[Interview] Comic Book Writer Kyle Higgins – Part 1: Early Works & Ultraman

Hello there Hero-Club, today I have a special interview for the site that I originally intended for my YouTube channel. However, due to scheduling issues I was unable to meet with my current guest over Skype. So, the interview went from being a recorded podcast/ video format to a written questionnaire. Now, my guest at this time is comic writer Kyle Higgins, who has become an idol within the tokusatsu community. Currently, known for writing the recent Power Rangers and Ultraman comics, Mr. Higgins has previously worked on other popular titles. In addition, Mr. Higgins recently created his own series with Image Comics called Radiant Black.

 

Now, the interview is too long to post in one article, so today we will provide the first half. So, in this portion, the questions are centered on Kyle’s interests and other works. In addition, I will discuss with Kyle his current work on the Marvel Ultraman comics and its success. Whereas, next week we will publish the second half of the interview with Kyle Higgins. That half will be centered on Kyle’s work on Power Rangers, and Radiant Black. Nevertheless, without further ado let’s jump into part of my interview with Kyle Higgins!

Question 1: Normally when I begin interviews, I like to start off with some icebreaker questions. So, first off if you could have one superpower what would it be?

Answer: Hmm that’s a good question. I’d probably say, something involving flight. I’ve always dreamed of being able to fly — I get to the edge of buildings and there’s a part of me deep down that wants to jump and feel that experience. The problem, of course, is the landing part (laughs). Nathan’s powers in Radiant Black are pretty cool though — I really like the gravity manipulation, both for yourself and for others. So, maybe we’ll go with that! Keep things on brand!

 

Question 2: What kind of show do you like to watch, no matter their age ratings? I assume like most people with the pandemic and quarantine, you have managed to check somethings off your watchlist.

Answer: Ah, it all depends on my mood! During quarantine, I’ve found that I’m not nearly as interested in watching some of the darker stuff that I used to really like — films like Se7en, or Zodiac, or anything really violent, has been kind of a non-starter for me. But yeah, my taste is pretty eclectic. I can get into French New Wave but also, will never miss a Chicago Bears game. On the fiction side, it just has to have a great story. Everything else is window dressing.

 

Oh, and Invincible. I absolutely love Invincible.

 

Question 3: As a follow up since you mentioned films, what type of films interest you?

Answer: I don’t watch very many superhero movies, to be honest. Unless it’s something I have nostalgia for — like Return of the Joker, or the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or those first few Batman movies. Working with superheroes, full time, changes your fandom a bit. At least, it did for me. Now that Marvel is doing some different things with their characters and series, I’ve been really enjoying some of the bold swings. That’s been a lot of fun to see.

 

But yeah, by and large, I tend to be someone who follows directors. I’ll see anything Rian Johnson makes. Same with Christopher Nolan. Denis Villeneuve. Scorcese. James Mangold.

 

Question 4: In preparation for this interview, I found out you were an intern working for Richard Donner. Could you please elaborate more on what it was like working with Mr. Donner? And, if you do not mind what was the film that inspired you to become a writer/ filmmaker?

Answer: Well, Donner’s Superman, as well as the Richard Lester (and, somewhat, Donner) version of Superman II were two of the biggest influences. Plus, Tim Burton’s Batman, which is still one of my favorite movies and definitely one of my top five all-time favorite superhero movies. I was also a really big fan of X-MEN and X2, both of which I followed the progress of from afar, scouring message boards and superhero film websites for any and all updates. I learned a lot about the filmmaking process, initially, that way. So, the opportunity to then intern for Dick and Lauren — who produced the X-MEN films — was very special. Tom Mankiewicz became my mentor, in part because while Tom was teaching at Chapman University (where I was a film student), I was also interning for his best friend, Dick Donner.

 

Question 5: Now, another thing I researched for the interview was one of the films you helped to write, “The Shadow Hours.” I felt intrigued by the concept that due to a condition, only one person within a pair of twins could be awake at a time. So, they shared half a day at most while working as private investigators. How in the world did the idea for that story come about?

Answer: Well, it came about as a part of an exercise I was trying, back in 2012. At the height of the New 52 craziness, and the constant — and necessary — churn of ideas, I would sometimes sit in a coffee shop and just riff in a notebook. Seeing what I could come up with. I had been away from filmmaking for a few years at that point, and was really missing it, but knew that one of my main limitations had always been myself — I burned all the momentum I had, as a young director who had a dynamic short film, because I didn’t have a feature script ready to go. So, as an exercise, I started to try riffing on film ideas — something I would want to explore and write at a scale that I could conceivably raise the money in order to make it. Because of the turmoil I was dealing with at the time, plus the fact that I had previously been in a writing partnership, and how much I wished I still had that other person to split up the craziness of the DC work with, I came up with the idea for The Shadow Hours.

 

Question 6: Having worked for the “Big 2” comic publishers, Marvel and DC, which one did you enjoy working with the most? Also, what project from either establishment did you like working on the most?

Answer: Ah, I don’t really look at the experiences that way. My era at DC was definitely the most challenging, but there are some stories I told there that I’m really proud of. And at the end of the day, that’s the name of the game for me. That’s all I care about. Is the book I’m making good? I think I have a better “hit” rate at Marvel, but I’ve also done considerably less Marvel work than DC.

 

Question 7: With your writing pedigree, have you ever wanted to write a script for a movie? And, have you considered it being for a pre-existing franchise, or for one of your own creations like “Radiant Black?”

Answer: Sure. And I have, actually. I was hired to adapt my comic book series, Hadrian’s Wall, as a film. The project has since stalled out, but I did a couple drafts on the script. There have been a few things over the years that I’ve also worked on, but I’m not able to talk about publicly at this time.

Question 8: So, let’s begin with the tokusatsu related questions. First off, have you seen any Super Sentai or Kamen Rider series? If so, then which installments from both series have you seen and/ or completed?

Answer: I’ve watched some Kamen Rider — a little of the original, a little Black, a little Gaim, and all of Build — and some Sentai. Episodes of Jetman, Zyuranger, Flashman, etc. Plus, some of the Metal Heroes.

 

Question 9: Now, I know Tsuburaya Productions has been trying to bring Ultraman back to America for years. However, due to legal battles with Chaiyo, Tsuburaya Productions was delayed for some time. Thus, explaining why Ultraman had to be replaced in the film adaptation of “Ready Player One.” So, what has been like for you with producing the “Rise of Ultraman” comics for Marvel?

Answer: Oh, it’s been so much fun. When Marvel reached out to see if I would be interested, I didn’t know that much about Ultraman. But I quickly fell in love, and together with Mat Groom and Francesco Manna, I could not be prouder of the book that we’re making. Tsuburaya has been amazingly supportive, as have Marvel, and the fact that we have an Alex Ross cover is enough to make me almost freak out, still, on a daily basis.

 

Question 10: Having seen the Rise of Ultraman trailer, I cannot wait to see the battle between Shin Hayata and Dan Moroboshi. Honestly, any battle between two classic Ultras is likely to be absolutely nuts. So, what I want to know is what can fans expect for The Trials of Ultraman?

Answer: Ah, I can’t say much more than… if Rise was about the figurative — and, I suppose, literal — rise of this new character, Trials is about the reaction and the fallout…

Anyway, this concludes the first half of questions for my interview with Kyle Higgins. As I mentioned earlier, the second half will be made available next week on the same day and time. So, fans please stay tuned for part two where we will discuss Power Rangers, and Radiant Black. Also, thanks again to Hero-Club for allowing me to contribute this interview to the site in this format.

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