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EXCLUSIVE: Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting Re-Team for Image Comics’ “Velvet”

VELVET-featured

by on July 2, 2013

When it comes to strong, vibrant female characters that kick ass both literally and metaphorically, Image Comics is crushing it. From Greg Rucka’s Lazarus to Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga to Ed Brubaker’s Fatale, Image has a formidable array of femme fatales that are taking center stage in thrilling, adrenaline-fueled stories that leave us craving more after each 22-page installment. Now, Nerdist can exclusively announce that Image is about to add another hardened heroine to its roster with the brand new ongoing series Velvet from the blockbuster team of Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Bettie Breitweiser.

Centering on the mysterious Velvet Templeton, a seemingly mild-mannered secretary who harbors an intense, espionage-laden past, Velvet sees longtime Captain America collaborators Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting reuniting for another tale of international intrigue, murder and over the top action. With eye-popping colors from Fatale’s Bettie Breitweiser, these exclusive Velvet preview pages give us a taste of the explosive, high octane mystery that is about to unfold. To take you deeper into the world of Velvet, I caught up with series scribe Ed Brubaker to talk about how the project came to life, reuniting with his partner in crime Steve Epting, and why Velvet Templeton is his favorite character so far.

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Nerdist: Velvet sees you reuniting with longtime Captain America collaborator Steve Epting and Fatale colorist Bettie Breitweiser. How did this creative team come together?

Ed Brubaker: Over many years, actually. I originally had the idea for Velvet about eight years ago, and spoke to a few other artists back then about drawing it, but it never came together. I was really busy on Marvel work and prepping for Criminal, so I set it aside, but it kept nagging at me. I kept going back to my notebook and expanding it, thinking of characters and ideas and new plot paths. Sometimes that’s how it is, you have the initial idea and you don’t do it, and it just keeps growing in the back of your mind.

So a few years ago, when Steve and I were doing The Marvels Project, I mentioned it to him, and he just claimed it. “I have to draw that.” And since then I’ve just been waiting until Steve was free of his other commitments so he could devote himself full time to Velvet. Once he was getting close, I called up Bettie and told her about the project and asked her if she’d join us and color it. I’d worked with Bettie on Cap and Winter Soldier, so I already knew how great she was, and figured she and Steve would be a dream team.

So I already had Bettie on board Velvet before she joined me and Sean on Fatale, actually.

N: Were you excited to team up with Steve again?

EB: Excited, but nervous, too. Steve and I have done some big projects together and established ourselves as a team, I think, but I want Velvet to stand apart from that stuff, too. I don’t just want to retread what we did on Cap, stylistically, but I also want it to have some of that same feel, obviously. So it’s been harder than I imagined. I think we both feel like we have to push ourselves to make it better and more interesting than anything we’ve ever done before.

N: In terms of the nitty gritty – is this going to be an ongoing series? A mini-series? How many issues can we look forward to?

EB: It’s an ongoing series, until it’s over, and I have no idea what issue that will be. We’ll be using the same model as Saga, basically, take a month or so off between arcs to let Steve catch his breath, since he’s doing pencils and inks. I decided after Fatale kept expanding that I was through saying how many issues anything would be. I have an ending in mind for Velvet, but when I picture it, it could also be the beginning of the next big storyline, too, so we’ll just see when we get there.

N: The mysterious Velvet Templeton kicks some serious ass in these preview pages. What can we expect from her in Velvet?

EB: Well, I don’t want to spoil too much, but she’s one of my favorite characters I’ve ever created. She’s someone with a really dangerous secret history who’s been living a quieter life since her mid-’20s, and her current life and who she used to be are about to collide in a very explosive way. So she’s going to have to face a lot of things she’s been hiding from, and do things she barely remembers how to, and hope she’s still as good as she used to be.

N: Your run on Captain America, especially the “Winter Soldier” arc, was laden with intrigue and espionage. The solicit text says that “everything [you and Steve have] done so far has been leading to Velvet.” Is this true? Hyperbole? Did those stories lay the groundwork for the types of stories we’ll see in Velvet?

EB: Yeah, I think so. What Steve and I did well with the Winter Soldier storyline was bring a strong espionage vibe back to the Captain America series, and ground it in sort of a sense of reality, but a heightened one. So you’d have these widescreen action moments, followed by crime scene analysis, and you had missions and intrigue and flashbacks to the Cold War. It was doing all that stuff that made me want to do Velvet. Made me think, what would we do with this genre if we could just do anything we wanted and it wasn’t also a superhero book? And lets face it, James Bond, or Mission Impossible, they aren’t much different from a superhero movie, anyway. They all have supervillain badguys, don’t they?

So we’re taking that heightened sense of reality and bringing it to a very real spy story, but one where the costs are real, and people don’t come back from the dead so easily.

N: Tell us about working with Steve to craft the visual design of the world of Velvet.

EB: It’s mostly just both of us talking about the way we want the world to feel, and sometimes I’ll go to the used bookstore and buy a bunch of old ’70s era action paperbacks, like the Penetrator or the Executioner, and scan the covers and point out parts I think look cool. I totally trust Steve and Bettie to just do their thing and make me look good, though. The great thing about working with people you’re used to collaborating with is the trust you have as you write. I know for a fact, when I write a scene, that Steve is going to get what I’m picturing and probably even do me one better. I’ve known since the first big action scene in our first issue of Cap, that I could fully trust Steve, and that we had the exact same sensibilities.

And now, check out some exclusive preview pages of Velvet #1, coming this October.

Click the thumbnails below to expand.

Here’s the official solicit info:

VELVET #1 – GEM OF THE MONTH

story ED BRUBAKER

art STEVE EPTING & BETTIE BREITWEISER

cover STEVE EPTING

OCTOBER 2

32 PAGES / FC / M

$3.50

ED BRUBAKER and STEVE EPTING redefined Captain America with the “Winter Soldier” saga… and everything they’ve done so far has been leading to VELVET!

When the world’s best secret agent is killed, Velvet Templeton, the Personal Assistant to the Director of the Agency, is drawn off her desk and back into the field for the first time in nearly 20 years… and is immediately caught in a web of mystery, murder and high-octane action.

Sexy and provocative, with a dark twist on the spy genre, this EXTRA-LENGTH first issue by two of the industry’s best-selling creators will knock you out!

What do you think of Velvet? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter!