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Interview: Rob Williams Discusses THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR

Rob Williams gets in depth about his new Vertigo series where the royal family jumps into the good fight!

Coming out February 12th is a new six issue mini-series from Vertigo called THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR by writer Rob Williams and artist Simon Coleby. Rob Williams talked to us about this book and gave us some insight to the world of THE ROYALS.

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ROB WILLIAMS: In the world of The Royals the only people who have superpowers are royalty, and the purer the bloodline, the more powerful the individual. So Kings and Queens are the Supermans and Wonder Womans of this world, but it filters down so Dukes and Knights may just be able to put on a sweet light show at parties. In our story we're following the British Royal Family against the backdrop of World War II. It's a very similar world history to ours, as when we join the story the world's royals have had a longstanding truce not to get involved in world conflicts. But that gets broken early on and then things change.

CV: The books takes place over the course of World War II, which spans quite a few years, and Coleby and your book runs six issues? How do you plan to cover so much in a limited run?

RW: It's one year, and one major set-piece of the war, per issue. So we're running through The Battle of Britain, Pearl Harbor, The Battle of Midway, Stalingrad, D-Day and the last days of the war. We skip a year ahead each issue, do you will see change in these characters. They are affected by what they experience. The idealistic Prince Henry, rather naive and hopeful in issue one, is a different person come the story's final act. Six issues, one for each year of the war, gave the series a natural structure.

CV: How did Simon Coleby become involved in THE ROYALS?

RW: I've worked with Simon several times before on Low Life for 2000AD and he's a good mate. When I pitched the series to our original editor, Ben Abernathy, he suggested Simon for the book. One of the interests Simon and I share is a love of World War II aircraft, so we had plenty to chat about. A mutual knowledge of the era. One of the things we wanted to do with the book was make a comic where the reference was correct. So, if you see a ship or an aircraft in the book, it looks like it should. That takes a lot of commitment. But we've ended up with an amazing-looking comic because of Simon's work.

CV: What attracts you enough to this time period that you wanted to do a story about it?

RW: It's so rich, in terms of the visuals, the drama, the stakes. We skip around the globe in our story - from London, to Washington DC, the South Pacific, Russia, France... So there's a variety of settings. Mass battles look amazing in a well drawn DPS. And, from a plane geek's point of view, there was just some beautiful aircraft involved.

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CV: How did the idea for this story come about?

RW: I was originally playing around with the idea of doing something with a superpowered version of the United Kingdom's House of Lords - where retired Members of Parliament sit as part of our legislature. I thought that might be interesting as it offered the chance for some fun commentary on our class system, but I also realised that was pretty limited in its possible appeal. So I took the core of the idea and changed it to royalty. Suddenly there's a lot more global interest, potentially. After all, royalty are on the front pages of every newspaper in the world.

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CV: Is there any imagery from photos or films you saw, during WWII that you really wanted Coleby to put into this book?

RW: We used a lot of reference. I put a fair bit in the scripts in terms of urls for him. I know he did an awful lot of reference himself. He said to me once the book was finished that he'd never do a heavily referenced book again. But I imagine he could have his arm twisted.

CV: Is there anything better than adding superheroes to historical events?

RW: Not in this case. I think it offers an emotional spectacle. You've seen these images before, but when you see a character flying alongside a high-flying squadron of B-17s in the pure blue sky over Europe, for instance, it's a real 'wow' moment.

CV: Is this just a one-off story or could you be building on an idea that could spawn into more mini-series in the future?

RW: Oh, there's plenty of scope for more and we'd love to do more. There's all of human history to play with. Simon fancies The Crusades, I wouldn't mind taking the Royals through the Cold War. We'll see. As ever with these things, it'll depend on if the book is successful. Fingers crossed.

Make sure to check out THE ROYALS: MASTERS OF WAR, hitting local comic shops February 12th, so when you hit up your shop today, pick this book up.