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Brian Wood Dishes on the Return of ‘Demo’

After an initial collaboration that launched 12 issues in 2003 and a collected edition that’s continued to resonate with new readers almost seven years later, the lasting impact of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s “Demo” has finally rippled into its second, six-issue volume at Vertigo Comics.

But just as “Demo” follows individuals evolving to confront life’s challenges (albeit with some extraordinary gifts), so too has Wood advanced in his outlook as a storyteller. With “Demo” Vol. 2 #1 arriving in shops this Wednesday, the creator shared with us his take on where the series’ evolution from concept into its oncoming six issues.

ComicsAlliance: It’s been a few years since the initial 12 issues (and collected edition) of “Demo” wrapped. Can you tell us a little about the decision to continue the series and describe your own creator timeline that brought about theses new stories?

Brian Wood: The decision was something that was just assumed, or rather one that just made sense. We were talking to Vertigo already about shifting over the existing “Demo” once the publishing deal we had with AIT concluded, and it seemed natural to support that with some new “Demo.” And I never need much of an excuse to want to work with Becky. Our schedules were pretty packed, so we had to wait a bit longer than we wanted to. “Demo” was/is a high point for both of us creatively. I don’t usually see much benefit in revisiting older projects, but Demo is a special case, since there is not a normal sort of conclusion to the first book. It’s just short stories.
CA: Given the series’ done-in-one nature, do you feel like “Demo” Vol. 2 is as good a starting point as any for new readers to jump on, or do you feel like new readers could still benefit from some background reading to fully enjoy the second volume?

BW: Every “Demo” story, old or new, is a jumping on point. We wrote an essay, Becky and I, for the back of the new “Demo” #1 that explains the history of the book, but that’s just an interesting context and not a requirement for understanding the new stuff. That said, I think there is some value in reading the older “Demo” first, because you can then chart the progression in Becky and my skill level from then to now, but, again, that’s a suggestion on my part and not a requirement.

CA: Your Web site includes a link to your full proposal for the first volume of “Demo” complete with reflective commentary. As you prepared to take on the series again, did you reflect on your initial pitch, or was it more of a case of hopping back into a familiar creative routine?

BW: Just hopping back on. I did go back into old notebooks and see if there were any old “Demo” unused story concepts that I could reuse and update, and there were, but in the end I didn’t use them. I found it interesting to rely solely on my own creative brain circa 2009-10 rather than anything I created in 2003.

CA: What can you tell us about the differences between the series’ first 12 issues and the upcoming six? How have the changes in your own life affected (or not affected) your approach to writing coming-of-age of stories through the lens of special abilities?

BW: One thing that always made me uncomfortable with the first stories how they were constantly perceived as stories about teenagers. I mean, some were and some weren’t, but collectively it was called a “teenage experience” book and I think that wasn’t being totally fair to the entire thing. So for the new stuff I wanted to avoid that pigeon-hole label and also reflect the fact that, I, the writer, am way closer to my forties than I am to my twenties. I felt the new stuff should reflect that a bit more.

So the new stories are an interesting blend of the two… some youthful coming of age stuff with stuff that reads older. They are a little more on the supernatural side of things than some of the older stories, but its all “Demo.” It’s undeniably “Demo.” Part of me would love to see a single, complete “Demo” volume with the new stories mixed in with the older ones, to blur the line between the two.

CA: The first volume of “Demo” contained extras that didn’t make their way into the collected edition. Is this a practice you’ll be continuing with the second volume?

BW: Yeah, to a degree. DC Comics is making “Demo” ads-free, so that leaves us a lot of room in the back of the book for extras, and just from a practical standpoint we couldn’t put it all into the collection. We’re talking possibly 40+ pages of extras from the singles run. So maybe we’ll pick a handful of the best of Becky’s process art, but not too much.

CA: While the first volume of “Demo” lasted 12 issues, volume two will be told in six. Since each issue tells a complete, standalone story, it’s by no means an abbreviated schedule (especially considering your original pitch proposed two 6-issue volumes), but was the decision made to encapsulate this volume based on your and Becky Cloonan’s busy workloads, or was it more related to sustaining the series in further volumes down the road? (or other factors?)

BW: The decision to do only six was mine, as I recall. At that point I hadn’t started writing any of the new scripts and, frankly, I was worried that whatever magic we made with “Demo” was specific to the time and situation Becky and I were in at the time. Meaning, could be pull it off again and be just as good, if not better? Of had we simply moved on, creatively? I played it safe and committed to doing six, off the off-chance. So what that means is we might do more in the future.

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