Joe Glass is best known by comics readers for his series The Pride, which is an old school superhero tale, but with LGBTQ characters. It manages to play with archetypes, tell very pointed and political stories, but they also very consciously called back to classic superhero stories. Glass clearly knew the genre and the kinds of stories he wanted to both celebrate and subvert.
His new book, which he’s made with Danny Flores, Moose Baumann and Michael Stock, is Acceptable Losses. The book is being kickstarted right now, and it’s a very different story than The Pride, but it shows how Glass is interested in playing with comics concepts that we’re familiar with and finding ways to subvert archetypal and stereotypical characters in interesting ways.
I like to start by asking people, how did you come to comics?
Well, you know how everyone always answers the question, and it did the rounds again very recently on twitter, of “how did you break into comics” with what seems like a terse and dismissive answer of “Make Comics!”? Well, it’s kinda true, and that is exactly how I started. I started with The Pride and another small comic I made with some friends of mine called Stiffs, and we were all wanting to make comics so we just decided to get started. In all honesty, we started with Stiffs because I was still too nervous about sharing The Pride, thinking that maybe no one else wanted it, and it was just being made for me. But PJ Montgomery and Drew Davies, my friends and Stiffs co-writers, convinced me I should really make The Pride, too, and Gavin Mitchell, who was also drawing Stiffs, helped me make The Pride a reality as a comic. And it turned out there were loads of folks out there just waiting for a comic like The Pride.
So I say to anyone and everyone that if you want to make comics, just make comics. If you have a story to tell but think no one else wants it, trust me, someone does. Is it difficult? Sure, of course it is. But you don’t break into any medium without showing that you can do it first.
Over time, I also got some attention as a comics reporter, especially in the last few years, which all started from me asking the right question at a comic con panel that wound up becoming national news (the question and answer, not me, of course), but I’ve put that behind me of late to focus on making comics. But yeah, I’d say it’s how a lot of people know me still.
Acceptable Losses is a new comic from me, Danny Flores, Moose Baumann and Michael Stock. Kinda my chance to show that I am capable of making stories very different than what people know me for thus far.
It’s a one-shot comic, so it tells a whole story in one concentrated gut-punch of a story. An emotional, thought-provoking action thriller, that is kind of modeled along the lines of Captain America crossed with Jack Ryan.
The US Eagle, the only superhuman operative in the world and proud soldier in the US army, is sent on a dangerous mission in the Middle East that goes horribly wrong when a Senator gets his meddling mitts involved. We slam cut to a year later, and the Senator finds himself the target of a bloody and violent act of revenge and terrorism, but from who?
It looks at the dangerous lust for the semblance of power, and a thought-provoking look at the War on Terror and its never-ending cycle of violence.
It’s also just a ballsy, dark military superhero story, so it’s a lot of fun.
Well, I initially got in touch with Danny to do something Pride related, after seeing some samples of his work online and being blown away by his style. I think he has a ton of potential there, and it’s exciting to get on the ground floor with a new artist like that. Ultimately, I realized that his style worked even better for a darker, moodier story, and I’d been percolating Acceptable Losses in my head for a while, so it wound up being a perfect fit.
This isn’t your first comic, so what do you look for or need in a co-creator? What are looking for or what do you hope to get from an artist in collaboration?
It really does depend on the project. Ideally, someone who gets the story that you’re trying to tell, both contextually and thematically. Also, someone who brings something to it so that it grows and becomes better for the collaboration. I’ve worked with a lot of artists, colorists and letterers now, and every one it’s different but you look for what you can do together that elevates the end product.
The Pride is a fun, bright superhero story about a team of all LGBTQ+ superheroes. It was about showing a group that rarely gets to be the heroes, even in the mediums that they love, get to shine as the main characters in their own story. Playing with superhero archetypes to show queer identities in the roles that we can equally play just as well as straight identities.
It’s about being bright, hopeful and positive in the face of a world and people that try to throw negativity and pain your way, but also just telling colorful, positive superhero stories again instead of grim dark stories.
There’s been a six issue first volume, as well as five issues of an anthology sister series, and the first volume has even been collected into a trade collection now too.
Acceptable Losses is a very different kind of project for you, but I can’t help but think that as in The Pride where you wanted to push against stereotypes and play with archetypes, here you seem to be doing something similar. Is that a fair reading of how you’re thinking and approaching it?
Yeah, I think that’s fair to say. I always try to keep representation in mind with all projects, and the same goes for Acceptable Losses. The comic will show queer identities in roles that they are very rarely seen in in that kind of story. Also, it works that way in a metatextual way. After The Pride, many might just think of me as “the gay comic guy” or the guy making “gay comics” – and I both have no problem with that, but also want to push what that means in their minds. Eventually, perhaps they’ll just see me as “THAT comic guy” instead of feeling the need to qualify it.
I certainly hope so. I certainly have a lot of plans, and a lot of pokers in the fire at the moment. There’s still so much left to say with The Pride too, so don’t worry. The Pride is far from over. I just have a lot of other stories to tell, and hopefully Acceptable Losses will just be the first of many, many more.
What’s the elevator pitch for Acceptable Losses? And how long do people have to grab it on kickstarter?
Acceptable Losses is a Tom Clancy thriller through the prism of a national superhero action piece. It’s Captain America, The Punisher, and Homeland slammed together into a compelling, concise drama of our current climate with the War on Terror.
There’s just one week left to back the project, and we need all the help we can get, so please head over to Kickstarter and help me and my team make this awesome, action-packed, thrilling story for you all!