The fan-favorite series PETER PANZERFAUST, created by Tyler Jenkins & Kurtis Wiebe and published by Shadowline Comics, draws to a close later this year with its twenty-fifth issue. We’re marking the occasion with a few comments from the creators on what the series means to them, and a preview of PETER PANZERFAUST #24.
On the genesis of PETER PANZERFAUST:
TYLER JENKINS: I think it really was just a skeleton that we could clothe. We didn't end up lifting very much from the original other than names and places and general relationships. We started out, probably, with an intention to stick closer to the original, but these characters really became alive to us...and changed and grew with the situations they had to face. The situations ended up being very different from that of the original so the characters became very different.
KURTIS WIEBE: I've always been a fan of World War II fiction, non-fiction, and movies, so there was already an instilled desire to tell my own story in that era of human history. Up until that point I didn't feel I had the right concept to set it into.
Tyler and I had been batting around concepts for projects together for years. One day, he emails me and was talking about how he'd just watched Apocalypse Now. He was inspired by the setting and wanted to tell a story about guerilla fighters during the Vietnam War, a bunch of kids fighting against their enemies, like Peter Pan.
I wasn't immediately smitten with the idea. The era and location felt off to me. I'd been reading about Nancy Wake, the White Mouse. She was this courageous woman who worked with the French Resistance during the Second World War. It got me thinking about the correlation between Tyler's idea and the French Resistance.
What if Peter and the Boys were caught in France during the German invasion in 1940? World War II was a war of defined good and bad guys and it felt like a much more natural fit for the concept. When I pitched it back to Tyler, he liked it a lot better as well. We went with it.
On their favorite characters:
JENKINS: My favorites were easily the twins (Claude and Maurice), Felix, and Peter, actually. Tiger Lily became a favorite as soon as she entered the scene, and the relationship between her and Julien was just wonderful. I love Julien, too.
KURTIS: Tiger Lily became my favorite as the series went on, mostly because I had the opportunity to delve into her and her father's history, their family dynamic, and to explore grief in a very deep way. It was a difficult character to write at times, but I still believe our fourth arc, “The Hunt,” was one of the best of the series.
I also like to write Peter, especially his brash attitude mixed with his true concern for those around him. He's a character who carries a lot on his shoulders but manages to do so with a real spunk and positive spirit. I like that about him quite a lot.
On ending after twenty-five issues:
JENKINS: Our plan has changed many times, it feels like, whenever new needs of our story cropped up. I can't really remember the original plan, but probably twenty-five or thirty.
WIEBE: I believe we'd originally thought about doing thirty, but as we started to wrap up the aforementioned fourth arc, I could feel the plot moving toward the finale much more quickly. I wrote the outline for the final arc and I had a sense that adding an additional five issues would feel like padding. That was the last thing I wanted to do with the series; my intention with PETER PANZERFAUST was always to keep it a tight, gripping story with every issue. Now that I've written it, and the finale is realized, I can confidently say that it was the right choice. It feels satisfying, sad, and celebratory at the same time.
That said, our finale is a HUGE forty-eight-page issue. We are going out with a massive bang.
On the surprises they experienced with the finale:
WIEBE: Tyler and I met up a few months ago, took our families on a little retreat to Vancouver Island, and managed to set aside an afternoon to break down the finale into a page-by-page summary. We hadn't done that in a year and a half. It was amazing how much emotion we both felt talking about these characters, how their lives ended up, and to build to a point where we are going to say goodbye to them all.
In that story breakdown, we completely changed how PETER PANZERFAUST ends. Many of the themes are still there, but we dove deep into the characters we'd crafted together over the past four years and ensured that their individual arcs made real sense. I think that perspective was a mixture of time away, getting some distance, and also growth we've both had in the years since we first launched the series.
JENKINS: The biggest surprise was how much I missed them and how much it meant to us to tell this story. We are actually different people now and a lot has changed in a year or so...the ending we had in mind then was vastly inferior to that which we have cooked up now. We had a chance to step back and all the things we were trying to say now make sense and we can see clearly now the best way to say them.
On crafting the world of PETER PANZERFAUST:
JENKINS: Starting out on this series, and maybe most series, I almost never know what I want them to look or feel like. They ended up the way they end up. I mean, more clearly, that the look of things is a reaction to the story, to the characters, to our message. The look of PETER PANZERFAUST has changed many times and, most certainly, has improved....maybe back then I could not draw things the way I wanted to, but at the same time, that was who I was then, so who can say? I don't make big hard plans for how things are going to look. I just respond to the story.
PETER PANZERFAUST #24 is on sale now. PETER PANZERFAUST #25 arrives in December.