Exclusive: Genndy Tartakovsky On His New CAGE! Comic From Marvel

Plus: a first look at the art!

Almost a decade ago animator Genndy Tartakovsky started working on a Luke Cage comic for Marvel. We waited for it... and waited, and waited and waited. Tartakovsky got busier and busier, and for a while it seemed like this Luke Cage comic was a dream that could never come true. 

Except that it did! This October Tartakovsky's Cage! will finally hit stands. The first issue of the four issue limited series promises to be full of the kind of dynamic action and fun for which fans have come to love Tartakovsky, and what's more, the series is set in the fabulous, over-the-top 70s, allowing Tartakovsky a lot of room to just let loose with his designs and his imagination. Here's the solicit for the first issue:

CAGE! #1 (of 4)


From the Award-Winning creator of Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Hotel Transylvania! On the mean streets of Harlem, shoes are big, shirts are large, bottoms are belled and crime is rampant! But in the heart of the city, the world’s hardest-working, smack-talking, chain-wearing super hero is on the street and on the case! And his rates are reasonable! He’s CAGE! and he’ll save your behind. Dig it!

And here's the AWESOME cover, which would make for a killer poster.

Man, I LOVE that cover. 

Marvel reached out and offered me an email interview with Tartakovsky, as well as the opportunity to share with you guys an interior page from the comic. I jumped at the chance. What's fun about this book is that it's taking place in its own world, which means even if you aren't up to speed about who is the current Thor, Captain America or Iron Man in Marvel you can dive right into this comic. 

Why Luke Cage? What is it about this character that attracted you?

Well I grew up following most of the major titles like Fantastic Four, Spider-ManAvengers, etc. But I had also a lot of love for the smaller titles like Master of Kung FuBlack Panther, The Defenders, Inhumans, and of course Power-Man and Iron Fist. I always liked the martial art aspect of Iron Fist with the raw street energy of Cage. I saw it in my head like Bruce Lee and Shaft hanging out together. And Cage was fun, I liked the idea of a down and out hero scrapping for work, love, and just trying to survive. 

You started working on this a decade ago. Is this series you picking up where you left off or did you start from scratch?

Listen it was only 8 years ago, not a decade! I’m picking up right where I left off but definitely improving it and refining it.

Who initiated this return to Cage!? Was it you or did Marvel reach out? How did it happen?

Well I was doing press for Hotel Transylvania 2 and coincidently I found my thumbnails around the same time and thought that they still held up. Then on the press tour I kept getting questions about it so I thought for fun I would say “I’m willing to finish it if Marvel is still interested.” Sure enough it spread through the internet and the editor from Marvel contacted me.

This book is set in the 70s. Will we see 70s versions of other Marvel favorites?

I don’t want to give anything away but YES!!

Luke Cage is having a new moment in the sun because of Netflix. Will this series be aimed towards new readers or is it full of references aimed at people with Power Man and Iron Fist in their long boxes?

Well growing with those comics in the 70’s and 80’s I have a very strong fondness of that version of Power Man so my version is very rooted in that time, but I think it is totally fun and feels new. It was about making something entertaining with a character that I really liked. So I think it can appeal to young and old readers.

How does comic storytelling differ from animation? With animation we see all the moments, while with comics so much of what happens occurs between the panels. Is that the big difference?

Well the biggest difference is that I can’t rely on sound as much as I do in animation. That’s a big one because I use sound to help enhance the mood, action, comedy, pretty much everything. So that’s a big element missing. And of course there is no movement so I try to create it with kinetic panels and layouts as well as fun energetic drawings. It’s unlike other comics I think because my influences are strongly based from animation and cartooning like Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Chuck Jones, and Tex Avery. So it’s quite different from comics today…I think.

It does seem quite different to me. Here, exclusive to BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH. is a page from Cage! #1, one filled with all the energy you expect from Tartakovsky.