Brandon Easton – Future State: Mister Miracle! Transformers!

Today Casey is joined with the incredible writer Brandon Easton to talk about his Future State Mister Miracle and his Transformers work, both for NetFlix and IDW!

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Brandon Easton – Interivew

[00:00:00] Casey: all right, everybody. Welcome again, to another episode of spoiler country today on the show we have writer Brandon Easton. Brandon has so many comics out right now. He’s writing for DC comics, future state, Mr. Miracle transformers, war for Cybertron, star Trek, year five transformers galaxy. He’s got all that at a whole lot more.

Let’s get into it. Brandon, how you doing buddy?

Brandon Easton: I’m doing pretty great Oz long day, but I’m very happy to be here.

Casey: Yeah. You just got out of like, you just got off of work apparently. Right, right.

Brandon Easton: Yeah. Yeah. I’m actually working with blizzard right now and yeah, it’s been pretty incredible, but it plays, it keeps you busy.

That should be their actual model, but it’s been, it’s been a great time and great people. So yeah, I’ve just been, working all day and, Looking forward to chatting about stuff. Cool. Cool. Cool.

Casey: So, you’re, you’re in LA, but you’re from the East coast. Can you talk about. how you got from, you [00:01:00] know, from, from the East coast all the way out to LA and what, what?

Brandon Easton: Sure. well, first things first I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and, you know, I had a great upbringing, You know, I really, I’m only child. So I spent a lot of time, you know, kind of doing stuff on my own. And when I was a kid, I used to go to the first, my mom and my dad and my family members were taking me to the movies all the time.

And as I got older, I went to the movies by myself. And one of the things that used to happen for me was that I would. When the movie was over, I felt like the story should have kept going. So I would kind of come up to start creating my own. Versions of the movie I just saw in my head. And then I didn’t realize at the time I was actually writing, as I said, a big, long story short, you know, I didn’t realize I could actually make money as a writer until way past my high school, years and way into my college years [00:02:00] when I had some really great writing professors who encouraged me and actually, put me on the right path.

And, you know, it’s, it’s quite a long stories and we’ll probably bounce around as we talk about other things I’ve done, but. You know, to get to here in Los Angeles, I had moved to Boston. Then I had moved to New York city and I had lived in New York for about almost like six, almost seven years. And during that time I was just school teacher.

I taught us history and economics and middle school. And in high school, Yeah, middle school, actually. I always tell people this middle school completely destroyed any patients I have.

Casey: Oh dude. Yeah. So

Brandon Easton: yeah. So at the end of it, although I taught high school at the end, which was a completely better and different experience, I moved to Los Angeles back in 2008.

And, from there it took about three years to kind of get a gig and. My first [00:03:00] Hollywood gig, as they would say, was the Thundercats reboot in 2011. So that was pretty much a very short version of how I got from back East to out here. But, you know, as I said, we’ll probably dive into a couple little things here and there about my journey.

So that’s, that’s the beginning

Casey: of it. I hear you. Okay. So, I have a few, like just kind of prepared questions. you, you got a bachelor’s in sociology.

Brandon Easton: Yeah, that was my first degree. Yeah.

Casey: Yeah. How many degrees

Brandon Easton: do you have? I have a bachelor’s in sociology, a master of fine arts and screenwriting and a master of education in a secondary social studies education.

Casey: Oh, nice. Okay. Yeah. My wife is actually a T she teaches, Kindergarten, but she has her up to her EDS in early childhood education and early childhood development. So she’s, she’s like, I’m the dumb one in the relationship and I come home. but, yeah, it’s, it that’s dude, [00:04:00] that’s hard work.

Brandon Easton: Yes, it was, yes, it was good.

God.

Casey: So what, what led you from, from the classroom to, to fi what was the thing that, that kicked your butt into gear to finally go like, you know what, this isn’t for me?

Brandon Easton: yeah, that’s a good question. let me, let me think it wasn’t one thing. There were. A flurry, a confluence of very different situations that occurred that kind of pushed me to the West coast.

One was that my principal, who I worked for at the time, she was not a, I don’t want to disparage anybody, but I don’t think she was a good person personally. I mean, she played a lot of games, very political, and she did not.

Casey: Husband of a wife who was a teacher.

Brandon Easton: Good. Good. Right. So with that being said, [00:05:00] that was one thing. And then, and then, and then on a regular basis, I felt that every time I tried to talk about the things I cared about with the people around me, I found that most people simply didn’t care. Like they weren’t.

Into the art form of cinema or of screenwriting or of literature. And, you know, New York city is a great literary city, but I wasn’t working in the literary community, you know, so I found myself just being unfulfilled on multiple levels because. I wasn’t exactly happy as a teacher and I wasn’t being taken seriously in the literary community of New York city.

So I had to do something because as you know, being the husband of a teacher, you know, if you’re a good teacher or, you know, take it seriously, that job is just as busy as being a lawyer. You know, you’ve got tons of paperwork to do. You’re always trying to get better and so forth and so on. So with that being said, I felt that.

I needed to go for what I [00:06:00] really wanted to do in life, which is be as a writer. If I could have stayed in New York and done it from there, I definitely would have, but it just wasn’t the right time. I really needed to, put together a plan that would get me in front of the right people. And that required me to move into loss.

Casey: Yeah. Yeah. That’s, that’s one thing. One of the first rules I read in a screenwriting book was rule number one, move to Los Angeles because it’s virtually impossible to play the game if you don’t have the, the board.

Brandon Easton: Right. And, and, you know, and, and you mentioned sociology, you know, sociology. for me, when I first got to college, I didn’t know anything about the world, other than what I knew about the world, which was nothing, you know, I was what 17, I didn’t know anything about anything.

So. When I started taking like the intro courses that you have to take, you know, I started to really gravitate toward how sociology unlocked, why [00:07:00] things were the way they were. I grew up in Baltimore and in my teen years is when the crack cocaine explosion hit the United States. And I watched my community, which wasn’t that bad at all.

Beforehand just turned into a wasteland and like, A matter of months, you know, and always wondered why would this happen? Why are things this way? Well, I’ll tell you, taking sociology courses helped me to understand how and why people and societies do to things they do and how they end up the way they end up.

And from that, I’ve taken a deeper look at how. Like a lot of framework of a society operates in our day-to-day lives. So sociology has helped me tremendously as a writer because I can put a, put an understanding behind certain events or certain situations.

Casey: You, you mentioned the crack epidemic epidemic earlier.

just from a sociological perspective [00:08:00] here lately, there’s been, you know, the opioid epidemic and

Brandon Easton: it’s. Have you,

Casey: has there been a lot of, kind of like flashbacks to that for you just having experienced the, the first wave of, of a debilitating drug drug epidemic?

Brandon Easton: Hmm. That’s a good question.

Casey: It’s such a weird thing.

So here’s where I’m coming from. Cause where I’m at, I’m in the deep South and I have a lot of family in Appalachia. For the longest, I’m sure a lot of the people affected by the opioid epidemic always viewed a drop drug epidemic as something that happens to other people. And now it’s hitting home and instead of, Oh, these people need.

You know, to hit, get hit with the book. It’s we, we need to do something for them. So it’s really, it’s [00:09:00] frustrating for me seeing the complete, you know, about phase one when it. It’s ugly, man. I hate it.

Brandon Easton: Well, you know, that’s a fantastic question, man. I mean, that’s an absolutely fantastic question and I’ll be happy to answer it.

the opioid epidemic, the reaction to it is very different than the reaction to the crack cocaine epidemic, because they are both remarkably debilitating and they’re both destructive. Let’s just like the meth, like the crystal meth epidemic tends to affect the same people that the opioid epidemic, you know, will.

And one of the things I’ve learned over the years, Is that the struggles of poor American whites is literally the same struggle as poor American blacks or everybody else. The issue is for a long time has been that race has been used as a dividing line with providing tool to keep the working classes and, and, and, and, you know, working poor from coalescing and, you know, fighting the good fight together.

[00:10:00] And, you know, there was a joke, it was a meme. I saw it. That was hilarious that showed the difference between, lower class black or lower class African-Americans and lower class, poor rural whites and their lives were literally the same. And it talked about the love of guns, distrust of police, you know, running, running moonshine or running drugs, if it was really hilarious.

But the point was was that when you really look at it, it’s like, The LA American lives are basically the same lives, but I mean, there are, there are cultural differences and ethnic differences, but when you look at the core of it, particularly when it comes to economic class, there’s a lot more in common than different.

And I think that for all the, you know, I mean, I’ve, I’ve only visited Alabama. Once I won, I had a spoke at the university of Alabama Crimson tide, you know, and a couple of years back. It was beautiful. There I’d never been there before, but one of the things I had noticed is just that, you [00:11:00] know, if somebody is in like, you know, the most rural parts of Alabama, and if somebody is in the most broke down, beat up parts of the South Bronx or the Bronx isn’t bad anymore because of gentrification.

But there was a point like when the Bronx was a nightmare and. It’s like, well, you look at their lives. They have, they all want the same things. You want a better life. You want your kids to be okay. You want to have a decent meal and you want to have a job with some security who doesn’t want that. And I just feel that, you know, the reaction to the crack cocaine epidemic was the lock everybody up.

Whereas the opioid crisis. People are being a little bit more sensitive about. And I just wished that we had had that same sensitivity back in the late eighties, because there was a lot of lives destroyed by mass incarceration and a lot of lives destroyed just by, you know, the mental, the mental health impact of addiction, you know, so that’s how I look at all that stuff.

Casey: Yeah. And again, I’m sorry for, for going off track with that. I just thought that was really, really interesting.

Brandon Easton: That’s a great question. No, I appreciate it. No, [00:12:00] honestly, it’s like when I talk about, well, I do a lot of these podcasts, a lot of these interviews, and we rarely get into the real world because we are talking about comics and science fiction and stuff, but I appreciate the question and, you know, I really wish people would get help and I wish that.

The working, the working class of America would just stop and take a look at each other and realize how much they have in common. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Casey: Oh yeah. Yeah. that’s and that, that’s a perfect way to cap that off. one thing that you do as a writer, you, you do a lot of Saifai, you do a lot of, fantastical things in your books, but you can.

Brandon Easton: Do you can reach out

Casey: to people through your work and, you know, give people some medicine, you know, some sugar with their medicine, basically. I saw a lot of that lately in, in television. There’s been so much great television out lately that, I’m guessing you’ve [00:13:00] probably seen Lovecraft country.

If you have it get HBM accident,

Brandon Easton: membership smokes, man. The crazy part is I have every single streaming platform you’re going to, and I have no time to watch any of it. But anyway. Yeah. So did you, you had some other questions about the stuff?

Casey: Yes. Yes. So I’m going to transform us because that was one of the first things that you worked on.

It’s you know, a massive franchise. What was your introduction to the franchise? I’m guessing roughly around the age of when that was like just starting

Brandon Easton: up. I was 10 years old. Well, I’ll tell you, transformers at me, boy. I mean, I have to re I have to write a book about what transformers meant to me as a franchise and what was going on in my life at the time.

But. 1984. I remember why I remember the day I saw the first [00:14:00] episode and I was completely blown away by everything I saw. I mean, I’ve never seen a cartoon that was about a war and it kind of took itself seriously. Like it wasn’t S it got silly or later, but the first seasons, it was pretty serious and it was very well done.

And. I fell in love with it. I mean, I loved all the characters. I mean, everybody, I I’d never seen characters like that. I’d never seen a science fiction universe that took the idea of giant robots that seriously, before I discovered you have to understand this is before I discovered it. The Japanese enemy enemy, you know, which had John robot stuff going way back to the sixties.

But as far as an American production, I had no idea that you could tell a serious or somewhat serious Saifai story using Janet robot, Cynthia and giant robots who all had personalities and attitudes. And it was really cool. So. Over the years. It was always funny that transformers always popped up again whenever like some major [00:15:00] event happened in my life.

Like beast Wars came out when I was in college, you know, and then like, the movie came out when I was living in New York, the Michael Bay movie, which, you know, I have different thoughts about that. But the bottom line is that franchise has been a part of my life since I was 10 years old. And to be able to write.

So many issues and episodes and to work on that, that new show was just, it was every dream I had come true. So, you know,

Casey: so I’m sure, you know, you have your own babies and everything, but do you, do you have a favorite version? Of transformers.

Brandon Easton: Well, number one would be right. Original series from 1984, but I really do enjoy a war for Cybertron, you know, because they really, we really are.

We’re able to strip away any nonsense, no human beings, no, you know, jokes, no puns, and just tell the darkest grittiest, most brutal, transformative story that in my opinion has ever been told. And. [00:16:00] You know that that’s my number two. So number one would be the original series and number two would be the Netflix.

Casey: So who’s your guy. Who’s your favorite character?

Brandon Easton: I think Megatron was my favorite is my favorite character followed very closely by optimist prime. It’d be like one a and one B. And the reason I liked Megatron is because. You know, the bad guys are usually cool and usually have a great motivation. And over the years, as they have developed Megatron, they’ve gotten into his backstory, which is like, they, they showed it a little bit in the animated series and the old cartoon, the original one, but.

The comic books from IDW, the comic books from dream, a dream wave back in the day. And what we did on, on Netflix, we were allowed to really tell a story about how somebody who was in the underclass once they get to take over, you know, and the feet there are pressures, what, what does that mean actually look and feel [00:17:00] like?

And that was really cool. And that’s what really does sealed the deal for me as far as Megatron is concerned.

Casey: So how much say did you have in the direction of your episodes when you were working on the cyber war? Well,

Brandon Easton: what happened is I got hired about, I’d say maybe 40 or 50% through the writing of the first season.

There was some issues behind the scenes that I wasn’t even aware of, but by the time I got hired, they were looking for somebody to write episodes four and five. Now there were only six episodes in that first season, but. I’ve written four, I’ve written five, and I thought it was over for me. And then I got a call from the showrunner F J D F J DeSanto.

Who said, dude, you know, you wrote this very well. Why don’t you just wrap it up for us? So I wrote episode six, so I wound up writing four or five and six

Casey: that’s. That’s pretty awesome to get that. That’s basically a non to like, yeah, you can hang.

Brandon Easton: Yeah. I mean, I was feeling absolute, freaking lutely blown away, and I’m still, [00:18:00] even to this day, completely blown away by what I experienced.

So there you go. That was my experience on the show and, that’s my thoughts on transformers. So.

Casey: During your ultra Magnus, or excuse me, during the, your show, ultra Magnus and impact, or were, you know, there was some pretty

Brandon Easton: heavy stuff.

Casey: what led to those decisions and did you get any backlash from the fans?

Brandon Easton: No, we did. We got no back ends

Casey: are ride or

Brandon Easton: die. Jesus meant before we get into why to answer your question, I have to do, I have to say, cause you brought up a very important point. You know, the problem with any multi-generational franchise is that you create a multi-generational fan base. And the problem with that inherently is that whatever they were first exposed to is what they believe is real.

Or the best, or the only way there are some [00:19:00] transformers

Casey: or worse.

Brandon Easton: God, man, actually, you know, I mean, that’s a whole different either the best example I can use as Superman, but that’s another conversation, but what I will say is this. Some transformers fans go simply go too far. And as somebody who was a transformers fan, who used to go too far, I know what that looks and sound like.

Casey: It’s been down that road, yourself,

Brandon Easton: heated and angry and blah, blah, blah. But, you know, I understand their love, but some of the fans, they seem like they take no joy from anything. And I don’t even know why they’re fans anymore, because when you go to some of the big transformers, boards and websites, all they do is whine and complain and say negative stuff.

And I’m just like, God, do you even like, I mean, I’ve even posted. I’ve been like, do you even like the franchise? Like, do you even like transformers? Like why do you even post here? You don’t seem to like anything, you know? So, some fans have been. [00:20:00] Extremely supportive. I mean, the overwhelming here’s a problem.

And this is the problem with everything in our society. Now people use the internet to make themselves seem a lot bigger than they are, right?

Casey: Oh yeah.

Brandon Easton: The trolls and the negative minded people have a, not know. What’s that word? it’s not, I’ll try to think of the word. I’m sorry. I just blanked out.

They have this.

I’m sorry, I just blanked out. I’m sorry. It’s been a long day. it’s kind of like magnified. They have this magnified voice online. So for example, the overwhelming majority of people who watch war for Cybertron and we’re probably talking about in the millions at this point, they love it. They say, I like it and they move on, but let’s say you have 1 million people who like it.

And 1000 people who don’t like it. The 1 million people who like it will not get on Twitter to talk about how much they love it. But the 1000 people who hate it will be on Twitter for weeks [00:21:00] on end talking about how much it sucks. And that’s the difference, the trolls and the angry and the entitled. They are very loud.

They seem to have a lot of free time to complain. Most people who love stuff don’t get online and complain about it because they have labs. You know, and I feel that as a fan who used to get Atlanta complaint all the time, I learnt that it’s just not worth it. You know, because after something is done and as somebody who works in Hollywood and can tell you nobody in Hollywood cares what these people think online, trust me on it.

I worked on a Marvel shows. I worked on animator.

Casey: Excellent. Marble show by the way. Oh my God. Fantastic.

Brandon Easton: Right. Thank you. But, but my point is, is that. I’ve worked on a variety of different, within a variety of different franchises. And trust me when I say this and I want everybody, and I’m not saying you can’t critique things or not like things, but [00:22:00] nobody in the system cares what anybody on Twitter says, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

But as someone who works in writers’ rooms, nobody, nobody in a writer’s room. Gives a crap about what anybody wants, what it says about the show they’re working on. Trust me on this. They just don’t care. No one cares because there’s still just enough people to support the show. And let me explain this too, and I really want to give you a little bit more background on what I’m actually saying here.

Most TV shows. In fact, all TV shows, even a streaming ones depend on some type of commercial dollars, whether it be advertising dollars or streaming dollars. Right? So as long as a show is made and a network gets its ratings and it gets its money from the commercial, you know, from the advertising, from the, you know, the, the products and the sponsors who want to reach a specific demographic.

That show will keep getting made [00:23:00] no matter how good, no matter how bad it is. Right. So what really matters is advertising dollars and streaming dollars. If those are impacted, then people will listen. But if a show is doing well, And the advertising money is rolling in and the ancillary money is coming in, meaning t-shirts and Blu-rays and DVDs and watches and lunchboxes.

Guess what nothing anybody says will make a difference at all. And that’s how the business works. And I wish every fan who wants and complaints understood that they don’t get it because when I’ve tried to explain it, they still don’t. You’ve watched a brain explode. They just don’t understand that television is a business.

Movies are a business. They are not in the business of satisfying, entitled fans. They just, they’re not. And there’s no other way to [00:24:00] put it.

Casey: I wish more people would go out and say what you’re saying right now.

Brandon Easton: Well, people do. It’s just that, like, for example, I’ve spoken at Comicon for 10. Well, other than initial year I’ve spoke.

Well, actually I did speak on the virtual version. I’ve spoken at San Diego comic con for 10 straight years. Right. 10. And I’ve said what I just said to you on a panel that I run called the writer. You can find, you know, video of it on YouTube. If you put in a writer’s journey and my name, you will find several of those panels recorded.

And I have said the same thing and some people get it, but a great deal still don’t understand that it’s a business. And that’s what the problem is.

Casey: So going, going back to, I’m really curious now, you mentioned writing for Netflix and also writing for television. The difference between writing the two, there’s not really an impetus to, [00:25:00] keep the advertisers happy when you’re writing for a streaming platform. Does that give you a little bit more?

Freedom, with, with your creativity, with, with making the show that you want to make and the stories that you want to tell, or is it, is it just as you know, restrictive occasionally.

Brandon Easton: Oh, wow. Okay. So if you’re talking about a streaming platform, there are a lot less, Restrictions placed upon you in terms of content.

However, you do need to make sure it’s quality. And I feel that streaming platforms, not in general, but in some cases don’t have the same quality control that ABC NBC, CBS or Fox might have. And. Oh CW. And when you have that quality control, it’s not just about monitoring content, but making sure it makes sense for an audience.

[00:26:00] There’s plenty of great shows on streaming platforms, but there’s also some, a lot of garbage out there because the showrunners have not been held to any standard whatsoever. So when I had worked on, you know, stuff, that’s been broadcast on mainstream television, you do have. A stronger set of controls around you to make sure that you’re not offensive and you’re not breaking any law, any obscenity laws.

And that sometimes forces you to be a lot more creative than just being able to show sex or being able to curse or being able to show somebody who’s head getting blown off like you can do on Netflix or Amazon prime or Hulu or whatever. So that makes a huge difference because if, like, for example, if the Handmaid’s tale.

Was on regular TV. It would not be as brutal as it is, or they would have to find new ways to show that brutality, you know, and that’s kinda my point, you know, so

Casey: we’re going to go back to, to transformers. Now I just really had, that really was, [00:27:00] something that stuck me, with, the difference between writing for ’em up.

Streaming platform and writing for, for what is this sensibly like, you know, advertiser, television. so back to the, the war for, the Cybertron war, will viewers get a glimpse into the early days of the war and even pre conflict? Is that something that you’re wanting to explore?

Brandon Easton: No. I mean, I’m pretty much done with any transformer stuff right now.

I mean, when you, first of all, you know, warfare the warfare Cybertron trilogy, I am not working on any more of it. And, and then when it comes to the transformers galaxy with ID galaxies with IDW, the final issue is number 12. And that wraps up pretty much all my has worked for the foreseeable future, which I’m completely okay with because I’ve gotten to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do.

They

Casey: had some. Amazing teams on those books.

Brandon Easton: Yes, they are.

Casey: they’re, they’re really, you know, batting a thousand with, with their transformers [00:28:00] series. And so, I’m excited to, to see what they have coming up next. So can you tell us about your upcoming Kickstarter, menagerie declassified?

Brandon Easton: Oh, okay. So that’s not actually mine.

I am working with a good friend of mine named Ramon Govea, who is a producer and creator writer that whatever you want to call him. And he hired me and a bunch of other writers, including close friends and colleagues. And in fact, Ramon is going on many of my panels at Comic-Con over the years, and WonderCon here and out here in Los Angeles and Ana and San Diego is of course, of course.

So. Basically, he has a science fiction university. He created, it’s all creator owned by Ramon and he’s invited some of his friends and colleagues to, you know, contribute. And since then it’s been absolutely fantastic.

Casey: Oh, cool. Cool. Are the stories interconnected on

Brandon Easton: this? No. No, they, they just stick overwhelmed.

They overwhelmingly stick to, [00:29:00] just or set, setup up his universe, but he’s allowing us to fill in some of the gaps and that’s where the fun comes in because he hasn’t fully defined every single aspect of that universe. So w w we’re coming in and he’s giving us, giving us a lot of leeway and freedom to tell great stories, as long as they make, you know, for adhere to the rules of what he’s

Casey: created.

Awesome. Awesome. real quick. I want to ask about future slate. And if you can tell us anything about it, because Mr. Miracle is a property, then I’m kind of excited about, so,

Brandon Easton: okay. So you’re talking about also future to DC comics, future state, and the stuff I’m doing with, what’s his name? DC, Mr.

America and DC comics and all that stuff. How can I say this? it is, it has been a dream to work for DC comics. I never thought that this year would be the year it was for me career wise. I got really lucky to get in on [00:30:00] this at the right time. And luckily the editors. Like Jamie rich and Brittany Holser and, a big scene at you.

I’m going to tell you, okay. I can’t say her last name. they’ve been really great and they were really impressed by the work I did. And it allowed me to do some other work that I can’t talk about. But, but the Mr. Miracle, as far as that’s concerned, I’m doing the third version of Mister miracle, which is Charlotte Norman, who was an African-American men, mentee of scot-free and that is Brown.

They’ve allowed me a great deal of leeway with how I can portray him because he’s been in a few comic books, but he hasn’t been centralized in a long while and in a long series. So the fact that as a big time, and I’m a major Superman fan to work within the Superman. Umbrella on this and to be featured in Superman comics during the future state [00:31:00] event.

It, I mean, I, I don’t even know what to say. It’s just been absolutely amazing and totally fantastic. And I’m very, very happy to have been able to contribute to this story and we’ll make a long story short. my story helps to connect. One of the Superman comics to the other Superman comic

Casey: in the district.

Brandon Easton: And I’ll just leave, I’ll leave it at that. So w

Casey: when you’re working at a, on an event like that, writing for this thing that not only is, you know, has your story, but you know, so many other massively, talented folks in their own, right. Included in the deal. How is it dealing with editorial on this?

Do they kind of guide you or they just kind of give you a parameters to, to write within and just say, go, go for it. Go nuts.

Brandon Easton: Well, I mean, editorial always has mandates and sorry about that. Editorial always has mandates. And when you’re talking about something like [00:32:00] DC comics, which is a, the oldest comic book company, mainstream comic book company, and one with an, I don’t mean this in a negative sense, right?

But it is a very conservative universe in general. when you’re dealing with that, you have to realize there are rules in place. And nobody, I know who I know who has worked with DC and people who I know who currently work at DC. Nobody’s trying to come in and flip the game upside down, or radically alter those who those characters are.

But. You do usually get a little bit of wiggling to bring in your own voice and come up with some really cool concepts that haven’t been seen with those characters. I mean, you see that with Tom King, when he wrote Batman or Scott Snyder, when he was writing Batman, you saw that back in the day when John Byrne did man of steel back in 1986, you know, I mean, after all the post-crisis stuff, I mean, you see it all the time.

You saw it when, Chris Claremont was given X-Men way back in 1980. You [00:33:00] know, cause after you know, him and John Burns split, you know, Chris Claremont was allowed to write X-Men for the entire decade, you know? So when you think about it, you know, there’s not a whole lot of changes you can make, but you can definitely make your voice known, you know, on these stories.

So basically yes, you do get a little bit of leeway, but you can’t, you know, Tell the universe apart, you have to be like grant Morrison with somebody to tell a universe apart. So, and then all that, everybody do that. So, no, you’re not allowed to go crazy, but you are allowed a little bit of, a little bit of freedom.

Casey: Awesome. Awesome. So you, you were mentioned in some. Some runs from, you know, back in the day. I’m sure you read, like off the spinner rack when you were a kid, what was your jam? What, what got you into comics in the first place?

Brandon Easton: Oh, fantastic question. Well, okay. So when I was, I went to, I went to Catholic school from first to sixth grade and right across the street from my Catholic school was a comic book store.

Believe it or not crazy. So the first comic book [00:34:00] I ever purchased myself, Was, I don’t remember the issue number, but back in the day, they used to be a comic book called Marvel tales, featuring Spider-Man and they used to reprint the Stanley, Steve Ditko run of amazing Spider-Man from the sixties. And that was my entry into comics.

And the issue I bought was a reprint of the issue where Peter Parker and flash Thompson fight in a box thing ring because he broke Peter’s glasses and Peter just lost his temper. And it was like, dude, I’m done with you. And he had to, so the awesome part was during the fight, Peter had to not kill flash Thompson because if you hit them too hard, he literally kill him.

So he had to figure out how to get out of the fight without killing him and then flash. You know, it’s distracted by something and Peter like barely taps them and then knocks him out, like completely knocks them out. It was awesome. And that was my first issue [00:35:00] of any comic. And I think my second and third issues.

Believe it or not. It’s crazy was the issue where the new brainiac shows up in a Superman universe in the early eighties of DC comics. And this is the one that looks like the Terminator endoskeleton.

Casey: Like that’s

Brandon Easton: the brainiac. I know. And that’s the only brainiac I, except I don’t like any other version of bringing it because that version does, this is my point about brainiac.

Like the fact that he looks like a green skinned Lex Luther, usually, which is stupid, you know, he should look terrifying. And when I was a kid, that version of brainiac actually scared me. Like I was terrified of that version. Cause he just like did not care. He did not have a value on life. He just wanted to destroy everything and remake the universe in his image.

And I felt like that was a great Superman villain. So I think it was action comics, five 83. I [00:36:00] might be wrong, but I think it was action comics, five 83, I think. I’m probably wrong, but

Casey: that’s awesome. I think my, my first comic ever about myself was an X-Men classic. and it had

Brandon Easton: like a

Casey: really amazing,

Brandon Easton: Nope, it was not actually complex five 83.

I’m sorry, go ahead. I’m sorry.

Casey: There was a cool, like, a cool light. Eight pager with a banshee in the back that just really blew my mind. It was about him when he worked for, Interpol. So I was like, Oh, they can do that. I didn’t know they had backstories. So stuff like that always thought was cool.

so how, how did you get into to the Thundercats reboot?

Brandon Easton: Okay. when I had moved to Los Angeles, I had met several, I connected with several comic, [00:37:00] sorry, animation showrunners, who were graduates from because I went to Boston university. I got my master’s degree in Boston university. So wound up happening was I connected with some of these people.

And, one of the guys was a guy named Jeff Klein, who was a chef who is still an animation showrunner. He had mentored a bunch of people over the years. And one of the guys he mentored was a guy named Michael Jellinek Jellinek who worked on. A bunch of stuff, including the Batman, not, not Batman, the animated series, but the one called the Batman.

And he also worked on teen Titans go, still does. I think, I don’t know what he’s doing now, but basically what wound up happening was I had used some of my graduate school connections and I had met, which I’ve climbed and he introduced me to Michael Jalopnik and then I sent some pitches over. He liked some of my, my work and he gave me a shot.

And, that’s where my career started. And that’s that’s that’s that’s that’s the long and short of it. And by the way, [00:38:00] the comic I’m referring to is action comics, issue number five 44. You

Casey: are far off? No, not at all

Brandon Easton: too far, but that’s the one where brainiac would a robot brainiac shows up. And, I thought that was the coolest, goddamn thing I’d ever seen.

And the scary.

Casey: So what, what, how, how did you get from, Thundercat stage at Carter? Which admittedly, I didn’t really see the Thundercat series of, well, I don’t think it was, you know, At the time I was, I had just gotten married and I was working about 70 hours a week. And I don’t think it was really made for me anyway, but w

Brandon Easton: well, I’ll, I’ll say this, then I can tell you why what happened.

The Thundercat show was when it was, it was on cartoon network and it came on eight 30 on Friday night on cartoon network. Now, the problem was in 2011, WWE SmackDown was on Friday nights. At eight [00:39:00] o’clock. So the same people who would watch WWE SmackDown or in theory, the same population that would watch the cats reboot.

So when we came on, nobody was watching because. No one, like when you watch a two hour program or a one hour program, very rare, will you turn to another show at the half hour Mark? Obviously you’re not going to do that. So there you go.

Casey: Don’t those idiots know wrestling’s fake,

but you, you went, you know, you did a few other shows, but you which eventually led you to agent Carter. And I thought that show was so incredibly well done and I like a period piece anyway, but awesome. So what episode did you write? Cause you are

Brandon Easton: to episode seven, the title was monsters. The episode I wrote was the one where Jarvis, his wife, Anna gets shot by Whitney frost.

Oh,

Casey: I remember that one. That was good. Not when they had [00:40:00] like the black goo, like the veiny stuff on their faces.

Brandon Easton: Exactly. Oh, that was a good

Casey: one, dude. Okay. I freaking love that show. And then when they came out with the second season and I think they would have a second season necessarily, so it was a, it was a surprise.

It was a very good surprise out. Loved the hell out of that show.

Brandon Easton: Oh, my you and me, both my friend, you and me both.

Casey: Yeah, I was so bummed when it got, when I got canceled. I think there’s so much there that they could do, especially if they could, go by decade. Cause apparently, you know, agent Carter had been a member of, shelter shield for the longest.

So they could, you know, ostensibly kind of take it from then to now, but

Brandon Easton: so the correct, I mean, we have, well, I can’t get into all of that, but yeah, we, we definitely had some plans and some ideas about where it season three would have gone. If we had gotten a season three.

Casey: That, [00:41:00] man, that, yeah, that’s amazing.

I’m I’m so happy. You got to write that show in the show, the episode that you’re credited with. Oh my God. That was great. your Andre, the giant bio pic, is that, is that happening?

Brandon Easton: Well, I mean, I don’t honestly know because what happened was I did the book with lion forge and IDW and. Eventually lion forge took over everything in regards to the book and they hired some screenwriters and I thought I would get a crack at.

Adapting it because I have experienced adapting comics and adapting novels to screenplays, but for whatever reason they had it, didn’t hire me. And I was a little bit angry about that for a while. But the bottom line was that I have no idea what the status is. I mean, I haven’t heard a darn thing in years, so who knows what the actual status of that project is right now?

I couldn’t even tell you.

Casey: How did you, how did you go about writing that in the [00:42:00] first place? The, the book, what was that? Something that you got, you got asked to write, or was it, was this your idea?

Brandon Easton: No, no, no. what happened is I had signed a, a deal with lion forge comics back when they were, when I first started.

And one of the books that was on the table was the Andre, the giant, you know, biography, graphic, novel biography, and the difference between the one that lion forge produced. And the one that was done beforehand by box Brown was that I got to interview. Andre, the Giant’s daughter, Robin and Robin gave me so many actual stories of his life that I didn’t know.

I didn’t know anything about his family. I didn’t know, like the, he even had a child. So with that in mind, I was able to inject a little bit more of the personal story of Andre gruesome off into that graphic novel, then. I would have been able to without Robbins assistance. [00:43:00] So yeah, lion forge knew I was a big wrestling fan.

Still am. I’ve been a wrestling fan my entire life. And, I knew a lot about his inner ring stuff, but I knew nothing about the man and because of Robin’s assistance, I was able to understand and, you know, learn more about who he was as a human being.

Casey: That’s awesome. Some of my earliest memories are watching, him and, Hogan, back in the day.

Oh yeah. A year. You’re just a few years older than I am. And, that was such a WWF was such a massive thing for me as a kid. It’s fantastic.

Brandon Easton: It’s funny you say that because you know, my I’m more, I still have much more of a fan of the old school, Southern stuff, like the NWA, you know, Jim Cracker promotions, mid South, you know, the, you know, all like UWF bill Watts, you know, like I like.

You know, the, the grittier Southern stuff, you know, cause it being, I mean, Maryland, isn’t the South South, but it ain’t the North Northeast.

Casey: So

Brandon Easton: it’s Mason [00:44:00] Dixon line. So my, my point is, is that, you know, when I was growing up and this is crazy, like when I was growing up, I had access to wrestling, every kind of wrestling, like the Northern WWF cartoony stuff and the deep South blood and guts and barbed wire matched stuff.

And, you know, I love that old school stuff, you know, in fact, you know, I did a graphic novel with Jim cornet. You know about, you know, the history of pro wrestling, you know, who was the man that he was the manager of the midnight express and many other things he did over the years. So, yeah, I mean, I’ve been a wrestling fan, my whole life and Andre, the giant book was just, you know, icing on the cake for me.

Casey: Wow. Wow. That, that must’ve been fun talking, you know, getting all those stories from, From the old salts that, that were actually in the ring. so, so what do you ha what do you have going on now that, that you, that’s coming up that we can talk about?

Brandon Easton: Well, let’s see, other than. Well, let’s see the judge I’m working on a judge read.

Come on. I finished the judges read comic and a final issue should be out. It’s called judge [00:45:00] Dredd, false witness issue four should be hitting this stand sometime this month. I don’t know exactly when, I’m still working on star Trek year five. I have two more issues to do, and that should be coming out sometime in later in 2021.

Transformers galaxies should also be coming out either this month or next month, the final issue, which is number 12. And let’s see, is there anything other than the stuff I’m doing right now? There’s not a whole lot that I can really talk about. There are things coming in the future, but I simply cannot, you know,

Casey: that is perfectly fine.

Quick question, judge. Dread writing, judge shred. How. Was the reaction from the fans, especially from judge, judge shred is like a, an institution. Yes. in great Britain. how, how was it received when an American writes

Brandon Easton: the, because

Casey: I’m sure they love the movie in the

Brandon Easton: nineties.

Casey: I said that completely facetiously, [00:46:00] by the way.

Brandon Easton: Okay. Okay. Here we go. How do the Brits think? What do they think about American writers? A judge, right. Okay. First of all, let’s start at the beginning. I am. I am the first one. African-American writer of judge Dredd in history.

Casey: That’s cool. That’s awesome.

Brandon Easton: That’s number one. Now I think that they, like, first of all, unfortunately.

Most people think Americans are stupid, you know, globally, we have that reputation, unfortunately. And sometimes our decisions globally make it look like, I mean, we’re not. Yeah. Yeah. We’re not because they’re not stupid. People think, I mean, I have to, like, I have a lot of international friends and every now and then I have to be like, yo, watch your mouth.

You know, because most Americans are not stupid. Okay. And it pisses me off. Cause I mean, I’m not like captain flag wave about, I don’t like nobody talking crap about the United States. I just don’t. Right. So that’s number one. Now, with that being said, if [00:47:00] you show the least bit of competency and an understanding of the judge, dreads character’s history and who he is as a character and understand that it’s a satire, the judge Dredd is not the Punisher.

You’re not supposed to cheer for him.

Casey: Oh yeah, for sure.

Brandon Easton: If you understand that, I understand judge dread, unfortunately, over the years, American and British writers or UK writers have written him way too much like Frank castle, as opposed to writing him as Joseph dread, who should not be cheered, who is actually an awful person.

Right. I love the character. I love what the idea of it, but I also am fully aware that I’m not supposed to actually cheer for him. And if you and I, and I’ve read judge Dredd from the eighties, I mean, I read all that stuff and I know you’re not supposed to cheer for him. So with that being said, it was absolutely fantastic.

I wrote a story dealing, and I wrote this, [00:48:00] by the way I wrote the story. Way last year, way before any of this pandemic stuff happened way before all the anti-immigrant stuff was really in full effect and everything in that story is dealing with immigration in pandemic. So it’s pretty, it’s pretty wild.

It’s pretty wild. So that’s how I feel, but it was a great experience. That’s all I have to say.

Casey: That’s awesome. Do you have any more judge shred stories, that you want to do eventually in the

Brandon Easton: future? I would love to do some judges read stories, but I don’t know if that window is still open, you know, I just don’t know.

Casey: Okay. So you have, what is essentially like 20 plates at any given time spinning? Pretty much. What, what do you do? what, what does Brandon Easton do to, To, to chill, to, to take his mind off of the weight of the crushing weight of all your responsibility.

Brandon Easton: Well, well, honestly, before the pandemic, You know, I mean, I go to [00:49:00] Los Angeles is one thing.

I mean, I have a love, hate relationship with LA. I mean, I don’t like how it never rains. And I don’t like some how some of the people behave, but one thing Los Angeles has very few other cities has, is a very strong cinema culture. There are movie theaters everywhere in this town, and most of them are showing.

class six. I mean, they have the new know the current, well, when it, when things are open, they have like the new, the big week new stuff, but they also have a bunch of movie theaters that show stuff. From back in the day and stuff that we grew up on. And like, you can like any given time, you can find a movie theater playing some movie from the eighties, you know, and it’s crazy.

Like I can go watch 2001, a space Odyssey, pretty much anytime I want on a big screen or Lawrence of Arabia or reservoir dogs or James Cameron’s aliens. I mean that in and of [00:50:00] itself. Is absolutely amazing. And not to mention the fact that you can because of the massive Asian community and the different cause obviously Asian encompasses a lot of different people, but when you talk that there’s a massive Chinese population, a massive Korean, a massive Japanese, meaning that there’s also Chinese movie theaters, Korean movie theaters, Japanese movie theaters, see whatever you want to see from all over the world.

Pretty much anytime you want. And that’s the beauty of living here. So number one, I used to go to the movies all the time. the food here is fantastic. Some, well, no, let me be more specific. Some of the food here is really fantastic and they like the South. They like the East coast. Definitely not. but if you want to eat healthy, some of the most delicious, healthy food on a planet can be found in Los Angeles.

So I used to, you know, go out to bars, you know, hit the, hit the restaurant scenes, hit the movies, hit the, hit the museums at the book, the bookstores, a great here, you know, there’s, there’s so much here to do. That’s the one thing I can say about Southern California. So before [00:51:00] the pandemic, I was, you, you know, hitting them.

I mean, I live in actually live in long beach, California, which is a little bit further South than LA. And so I live in a beach city. So, less than like 10 minutes from the beach at any rate.

Casey: Nice. Yeah, that’s got to have this vantage is what, what, what do you do? What, what inspires you?

Brandon Easton: I mean, I would say science fiction in and of itself is everything I’ve ever believed in.

You know, like I always believe in the idea of possibility. So possibility inspires me, you know, what we can do. you know, w when I, when I mentioned Superman earlier about how, you know, how the different versions of Superman appeal to different people, you know, I grew up with the Christopher Reeve, Superman, which was really all about.

Optimism and being the best you can be. And I was deeply inspired by that, as a child and also notice speech in empire strikes back about the nature of the [00:52:00] force when you’re, this is the thing about the, Oh, what did he say? You know, luminous beings, are we not crude matter? You know, you must feel the force around you.

It penetrates us, binds us, you know, so forth that great speech he gives when Luke says he can’t do something, that’s what really inspires me, stuff like that. You know, like the belief in something bigger and the belief that you can do good. And I think more people need to believe in doing

Casey: good. That’s, that is a great answer to that.

I’m always struck by, when people bring up just little bits and pieces of pop culture that just really just, struck them and, I’m always fascinated by what I find. Cause it’s, it’s never the same thing and it’s always the most unexpected from the most unexpected thing, because, a lot of the time from the outset, people just kind of look at star Wars.

It’s like, that’s great popcorn cinema, but,

Brandon Easton: there’s always great stories.

[00:53:00] Casey: Yes. And there’s always something that, that catches people. So, and now you’re, you’re adding to that list of things that, that catch and inspire people. And, I’m so glad. I’m so glad that we got to, to talk to you.

Brandon Easton: I’m glad I’m very, it took a while for us to get here, but I’m very glad that we did it,

Casey: dude. I, I appreciate you, taking the time to talk to us today. I, I understand you’ve just got off work not long ago, so I don’t want to keep you on too long, cause I’m sure you’re starving. First thing I want to do is, when I get off,

Brandon Easton: no, I’m good, man. I appreciate that. No, and then I I’m, I’m very happy to talk and you know, I wish I could have gotten this done a lot earlier, but no, everything is fine. I’m very glad to be here. And I really appreciate this conversation. And again, and I tell everybody this when I mean, it. Is that, you know, if you ever want to, you know, do a part two and talk about more of my career, I’ll just talk about comics and stuff that we liked growing up.

I’m always going to be available for a follow-up. If you ever [00:54:00] want to do one dude

Casey: monitored as could talk to you for four hours just flat out. So yes, anytime.

Brandon Easton: Cool. I look forward to it. So let’s set another time in the future and I’ll be happy to come back

Casey: you. That sounds great. Hey, real quick. Give a shout out to your favorite local comic shop because we want those places to stay open.

Brandon Easton: Well, one of my friends opened the comic book store in long beach. It’s called the atomic basement and it’s on I believe third street in downtown long beach. it’s a small store it’s somehow surviving during the pandemic. great guy, the guy who owns it as a guy named Mike Wellman and. I exclusively sign some copies of my books.

And if you ever want a book that I’ve signed, particularly transport, Wilma is, or judge Strato, whatever is coming out. Even a future state, I’ll be okay. I’m more than happy to sign a copy and ha and Michael ship it to you. So no matter where you are in the United States of America, or even North America, if you contact Mike Wellman at the [00:55:00] atomic basement in long beach, California, he will be happy to get in touch with me.

And if you want some books signed or whatever, You know, we we’ll be happy to send them to you

Casey: do that. That’s awesome. And, again, atomic base, atomic basement, long beach, California. Brandon Eastern. Thanks again, man.

Brandon Easton: Thank you. And I really appreciate your time and this has been great. And like I said, I really look forward to doing a part two

Casey: same here, man.

Same here. I had a blast.

Brandon Easton: Awesome.

Casey: All right. Take it easy breath.

Brandon Easton: Take care. Good night. Bye.

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