Thomas and Randolph Conjure A Magical Tale of Generational Strife in 'Excellence'

This May, Brandon Thomas (Horizon, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, Noble) and Khary Randolph (We Are Robin, Black, Tech Jacket) weave a startling tale about a line of modern magicians. But as the new ongoing series states in its opening pages, “The story was really all about fathers and their sons.” The son in question is Spencer Raymond Dales, an aspiring spellslinger who labors under the weight of his father, a leader of the Aegis, an occult organization tasked with protecting others.

Spencer labors to live up to his family legacy, but a far more crushing realization soon sets in: the Aegis may fall under the systematic control of powers who care little for the men and women who wield the wands. Excellence balances those timely questions with gravity-defying action, rendered with kinetic finesse by Randolph.

Thomas and Randolph discuss the magical realism and family drama at the heart of their thought-provoking project.

Published by Skybound Entertainment, Excellence Volume 1 (9781534313620) debuts in comic shops on November 26, 2019. 


Image Comics: How did you both come together to collaborate on this project?

Brandon Thomas: I’ve been a Khary Randolph "stan" ever since the Sleepwalker book he did with [Robert] Kirkman way back in the day. I’ve bought every comic he's ever drawn, so us finally working together feels like it was always destined to happen. We’ve both done books with Skybound, are about the same age, and share an obsession with The Transformers: The Movie, so it was a natural fit.

Getting to work with him, and our brilliant colorist Emilio Lopez, on this particular book though, has inspired an escalation from all of us—these are the best scripts I've ever written, and these are the best pages they've ever done. We’re trying to live up to the book's name, and we're very excited to put this out into the world. Everything feels right on time.

Khary Randolph: Brandon and I have run in the same circles for years and have had mutual admiration, but we officially met at a Skybound party a few years ago at SDCC. We instantly hit it off, and maybe a year or so later, our editor, Sean Mackiewicz, approached me with the idea. Once Brandon and I got on the phone and started tossing ideas around, I knew this could be an opportunity to do something unique. His passion sold me, and I was down for the ride.

Image Comics: Spencer is incredibly relatable—he strives for his father’s affection and struggles to live up to his legacy as a magician. What drew you to an underdog protagonist?

Brandon Thomas: This is the most personal story I’ve ever told, and in many respects, Spencer’s relationship with his father mirrors my own. Having to combat and harness those feelings of being denied something you feel you more than deserved, is probably the main emotional theme of Excellence and is something that I think a lot of people have felt throughout their own lives. I definitely have, and I’m pouring as much of that pain and confusion and frustration into every relationship in this book, and I hope it continues to come through.

Khary Randolph: I think there is a little bit of Spencer in both myself and Brandon. We all want our fathers to love us and be proud of us, and we've all got daddy issues. And I'm sure many people can relate to being the underdog. It's very easy for a young man to be angry at the world, and that anger can consume you if you were to let everything get to you. The great part of illustrating Spencer (and comics in general) is the ability to get all of the frustrations out and "explode" on the paper. It’s liberating.

Read the rest of the interview at ImageComics.com!