Writer Eric Trautmann on his own Rise of Kobra in DC Comics

Over the past several years, Eric Trautmann has been part of some of the biggest stories and projects in both the realms of video games and comics, such as his writing duties on the first Halo video game and his work on DC Comics' Final Crisis: Resist. He now turns his talents to work on the six-issue mini-series, JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith, a storyline that, like the fanatical Kobra cult, rose up with a force after a brief period of dormancy. "I had prepped several story arcs, one of which was a continuation/upping-the-ante of the Kobra stuff that Greg(Rucka) had introduced, and which we had escalated in the final arc of our run (in Checkmate), "Castling", said Trautmann. After some buildup on the potential story, Trautmann had put the idea on the shelf, until DC editor Rachel Gluckstern called up with the mini-series proposal, and those ideas took on what Trautmann described as a "surprisingly nasty turn" in the direction of the content. Trautmann said that, "In terms of the "new" Kobra, I had a lot to build on. Ivan Brandon had done the legwork rebooting the organization in the Faces of Evil: Kobra one-shot, so that was the obvious starting point. And Greg had done such a masterful job taking what was a fairly goofy masked-terrorist group and turning it into something genuinely modern and scary, so that was a major touchstone, as well. So I just had to look at what these two guys did, and figure out how to escalate the scope of the threat, and do it in a way that build it from that mythos, rather than trying to alter the status quo." The theory has worked well so far, as fan and critical reception for the series, which focuses on Kobra infiltrating the levels of Checkmate and also seeking to fulfill their apocalyptic prophesies while the JSA seeks to thwart their efforts. Trautmann does have a couple of major goals for the mini-series, "I hope fans of the JSA enjoy my take on the characters and I've been pleased that one of my "goals" for the series--my approach to Power Girl and the leadership of the JSA--has been warmly embraced.On a larger scale, I hope that Kobra will be firmly cemented as a major threat in the DCU for a long time to come." In tipping his hat to his collaborators on the mini-series, such as Art Lyon on coloring, Gene Ha on covers and Pat Brosseau on lettering, Trautmann described his relationship with artists Don Kramer and Mike Babinski as wonderful and integral to the story's direction, "Don in particular has been very helpful in the creation of the story, since he worked with these characters for years; he's great for a reality check on my handling of the JSA. And Don and Mike clearly were born to work together. It's nothing but a treat watching pages roll into my inbox. I send off a script and they turn it into something gorgeous and brilliant. Hard to beat collaborators like that." Looking ahead a bit at JSA vs. Kobra #4, Trautmann promised a wonderful issue, "There's a really great fight scene at the end of that one, a scene that sort of formed itself during one of my periodic chats with Don Kramer. I simply can't wait to see what he does with it. I really enjoyed this issue." Along with his enjoyment with this series, another recurring element in our interview was his appreciation for working with and the work of Greg Rucka. "Checkmate was like having a master class in writing comics, and "apprenticing" under him was, quite literally, a gift. Add to that he's just an astonishingly good storyteller; I find it helpful, if more than occasionally daunting, to have the bar set so high. I mean, have you read Detective Comics? That's everything mainstream comics should be: gorgeous, well-written, sexy, controversial. Just a home run, really." Fans of Trautmann will be pleased to know that he has a couple of big projects on the way, including the webcomic series Wide Awake and more writing work with DC. "For those that don't know, Wide Awake will be a weekly web-series, with art by Mirco Pierfederici and David Messina, cowritten by me and my esteemed collaborator Brandon Jerwa. It's a supernatural/horror/adventure series about a woman who faces monsters in her dreams...monsters that can follow her into the waking world if she's not careful. Our main character, Amanda, is a ton of fun to write. She's acerbic, she's stressed, she's a wreck of a human being in a lot of ways, and putting her through her paces is just insanely entertaining for me." said Trautmann. Trautmann has promised a fall release for the web-series, which has undergone a few delays and bumps towards its release, but the future for the series, online and in film looks bright. "Do-Over Productions, an independent film company, snapped up the rights, and I'm just thrilled about that. The folks there, Jarrod Feliciano and Mirjana Novkovic, are really smart, really talented, and really committed to making something good. It's a far cry from my other brushes with Hollywood. It's very collaborative, and we're in constant communication, so in many ways, it's a dream come true, if you'll pardon the horrible Wide Awake pun." Another project Trautmann's fans can expect to see him working on will be part of J. Michael Straczynski's Red Circle storylines, with his writing being featured in the character of the Shield. "The Shield is one of the Red Circle/Archie heroes, a patriotic superhero, in the US Army's arsenal. The series will be drawn by Marco Rudy, and the pages that I've seen thus far are glorious; some of his best work to date. Expect two-fisted, high-speed military adventure in various war-torn global hotspots," said Trautmann. His enthusiasm and love for comics and those involved in the creative process is evident, and throughout my interview Trautmann was quick to credit others with helping him create universes and characters that embody a spectrum of stories and tales that range from those involving terrorists, spies, patriotic superheroes and supernatural dreams, but it's also important to remember the creative and interesting touch he brings to those collaborations himself! Check out a preview of Wide Awake at http://www.wideawakeonline.com