Guardians Of The Galaxy “nails the tone of the comic”

London Super Comic Con guest Andy Lanning on James Gunn, Rocket Raccoon and the Nova film

Guardians Of The Galaxy is in cinemas 1 August 2014
Guardians Of The Galaxy is in cinemas 1 August 2014
It’s must be pretty nostalgic being Andy Lanning right now. The prolific writer is has been thrown right back into the cosmic capers of Marvel’s misfit space heroes Guardians Of The Galaxy
Not only is James Gunn’s forthcoming Marvel movie drawing heavily from his and Dan Abnett’s fan-favourite 2006-2008 run on the book, but Lanning also has a Groot origin story coming in Guardians Of The Galaxy #14 (sort of the 100th issue overall) and has co-written the film’s forthcoming comic-book prequel, Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy: Prelude.
We caught up with Lanning ahead of his appearance at London Super Comic Con to get his thoughts on the movie, on getting Rocket Raccoon right, and whether we might see a Nova film too…

295378_204259942960510_642960_n

What do you love about comics?
As a kid growing up, comics for me were a cheap and quick way to escape to fantastical worlds with amazing characters and awesome stories.
When I was a kid getting hold of American superhero comics was a bit of a quest; there were no comic-book shops back then and the only place I could get them was my local newsagent who got a random selection of of comics for his spinner rack every month. You never knew from one month to the next if the comic you were reading was going to be there! It made getting a run of a title even more precious and just added to the allure.
As I got older, I began to appreciate the craft involved: the writing and the art drew me to certain creators whatever they worked on and I appreciated them on another level entirely.
Now, I love them because they are my job and my hobby rolled into one. I am a very, very lucky chap; there are not many people who can say that. Through working in comics I have got to work on vitally all my favourite characters, with some of my favourite creators, met wonderful people, creators and fans alike and travelled to places I only ever dreamed of as a kid searching the spinner rack in my local newsagent.
 Are you looking forward to London Super Comic Con? Are you expecting to be swamped by recent converts to the church of Guardians Of The Galaxy?
The LSCC is great con, getting bigger and better every year and something I am looking forward to as we do not have enough conventions in the UK of this type. I am hoping the recent Guardians Of The Galaxy trailer will have gotten people excited about the film, I know I am and am happy to share the excitement with them and answer any questions I am able about the filming.
 
Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett with Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn
Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett with Guardians Of The Galaxy director James Gunn

It must be amazing to see characters that you worked so hard to reinvent and redefine brought to life in Guardians Of The Galaxy – what was your favourite bit of the trailer?

I love the whole thing; because they have really nailed the tone and fell of the comic-book. But, seeing Rocket and Groot in action will never fail to make me whimper with joy!
 
All eyes are on Rocket Raccoon and Groot – are they difficult characters to write without them becoming one-note or gimmicky?
It’s a potential pitfall but because James Gunn has done such a good job in the film script to define them, particularly Rocket. It actually unlocks more areas about them to explore.
The Groot story I’m writing and Phil Jimenez is drawing for Guardians Of The Galaxy #100 delves into Groot’s past and goes someway to explain why he left Planet X and why he and Rocket are buddies.
 
Star-Lord’s steadily shifted up and down the dick to hero scale over the years, how do you pitch him so he’s the guy that gets the best out of people and works as the audience’s POV in a world of Super-Skrulls and World Minds, but while still have him be a bit obnoxious?
To be honest Dan and I ran with what Keith Giffen had began in Annihilation and Conquest; where he set the stage for what we followed with.
During the course of our run we tried to keep him the right side of obnoxious but still have him be a wisecracking rogue. Like you said, as the earth man on the team, he is the audience’s POV in a bizarre and strange universe and we tried hard to make him likeable so the reader’s wanted to tag along with his story.
 
The cover to Guardians Of The Galaxy #14, coming April from Marvel
The cover to Guardians Of The Galaxy #14/100, coming April from Marvel

You’ve written the movie prequel – which I obviously don’t want you to spoil – but how recognisable were the characters. Did they feel like old friends or distant cousins?

Dan and I got to visit the set and read the script and were very impressed with what James Gunn has done. He’s been very generous to acknowledge that the film verso of the team is inspired by our run on the comic.
But the film is the film and has to tell its own story, however, the characters are more like friends than distant cousins because everyone from director, producers and actors went out of their way to be respectful to what we had established.
 
Yourself and Dan Abnett did amazing work to turn the cosmic side of the Marvel U into a living breathing ecosystem. Was there a lot re-reading dusty back issues to try ands reconcile different depictions of the Church of Universal Truth or the differing opinions on the population density of Hala? What were the major challenges in getting it all to ‘work’?
The one thing we were determined to do with both Guardians and our run on Nova was to explore as much of the Marvel Cosmic Universe as possible and make it an essential character in the stories we told.
We are both huge fans of the MCU and the work of Starlin, Giffen, Wolfman etc so it wasn’t a chore re-reading our back issues and making sure we took the readers on a tour of the Marvel Cosmic Universe and caught up with planets, races and characters that hadn’t been seen for a while. It was a hoot!
 
Surely Nova seems like an obvious next step for Disney, and it would be nice for Star-Lord to have someone he can trade tapes with. Would you like to see Richard Rider and his extended cast join the Marvel movie-verse?
Having one film based on your work is a once in a lifetime happening you dream of, having two would probably have me dancing like Snoopy on crack!

Meet Andy Lanning and a whole universe of comic legends at London Super Comic Con, held 15 to 16 March 2014 at London’s Excel Centre. Find out more and book tickets LondonSuperComicConvention.com. You can also find out more about the comics that inspired the film with new digital magazine Uncanny Comics.