Graphic Policy Talk With Ray Fawkes and Jeremy Haun about Valiant’s Upcoming The Final Witness
I have been all-in on Valiant‘s comics for a long time. But, sometimes a series comes along that really sings to me. The Final Witness is one of those books. The promise from the creative team that nothing will be the same after a comic isn’t an unfamiliar one. This is one of the few times that I genuinely believe that will be the case.
What is The Final Witness?
It seems to blend a murder mystery with superheroes in what promises to be something Valiant fans haven’t seen before. It’s from the creative team of Ray Fawkes (writer), Jeremy Haun (art), Nick Filardi (colors), and Clayton Cowles (letters).
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to ask Ray and Nick a few questions about the upcoming series.
Graphic Policy: The Final Witness has really got me intrigued; where did the idea come from?
Ray Fawkes: The idea was a collaborative effort with Heather Antos, our great editor. We bounced the basic concept of the killer this book is based around, and the new hero who would face them as his first challenge back and forth until we settled on The Final Witness – something totally new for the Valiant Universe!
Jeremy Haun: It was one of those concepts that I knew I wanted to be a part of the second I read it. We’ve read all of the superhero stories that are out there by now. This series— this point of view is something new. That’s incredibly exciting.
GP: How long did it take you to get from the conception stage to the finished product?
RF: We really worked it over for several months even before scripting began in earnest, just making sure we had the core concept as strong as possible, and making sure that the folks at Valiant were completely happy with the direction we were taking. Then the scripting started up – so we’re looking at about a year from the seed concept to finished product.
JH: A lot of projects have a release date even before things are ready to go. I love that Valiant really let us take the time and build this story the way we needed to. I got working drafts of the first two issues when I came onto the project. They’d been developing things for months at that point. I came in and we built and added to things even more.
GP: You’ve both worked together a lot over the years; did you know coming into the project you’d be teaming up again? It must be fun to work with somebody you know, eh?
RF: When I started putting together the plans for the script I didn’t know yet that we were going to be able to get Jeremy on board – but as soon as his name was mentioned I began to see this book as a project I didn’t want to do with anyone else. We’ve had such great synergy in the past, and I knew we’ d be speaking each other’s language from day one of the collaboration.
JH: There are certain creators that you’ll work with any chance you get. Ray is one of those folks. He’s the kind of collaborator who not only gets good storytelling, he gets the type of storytelling I get excited about. The second Heather reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to work on an all-new superhero noir book with Ray, I was in.
GP: Ray, you’ve said that you really got to cut loose with this story; how different has working with Valiant been from your previous gigs?
RF: Valiant has been one hundred percent supportive of the direction this book is taking – something new for the company and for its in-continuity characters – and it’s been really great seeing what kinds of boundaries we can push. All any writer wants to do is to be free to explore a concept to the hilt – Valiant has given me that chance with The Final Witness.
GP: With this being a limited series, can you tell us if there are any plans to do more with the characters you introduce down the road?
RF: I’ve already outlined a second story with the characters, and have ideas for more. It’s really up to the readers – if the book gets the kind of support I’m hoping for, there may be much more to come. I mean… with the characters who survive this story, of course…
JH: Oh— you’re going to want more of this. I want more of this.
GP: Will Final Witness change the way that fans look at the Valiant universe going forward? It certainly seems like it’ll be different than what we’ve seen before…
RF: I truly believe it will. What happens in this story may call into question some of the ethical problems certain heroes in the Valiant universe face – and some of the problems they represent. Both in-universe and out of it, for readers – there will be a new element brought to Valiant in this book, and once it hits, it can’t be taken back. For the worse in some heroes cases, and for the better in some – and, I like to think, very much for the better for readers.
JH: This is a story that adds a new layer to the Valiant universe in the best way. It’s already a world filled with a fantastic array of characters. THE FINAL WITNESS is going to give us something new— something we need…and might not even be ready for. Things aren’t going to be the same from here on out.
The Final Witness is due for release April 29th, 2020