“Hell Yeah” writer Joe Keatinge wants to explore comics’ infinite potential
The first in a two-part interview with “Hell Yeah” and “Glory” writer Joe Keatinge. Look for part 2 next week.
A world where anything can happen is at the heart of Joe Keatinge’s new Image Comics superhero series, “Hell Yeah,” which went on sale this week. The comic, which sold out within hours from the publisher, may still be available at area comic shops. A second print is set for April 4.
Keatinge, with artist Andre Syzmanowicz, wants to create a comic where no character is safe, and the rules are out the window. And he’s drawing inspiration from the early days of Image Comics to do it.
“’Hell Yeah’ exists because Image Comics exists,” Keatinge said in a news release. “I read superhero comics my whole life, but when Image Comics debuted, it made me realize all the rules and restrictions I saw in other superhero comics didn’t have to exist. Anything could happen. You could kill lead characters in first issues. Obliterate long-standing villains in a page turn. They could be in different tone … They didn’t have to be noble, they didn’t have to maintain the same status quo. It was turned into a genre where the term ‘impossible’ didn’t exist.”
In “Hell Yeah” superhumans first appeared during the first Gulf War, where they brought an end to the
U.S.-Iraq conflict and changed the course of world events. In the first arc, a college student with superpowers is trying to figure out why alternate-universe versions of himself are being murdered.
Portland, Oregon-based Keatinge, an instrumental voice in Image Comics’ current resurgence, has been working on the story that became “Hell Yeah” off and on for 20 years.
“It will eventually be a giant ensemble book, but it starts off focusing on this guy Ben Day, who finds out that the versions of him are being murdered throughout the multiverse,” Keatinge said in a recent phone interview. “So that starts out exploring what this whole super-world is like and how it’s affecting things.”
While Keatinge is a big fan of the seminal Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons series “Watchmen,” he describes “Hell, Yeah” as that concept’s “flip side.”
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