The Mega Man comic book from Archie has (for now, at least) released its last issue, and so the time seemed right (plus, you guys pushed for it) to do one more interview with writer Ian Flynn and look back on the 55+ issue legacy left behind.
Now, on with the Ian Flynn-terview!
The Mega Man Network: Out of curiosity, are there any scripts or anything that were submitted before you found out that #55 was going to be the last issue? Or were you able to go into the post-Worlds Unite books knowing that was coming?
Ian Flynn: I had the Mega Man 4 arc planned out before word came down that we were ending at Mega Man #55. On the plus side, if/when the book returns, I’m ready to hit the ground running. And we got to do a trio of curtain call books, which is very nice. And since I like things neat and tidy, it means exactly twelve trades eventually. Woo!
What's your proudest achievement on the Mega Man book?
It’s hard to pick. We introduced original characters that were largely embraced by the fanbase. We went for fifty-five issues, which is impressive for any title. I guess I’m most proud of the fact that we did the series at all, that we continued the Blue Bomber’s legacy, and that so many got to enjoy it.
Any regrets (besides the obvious, i.e. the book ending. Particular stories you never got to tell, characters you wanted to write)?
In the long list of “I didn’t get to…” I think the one I regret the most, for the sake of the fans, was getting to Bass. We set out to do Mega Man faithfully, and unfortunately, Bass comes so late in the series it wouldn’t make sense to throw him in early.
Anything not from the games that you can share?
I was looking forward to finishing up Xander Payne/Mr. X’s character arc, having his ultimate fall from power and setting up Dr. Wily as Mr. X for the Mega Man 6 story arc.
Were there any particular characters or stories that you feel you could have done more with?
All of them? Dr. Cossack’s entire Robot Master line was full of potentially reoccurring characters. I would’ve liked to find ways of bringing in Dr. Light’s line more, both the original and the Mega Man 9 line. Quake Woman’s arc was nowhere near done. Blues had only reached one of his many turning points. The list goes on...
Were there any that exceeded your initial expectations as you began working on them?
I think they all kind of took me by surprise to some degree. The level of depth you can get out of Mega Man alone with his child-like innocence in these crazy, harrowing scenarios is wonderful. Taking the simple, basic material from the old games and spinning out their full implications is like entering the richest diamond mine.
How hard was it to get the "voice" of the characters into your head as you took up the book?
I think the hardest struggle was keeping Rock and Roll sounding like children. They tackled some lofty topics and very emotional moments, and it’s tricky to convey the message with all the pertinent information while still keeping them sounding like -- well -- them.
Hypothetically speaking: if you had the chance to do a spin-off with either Proto Man or Bass, which one would you pick and why?
Proto Man, in a heartbeat. He’s the lone hero, the brooding wanderer, doing good but never lingering to be thanked.
From the outset, the hope had always been that there would also be a Mega Man X book. Aside from the slightly darker feel, if that opportunity had come, would you have taken a different approach to it than with Classic?
Absolutely. Mega Man always has a sense of growth and exploration to it. Each new Robot Master, each new plot by Dr. Wily, pushes the world deeper into the age of advanced robotics. By Mega Man X, the world has already been plunked into the middle of it. That era is more about clinging to hope and civilization as things inexorably slide into the madness of the Elf Wars and the dystopia of Mega Man Zero.
Were there any particular artists you had hoped to get to work with on the book?
There wasn’t anyone I had my heart set on, but I got to work with an amazing crew. Legendary Patrick Spaziante, Chad Thomas, Powree, Tyson Hesse, coloring wizard Matt Herms and the powerhouse Ryan Jampole to name but a few. You can’t ask for a better set of line artists.
The book expanded on the established Mega Man world by adding several new, original characters to the mix. Do you have a particular favorite?
Federal Agents Rose and Gil were a delight, especially playing them against each other. Both Gil and Dr. LaLinde allowed me to ask and investigate questions and themes that you simply can’t through Dr. Light’s optimism.
Are there any that you didn't get to introduce that you can tell us about?
I would’ve liked to explore Dr. Kouin a little bit more. I intended to show the creators of the international Robot Masters of Mega Man 6, even though they wouldn’t have been major characters. But we were entering the period of Mega Man where the game cast would’ve been sufficient -- I wouldn’t need to add much to it.
Are there any little Easter Eggs or tidbits that maybe you had a hand in planting, but people didn't pick up on that you would like to share now?
I’m sure there were -- I loved putting in in-jokes and obscure trivia. But it’s been so long now, I can’t remember most them off the top of my head! There were tons in Mega Man #55, but to pick one: on the page dedicated to Mega Man & Bass, look at the placement of Astro Man and Tengu Man specifically. They’re both survivors of King’s army, and since Astro Man is supposed to be a bit of a coward, he’s hiding behind Tengu Man/Tengu Man is protecting him from Mega Man, Proto Man, and Bass.
Is there anything you wish you could change?
Always. You always want to go back and tinker and tweak. I’ve spent many long, unproductive hours wondering if we should’ve started the series post-Mega Man 10, or jumped in somewhere in the middle, or cut the original content story arcs, or this, or that, or whatever. But in the end I think we made the best choices -- or at least mostly the right ones.
I think the Mega Man comic has definitely cemented its place in the history of the Blue Bomber. Is there anything you'd like it to be remembered for?
I’d be flattered if folks remembered me at all -- haha. But I hope they remember me as someone who tried to speak with Mega Man’s voice - to tell his story through his eyes and in his world. This was never my book -- this was Rock’s.
Where and on what projects can fans of your work find you now?
I’m still doing Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe with Archie Comics. I’m dabbling with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures over at IDW. I’ve also got a podcast running every two weeks. I’ve got more stuff coming up that I can’t talk about yet, but folks can keep tabs on everything I’m doing over at my website: www.BumbleKing.com.
Finally, one thing in particular got to me in that final issue: we got to hear the final thoughts of new editor Vincent "Vin" Lovallo and assistant editor Jonathan H. Gray, but we didn't get any final thoughts from you, the man who wrote every single issue of the Mega Man comic (and then some, considering the number of issues in the crossovers, bringing the total to about 66, I believe?). I'd just like to turn the floor over to you and allow you to say your piece here.
I guess what I want to say is “Thank you.” Thank you to Francis Mao and everyone at Capcom who got this project started, and who helped make “Worlds Collide” and “Worlds Unite” happen. Thank you to Paul Kaminski and Vin Lovallo for running the book and giving me so much creative control. Thank you to all the incredibly talented artists who made my stories look good (and didn’t kill me when I asked for two-page spreads with thirty characters -- haha). And thank you to the Mega Man fans who supported the book, who sent in fan art, who came to the conventions, and who showed us as much love as we tried to show them and their beloved franchise. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to be part of Mega Man’s legacy, and I look forward to the day when I can start contributing again.
And a huge thanks to Ian Flynn for penning a terrific comic book series worthy of the Blue Bomber, and to Alex Segura of Archie Comics for helping to make this interview possible!