Interview: Milestone 2.0′s Reggie Hudlin and Denys Cowan (Pt. 1)

From WeAreWakanda

Milestone Team 1

Milestone Original Covers

Yesterday morning I spoke with Milestone Media co-execs Reggie Hudlin and Denys Cowan about the return of Milestone, the new live-action Static Shock series, Marvel’s Hip-Hop covers, Black Panther, and much more! Here’s the first part of our interview!

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Hudlin and Cowan revealed just a few of their plans for Milestone 2.0, including close collaboration with DC Comics’ Jim Lee! They shared more about their recent meetings here:

Hudlin: We had a great meeting with Jim [Lee] last week where we started mapping out the first year, year and a half of new Milestone. At the end of the meeting we kind of looked at each other like: ‘That’s a lot!” [Laughs]

Milestone Media Team at ComicCon 2015

Hudlin says they’re “playing with the format” this time around:

Hudlin: We really started talking about focusing on graphic novels, mini-series, one-shots, doing things in a way that make it more accessible to the casual reader as well as the hardcore fan.
Put simply, “It’s a lot of work”:

Cowan: We’ve worked out a lot of the storylines…we have more ideas than we have space for.

Hudlin: [We’re] world-building. It’s Earth-M. It’s not the DC universe. It’s not quite the Milestone Universe folks are used to. When we first got back together, long before we sat down with DC, we said: “This is not a nostalgia company.”…We’re going to make books that are accessible…and relevant to people right here right now.

The focus on accessibility means it’ll soon be easier than ever to read everything Milestone, old and new:

Cowan: We plan to release all of our stuff digitally, [including] our back archives. There’s a program being set up to make all of that available to our readers.

Hudlin: Our name is Milestone Media. We’re working on comic books, we’re working on digital series, Denys is doing art for figurines. We’re working in a lot of mediums simultaneously.

Static Shock

We already know Hudlin’s been working on the scripts for the Static Shock web series, but he explained that he’s also working on the new comic at the same time:

Hudlin: Working on both simultaneously is affecting both of them. There are things you can and cannot do in each medium. I started on the Static Shock script, but now I’ve been adapting my own work for comics and suddenly in the other medium you go, “You know what would be cool?” I’m making notes in my own head: “Remember to put that back in the show!”

Hudlin cited his experience writing the 2005 Black Panther comic series and its animated adaptation as experience in the area. Cowan pointed to Hudlin’s recent comic adaptation of Django Unchained as another shining example.

Hudlin: That was a massive undertaking. They’re different disciplines but he’s mastered them both.

Django Unchained comic

Speaking of mixing mediums, both Hudlin and Cowan shared thoughts on Marvel’s recent Hip-Hop homage covers. If you missed the controversy, Marvel faced accusations of cultural appropriation, due in large part to a perceived lack of PoC involvement in the project. The fact that Black artists had experimented with this concept before only heightened concerns about the “All-New, All-Different Marvel” being more of the same.

Hip Hop Cover

Both Hudlin and Cowan were mentioned in Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso’s response to the criticism. Here they took a moment to speak for themselves:

Hudlin: I got my job writing in mainstream comic books because of Axel Alonso. He’s a guy who’s always been aggressive about hiring diverse voices in every sense of the word. So when people vilify that guy I’m like, “Wow…you’re picking on the wrong guy.” Here’s a guy who’s absolutely an ally in terms of creating opportunity for people of color in comics. He’s constantly talking to us, not just about giving opportunities for me and Denys, but like “Hey, who else do you know? Who can you recommend?”…That is a real world thing about what we know first hand about who he is as a person and as an executive.

Cowan: There are quite a few African-American and minority creators who did those covers. People don’t necessarily know because they don’t know what [these artists] look like. I can list at least 20-25 [artists of color] who worked on those covers. That whole thing is understandable in a way but it’s ridiculous in another way.

It goes back and forth. Johnny Blaze, Tony Stark, we can go on an on about hip-hop culture and hip-hop artists appropriating, specifically, Marvel comics. They sold a lot of albums based on the identities they appropriated. It goes back and forth. It’s always been a love affair.…Now it’s happening on a massive scale and I say congratulations to all involved.

Hudlin: I remember being at Comic-Con, talking to one of the top executives in comics about how important it was to integrate today’s youth culture, which is hip-hop culture, into comics. To make my point (this was true at the time) I said: “You know, The Source outsells Rolling Stone”…and his response was: “What’s The Source?”
To go from that era, to an Editor-in-Chief going “Let’s do a bunch of comic covers based on hip-hop covers” is a huge sea change in terms of the thinking within comics. It’s a good thing.

Cowan: I don’t blame people for reacting that way. This is a very touchy time for a lot of issues around that, but at the end of the day I feel that you’d have to embrace the fact that they did this at such a large scale across the line. It’s definitely a real statement…They really went for it and that’s great. I want every single one of them.

A report earlier in the week said that Cowan himself was working on the Contest of Champions #1 cover. He shared his excitement about the finished product and with good reason! Here it is!

Contest Of Champions