By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Arpad Okay, and Jarrod Jones. 10 Things Concerning… is DoomRocket’s interview series, where we chat with comics creators about the things that matter most — comic books, and the drive to create comic books. This week, we’re sharing the ten most fascinating conversations we had in 2016. Whether they were in person, by phone, Skype, or given over email, these were the ten interviews we gave this year that challenged us, made us laugh, and made us think.

10 THINGS CONCERNING Zander Cannon And The Second Season of ‘KAIJUMAX’. If there was a more essential parable to our societal ills that wasn’t named Kaijumax, I haven’t read it yet.

It’s damn near impossible to gloss over Kaijumax once you spot it on the shelves of your local comic book store. For one, it’s generally found in the Employee Picks section, but it’s also one of the more visually striking books out there — bright to the point of being effervescent, cute to the point of being obnoxiously so. I can’t imagine anyone who reads comics that wouldn’t be into the bright, vivid colors wrapped around the book’s giant monsters and robots, and if there are, then it’s time to point out that Kaijumax is an incredibly well-structured and nuanced crime drama. Check the first sentence at the top of this article. That’s not hyperbole.

I didn’t set out to make a social commentary,” Kaijumax creator and Eisner Award winner Zander Cannon told me this past September. “I really just wanted to play around with the relationships between kaiju and give them some personality. It was only when I figured on a prison drama as a genre that I started thinking about the world that I was creating.”

The results of that wholly unique endeavor has amounted to the fifth issue of Kaijumax‘s second season, out this Wednesday. If you’re new to the comics game or a seasoned veteran, if you haven’t done this already — make sure you’re reading Kaijumax. And keep a box of tissues are handy; it’s only natural to get invested in Cannon’s scaly cast of characters, all compromised by a complicated life, some doomed from the very start.

Sterling Gates On ‘ADVENTURES OF SUPERGIRL’ And His Celebrated History With The Maid Of Might. Following the considerable success of CBS’ Supergirl, DC Comics has finally brought Kara Zor-El back to comics with their digital-first series, The Adventures of Supergirl. And while that would be enough for fans of the Girl of Steel, the publisher wisely tapped longtime Supergirl writer Sterling Gates to helm the series, thus bringing the hit TV series and the sagas that inspired it full circle.

Evan Dorkin On ‘CALLA CTHULHU’, ‘BEASTS OF BURDEN’, And Tossing Anger Aside. Evan Dorkin has been around the comics industry long enough to know when it’s best to chill out. Online, people are torrenting comics illegally, there are people out there who really want Donald Trump to be our next President, and then there are the folks who put just way too much stock in their own finite music scene. There was a time when those people would be fine targets for Dorkin. But he’s decided to place his considerable talents elsewhere. “Anger can get boring,” he tells DoomRocket contributing writer Arpad Okay. “And intensity can become stressful and tiring.”

The Eisner Award winner’s zen-like calm has merited such wonderful works as Beasts of Burden, Dorkin’s Dark Horse Comics title with co-creator and artist Jill Thompson, and his upcoming digital release of Calla Cthulhu (co-created with Erin Humiston and Sara Dyer), exclusively from online platform, Stēla.

In anticipation of Calla Cthulhu, Mr. Dorkin sat down with us to discuss relative obscurity, collaborating with frequent co-conspirator (and wife) Sarah Dyer, and why it’s so important to just relax already.

Gwenda Bond On The ‘LOIS LANE’ Series, And The Importance Of A Certain Intrepid Reporter. In the nearly eighty years since her inception, Lois Lane has leapt out of the comics page and appeared in radio, film, video games and novels with the same brio as her caped would-be paramour — but never quite like this.

Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane series (from publisher Switch Press) has explored the character in a way that has sadly been overlooked for 78 years. With her most recent book, Fallout, Bond explores Lois Lane’s formative years acclimating to the fast-paced nature of Metropolis, but what’s more, she takes time to ask the more pertinent questions about the character we only thought we knew. What makes Lois Lane tick? What gives her that trademark tenacity? How did she win that darn Pulitzer anyway?

Bond wants to know these things too. “It’s odd, isn’t it?” the self-identified comics nerd asks. “To me, Lois is a superhero in her own right, but we almost always meet her fully formed, Pulitzer in hand. She’s never had a truly filled-in origin story.” With her Lois Lane novels, all of that is changing. And there’s nary a Man of Steel to be found.

Brian Azzarello Talks About Dark Times, ‘AMERICAN MONSTER’ And ‘DKIII’. It’s been two months since American Monster#1 reached my hands, and I still can’t shake it from my mind. It’s brutal, it’s unnerving, and in places, it’s really, really funny. Brian Azzarello and Juan Doe’s first-ever AfterShock endeavor is essential comics, the kind you read and hold onto long after you’ve filed your issues away. I look into the eyes of the author of 100 Bullets and Hellblazer and tell him precisely that. And guess what? He just laughs.

We’re just getting started,” Mr. Azzarello tells me, as I shift uncomfortably in my seat. “What we’re establishing with these characters is that violence is definitely a normal part of their life. This is day-to-day stuff. So I have to mix it up a little bit. It has to get worse.” Can’t wait.

Neal Adams On ‘THE COMING OF THE SUPERMEN’ And The Chaotic Nature Of Harley Quinn. Neal Adams shares something with me. That film, Gunga Din? Based on the Rudyard Kipling poem? We both really like it. And guess what — we both really like Superman too.

When I found out that Adams, the legendary comic book artist behind Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, had placed hints of Gunga Din into his latest DC Comics mini-series — the outright gonzo Superman: The Coming of the Supermen, I had to jump at the chance to ask him about it. And it didn’t take long before we were talking about Bing Crosby and Bob Hope too. Why? Because I thought his version of Darkseid and Lex Luthor reminded me of Road to Morocco. 

I’m very happy that you made that analogy, though I don’t know where it comes from,” Adams chuckles.

10 THINGS CONCERNING W. Maxwell Prince And The Noble Pursuit Of ‘THE ELECTRIC SUBLIME’. When The Electric Sublime #1 hit stands last month, it set our synapses to firing. Here’s a wild concept: When the world’s most famous art pieces appear to have changed — from the inside — it’s up to the director of the Bureau of Artistic Integrity and a mental patient named Arthur Brut to tap into a bent reality called the Electric Sublime to get to the bottom of things. That’s either a cleverly posited commentary on arts appreciation or a damning indictment. Let’s all just take a moment and attempt to wrap our heads around that.

If you’ve ever found yourself tremulously moved by a piece of art, The Electric Sublime is here to throw you into the proverbial volcano. It approaches the art world, not so much to navigate it, but to forge new paths through it by a sheer force of will. It’s here to peel away all pretense. At least, that appears to be the intention of series writer W. Maxwell Prince. It’s hard to say.

I’ll say that I’ve always found art to be a mode of communication that one turns to when other modes are failing,” the writer told DoomRocket this past month.”[…] the DNA of art and madness are intertwined and complement each other in ways that are hard to talk about.”

Like we said. Hard to say.

10 THINGS CONCERNING Sara Kenney And Her All-New Series, ‘SURGEON X’. If you’ve been looking at the press surrounding Image Comics’ latest series, Surgeon X, you’ll find that there is quite a bit of focus on the technical side of things.

That’s because writer Sara Kenney has done her homework. For her first-time comics project, Kenney went all out in constructing this near-future narrative, where antibiotic resistance and pandemics are commonplace. It’s pretty scary stuff when you get right down to it, and Kenney agrees completely. That’s why she went straight to the experts when it came time to conduct her research.

“[My research] was essential for several reasons,” Kenney told me earlier this September. “One, I think the storyworld is far more authentic because of my discussions with the experts. Two, the comic was funded by Wellcome Trust and this allowed me the time to research and speak with the experts. Three, I’m a geek and enjoy researching this stuff and speaking to experts – it’s just really bloody interesting to me.”

James Tynion IV Talks ‘DETECTIVE’, Kate Kane’s Return, And The Importance Of Tim Drake. If you ever find yourself speaking with James Tynion IV, you’ll find it difficult not to get excited about what he has to say. James has this energy to him, one that’s practically impossible to ignore. When he talks enthusiastically about his work, particularly about his time with the Batman and his upcoming run on Detective Comics, there’s just no way around it — you find yourself getting charged up too. We’re talking about Eddy Barrows and Alvaro Martinez and Kate Kane and Tim Drake, and I’m trying not to let my head explode. But James just lets loose one of his characteristically nonchalant chuckles. He’s excited too, but he’s playing it cool.

Honestly? It’s fun to write about Batman,” Tynion said to me earlier in April. “I don’t think that’s going to come as a great, big shock to anybody?” (No, no that’s not a shock, James.) “I’ve been embedded in Gotham City since I started working in professional comics. This is really the first chance I’ve had to — I’ve been able to take the reins in the past — but this is just my name on the title. And it’s just me being able to go out and tell the stories exactly how I feel will be the most exciting. This is the most “me” Batman book.” There’s no reason not to get excited about that.

10 THINGS CONCERNING Simon Oliver, ‘THE HELLBLAZER’, And An Utter Distaste For Sting. Simon Oliver hates The Police. To put a finer point on it, he has a particularly hilarious angst about Sting, former frontman of The Police. The idea that the character, John Constantine, would be based on that musician — of all people in the wide world — is a fact that baffles him to this day. “[…] out of all the characters, all the musicians of that time, he was never cool,” Oliver said to me on a rainy Chicago afternoon in November.

Skype interviews have a tendency to be these stilted, incredibly stiff affairs, so when he said that it caught me off guard. Because Simon Oliver was not wrong. The Police have always stunk. John Constantine, forever salty, entirely anti-establishment, and eternally hellbound, based on this guy? Naw. Before long, I found myself nodding amusedly to the music that was a South London-born writer taking the piss out of Sting. And it was glorious. “He was a fucking school teacher and like a jazz fucking aficionado. […] I can’t imagine why somebody would want to base their character on him.”

That’s the most reassuring thing I could ever hear from a person who happens to be writing one of the more acerbic and cynical characters in the DC Universe. At the moment, The Hellblazer is enjoying an exceptionally engaging post-Rebirth run. Titled “The Poison Truth”, Oliver’s first arc concerns itself with John Constantine finally heading back to London, where old enemies, former allies, and of course, Chas Chandler, have been dreading his inevitable return. For long-time readers of Constantine’s notorious antics, Oliver’s run, with artist Moritat, would most certainly feel like coming home.

Which interviews did you enjoy the most? Who would you like to see us interview in 2017? Sound off in the comments section below.