Interview: Bailey & Esposito Bring CAPTAIN ULTIMATE to Monkeybrain

Captain Ultimate has arrived! In a flurry of announcements this morning from Monkeybrain Comics at SDCC, the digital-first publisher announced Captain Ultimate by Ben Bailey, Joey Esposito & Boykoesh. Captain Ultimate is an all-ages read with a lot of heart, and Bailey & Esposito were kind enough to discuss the new title with Comicosity.

Aaron Long: First off, congratulations on the release of Captain Ultimate! How long have you been developing the title, and how did it end up at Monkeybrain?

Captain_Ultimate_01-1Joey Esposito: Thanks! We’ve been working on it since February or so, but the germ of it started sometime last year. I was tweeting recklessly about how I wanted to revamp a Golden Age public domain hero, because why not, and Ben tweeted back about this idea that had been stewing for a while. So he emailed me that night with some early thoughts on what became the book that you read, and the ideas went fast and furious from there. As for Monkeybrain, we’ve obviously been huge fans of their output since they launched last year, so they were the first place we turned to. Luckily, they dug it, and here we are!

Ben Bailey: I’d been kicking around an idea for a while, but it never really clicked. I had the basics, the giant monster, the little boy who was inspired by a classic hero and the eventual return of said hero. Once Joey and I started reshaping it, things came together fast. We both saw the story we wanted to tell and had a shared vision. The first artist we went to – Boy – instantly nailed the look we were going for. Seriously, we sent him the script and like an hour later he showed us a sketch of Captain Ultimate. I don’t use the term “match made in heaven” very often, but I think it applies here.

AL: Can you give readers a rundown of who Captain Ultimate is, and the world the series takes place in?

JE: Specifically, you’ll get Cap’s origin in Captain Ultimate #3. But in general, Captain Ultimate is a hero from an era gone by, and the only superhero to have powers. One day, he left for reasons unknown, and without him, the world became a little darker, populated by the grim-n-gritty street level vigilantes, and eventually everyone forgot about him. He lived on in old comic books though, which is where Milo discovers him in the quarter bin at his comic shop. So the world we see in issue #1 isn’t necessarily the world as it will remain — the return of Captain Ultimate brings about all kinds of new characters, good and bad, superpowered and not.

BB: I think the world is the biggest draw of the series. It’s big, fun and just a little bit crazy. Hopefully, it’ll be the kind of place readers want to keep visiting, month after month. The cast of characters in this book rivals X-Men by the second issue (not really, but there’s a lot).

Captain_Ultimate_01-3JE: It’s funny because every time we sit down to write we just end up gushing over how much we love all the peripheral characters we’ve come up with. You meet some of them briefly in issue #1 but we’ll be spending a lot more time with them in issues to come.

BB: You meet one of our favorite characters in issue #2 in a scene involving a delicious meatloaf dinner.

JE: So good. I’m super excited to finally be announcing the series, but I’m even more excited for that character to be introduced, to be completely honest.

AL: The bulk of the story of Captain Ultimate is told by Milo in the first issue. Will Milo continue to be a major character in the series? What is his relationship with Captain Ultimate?

BB: Yeah, even though the series is titled “Captain Ultimate,” Milo is essentially our main character. His relationship with Captain Ultimate will evolve over time and by the second issue you start to see the direction it is heading.

JE: Yeah, as of issue #2 it’ll be really clear who Milo is to Captain Ultimate. I would even say that the book is almost less about Captain Ultimate as a character — though you certainly see his secret origin and stuff like that — and more about him as an icon, and how his return and what he symbolizes bring out in the people around him, particularly Milo.

AL: Captain Ultimate is an all-ages title. Comics in general, and especially digital-first comics, are sadly lacking in all-ages titles these days. When did you decide to keep Captain Ultimate a family friendly book, and is it difficult to keep a story appropriate for younger readers in today’s market?

Captain_Ultimate_01-4BB: I think we wanted the book to be all-ages right from the get go. I have two kids (5 and 3) and it’s not easy to find comics that we can all enjoy together. Usually, there are kid books and there are adult books, we wanted to make something truly all-ages – for everyone – and hopefully we have done that with Captain Ultimate. It’s not hard, either, since Joey and I are so childish. We just write what we would want to read and giggle like 5-year-olds while we do it.

JE: I don’t think it was necessarily difficult to make it, but we’ll see how marketing it and selling it goes. I think that’s probably the more difficult part, and maybe why we don’t see much in the way of all-ages titles. But that’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it? We need younger readers to sustain the market once they grow up, but there’s not a whole lot out there to hook them right now. I had written a pretty kid-focused graphic novel for Stan Lee’s Kids Universe line of OGNs, but with Captain Ultimate, like Ben said, we wanted to keep it not just for kids but for everyone. Something parents won’t get bored reading with their kids, I think that’s hugely important. And I think it’s important to mention that being all-ages or kid-friendly, if done correctly, doesn’t mean immature (even though we are immature personally). We’ll still be dealing with some pretty heavy themes that we think are important for kids and adults alike, but hopefully presenting them in a digestible — and extremely fun — way.

BB: There’s lots of fun, goofy stuff, but there’s also a heart, you know? At least we hope there is.

AL: Any final words or teases for Comicosity’s readers regarding Captain Ultimate?

BB: We hope you guys and gals will give Captain Ultimate a shot and if you have any young ones around (kids, siblings, cousins, students) we really hope you share it with them. It has a giant robot octopus alien monster! Kids love giant robot octopus alien monsters!

JE: And also, it’s only .99 cents. 99 CENTS! It’s a bargain! A steal! We’ve seriously planned some really cool stuff with characters that we love, so we hope you do too. As we mentioned, issue #2 has the debut of one of our favorite characters that fills a character type sorely missing in the Big Two right now. Hopefully you’ll be surprised at how wide and eclectic this cast gets. We were.

Captain Ultimate is available on comiXology right now, at this link: http://cmxl.gy/139F5Zd

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