What do you do when you’re wrongfully accused of carrying out the worst terrorist attack in human history? Nathan Bright has the misfortune of finding out firsthand in The Weatherman, a new Image Comics sci-fi action series by writer Jody LeHeup, artist Nathan Fox, and colorist Dave Stewart that follows the No. 1 weatherman on a terraformed Mars as he tries to survive the greatest manhunt the galaxy has ever seen. It’s a much more serious action story for LeHeup after last year’s irreverent Shirtless Bear-Fighter, and Fox and Stewart bring a heightened level of intensity and drama that makes Nathan Bright’s plight all the more harrowing.
“From an aesthetic standpoint, the inspiration comes from a lifetime of being an avid consumer of story and genre fiction in the form of comics, anime, film, television, etc., colliding with the creative energy I had after leaving the world of work-for-hire editing,” says LeHeup. “Sitting down to finally write my own stories it was like my brain had been let off a leash and The Weatherman just exploded out of me. Nathan’s art was a big inspiration for me as well and continues to be.
“For not really knowing each other until we started to talk about the book I honestly have to say that Jody is one of the most talented, funny, and imaginative storytellers I’ve ever had the honor of working with,” says Fox. “Between The Weatherman and his last book, the outstanding Shirtless Bear-Fighter, I think Jody can write just about anything. From an artist’s standpoint, Jody’s scripts are a dream. His world-building and character treatments and storytelling insights really elevate our collaboration. We share a lot of the same influences as well. We both love dark humor and we’re personally dedicated to to putting our all into this book and the larger questions it raises. He is one of the most exciting narrative partners and friends I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from to date.”
Fox is an extremely versatile artist that can transition seamlessly from rollicking action to intimate emotional moments, and the scope of his talent allows LeHeup to think big with his storytelling. “There’s a lot going on in The Weatherman,” says LeHeup. “We have gorgeous sci-fi space vistas, a rich world, different kinds of dynamic action, heartfelt moments, comedy, badass vehicles, larger-than-life characters…you name it. And no small amount of punk rock fury. It’s an intense, epic project so I knew that whoever came on as my partner would have to be able to absolutely crush all of those different storytelling and design facets as well as bring their own unique voice to the table. There was never any doubt in my mind that Nathan was the man for job. He was the first and only call I made and fortunately for everyone that loves comic art, he signed on. But not in my wildest dreams could I have known just how amazing his pages were going to be. It’s shocking how good Nathan’s work on The Weatherman is. It is without hyperbole some of the best comic book art I’ve ever seen and I cannot wait for folks to see it.”
This exclusive preview of The Weatherman #1, on sale June 13, showcases Fox and Stewart’s rich visuals, and whether they’re working with world-building, characterization, or action, this art team fills each panel with energy and personality. “For a lot of the visual development outside of the characters, we share a great many inspirations and had a good idea of what we wanted to show and say in The Weatherman (as well as what we did not want to show),” says Fox. “For instance, we knew we wanted to keep it relatable by keeping a lot of the physical mechanics of the world grounded in today’s world. Guns still fire bullets, cars still drive on wheels, no buildings or utilities are clean, etc. There is an air of tangible flaws that readers will identify with immediately which will help immerse them in the Weatherman world. A not-so-safe future for Nathan Bright to navigate while he’s on the run from all manner of characters that want to see him dead. It’s taken about two years to get there but once we nailed down Nathan Bright and Amanda Cross’ final character designs, their relationship and voice gave life to everything and the story was able to take on its own textures and atmosphere.”
“My approach to action scenes is to make sure they move the story forward and earn their place within the narrative,” says Fox. “So in The Weatherman, action sequences are as much about character development and drama as they are about creating an exciting action sequence. If it’s not needed or doesn’t serve the story, it gets tossed out. That’s another thing I relish about Jody’s writing. His scripts are so solid and to the point. That synchronicity and the time we’ve spent in development is a really valuable part of the Weatherman visual production process. Aside from amazing visuals I want each battle to contribute something more than just kick-ass action. I want the audience to be wowed and entertained, yes, but I am also fully aware of the opportunity we have to contribute something more meaningful to the narrative at large.”
Thrilling action is a major aspect of this series, but it wouldn’t hit as hard if there wasn’t a strong emotional core to the story, which comes from humanity’s difficulty processing trauma and loss. “Too often we project our pain onto others in the form of anger which leads us to try to balance the scales,” says LeHeup. “Some people call it justice, some people call it revenge. But in the process of trying to get even we can do incredible damage. Which causes someone else to lash out in anger and the cycle goes on and on. It’s the story of us in many ways and the story of war, crime, hatred, even politics these days. That feedback loop is at the heart of The Weatherman. One of the many reasons our book is so relevant. It’s a book about the dangers of failing to see each other and if there’s hope for a brighter future.”