can’t remember which one of us said it, but someone muttered the infamous words, “What’s stopping us?” That simple statement changed our lives forever.

As far as Stelfreeze, I’ve known Brian for almost two decades thanks to Cully Hamner. Believe it or not, Cully and I became friends way back in high school. When he joined Gaijin Studios, I used to run over to Atlanta quite a bit to hang with my bud. During those visits, I was fortunate enough to become friends with several of Cully’s studio mates. One of those being Brian. However, it wasn’t until The Ride that Brian and I discovered we had the same tastes in storytelling. Fortunately for me that has resulted in a number of treasured collaborations.

We’ve read the official description of I.C.E., but how do you describe the story?
Wagner: Set in the suffocating heat and humidity of the South, an I.C.E. tactical team is thrown into an investigation that is way over their heads. A Mexican drug lord has crossed the border and is brutally murdering those he believed betrayed him. The team has to pull out all the stops to track down this beast, but when they finally confront him, not all goes as planned. Chaos and damnation follow.

The FCBD sample makes I.C.E. seem like a team book but the official description focuses heavily on a central figure. The description makes it sound like Cole Matai is squaring off with Luis Morales. Is I.C.E. a team book or a vendetta square off?
Actually, both. First and foremost, I.C.E. is a team. Although the story focuses on Cole, his team is integral to the story. It’s similar to a story that may take place in the Avengers, but where the story is more personal to Cap.

My reading of I.C.E. seemed like this was a quasi-military group operating with a looser set of rules, doing the job that others could not. Immediately my mind went to G.I. Joe and A-Team. If you had to compare I.C.E. to one of these works, what do you feel is comparable?
Wagner:If you’re forcing me to choose, I’d have to lean towards G.I. Joe.
I’m forcing you.
Wagner: This I.C.E. team isn’t running from or working outside the law. They are part of a government agency and have to follow certain guidelines.

Obviously I.C.E. is offering something new, so how do you see it as being different from the work I just forced you to pick? You’ve already pointed out why it shouldn’t be compared to A-Team, so why is it not Joe?
Wagner: LOL. You have a devious mind, my friend. Force me to make a choice and then tell you why that’s wrong.
I’m mean like that.
Wagner:I see G.I. Joe as the best of the best the world’s militaries have to offer. They operate in a top secret unit outside normal military channels and without any jurisdictional boundaries. I think they’re much closer to the capes and cowls genre than I.C.E.

I.C.E. is more real world. This book’s version must operate within the rules and jurisdiction of the United States’ Homeland Security Agency. They don’t have special abilities; they aren’t selected from the best in the world; and they don’t wear masks or costumes. I.C.E. is a group of brave men and women enforcing the immigration laws of this country and protecting us from the criminal activity that’s grown from the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and humans across our borders.

The FCBD flip book sample was my first exposure to this comic and the first time I knew I was reading a book by you. What do you see as the importance of FCBD in the industry?
Wagner: FCBD just might be the most important day of the year for the comic industry. It’s the rare opportunity to expose new and old readers to books they may never have sampled otherwise. Done properly, I’ve seen stores turn the event into an all-day brouhaha that increased awareness, customer base, and profits.

This is the first book that I read where I remember your name as the writing credit. What strength in your personal writing style does this book showcase?
Wagner: John, you’re questions are starting to make my head hurt. I consider myself a well-rounded writer, but believe my strengths lie in intensity and strong character development. Pick up I.C.E. and you’ll get a good dose of both.
Given the brief introduction in the FCBD sample that seems plausible.

I.C.E. is slated to be a four part miniseries, starting with the buckshot edition in July. If comic fans fall in love with these characters will this be our only chance to read these characters or do you have plans for further stories in the future?
Wagner: Most definitely. I already have the next mini-series plotted, so if this series sells well enough, we’re well on our way to doing another.

Speaking of the upcoming buckshot edition, who thought up the name for the buckshot one dollar issue? I like that play on words.
Wagner: I believe this happened one morning when 12 Gauge was setting up just before the SDCC staff unleashed the crowd a few years ago. Keven Gardner, Brian Stelfreeze, David Atchison, and I were all sitting around the booth jabbering about marketing ideas when Atchison threw this one out. It was either him or Keven, but regardless, we sealed that one away for future use. Keven unlocked the vault and pulled this one out for I.C.E.

I don’t have a follow up question about the buck-shot edition, but I just wanted to type it again. That is a fun play on words, especially for a gun toting miniseries. I digress.

This summer may be remembered as a comic blockbuster year with several comic movie properties being released. As a fan of comics, what comic movie are you the most excited about?
Wagner:That’s a toughie. I’m always excited about any comic movie. It’s good for my inner child and good for the industry. However, I think the trailers have me most excited about Thor. Marvel continues to deliver on great adaptations, and I suspect we’re in for a trifecta this summer.

Have you thought about developing one of your properties into a movie in the future?
Wagner: That’s never my focus when I’m writing comics, but of course I’d love to see The Ride, Gun Candy, 25 to Life, or I.C.E. on the big screen. Let’s hope it’s just a matter of time.

After I.C.E. what is your next project?
Wagner: I recently finished up the World of Warcraft: Horde original graphic novel for DC Comics and Blizzard Entertainment. It’s scheduled to hit stores later this year and has incredible art by Jheremy Raapack. I have another project or two I’m working on, but I’m not allowed to talk about them just yet.

Well, then I hope you check back in with us when you can talk about them. Until then, I’ll mention again that readers need to consult their local comic shops about the upcoming four part miniseries I.C.E.

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