It’s a soggy, snowy day in Grand Rapids, MI. But that hasn’t stopped the Grand Rapids Comic Con, or more specifically, Kyle Higgins the creator/writer of Image Comic’s ‘Radiant Black,’ from turning out to put on a good show at his panel on Friday.
Frankly, I was immensely impressed at Higgins’ self-facing and honest yet respectful eloquence. For this panel, Higgins discussed everything from his creator-owned Image book, Radiant Black, to his iconic Power Rangers work and even touched on his New 52 Nightwing run.
Firstly, Higgins discussed ending his Power Rangers run and Higgins admits it was a “tough one to leave” but that “everything has an ending” because you can stay on a book too long. Higgins says he prefers to leave something early before it gets stale and lay the groundwork for the next person taking the reigns of any given property.
Higgins’ favorite superhero is Nightwing, a character he tackled during the New 52 phase at DC Comics. However, despite writing for his favorite hero, Higgins says the job was not a perfect dream. “It was hard, it was stressful,” the writer said about the experience, reminiscing that wading into all the continuity was a “tricky situation.”
For a while, he admits he wasn’t the proudest of his work on that book. But now he’s able to reconcile and make peace with the position he was in and the choices he made.
Much of the frustration he encountered came from dreaded editorial notes, but it taught him about collaboration and figuring out “the notes behind the notes.” Sadly, he says, some notes miss the point entirely. Higgins uses an example of baking a pie: Some editors won’t even give notes on how to make a pie, they want a cake instead.
Despite mainly working in comics, Higgins prefers directing over writing, and when asked what film he’d most like to direct based on an IP, he concluded his choice would either be Batman Beyond or TMNT (but done in a more grounded, tangible way).
By far Higgins’ biggest current success is Radiant Black. Because of its success, he’s lucky he doesn’t have to scrounge up “for hire” gigs and he’s looking forward to directing his first feature in May. “I’d rather do my own stuff,” he emphasized.
When asked to pitch Radiant Black, Higgins described it as being, “about getting superpowers in your 30s, but only after you’ve chased your dreams” that have “left you crippled.” In short, “it’s Power Rangers for Adults.”
“Writing Power Rangers changed me.” And because of that experience, Higgins was driven to make a series that’s prescient and modern. He is now “comfortable with optimism and ambiguity” which he cites as lacking in many new writers who want things to be dark and gritty, which he admits with a smile, “I spent years doing as well.” But now he’s confident enough to not use grittiness as a crutch because “dark and edgy are not the same as complex and sophisticated.” By his own admission, he much prefers Into the Spiderverse over the Snyderverse.
Something to look out for: Radiant Black #10 will be a true blacklight ink comic—a florescent issue that will reflect being stuck in a black hole.
Circling back to Power Rangers, Higgins talked about how he had the idea of a modern-day remix even before BOOM! Studios announced it, but as soon as he heard the news, he contacted BOOM! Studios and pitched. Because he was tired of origin stories and “90s nostalgia”, he wanted it to be a remix continuation that’s contemporary and captures, “how I remembered it [the original Power Rangers] making me feel.” To make his vision coherent, he took cues from Scott Snyder, who he said lays out “flag posts” of events he needs to hit so he can always circle back.
Then it was time for questions!
I asked what advice he had for somebody starting out and he told it like it is: “Nobody cares about your script…they care about your comic.” The best and worst part of the industry is that “the barrier entry to making comics—is making comics.”
A gentleman asked about the challenges of Higgins doing “his own thing” at Image as opposed to The Big Two, to which Higgins responded by saying that indie vs corporate comics is different beasts. Writing them scratches different itches and utilizes different muscles.
According to Higgins, he thinks of world building, which is essential in the indie sphere, as a crucial element that’s like a lock that has to be worked precisely in order to open. He treasures owning Radiant Black entirely because there’s “a lot of me in that book” and because of that personal element, he didn’t want people taking that away.
Lastly, Higgins referenced the recently announced supermassive one-shot issue of Radiant Black. Many press outlets haven’t covered this detail yet, but Higgins says this one-shot will be a sizable 54 pages and it will be perfect bound. In addition, there are no current plans of reprinting it—so get them while they’re hot, folks.
Overall, Kyle Higgins was a dream panel guest. Flowing with acute observations and wise integrity, Higgins acted as an entertaining and enlightening wellspring of creativity. Hearing him speak, it’s impossible not to be swept up by his creativity and be inspired yourself.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!