Wu-Tang Clan veteran talks about his new graphic novel, his acting and music careers, and how he really feels about superhero movies
Click here to see EW.com’s exclusive First Look at the Method Man comic.
Method Man has already made his mark in the worlds of rap music (both as a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan and a Grammy-winning solo artist) and acting (the movie How High, the TV series The Wire). But deep down, the affable 37-year-old is really a devoted comic-book head. And on July 23, he’ll branch out yet again, this time with his first-ever graphic novel — scripted by David Atchison (Occult Crimes Taskforce) and illustrated by Sanford Greene (Wonder Girl: Champion), from a concept by Mr. Meth himself.
EW.com has an exclusive peek at several pages from Method Man, which follows his tough-as-nails alter ego, Peerless Poe (a ninja-like ”murder priest” pledged to fight the forces of evil), as he battles the infernal ancient spirit Lilith. It’s a truly sinister tale, equal parts heady myth and action-packed adventure. We gave Method Man a call to chat about all that and more — including his next big-screen turn in The Wackness (opening July 3), his upcoming CD with longtime collaborator Redman, and why he doesn’t like most recent superhero movies.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve always been into comic books, from childhood, right?
METHOD MAN: Since I was eight years old. I didn’t have a TV, so comic books were definitely my television, my soap operas, and all that. So when this opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance. I was throwing ideas all over the place at the writer, David Atchison, and he pieced something together that I felt was right up my alley.
Were you familiar with his work, or Sanford Greene’s, before this project came together?
No. And based off me starting this book, I’m back up to date with my comic books. I had stopped collecting for a few years — I was too busy, and the comic books were piling up, so I didn’t have time to read ’em!
What were some of your favorite titles, going back to those old days?
Anything X. The Hulk, always loved The Hulk. Spider-Man sometimes — not too much, ’cause he was kinda campy. All the miniseries and things of that nature, like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars part I and II. That was when comic books were big events. It was real. They didn’t have a bunch of variant covers. But I think it’s getting back to its core now. You got writers like Mark Millar with this new book, Kick-Ass, which is so hard to find right now. But it’s a dope book, and it’s penciled by John Romita Jr., who’s also a dope artist. I liked when he did his stints on Daredevil and Iron Man — when Iron Man had to go shut down all of his technology. Sort of like the storyline they had in the movie, but a little different. He was attacking people like the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, anybody who had his armor. One of the last people he went after was War Machine, who was actually his friend, James Rhodes. And the Daredevil storyline — John Romita Jr. killed that, because Daredevil’s identity was revealed and the Kingpin just set up all these people, all his enemies went at him in one day. I mean, I’m talking ’bout beatdowns!
Going back to your graphic novel, tell me a little bit about the inspiration for this story.
Well, I spoke to David [the writer]. I had always thrown around this idea — about the name Method Man, that it would be like he’s actually one of many Method Men. And I always liked the occult and the paranormal, because you can basically go anywhere with your villains and your characters and powers. When me and David spoke about it, we talked about different beats [i.e. pacing] and stuff like that for the comic book. I wanted a lot of action, not too much talky-talky s—. I hate that talky-talky s—. And we agreed on some things. There’s certain parts that I think could have been described better or done better, but me being so excited about seeing the artwork in the book done, there were certain parts of the storyline that I missed that were a little inconsistent. Just a little.
NEXT PAGE: ”I think they’re prostituting the game…. It’s like they sacrifice storyline for time and seats in the movie theater, you know?”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: But overall, you’re happy with how it turned out?
METHOD MAN: Yeah. It’s cool. Me and Sanford went back and forth. He wanted to go for some new style of artwork; I was kinda thrown off by it because I thought it looked sketch-y. But all in all, when you put it all together, I can see his vision of what he was trying to do.
Is this something you’d like to do more of in the future?
Yeah! I’m already trying to write my next one. But I’m trying to write it myself, and then [I’ll] bring a writer in to bang out the kinks.
Can you tell us anything about where you’re going with that?
I’m working on my first superhero team. But this superhero team is definitely expendable. In every issue it’s new people.
I read that a couple of the other Wu-Tang guys, Ghost and GZA, are working on graphic novels too — is that right?
Do you know anything about those projects?
No, I don’t know anything about their books. But I know they don’t really know anything about the comic-book genre. Neither one of ’em. I don’t know why they even jumped into it like that. I guess they’re getting their feet wet in a little bit of everything. We’ll see when the product is done. Maybe it’ll be better than mine.
So you see yourself as the true comic-book believer in the Wu?
Absolutely. If you’d seen my collection, you would know.
How many comics do you have in your collection?
I can’t count [them all], man. But it has to be over 25,000.
As a big fan, what do you think of all the comic-book movies this summer? You mentioned Iron Man, there’s the new Incredible Hulk…
I think they’re prostituting the game. I won’t mention any names, because some of these studios I’m planning on working with in the future. But it’s like they sacrifice storyline for time and seats in the movie theater, you know? If you’re trying to appeal to 13-year-olds and 12-year-olds, that’s cool — make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie! Which they did, and I liked that movie. But the real fanboys, we’re Generation X-ers. We’re in our mid-to-late 30s now. And we’re not going to sit there — knowing the origin of our favorite comic-book hero — and see it butchered and spit out there 15 minutes into the film. Or [see] our favorite villains thrown all into one movie, as if that’s even possible, and then made into a fight scene that doesn’t even do the villain any justice — or the hero, for that matter. It’s not done in the book like that! I wish they would learn lessons from people like Robert Rodriguez, who actually had the person who created the book [Frank Miller] sit there with him on the set [of Sin City] and tell him, frame by frame, ”This is what this looks like.” He copied the comic book damn near perfectly, and the movie was a great success. 300 was the same thing. I can’t see how they don’t see it. I want to see what happens to this Wolverine movie [X-Men Origins: Wolverine]. I’m hoping not to be disappointed. I won’t talk about Fantastic Four because there’s not a person on this planet over the age of 15 that liked those two movies. I’m serious. Let me stop, that’s mean. But you can’t do that to the most powerful team on the planet! The Fantastic Four, and then you turn it into a comedy, damn near?! No! Stan Lee, stand up! But I’ll tell you this much — whenever they come out with a comic-book movie, I’ll still go see it, whether to complain about it or to praise it.
NEXT PAGE: Method Man discusses his latest collaboration with Redman. ”We want it to actually feel like so much of a collaboration that it’s in unison, it clicks together. Like, you can’t have your cereal without your milk.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you ever tried voicing those opinions to anyone at the studios?
METHOD MAN: Trust me, I’m a small fish in a big pond. There are a lot of people like me, comic-book geeks, that have written to these people via e-mails, threatening phone calls, the works, man! What are you gonna do, though?
Moving on for a minute to your own film career, you worked most recently on teenage-pot-dealer dramedy The Wackness, which is getting a lot of good buzz. What was it like working with Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays a drug-addled shrink?
You should ask him that question! Nah, I’m just playing. [Laughs] Sir Ben is a gentleman first and foremost. He definitely deserves that title, Sir. He’s just a humble, professional individual. I don’t remember having to break the ice, that’s how comfortable I was around him. Sometimes when you do scenes with people, after the director calls cut, nobody really says nothing — that uncomfortable silence. But in between our cuts, everybody was just talking, you know? Kicking it.
How would you say that movie compares with how you remember New York in the Summer of ’94, where it’s set?
The music helps a lot. It definitely pushed the story a little further for the imagination and took me back, gave me a euphoric kind of feeling. But honestly, ’94 wasn’t that long ago. I hear people call it a period piece, but I think it’s just a cliché way of speaking. But the music definitely helped me view where [writer-director Jonathan Levine] was coming from, because I didn’t hang out with white kids in the ’90s and s—. I was still touring, Wu-Tang was still underground-level. Wasn’t a lot of white kids in my [scene]! So I don’t know what they was going through, but if that’s what they went through, Jonathan Levine nailed it.
Do you have any other upcoming acting projects you’d like to talk about?
Not right now. I’m really focusing on the music side right now. Me and Redman are back in the studio working on our next album [after 1999’s Blackout!], so that’s gonna be real hot. Can’t wait for that.
Yeah, I was going to ask you about that — I read an interview where Redman said you were doing Blackout 2, right? How’s that going?
Oh yeah, we on the Blackout 2, yup. So far, so good, man. [For production] we’re going to get Erick Sermon up in there, my man Kwamé of course, DJ Scratch. Right now we’re just piecing together more beats, and what direction we’re gonna go. ‘Cause this just can’t be, like, ”You rhyme, I rhyme.” Nah. We want it to actually feel like so much of a collaboration that it’s in unison, it clicks together. Like, you can’t have your cereal without your milk. That’s the best analogy I can come up with right now.
I heard you might be working on a new solo album, too? Is that right?
Yeah, but not until after me and Redman. We’ll see how that goes first.
Where have you been recording with Redman?
Any idea when that will come out?
Probably fourth-quarter on Def Jam. Reacquaint myself with the hip-hop audience.
Well, you haven’t really been gone.
I still gotta reacquaint myself with the hip-hop audience. The way music is being churned out now, like fast-food, man — it’s hard for [fans] to grasp onto anything anymore. Just when you think you like this artist, they throw another one at you, and that [first] one’s gone, you’ll never hear from him again. It’s crazy.
What’s that like for someone who’s had as long a career as you have?
I mean, you can’t expect somebody to always just show you love. You can’t expect to always walk in the restaurant and people are going to seat you at the best table, ’cause it doesn’t work that way. That’s why you have to keep working and striving and giving them the reason to give you the best table at the restaurant — or want to kiss your ass when you’re sitting in first class. You know what I mean? Never assume that you deserve anything.
That’s not necessarily a philosophy that a lot of artists share.
Yeah, pretty much. [Laughs]
Click here to see EW.com’s exclusive First Look at the Method Man comic.