EXCLUSIVE: Legendary GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Writer Andy Lanning Talks GOTG Comics, Movie, And More

Back in 2008, Andy Lanning (along with his writing partner Dan Abnett) began working on the Marvel comic series, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. The two writers brought together many cosmic characters, such as Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Starlord, Gamora, and Drax (and many more), to form the "new" Guardians that we all know and love. We had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Lanning about his work in comics, as well as the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. Check out the interview below!

Guard The Galaxy: "Tell us a bit about how you started writing comics and how you broke into the industry."

Andy Lanning: "I actually had my first published work while I was in my last year of college. Thanks to Phil Gascoine, who I met at the Society of Strip illustrator, I drew Boy George’s life story for UK TV tie-in comic, Look-In. From there I ended up working in house as a graphic Designer (my course at college was graphic design and illustration) and drew strips in the evening; anything from Danger Mouse to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures. In 1988, I started working for Marvel UK on the Real Ghostbusters comic, this is where I met my future writing partner, Dan Abnett, who was an assistant editor at the time. I wrote and drew a lot of Ghostbusters stuff which led to me and my good friend and co-writer, John Carnell creating The Sleeze Brothers comic which, through a series of fortuitous events, was published as an Epic Comic thanks to Richard Starkings and Archie Goodwin. Because the Sleeze Brothers was published by Marvel US, John and I took a trip to the New York offices and I managed to pitch a Punisher idea Dan and I had come up with in the pub after work to then Punisher editor, Don Daley. I’m pretty sure things don’t happen like this these days, but Don took his phone off the hook, closed his door and let me pitch the idea. Luckily, he loved it and , a couple of hours later, I emerged, grinning like a loon with an eight-issue Punisher series under my belt. The series, called Eurohit, ran as the Summer bi-monthly event and was drawn by Dougie Braitwaite. Dougie, Dan and I went on to work on the Punisher for the next 3 years. I guess that was the start of our US comics careers."


GTG: "How did you get the job of writing Annihilation: Nova?"

AL: "That came about due to the generosity of Andy Schmidt. Andy was an assistant editor at Marvel and was a huge fan of Marvel’s cosmic heroes. At that time, around 2006-ish, Andy wanted to pitch a revival of the Nova series as the character hadn’t been in print since New Warriors Volume 3, which ended in 2005 . He approach Dan and me because he liked what we had done on Legion over at DC and we worked up an idea with awesome artist, Chris Batista. This idea pitched the Nova Corps as a far more militaristic outfit and Chris produced some fantastic redesigns of all the Nova ranks and insignias. Unfortunately, this series didn’t get the green light but Andy remembered us when it came to producing a Nova mini-series that tied-in to the cosmic event series Keith Giffen was writing, called 'Annihilation.' Keith was generous and gracious enough to let Dan and I do whatever we wanted with the mini-series as long as it started a point ‘A’ and ended with Nova at point ‘B’, how we got him there and what happened along the way was up to us. Thanks to Keith’s amazing story, Annihilation proved very popular and people seemed to like Nova so Dan and I were tapped to write a new ongoing series. This led directly into Annihilation: Conquest, which Dan and I were privileged to orchestrate, and from that event, the Guardians of the Galaxy series was launched."

GTG: "One of the most beloved characters from Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy is Cosmo. Where did the inspiration for the character come from? "

AL: "The inspiration for Cosmo is the Soviet Space dog, Laika, who was one of the first animals in space. I remember Nick Abadzis doing a great graphic novel called Laika around the same time and the image of a dog in a spacesuit is iconic. We decided on making Cosmo a Labrador/retriever, not sure why but I did used to have a honey brown Lab when I was a kid. It was just too irresistible once we decided he was a powerful telepath, not to give him a Russian accent. To me he always sounds like Chekhov in Star Trek: ‘Vere are de Nooclear wessels?’"

GTG: "What influences did you draw on when writing the Guardians? Any favorite Sci-Fi films/books you kept on mind to maintain the tone of the story?"

AL: "Both Dan and I are huge sci-fi fans, between us, we’ve watched and read a wide variety of stuff. Though there’s nothing specific that jumps out to me, we channeled an eclectic mix of things: Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica , Firefly, Alien, The Matrix, the books of Arthur C. Clark, Asimov, Larry Niven, Joe Haldeman, Dan Simmons, John Scalzi, Richard K. Morgan, Alistair Reynolds, Charles Stross. There’s something from all of these in what we were writing, plus a huge dose of Starlin, Giffen, Milgrom, and Simonson as favorite cosmic comic writers."

GTG: "Were there any cosmic characters that you, specifically, pushed to be included in the Guardians?"

AL: "We were really lucky to be able to ‘play with’ virtually all the characters we wanted to. Mainly because no one was doing very much with the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe. My own favorites are Drax, Starlord and Rocket Raccoon. Keith Giffen put the core of the Guardians team together in his Starlord mini-series as part of Annihilation: Conquest so when we got to do the regular book and round out the team, being able to add in Warlock was awesome. I consider Jim Starlin the godfather of Marvel’s cosmic universe, so to be able to write Warlock, then resurrect Thanos, who is probably my favorite Marvel villain of all time, was a true privilege. 

GTG: What is your favorite Rocket Raccoon moment from Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2? 

AL: Issue 1: Rocket and Cosmo stare daggers at each other and are frigidly polite, you know they barely tolerate each other, they just can’t help it- one’s a dog and one’s a raccoon. I’ve always wanted to have a scene where Cosmo stares at Groot longingly and Groot glowers back at him- 'don’t you dare!'"


GTG: "Are you currently reading Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3? What other comics do you read?"

AL: "I’m enjoying Bendis’ run, but then I’m a fan of what he does and love Steve McNiven and Sarah Pichelli’s artwork. Other comics I read when I get time are The Walking Dead, Manhattan Projects, Saga and I really enjoyed the Superior Spider-Man and The Adventures of Superman."

GTG: "How did you find out about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie? Was your reaction similar to ours - shock and surprise?"

AL: "Oh yes, and disbelief at first! The first hint of something was when we had to sign character equity documents that related to all the new characters we created in Nova and the Guardians which, along with rumors at the time, got our "Spidey Senses" tingling. When it was confirmed I was stunned, quickly followed by ecstatic! It’s a once in a lifetime thing to get a movie made based on your work, so I consider myself a very, very lucky chap."

GTG: "Following the expected success of the Guardians film, what would you like to see for the future of the Marvel Cosmic Universe, be it movies, television, or comics?"

AL: "I’ve always loved the Marvel cosmic heroes and I am just happy that people are enjoying cosmic stories again. There was a time in the late 90's and early 2000, that it looked like cosmic heroes were forgotten, now they are vibrant and exciting again. Things can only go from strength to strength after the Guardians movie comes out and there’s a whole universe out there of worlds and characters to explore. It’s a very exciting time for the Marvel cosmic universe and I can’t wait to see what comes next."

GTG: "What was it like returning to write the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Prelude comic, and Guardians of the Galaxy #14? Can you give us any info on your work in those comics?"

AL: "Dan and I were very lucky to visit the set of the Guardians movie and director James Gunn was incredibly generous to show us every aspect of the process. When he asked if we’d like to write the Prelude issues, we jumped at the chance. Any opportunity to revisit the characters we know and love so well, even their movie counter-parts, is a pure joy. We got to explore the movie continuity and tell some extra backstory about Gamora, Nebula and what Rocket and Groot were up to before the film kicks off. Guardians of the Galaxy #14 (or #100 depending on how you are counting) gave me the chance to write a Groot story that my great mate, Phil Jimenez, has drawn. It’s a story from Groot’s past and takes place on Planet X when Groot was a young sapling and goes some way to explain why Groot left and is such friends with Rocket. It’s fun and bittersweet and Phil along with inker, John Livesy, and colorist, Antonio Fabela, have made it look absolutely gorgeous."

GTG: "Tell us a little bit about Marvel UK and the upcoming resurgence of those characters."

AL: "The Revolutionary War series was a great opportunity for me and co-writer, Alan Cowsill, to revisit the Marvel UK part of the Marvel Universe. We got to showcase some of the cool characters created over twenty years ago to a new audience and hopefully got people excited about this very British bit of Marvel. Marvel UK has a long a rich continuity; characters like Captain Britain and Death’s Head are still very popular and we are hopeful that following Revolutionary War, we can come back to the MUKU and tell a few more stories. Writing the mini-series just whetted our appetite to do more, and showed us how cool these UK heros were and are."

A big THANK YOU goes to Andy Lanning for agreeing to do the interview. He's one of our favorite writers, and additionally, a super-nice guy! Make sure to check out his extensive catalog of work, as well as his recent Revolutionary War mini-series. Also, remember to pick up Guardians of the Galaxy #14, in comic stores tomorrow, (Wednesday, April 21st)!

22 comments:

  1. Congratulations to you, Cam, for getting this interview...

    And thank you so very much Mr. Lanning for agreeing to participate. I am such a big fan of yours and Abnett's. My favorite run ever is Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2, although I also really loved the Annihilators side feature which, of course, also you and Abnett.

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  2. Great interview. Can't wait for #14 to release tomorrow.

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  3. Behold...the man who should be writing Gotg volume 3...

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  4. Thank you for this awesome interview!

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  5. Fantastic job, Cam! And thank you SO much, Mr. Lanning, both for granting us this interview and for all the wonderful memories from Vol. 2. Funny that his favorite Cosmo moment is also mine! I actually have that exact panel as the wallpaper on my laptop.

    Looks like I got a lot to live up to when I interview Dan Abnett! ;-)

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    1. Thanks Dan. I'm sure you'll do an awesome job with your interview!

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  6. Huge fans of ANDY LANNING! Can't wait to see him at the AMAZING LAS VEGAS COMIC CON June 20-21-22 at the ShouthPoint Hotel & Casino. http://www.AmazingLasVegasComicCon.com.

    Hope he can share more of these behind the scenes stories!

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  7. Great interview! Fantastic job, Cameron. I look forward to the chance to meet Andy here in Las Vegas for the ALVCC. I seem to recall that Nova creator Marv Wolfman originally planned for the Nova Corps to be an small select elite unit empowered by the Nova Force while the rest of the forces were regular military and security units. I missed Chris Batista at last year's ALVCC but if he has a table this year, I'd love to ask about the Nova Corps redesigns he was working on! I loved his work on Spaceknights.
    Sadly, I am not really enjoying Bendis' take on GOTG so I am not buying any current issues but cool that Andy seems to enjoy it.

    Looking forward to checking out GOTG #14, the GOTG prelude issue featuring Rocket and Groot, and the FCBD issue.

    Walter Koening would definitely be welcome to voice Cosmo in a GOTG film or cartoon series. Its about time Marvel produced motion comic adaptions of Annihilation, The Thanos Imperative, Nova Vol.4, GOTG Vol.2 etc. An Annihilation animated straight-to-video movie done right by a Japanese animation house would be great. Healthy competition for the DC animated projects!

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    1. Thanks! I'd love to see an animated movie of Annihilation, Annihilation Conquest, and Thanos Imperative. Let's hope if the Guardians film is successful, we will see those eventually.

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    2. Yes, if the GOTG film does really well, hopefully we will see animated adaptations of the DnA era stories. As for Zac Efron: I'd be down for Richard Rider portrayed by the actor. I think he'll do a fine job as Nova Prime! I also get a feeling that we may see the fall of Xandar and the Nova Corps or at least the beginnings of the end, in the GOTG film. That would be the closest thing to an Annihilation Wave event we get in order to bring to realization a Nova Corps Centurion with the full Nova Force into play.

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  8. This is awesome, great job, Cam, a BIG thank you to Mr. Lanning. Fantastic!

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  9. Very informative interview. Good job, guys!

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  10. Great interview! DnA's Nova and Guardians were amazing! I'm so glad that Gunn is pattering the film after their work.

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  11. Thanks for this interview! Great stuff!!

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