Freddie Williams II Talks He-Man/ThunderCats

handling interiors and cover art.Williams joined at Comic Con International: San [...]

(Photo: DC Entertainment)

Starting in October, Mattel and DC Comics will team up to bring He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and the ThunderCats, together in a monthly comics miniseries.

The story will be brought to life by the writing team of Mattel Head Writer and Masters of the Universe Lead Creative Rob David and Supervising Producer Lloyd Goldfine, with all-star artist Freddie E. Williams II (Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) handling interiors and cover art.

Williams joined at Comic Con International: San Diego last month to talk about the project.

It's one of those perfect examples of a thing ... Probably not since DC/Marvel have I seen something that was just kind of like, "Yeah, I used to do that with my action figures all the time.

Yeah, definitely. Me too.

How did that come together for you? Did they approach you, or was this something that got kind of pitched out?

It was from my ... To the best of my knowledge, it was just coincidental, kind of copacetic. I was on issue three or four of Batman-Ninja Turtles, which I illustrated, and I was thinking what will be my next project after this? I contacted some of my editors at DC, and I had heard that Warner Brothers or DC had the publishing license to do ThunderCats, so that specifically what I e-mailed my editor about. I said, "Hey, if you guys ever want to do like a ThunderCats reboot, especially ... Or a He-Man/ThunderCats crossover, please keep me in mind." One of my editors wrote me back and very cryptically said, "I love how you do things." That was the response. I guess they were probably talking abvout it right then, and I didn't know that.

Then maybe a couple days later, I got an e-mail saying, "If you have some samples, let us know." I had a bunch of warm-up sketches, some stuff like that, that I sent them, and they liked it. Mattel liked it, and it kind of went from there, and I was just like, "I can't believe that this is happening to me. This is so cool." He-Man and ThunderCats were my childhood, really.

You're a pretty respected comic book artist. Is it an odd experience to have to go to that extra level of license for approval and everything?

Not at all. No. Before I did anything with comic books, I was working at Hallmark Cards, and I very much saw the inside and the outside of how licensers will approve things. Basically you put together a team and kind of pitch that. Hallmark would put together a team of people and then pitch that to the licenser, or in this case it would be DC pitching it to a licenser, Mattel. To me, it's just expected. I come from a very commercial art world, and that's just how you do things.

I've seen the press release, and essentially that this project exists, but what can you tell us about kind of the high concept? What brings these characters together?

Wow. This is where I wish that I had a writer sitting right next to me. Basically it is a ... I'm not saying this just because I'm involved in the story. I've read the outline, and of course ... I completed the first issue. That's as much as I've seen, and it works together in a great way that you wouldn't ... The first issue has like three surprises, and it has several cliffhangers, and it all connects in a way that you go, "This all makes sense." It all feels very organic. It feels like it was meant to be, like these two properties have been wanting this for 30 years. You know what I mean?

To me, the bigger concept is about the quest for power versus responsibility. There's some overlap between Prince Adam's leadership, and then Lion-O's sort of questioned leadership, and them seeing the respect for each other, and the power level ... There's a lot of things in that. I wish I was more articulate in that, but that's some of the things that I've picked up on. Also the dark quest for power on the Skeletor/Mumm-Ra side as well.

With Batman/Ninja Turtles, you did a very good job of merging those two worlds, but part of it was that you were able to tap into the kind of noir roots of Ninja Turtles that aren't tapped very often. Was there kind of a secret recipe for bringing these two properties together in terms of finding a middle ground that both of them could inhabit comfortably?

To me, there was always the middle ground. There's always the middle ground because that was my childhood. That's what I was interested in. For a few years if my childhood, that was like the default gifts for me from my family and friends was just He-Man and ThunderCats. To be honest, they're in the same universe to me already. To me, they have that same vibe, like Mumm-Ra and Skeletor fit very well together visually and stuff, so I guess that's the best answer I have.

If there was a third property that you could pull in this, like in a fantasy world where this is the sequel, what would it be?

A He-Man, thunderCats, and then X?


Let's see...Conan would be maybe too dark, but that would be really nice.