San Diego Comic Con: a haven for all things comics and pop culture! In our SDCC escapades, we met Jeff Lemire, whose latest project is SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN: a miniseries expanding the BLACK HAMMER universe which releases this October 2017! Nadia Alamah of ComicsVerse interviews Lemire about SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN, the BLACK HAMMER universe and more.


CV: So how would you describe the series in relation to Black Hammer?

JL: It’s fun. BLACK HAMMER is a story I’ve had in my imagination for ten years, and it’s been really great seeing it come together. But as I made the book, I started to get new ideas for other characters and other stories. I mean I love superhero comics, and I love the history of superhero comics. There’s just such a rich history to draw from that I started to come up with new characters that didn’t really have a place in the main story, but have their own story.

So I came up with the idea of expanding the world [with] a miniseries like SHERLOCK [FRANKENSTEIN], where I could tell stories that were still connected to BLACK HAMMER but really stood on their own. A good example — the character of SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN could really tell his story. If you didn’t read the other series, you could still read this and get a great, contained story. If you read both you’re getting, like, the universe is growing bit by bit, so it seemed like a great way to do it. Sherlock, in particular, has been around since the Victorian era, so we’ll find out in the book he came to Spiral City in the 1920s.

So as we learn his history throughout some kind of mapping out the entire history of this universe in this miniseries, you’ll see all these new superheroes and villains throughout the ages. And those will be setting the stage for future stories.


CV: How would you say that SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN differs from your existing body of work? How would you say that it challenges you in the development of your craft and style?

JL: That’s a good question, let me think about that. You know, I’d done a lot of superhero books, either at Marvel or DC or stuff like BLACK HAMMER. But, I hadn’t really done villains, you know? And when I have done villains—I think it’s really easy to make a two-dimensional villain. It’s really hard to make villains feel like a complete person the way I’ve done with BLACK HAMMER heroes. So, it was really challenging for me to find a way to make them really human and make them relatable and not just like mustache-twirling cartoons, you know? And that was really fun, so I think that challenged me in what engaged me in the story. In the end, if I could have a group of villains that the reader liked as much as the heroes on the farm, I did my job well.

WATCH: Here’s our breakdown of the second DEFENDERS trailer from SDCC 2017! [SPOILERS]

CV: How would you say the focus on the villains increase the depth of SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN, and is it as much a coming of age story for our protagonist so far as it is for the story from the villain’s perspective?

JL: So Lucy Weber is Black Hammer’s daughter, and she’s our through line to meeting all these villains. And I wouldn’t say this is a coming of age story for her. Issue 12 of BLACK HAMMER is drawn by David Rubin — it’s actually a prelude to this story, and that’s the coming of age story about Lucy. Then the series will pick up after that, where she’s already become the investigative journalist, and she’s on the hunt.

You need both sides, and I think it’s interesting, with this group of villains that we’ll meet. There have been ten years now where there haven’t been superheroes, so they’ve kind of lost purpose. You know, they have no purpose in life, they don’t have anyone to fight. So we’ll meet a group of characters that are very flawed and kind of rudderless and looking for meaning again. I think that when Lucy re-engages them it kind of sparks something in them.


CV: That’s something people a lot of people really identify with. When you feel like you’ve lost your purpose, what do you do after?

JL: Yeah, if their whole purpose was to be the antithesis of these heroes, and then the heroes are gone, then what do they become? That’s one of the questions I’ll answer.

CV: You discover more about yourself in the process.

JL: Of course! And so does Lucy as well. She’s going to learn some more about her dad that she didn’t know through these villains, lots of history and secrets she wasn’t aware of, and then obviously that makes her learn [more] about herself.

READ: Check out this in-depth analysis of time and themes of endurance in DUNKIRK! [SPOILERS]

CV: What about the spinoff do you think readers will truly enjoy?

JL: David Rubin’s artwork is phenomenal, it’s so cool. Getting art from him is like Christmas every time I get something. It’s so awesome, seeing him design these villains, and I’ve come up with a bunch of these superheroes. There’s a group called the Liberty Squadron, [which] is sort of a World War II era superhero team that we’ll introduce, and David got to design these new characters. They’re really cool, and that’s pretty exciting.


CV: Are there any additional projects you’d like to plug in for the future that is coming up?

JL: Oh boy, I probably work on too much stuff. But yeah I mean, BLACK HAMMER’s a big one for me, and I have other creator-owned stuff at Image, like ROYAL CITY that I’m drawing. I really love that world as well— and DESCENDER of course, with Dustin Nguyen. All the creator-owned stuff I’m doing, it’s just been so great that it’s been successful enough that I can keep doing it and build these worlds.

READ: Want more SDCC 2017 coverage? Check out this interview with Dustin Nguyen of DESCENDER!

SHERLOCK FRANKENSTEIN releases October 18th, 2017, with a variant cover by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola! Keep up with Lemire on Twitter, Instagram and check out his blogFeatured image and photo of Jeff Lemire are both taken by Moises Galvan.

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