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Simon Oliver Branches Out to Gen-13…and Hellblazer!

Simon Oliver, best known for his work on Exterminators, is expanding his horizons–taking on a 6-issue arc of Wildstorm’s Gen-13 (as revealed in San Diego), and just announced–writing a Hellblazer spinoff mini-series featuring Chas, John Constantine’s long-suffering cab-driver friend…with art by Goran Sudzuka (Y: the Last Man, Lady Constantine) and covers by Glenn Fabry (Hellblazer, Preacher).

Exterminators #19 coverSo for those of you who don’t read Exterminators (your loss–great comic!), and probably even those who do, you probably don’t know much about Simon Oliver. Neither did I. As far as I knew, his first comic work was Exterminators #1, but I thought it was possible he had done some work for 2000 A.D. or something. So I called him up to get the lowdown.

In a nutshell…. After leaving South London to pursue his fortune as a scuba instructor, Simon Oliver met his wife in Honduras. She convinced him to move back to Los Angeles with her. There he worked as a camera assistant, and “started writing 4 years ago–movie and TV scripts–just kind of for the hell of it.”

“I was not a ‘comic reader’”, he said. “I had read Watchmen and some Frank Miller stuff. But when I read 100 Bullets, I said to myself, ‘Wow! You can do this kind of stuff in comics?’” So he took the Exterminators (“a TV pitch that I knew was never going to get made”), and flogged it to Vertigo. And after 10 drafts of the script, they went for it.

If you’re not reading Exterminators, it’s a little tricky to explain. Here’s the blurb for the current issue, courtesy of the Vertigo website:

Exterminators #20
“Faced with overwhelming odds, the Bug-Bee crew locks and loads for its apocalyptic showdown with the invading Mayan Hisser army, while in the Ocran boardroom, the newly power-mad Laura is putting together a secret army of her own.”

Get it? Didn’t think so. Just go pick up the first volume, Bug Brothers in trade paperback. I really think you’ll dig it. If not, send me nasty comments or something. One of the things I really like about Exterminators is its cinema/TV vibe. Simon attributes that to his years as a camera assistant. And Tony Moore (an artist perfectly suited to the book) is a student of film as well.

To prepare for the Chas mini-series, Simon read a bunch of old Hellblazers as research, and started getting really excited. “My Granddad was a cab driver in London for 60 years,” he explained. At this point he launched into a beautiful philosophical discourse about his grandfather’s stories, his own time in London, and what it was like to go back after many years to try to get in touch with the current urban vibe in London. (Unfortunately it was at this same point that my dictaphone decided to eat the tape, so I don’t have any poignant quotes for you).

I asked Simon if any other comics had piqued his interest recently. Apparently From Hell, and Grant Morrison’s Vertigo output have been recent faves. “It still blows me away that people want to read my comics,” he said. “I’m happy for every single reader!”

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