Joe Kelly Interview

Originally published November 1998. Huh, apparently I could occasionally be decent at asking questions to get to the heart of a controversy regarding writers leaving titles. Of course it helps when your interviewee is willing to talk about that stuff and thankfully Joe Kelly was. At this point Joe was mainly known as a comedy writer for his great work on Deadpool. Now that he’s done a variety of more serious/normal comic work he doesn’t gives such jokey answers to interview questions anymore.

 

An Interview with Joe Kelly

The most wild and zany writer on the block has come to Collector Times. Joe Kelly (after some whip cracking) gave us this wonderful interview about Deadpool, the X-men fiasco, and other neeto stuff. Read on!

 

Jamie: How do you keep coming up with the gags for Deadpool?

Joe Kelly: I have vast library of demented childhood experiences to draw from, and a closet full of lines I SHOULD have said when some jerk put me down in High School, both of which serve me well on Deadpool. Also, I watched way too much TV as both a child and an adult, so I STEAL STEAL STEAL from my favorite shows!

I’m not a well boy.

 

Jamie: Are you reminded of the CCA by your editor when writing Deadpool? Does the CCA force you to cut or tone down some things?

Joe Kelly: Absolutely, Matt does a very good job of reminding me that there is a code to be followed, and when I’ve pushed a border unnecessarily. However, we’re not slaves to the code, either. If we have a really good reason to push the limits, he lets he go for it. As a general rule, we don’t need to break the code. There’s plenty of latitude within it, if you’re clever and a little naughty.

 

Jamie: After reading the Deadpool/Death annual, I wonder if you had a crush on Death when you were young?

Joe Kelly: Nope. I’ve always been fascinated by the Death visual- The hood, the bones, scary! However, I’ve never had a crush on death, nor do I support Death as a recreational activity in any of her many forms.

 

Jamie: Will Thanos be angry at Deadpool for his relationship with Death?

Joe Kelly: I hope so! makes for a cool story, no?

 

Jamie: How long before Deadpool breaks away from the “saviour” storyline and starts interacting with the rest of the Marvel Universe?

Joe Kelly: JANUARY! The DEAD RECKONING story arc ends in December, and then Deadpool has a lot of issues to face in the rest of the MU.

 

Jamie: When will we see T-Ray and Typhoid Mary again?

Joe Kelly: We’ll definitely see T-Ray in 1999. As to Typhoid, I’m not so sure… Maybe next year too, but probably not in the same capacity.

 

Jamie: What’s the current status of Deadpool? Heard any news, good or bad?

Joe Kelly: As of this writing, Deadpool’s sales are actually UP, and we are NOT being canceled! Yay! I have no idea how long this reprieve is going to last, but we’ll make the most of it.

 

Jamie: What do you think about John Byrne’s retconing the Concentration Camp out of Magneto past?

Joe Kelly: I honestly don’t have an opinion on that.

 

Jamie: Rumor is you and Seagle quit the X-books because of the editors. Is this true?

Joe Kelly: It was a variety of reasons. To put it concisely, The editors had a certain vision about the X-Men and the way they should be written. We had a different vision. As a result, the final product fell somewhere in the middle, and therefore short for both sides. We left because we didn’t want to do half-baked work.

 

Jamie: What exactly did the editors do to you and Seagle that drove you off?

Joe Kelly: Like I said, it wasn’t so much a matter of what they did to us, It was more a matter of us not clicking as a group. This, coupled with the fact that everyone at Marvel is concerned about losing their job right now, causes people to make bad choices. This got frustrating, so we all agreed it was time for a break. I DO NOT HATE ANYONE IN THE X-OFFICE! Just wanted to make that clear.

 

Jamie: What was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak?

Joe Kelly: Steve and I were told that we weren’t going to be involved in the long term planning and outlining of the next story arc, but were still expected to write the issues based on someone else’s template. If that had always been the case, if we were “dayplayers” on the X-Men from the beginning, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. However, in light of the events leading up to it, it was obvious this was a last ditch attempt to try and “fix”” something that was way too broken, so we left. That being said, I’d also like to clear up another internet rumor- I DO NOT HATE ALAN DAVIS!!! People have been paraphrasing things that Steve and I said in Australia, and putting it in direct quotes. I have nothing against Alan, and wish him all the best on the X-Men.

 

Jamie: Is the problem the same all across Marvel or is just with the X-books?

Joe Kelly: The X-Men is Marvel’s number one franchise, so naturally there is more scrutiny on those books than some of the others.

 

Jamie: Which X-characters did you enjoy writing the most?

Joe Kelly: Marrow, Maggott, Doc, Phoenix, Storm, Wolverine, and Beast.

 

Jamie: Do you prefer to write team books or individual titles?

Joe Kelly: Team books is hard!!! I’d like to try another team book, but not as big as the X-men. Maybe three characters, or four.

 

Jamie: If you had the chance to write for DC, what characters or titles would you choose?

Joe Kelly: Hmmm… That’s a toughie. I’m partial to Green Lantern, maybe Batman, The Phantom Stranger, Martian Manhunter, and the Spectre.

 

Jamie: Writing wise, who are your influences?

Joe Kelly: Kafka, a bunch of screenwriters including Richard LaGravenese, Terry Gilliam, Robin Williams, Frank Miller, Surrealistic playwriting.

 

Jamie: How exactly do you write your comics? How much detail do you give the penciler?

Joe Kelly: I tend to put in a lot of description, but with the intent that it can all be thrown out so long as a) The storytelling comes across, and b) the artist comes up with a cooler way to show something. My scripts are almost full script style, but only because I’m trained as a screenwriter, and that’s more comfortable to me.

 

Jamie: Outside of writing comics, what do you do with your time?

Joe Kelly: Take care of my new house, my new wife, and plan for my soon to be new baby. I do a lot of work around the home, play videogames, read comics, ride my mountain bike. Sometimes, I pretend to be a cop and shake down druggies for needles, which I then make into sculptures of the Eiffel tower.

 

Jamie: What kind of music do you listen to? Who are your favorite bands/singers?

Joe Kelly: I listen to everything. At the moment, I’m into lounge music, but I listen to Nirvana, Sublime, the Doors, Jazz, Punk, PJ, Billie Holiday… Everything!

 

Jamie: What advice can you give to writers trying to get work at Marvel Comics?

Joe Kelly: BE PERSISTENT, BUT NOT ANNOYING. Right now, the entire industry is shrinking. It’s going to be very difficult for new writers to get in the front door at Marvel. So what folks should do is a) Attack smaller companies and try to build a name for themselves, b) Send in Springboards and 1 page story ideas to editors with a SASE for feedback, but without expectations, and c) try to self-publish, so that they can send in a finished product to be read over a script. Write every day, and try to get a job that will support you while you try to hammer your way into Marvel. That way, if the industry collapses, you can give me a job!

 

Tom DeFalco Interview

Originally published October 1998. I was a little more fanboyish for this interview. I think I was happy that Tom DeFalco found creative success with Spider-Girl, enough so that they turned it into a line. When he stepped down from the EIC position I suspected his writing might not appeal to comic readers. His run on Fantastic Four was panned online (although I enjoyed it). So I was pleasantly surprised when he found Spider-Girl clicked with readers.

It’s interesting to think of Spider-Girl as a precursor to modern comics with Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Batgirl (done by Cameron, Fletcher and Tarr), etc.. I suspect if Tom was writing Spider-Girl today it would fit right in with those books.

 

An Interview with Tom DeFalco

Tom DeFalco is a name recognized by Marvel readers. He has been a writer, an editor, and had a long run as Editor in Chief. Today he is the writer/editor of a new line of comics, better known as MC2 or Marvel Comics Two. This month he answers a slew of questions about the MC2 books and the characters in them. He also tells us what he looks for in an artist, and how to save our favorite comic title from cancellation.

 

Jamie: Tell us how and when you got your start writing comic books.

Tom DeFalco: I began my career working for ARCHIE COMICS in 1972. I started as gofer, and eventually started selling stories to them.

 

Jamie: Judging by the first issues, you created a lot of characters. Why did you choose to give Spider-Girl, J2, and A-Next their own books?

Tom DeFalco: The readers demanded that Spider-Girl get her own title. They also wanted to see a future Avengers book and the Fantastic Five…but I figured I could have more fun with Juggie. (Read the title, and you’ll see why!)

 

Jamie: Why was there a #0 book for Spider-Girl, but none for A-Next or J2?

Tom DeFalco: Spider-Girl #0 was a reprint of What If #105…which first introduced Mayday to the world.

 

Jamie: Exactly how many years in the future is the MC2 line?

Tom DeFalco: Somewhere between 15 and infinity.

 

Jamie: I understand there will be another MC2 title. Will Marvel have an official vote for the hero or team to get their own title?

Tom DeFalco: In our January issues (Spider-Girl #6), we’ll ask the readers to vote on who should star in the next title. It could be Stinger, Darkdevil, the F5 or whomever they choose.

 

Jamie: Is there any chance that MC2 will be a part of the same alternative future laid out in Gardians of the Galaxy or the 2099 line?

Tom DeFalco: All alternative futures have the possibilities of intersecting…or not.

 

Jamie: Will we be seeing other long lived current Marvel characters pop up in MC2? Characters like Hercules, Hulk, Mr. Immortal, Wolverine and so on?

Tom DeFalco: Yep!

 

Jamie: I know this is a gruesome question, but did all of Peter Parkers leg get blown off or just a part of it?

Tom DeFalco: Errr…let’s move on, shall we?

 

Jamie: Hey, where did the Green Goblin’s glider go?

Tom DeFalco: Your guess is as good as mine.

 
Jamie: Is there any relation between the Jimmy Yama in Spider-Girl and Zane Yama in J2?

Tom DeFalco: They’re cousins…as we’ll see in the future.

 

Jamie: Will we see the Juggernaut return in J2?

Tom DeFalco: Probably.

 

Jamie: When will we see the full X-People team?

Tom DeFalco: J2 #1 for a cameo…and #2 for an actual story.

 

Jamie: Is the future X-men called X-People for politically correct reasons?

Tom DeFalco: Nope! I just wanted something to distinguish them from the current X-titles, and the pickings are very slim.

 

Jamie: The A-Next team only had 4 memebers! Will you be adding more later on?

Tom DeFalco: Check out A-Next #4!

 

Jamie: In other Alternative futures, those with the name “Mainframe” always ended up being the Vision. Is the A-Next Mainframe the Vision also?

Tom DeFalco: We’ll learn Mainframe’s story…when the time is right.

 

Jamie: Will Stinger be able to shrink like the Wasp?

Tom DeFalco: Yes.

 

Jamie: In A-Next, why did Loki get the Rock Trolls to steal the mace from Kevin when he could have teleported it away (as he did along with the heroes)?

Tom DeFalco: He was busy conjuring, and sent his errand boys to do the dirty work.

 

Jamie: What old Marvel title(s) would you like to see re-launched?

Tom DeFalco: New Warriors, Darkhawk and Silver Sable…all with the original creative teams!

 

Jamie: When hiring a penciler for a book, what in particular do you look for?

Tom DeFalco: Someone who can draw real people with real facial expressions and body language in a real world. And someone who can tell a visual story!

 

Jamie: There are a lot of fans out there trying to prevent or reverse the cancellation of their favorite titles. As a former Editor in Chief, what advice could you give these die hard fans?

Tom DeFalco: Buy copies of your favorite titles, convince your friends to buy copies, make sure your local retailer supports the title by displaying copies on his racks for an entire month, and write to the President of the company.

 

Jim Shooter Interview

Originally published September 1998. In this interview Jim talks about doing a new Legion of Superheroes story but DC had to back out due to a number of DC staff having issues with him working there. I believe this was the first interview where he revealed that this occurred. 10 years later that Jim was able to do those new Legion of Superhero Stories with DC.

Looking back I think ticked off Shooter with some of my questions, which is likely why I got short answers towards the end. This would not be the last time I did this in an interview.

 

An Interview with Jim Shooter

Jim Shooter has been working in comics for over 32 years. He has been a big name writer for Marvel and DC, a writer/Editor in Chief for Marvel, has attempted to buy Marvel Comics on two occasions, and has started up three comic companies in the past. He has made major changes to the industry, whether it was for better or worse will always be argued among pro’s and readers alike. Some people love him, some people hate him. Regardless, the man knows how to make good comics. He’s back at it again with his new venture called Daring Comics. Now on with the show.

 

Jamie: I heard you started writing Legion of Superheroes when you were a teenager. At what age did you start and how long were you on the title?

Jim Shooter: I was thirteen when I wrote my first Legion story, in 1965. I regularly wrote the Legion and other “Superman Family” titles until 1970.

 

Jamie: Have you ever re-read those issues you did? If so what do you think of them?

Jim Shooter: Depending on my mood, I think my old (ancient?) work sucks, or is pretty good for a kid, in the context of the times.

 

Jamie: Would you hire anyone that age to write one of your titles?

Jim Shooter: I’’d hire a newborn Martian to write for me if its samples were good. It’s all about the work, not who or what you are.

 

Jamie: About your titles, you have a new company called Daring Comics and eventually 8 ongoing titles coming out. Can you give us a brief description of what the titles are called, what they’re about and who is doing them?

Jim Shooter: The only titles set so far are ANOMALIES and RATHH OF GOD. I’m writing them and the brilliant Joe James is drawing at least one of them.

 

Jamie: Do you plan on having company wide crossovers in the future?

Jim Shooter: Company wide crossovers? Maybe. The books will all be set in the same universe.

 

Jamie: What will be different and interesting about these characters that you won’t find in other superhero comics?

Jim Shooter: They’ll be different and interesting. Seriously, I’ll bring to these series all my best. Is there any comparison between, say, Harbinger when I wrote it and the average super-hero strip? I think I had something going there, but people who like my kind of comics will like these, I think. People who think I’m a jerk won’t. I’ll give it my best, as always.

 

Jamie: I understand the first issue of Anomalies will have a limited print run of 5,500. Is this do to financial constraints or an attempt to increase the value of the books?

Jim Shooter: Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics suggested this limited print run thing. I don’t know much about small press (though I can run a major blindfolded). I’ve spoken to the only printer I’d ever consider using, Quebecor, and that’s about the limit they’ll do for such a speculative venture, even for me, someone they know well.. Fine. So be it.

 

Jamie: Why did you decide to self finance Daring Comics?

Jim Shooter: Again, Chuck talked me into this whole self-publishing thing. Maybe I could raise money for another comics publishing venture, but after the bad experiences I’’ve had starting on a grander scale with other peoples’ money, I wasn’t willing to go that route again. At least with self-publishing, I don’t have other peoples’ balance sheets dictating my creative decisions.

 

Jamie: What format will the Daring Comic books be in? How many story pages? What kind of paper stock? Will there be outside advertising?

Jim Shooter: Normal format, 32 pages. Advertising? maybe someday.

 

Jamie: Will there be room for creator-owned work in Daring Comics?

Jim Shooter: Creator-owned work? I’m the creator, I own it.

 

Jamie: Given the bleak sales right now, do you think it is wise to start another comic company?

Jim Shooter: Again, Chuck talked me into this. We both think that somebody has to step up to the plate and do something that gets people excited again. Can I? I don’t know, but I can give it a try.

 

Jamie: Some comic pro’s think companies should stop flooding the market with superheroes and start doing other genres. What is your opinion on superheroes Vs. other genres?

Jim Shooter: I think good stuff sells. Genre doesn’t matter, for the most part. If we build it, they will come.

 

Jamie: Have you ever considered writing for another company again? If so, why did you choose not to?

Jim Shooter: I haven’t had any offers to write for anyone, and the few times I’ve inquired, I’ve been told that I’m such a pariah that it would be impossible to give me work. I recently suggested to Paul Levitz at DC that I could do “Jim Shooter’s last Legion story,” a novel length “untold tale” set in the same time as my old Legion stories. He liked the idea, and agreed, but a few days later called me back and reneged. He said that the hatred some people at DC had for me was so great, that to keep peace in his house, he had to back out of the deal.

 

Jamie: Are you disappointed you never got to buy the publishing section of Marvel Comics?

Jim Shooter: Of course.

 

Jamie: If you did get to buy the publishing section of Marvel, what would you have done with it?

Jim Shooter: I would have made it good again.

 

Jamie: Out of all the characters you created for Marvel, DC, Valiant, Defiant, and Broadway Comics, which ones do you like the best from each company?

Jim Shooter: Impossible question.

 

Jamie: What writers and artists impress you today?

Jim Shooter: David Lapham impresses me.

 

Jamie: What comic books are you currently reading?

Jim Shooter: Stray Bullets.

 

Jamie: What is it about today’s industry that bugs you the most?

Jim Shooter: Its dying.

 

Jamie: What do you think is needed to get the comic industry back to it’s former glory?

Jim Shooter: Good creativity.

 

Jamie: Will fans be able to find you be at San Diego promoting Daring Comics?

Jim Shooter: No.

 

Jamie: Anything else you want to say?

Jim Shooter: Goodnight.

 


Note: The Daring Comics that Jim discussed here never came about. Jim revealed elsewhere he was doing it because he couldn’t get work within the comic industry. When he got hired at Phobos Entertainment he shelved it.

John Byrne Interview

I can’t deny that John was probably my favourite artist when I was a young comic fan in the 1980s and early 1990s. I did a couple of interviews with him. This is the ‘good’ one from August 1998, back when he was still working with Marvel Comics.

 

An Interview with John Byrne

What more can be said about John Byrne? Anything that could be said about him has already been spoken. John talks to us about his upcoming runs on Amazing Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk, and the new X-men book.

 

Jamie: What will you do with Amazing Spider-Man that is different and exciting?

John Byrne: The main problem presented by the whole Spider-Man mythos in its present state is finding a way to fix something which, for a majority of readers, does not appear to be broken. Those of us who have followed Spider-Man through all the years of his existence remember times when there was something almost magical about the stories, the art, the whole package, and it is that which has, slowly but surely, eroded away, as mistakes were made which, to the people in charge, did not seem to be mistakes at the time. Thus, the best thing we can think of to make Spider-Man “different and exciting” is to press “REWIND”, but to do so in a fashion that will seem a logical outgrowth of all that has gone before, and not simply a massive erasure.

 

Jamie: Will you be creating new villains for Spider-Man or using old ones?

John Byrne: The intent is to use mostly new villains – and, indeed, a new supporting cast in AMAZING. Since the old tried-and-true villains will be appearing at the same time in my “Year One” project, this seems a good way to have our cake and eat it too!

 

Jamie: Will there be more “revamps” of Spider-Man villains (eg. Female Dr. Octopus)?

John Byrne: No such is planned. We would prefer the new villains to be just-that-new!

 

Jamie: When does your run on Amazing Spider-Man start and what will the first story be about?

John Byrne: Howard Mackie and I will begin with the issue of AMAZING that comes out in November of this year. That’s far enough away that, concerned as we are with wrapping up the storylines in the current books, we have not yet given much thought to the specifics of our first stories.

 

Jamie: Would you be interested in doing Alpha Flight again in the future?

John Byrne: Nope. Alpha is a definite case of “bin there, dun that”!

 

Jamie: What are your thoughts on the new Alpha Flight?

John Byrne: I have not read it.

 

Jamie: After many years of the Hulk having some intelligence, how do you plan on making “Hulk Smash” interesting?

John Byrne: The same way it was made interesting in the past-by creating interesting stories, places, people, etc. with which the Hulk can interact.

 

Jamie: What can you tell us about your first Hulk story?

John Byrne: Nothing – it’s not plotted yet. Still several months before Ron Garney and I will be prepared to actually get to work on the title.

 

Jamie: What will be the title of the new X-Men book your working on?

John Byrne: The working title is X-MEN: HIDDEN YEARS. It may be called something else by the time it actually comes out.

 

Jamie: It will feature the original X-men in new stories during the re-print era correct?

John Byrne: Correct.

 

Jamie: Do you know what kind of format the new title will be in? Will it be done “Untold Tales of Spider-Man” style, or like a normal comic?

John Byrne: The plan is to present it as a normal, ongoing monthly series. The “gap” it fills was about 29 issues long, but I am not restricted to that. If the series is a success it could run 100 issues. Not necessarily all by me, though.

 

Jamie: When does the first issue come out?

John Byrne: We’ve been talking about the fall of 1999, though that close to the Millennium, I would not mind seeing it pushed back to January 2000.

 

Jamie: Will we be seeing some X-men villains from the 60’s that we don’t see anymore?

John Byrne: At present I am still in the process of doing the background research necessary to determine who was available, not only in terms of familiar X-Men villains, but characters and villains from other Marvel books of the period. This also requires figuring out if any of the old, familiar faces can, in fact, have appearances during this period, of if established Marvel continuity has made that impossible. Luckily I have already discovered that it will be possible to do a Magneto story almost at once.

 

Jamie: Do you plan on creating new X-villians that could pop up in present day X-men titles?

John Byrne: Possibly. At this point there has been very little discussion of just how my book will impact on the present day X-Books-or vice versa. Clearly, since I am working in the past, it would be difficult, if not impossible to do anything that impacted on the present unless the writers on the present day books wanted it to.

 

Jamie: Will we be seeing a sympathetic Magneto or a pure evil Magneto?

John Byrne: We will see Magneto as he was then-a ruthless megalomaniac with a desire to subjugate humanity to the will of “homo superior”. Xavier’s precise opposite, in other words.

 

Jamie: Out of the original X-men characters, do you have a favorite?

John Byrne: Cyclops has always been “Mr. X-Men” to me.

 

Jamie: Do you think you will find some time to re-start Next Men?

John Byrne: It’s less a question of time than it is of the state of the marketplace. NEXT MEN sold very well in its original run – better than I expected in fact – but during what I planned to be merely a brief hiatus, the whole industry crashed, and now books like NEXT MEN are swept away without so much as a ripple. I would need to see a far greater stability in the marketplace before I would risk a relaunch.

 

Jamie: How will you deal with hostile fans at San Deigo?

John Byrne: The simplest way of all – by not being there. I have no plans to attend the San Diego Con.

 

Jamie: Do you have any desire to become an editor in the future?

John Byrne: Somehow that would seem like a step down. Sometimes I wonder what I would do if Marvel or DC offered me the top spot, the editor-in-chief job, but I think the answer would be “Turn it down”. The bean-counters are running the show, these days, and the job of most editors is to meet their demands. Perhaps this will change, and we can get back the a more creative approach to comics – something not driven by marketing-but until then, it seems as though an editorial position would just be frustrating.

 

Jim Valentino Interview

Originally published July 1998. This is the first of two interviews I did with Jim Valentino. I really enjoyed his Guardians of the Galaxy and his early Shadowhawk at Image. Jim had made an unusual career move of working for Archie Comics. Typically Archie has this weird separate status from the rest of the industry where the writers and artists don’t jump across. It’s only been very recently that this has changed with Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Chip Zardsky, Adam Hughes and others have done work for Archie. Going the other way Dan Parent has started doing work for non-Archie publishers.

Jim Valentino 2010 HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo

Jim Valentino 2010 HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo

An Interview with Jim Valentino

Jim Valentino is always been a daring comic professional. From his autobiographical Valentino, to Guardians of the Galaxy, to Shadowhawk, to a Touch of Silver and now to Sonic the Hedgehog he has one of the most diversified portfolios in the industry. Today he talks to us today about his current work, his past, his opinions and the hows and whys of the industry.

 

Jamie: Why are you doing Sonic the Hedgehog?

Jim Valentino: My 11 year old son, Joel is a big Sonic fan. I started talking to Ken Penders, one thing led to another and here we are. I’m doing it because it’s a lot of fun for me. I’ve never done funny animals before and am having a blast with it.

 

Jamie: What are you doing on Sonic – writing, drawing or both?

Jim Valentino: I’m penciling it. Ken Penders is writing and inking it.

 

Jamie: What will be your first Sonic issue and when will it be out?

Jim Valentino: It’s a Sonic Super-Special (#8, I believe) and it’ll be out in October or November. I have just agreed to pencil a three issue run on Knuckles (#’s 22-24, I believe), also from Ken’s scripts.

 

Jamie: In the past you’ve said you’ve been influenced by Jack Kirby and Robert Crumb. Who’s influence takes over when your doing Sonic?

Jim Valentino: Influences, for me, usually mean a point of inspiration as opposed to emulation. I am influenced by literally hundreds of artists. In the case of Sonic, I have model sheets that I go by. I tend to look at a lot of Spaz’s work–I think he’s absolutely brilliant.

 

Jamie: Do you think you can get typical superhero readers to try Sonic?

Jim Valentino: Hopefully, I think they’d be pleasantly surprised by it. There is a lot of sophistication in the stories and the continuity. But, conversely, I see it as a way to get the younger Sonic reader into super-hero comics.

 

Jamie: For those who’ve never read Sonic before, can you give us a list of the main characters and a little bit about them?

Jim Valentino: I believe this question would be better suited to Ken Penders, he’s the writer and has been for a few years now.

 

Jamie: How long do you think you’ll be doing Sonic?

Jim Valentino: I’m just signed on for this one special. Although Ken and I have had so much fun working on it that we’ve discussed the possibility of doing another.

 

Jamie: Will you be doing any other work besides Sonic?

Jim Valentino: Yes, in all likelihood, although I can’t say what at this time.

 

Jamie: Would you do anything different if you launched The Silverline today?

Jim Valentino: There may have been one or two books that I wouldn’t have signed on (no, I will not say which). Other than that, no, I don’t think so.

 

Jamie: Will you give The Silverline another chance if the industry improves?

Jim Valentino: I hadn’t considered the question before. I tend to look forward rather than behind, but I can’t say at this point. Perhaps.

 

Jamie: If you were in control of the comic industry, how would you get more people reading comic books?

Jim Valentino: Fewer continued stories for one thing. More accessible continuity. You shouldn’t need to be familiar with thirty years of history to understand a character or the situation he’s in. I’d make retail outlets more “family friendly”–that is, get the posters of half naked women and demonic imagery out of the store windows, put in characters that are familiar to the general populace (Garfield, Dilbert, Archie, etc…)

With printing and publication costs being what they are there is no way to lower the unit price, therefore it seems to me that you have to give the reader a full story within the book he’s buying–and you have to give the consumer a friendly atmosphere to purchase it in. We are sorely lacking in both these areas today.

 

Jamie: What kind of pencil(s) do you use and why?

Jim Valentino: I use Col-Erase light blue pencils to do my underdrawing because, as the name implies, they can be erased! And I just use a regular standard #2 pencil to draw with, probably because it’s just familiar and feels right in my hands.

 

Jamie: Do you listen to any music when your drawing? If so what bands?

Jim Valentino: Hardly ever. I usually watch TV when I’m penciling. I never listen to music or TV when I’m writing. If I listen to any music at all when I’m working it’s usually movie soundtracks, the instrumental kind. This is because of the heroic crescendos inherent in them–almost like a Wagner opera–very inspirational. I save the bands for when I’m driving.

 

Jamie: How do you think your art has improved over the years?

Jim Valentino: I think I’ve gotten better, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for an artist to make a self-evaluation like that. I am continually trying to improve my work and I am always studying.

 

Jamie: Out of all the characters you’ve drawn over the years, which were the most fun?

Jim Valentino: Each was fun as I was doing them. I loved doing them all. If I had to choose, I couldn’t. They all satisfied different parts of me.

 

Jamie: You have done both mainstream and “alternative” work. Which of the two do you prefer?

Jim Valentino: Like the answer above, I don’t deal in “favorites”–I tend to enjoy whatever it is I’m working on at the moment. There is a great satisfaction in presenting a more “serious” piece like, A Touch of Silver, but, conversely, it is also fun to play with more iconal creations (such as you’d find at Marvel or DC) again, both fill a niche in the creative process.

 

Jamie: What is the current status of Altered Image?

Jim Valentino: I’m working on the third and final issue right now.

 

Jamie: I hear your a big Avengers fan, what do you think of the Busiek/Perez issues?

Jim Valentino: Absolutely exquisite! I’m a big fan and a personal friend of both George and Kurt’s, so I may be a bit prejudiced in my assessment, but I am greatly enjoying their work on the title.

 

Jamie: Is there any other comic work from you we will be seeing?

Jim Valentino: Save for that mentioned above, there is nothing solid. I have about three or four projects that I’m considering at this point, I am uncertain which of these I’ll actually get to first. The ones we’re sure of at this time are Altered Image, The Sonic Super-Special and Knuckles #22-24. What comes after that only time will tell…and that’s just the way I like it! Every day is an adventure when the future holds so many options and possibilities!

 

Roger Stern Interview

Originally published in June 1998. I was really excited about this interview. The first comic I ever bought was Avengers #276 by written by Roger Stern. The following story line in Avengers (Assault on Olympus) made me a comic fan for life. Back when I first started reading comics I wasn’t paying attention to the credits in them. After I graduated college (and was poor) I couldn’t afford very many new comics, so I did a lot of re-reading of my old ones. That’s when I discovered that I really liked Roger Stern stories and they also held up really well. Roger is one of the creators I’ve not yet met in person, but some friends of mine has (they actually had a sit down lunch with him, his wife Carmela and Kurt Busiek) and they told me he is a great guy.

 

An Interview with Roger Stern

When long time comic readers think of great writers, Roger Stern is a name that always pops up. He has written everything from Avengers to Starman, from Dr. Strange to Legionnaires. This month, we got him to talk about his past, present, and future work. Plus, his life outside the comicbook industry.

 

 

Jamie: Do you remember the first comic book you read? What was it?

Roger Stern: No, I read my first comic over 40 years ago, so I don’t remember which one came first. But it was probably an issue of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES.

 

Jamie: Did you always want to become a comic book writer or were you aiming for something else?

Roger Stern: Actually, I set out to be an engineer. But I became disenchanted with engineering school and transferred to Indiana University, where I majored in radio and television. After graduation, I worked at a radio station in Indianapolis for a couple of years, and did a little freelance writing (for little or no pay) on the side. I had actually sold a PHANTOM story to Charlton when the radio gig dried up. (Charlton canceled THE PHANTOM before my story was ever used, but at least I was paid.)

 

Jamie: What kind of formal writing education did you receive?

Roger Stern: Very little. I tested out of the college level composition courses. I did take some journalism courses as part of the radio and television curriculum, but most of my education was on-the-job, writing commercial copy, record reviews, and the like.

 

Jamie: What other jobs did you have before writing comics full time?

Roger Stern: Before the radio job, I worked as a drill-press operator at a couple of small factories and a general worker for a machine shop. And of course, there were all those summers of mowing lawns and painting fences.

 

Jamie: How did you break into the comic industry?

Roger Stern: I got the chance to test for a proofreading position at Marvel in December of 1975. I passed and have been working comics ever since.

 

Jamie: Marvel is going to make your Masters of Evil II / Mansion Under Siege Avengers story into a TPB (Trade Paperback). Do you know if anything else you’ve written is going to be reprinted as a TPB?

Roger Stern: The Avengers story is the latest trade paperback reprinting that I know of. My work has also been reprinted in THE BEST OF MARVEL COMICS, CAPTAIN AMERICA: WAR & REMEMBRANCE, RETURN TO THE AMALGAM AGE OF COMICS: THE MARVEL COMICS COLLECTION, SENSATIONAL SPIDER-MAN: NOTHING CAN STOP THE JUGGERNAUT, SPIDER- MAN: HOBGOBLIN LIVES, SPIDER-MAN: THE ORIGIN OF THE HOBGOBLIN, SPIDER-MAN: THE SAGA OF THE ALIEN COSTUME, SPIDER-MAN’S GREATEST VILLAINS, THUNDERBOLTS: MARVEL’S MOST WANTED, THE VERY BEST OF SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN VS. THE AVENGERS, X- MEN: DANGER ROOM BATTLE ARCHIVES, and over a dozen Superman Trades.

 

Jamie: Of all your stories, which ones are you proudest of?

Roger Stern: The Avengers Mansion story is up there … along with a half-dozen or so SPIDER-MAN stories, my run on CAPTAIN AMERICA, some DOCTOR STRANGE stories, several Superman stories, and most of my run on STARMAN.

 

Jamie: You wrote the Death and Life of Superman novel, what are the differences between writing a book vs. writing a comic book?

Roger Stern: You have to work harder to sell an action scene in prose. With a comic, you can tell the artist to draw a spectacular explosion, and there it is! Describing that explosion effectively in cold hard type is serious work. On the other hand, I found that long dialogues — which in comics can come off as a series of talking heads (if you’re not careful) — are much easier in prose.

 

Jamie: Are you planning on writing other novels?

Roger Stern: Not at present.

 

Jamie: I hear you and Kurt Busiek are going to change Photon’s name to something else… any winners yet on the new name?

Roger Stern: I’m still lobbying for Captain Marvel, as that is who she was created to be. Unfortunately, someone else is currently using that name.

 

Jamie: What’s up and coming with new Marvel Universe stories and creative teams?

Roger Stern: After the initial Strucker/Invaders arc, there’s a four-issue arc with a quartet of Monster Hunters set in the era of the pre-hero TALES OF SUSPENSE, TALES TO ASTONISH era. After that, we have — in no particular order — a Revolutionary War story (inspired by a subplot from one of Jack Kirby’s Captain America stories), the story of Doctor Strange’s return to America (after his apprenticeship to the Ancient One), maybe a story featuring a pre- FF Reed Richards and Ben Grimm, and eventually (I promise!) the Eternal Brain!! Upcoming artists include Mike Manley, Jason Armstrong, Neil Vokes, and Brent Anderson.

 

Jamie: Other than Marvel Universe and Legionnaires, what else will you be doing?

Roger Stern: I recently co-plotted SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #259-261 with Glenn Greenberg and a CAPTAIN AMERICA/IRON MAN ANNUAL with Kurt Busiek (which Mark Waid will be scripting). I’m about halfway through the scripting of SUPERMAN: A NATION DIVIDED, an Elseworlds one-shot set during the Civil War. And I’m plotting a secret project which I can’t tell you about yet.

 

Jamie: Last year at San Diego Con you said “But there’s just so many of them!” in regards to writing Legionnaires. How do you feel about the big cast of characters now that you have been writing them for an additional year?

Roger Stern: Still too many of them. But we hope to get around this by focusing on subsets of the team … probably to the sounds of wailing and teeth-gnashing from the hardore Legion fans who want to see all the Legionnaires in every issue (and don’t have to write the bloody things).

 

Jamie: How do you feel about the new editorial decision to move Legionnaires to a more action oriented plot lines?

Roger Stern: No problem with that. (Actually, we’ve always tried to put as much action into the stories as we could. It was just hard to see with all of those Legionnaires in the way!)

 

Jamie: I hear you’re a big lover of snakes, can you describe your pets? How many snakes do you have? What kind of snakes are they?

Roger Stern: Carmela and I have a dozen or so … some common Garters, a couple of King Snakes, several Rat Snakes, and a Ball Python. They’re clean, non-demanding creatures who don’t take up a lot of room. They don’t bark and when they shed, it’s all at once. Did I mention that they’re hypoallergenic? If you’re allergic to dog and/or cat dander, you might want to consider a snake. Of course, they won’t fetch …

 

Jamie: Did your love for snakes cause you to change Princess Projectra into a snake? Or was there another purpose for turning her into a snake?

Roger Stern: I -didn’t- change Princess Projectra into a snake. In the new continuity, I introduced a new character with similar powers, a divergent background, and a more serious name. I decided that Sensor would be a snake because — as Carmela has rightfully pointed out — there are too many snake-based villains out there. And, as I was being forced to add some Legionnaires anyway, I wanted to add a non-humanoid to the mix, as well as a member (Umbra) who was -not- white and male.

 

Jamie: Are there any members of the Legionnaires about whom you would like to write a solo series?

Roger Stern: Not off hand, no.

 

Jamie: If you could buy one comic character and do an indy title with him/her, who would that character be?

Roger Stern: I wouldn’t be interested in removing any established characters from their home universe. I don’t see any point in that.

 

Jamie: Do you have any aspirations to become an editor?

Roger Stern: I’ve been an editor. Didn’t like it.

 

Jamie: What did you think of the last episode of Seinfeld?

Roger Stern: I wish that it had been as funny as the rest of the series.

 

Terry Moore Interview

Strangers In Paradise was one of the first non-superhero comics I bought regularly as an adult. It was the first Image Issue, the colour Jim Lee pages interested me and then the rest of it I enjoyed as well. I’ve met Terry (and his wonderful wife Robyn) at several conventions and even got to chat with them outside of a convention in Toronto after a Paradise City Toronto Comic Con convention. This interview was originally published in May 1998. Forgive some of my dumber questions, I still had some growing up to do.

Terry and Robyn Moore Paradise Comics 2007 Toronto Comic Con

Terry and Robyn Moore Paradise Comics 2007 Toronto Comic Con

An Interview with Terry Moore

Strangers in Paradise is a Eisner Award winning book done by Terry Moore. Mainstream comic readers might remember it best when it was at Image Comics, but it is still one of the most successful and well known completely independent comic books around.

 

Jamie: What is your daily schedule like?

Terry Moore: I start work around 10 o’clock and go until about midnight, breaking for lunch and dinner. I do this seven days a week. Most of the work is writing and drawing, some of it is business and email things.

 

Jamie: How much time do you spend writing vs. drawing?

Terry Moore: Most of my waking hours. I go to bed hoping I’ll dream of scenes. I lay in bed in the morning running scenes and setups through my head while it is still uncluttered.

 

Jamie: How many times do you go over your story/script and change it before you begin to draw it?

Terry Moore: Countless. Endlessly. I write and rewrite until I finally draw and ink it and then I change it the next morning. Then I finish the sequence and make changes, then I finish the book and make changes just before I send it to the printer. Then I read the book and think I should make changes and realize I can’t anymore. Then I consider changing it for the tpb.

 

Jamie: Are you completely satisfied with your work when you finished?

Terry Moore: No, never a whole book. But there are panels and scenes and moments that make me very happy.

 

Jamie: What part of the book do you enjoy writing the most? The Poems? Comedy? Drama?

Terry Moore: I love it most when I capture the emotion I was going after, no matter how I did it. The tools don’t really matter. Just, if I can make the reader feel connected to the moment.

 

Jamie: Do you find it easier to write male or female characters?

Terry Moore: They require the same effort, it’s just their perks and mysteries are in different places.

 

Jamie: Will Katchoo ever have a sexual relationship with a female lover?

Terry Moore: She has already had several.

 

Jamie: Since you know women so well, what do us geeks have to do to get laid?

Terry Moore: Well, Bill Gates came up with a good solution. I don’t think he had any trouble getting dates before he got married.

 

Jamie: What’s the latest news about Strangers in Paradise in other media?

Terry Moore: There is no SIP interest or activity outside of the publishing industry. The HBO deal is dead.

 

Jamie: Any chance of a Strangers in Paradise novel?

Terry Moore: Maybe, someday. I certainly have it all outlined.

 

Jamie: Is there an official SIP website?

Terry Moore: Not yet. But we’re building one now.

 

Jamie: I noticed your recent art doesn’t emphasize the more extreme melodrama parts that was in your earlier issues. Are you consciously changing that?

Terry Moore: I think so. I allow the art to morph and evolve freely. I don’t try to conform it to a “SIP look”. I don’t want to be trapped by my own creation.

 

Jamie: What do you have a hardest time drawing?

Terry Moore: Architecture and segway scenes I have no emotional attachment to.

 

Jamie: What advice can you give to struggling indy comic publishers?

Terry Moore: Work under the assumption that all you need to do is make the coolest comic in the world and everything will work out. If sales are low, look at the book and what it has to offer that no other book in the industry has. If you have a genre comic or a new improved version of something that’s already out, you’re going to be disappointed I’m afraid. This industry needs brand new ideas packaged with jaw-dropping gorgeous art.

 

Steve Darnall Interview

This is my interview with Steve Darnall. He’s probably best know for co-writing Uncle Sam, a Vertigo book he did with Alex Ross. It is a fantastic book and I’m surprised Darnall didn’t get a lot more mainstream comic writing work out of it. This interview was originally published in May 1998.

 

An Interview with Steve Darnall
Steve Darnall is best known for teaming up with Alex Ross and writing Uncle Sam, a book published by DC Comics. He also writes a comic called Empty Love Stories and is here to talk to us about comics, politics, his current and upcoming work.

 

Jamie: What is your book Empty Love Stories about?

Steve Darnall: For practicality’s sake, it’s a satire of old romance comics–and more importantly, about the attitudes many of those romance comics espoused. A great number of those stories of the 50s and 60s were written by middle-aged men–often men needing some money before the next superhero or western script came in–and aimed at adolescent girls. Now, if you were to ask a hundred people at random, “Which demographic do you think should be giving young women advice that will shape their lives forever?” I doubt very much if the first answer on their tongues would be, “Middle-aged men.” It’s absurd. So I just decided to be absurd in the extreme.

In the grand, philosophical sense, it’s about the fear of being alone.

 

Jamie: How long have you been doing Empty Love Stories?

Steve Darnall: The first issue came out in late 1994, another in ’96, a third earlier this year, and we’re planning to reprint issue #1 in July of this year–with another new issue scheduled for January–so that makes almost four years of sporadic loving.

 

Jamie: Where did you get your start in the comic industry?

Steve Darnall: The embryonic moment came when my friend Alex Ross came to me with an eight-page story he’d done involving the origin of the Human Torch. He wasn’t feeling very confident with his script and asked me to try my hand at it. I did so, we rammed the two scripts together at high speed and suddenly, I’d helped to write a comic book story. Some years later, the story appeared in Marvels #0.

As far as landing a position that suggested I could be in this business for awhile, that came when I took a editorial position at a trade publication called Hero Illustrated in 1993. I learned an awful lot about the industry, worked with some good people, won an Eisner Award and got to cultivate a lot of friendships–some of which I still maintain.

 

Jamie: Have you ever sent proposals to Marvel and DC? If so what were they?

Steve Darnall: Oh, sure. They were among the many companies that turned down Empty Love Stories–Marvel’s paying the price for that one now! Obviously, Uncle Sam came about in part because of a written proposal. I recently sent something to DC regarding a Batman story, but I hear there’s a long line of folks ahead of me waiting for that character.

 

Jamie: What inspired you to write Uncle Sam and pitch it to DC Comics?

Steve Darnall: The initial inspiration came from an evening spent over at Alex’s where I mentioned that Sam was one of the few unjustly neglected characters in the DC or Marvel Universes. At that point, the light bulbs over our heads went off. Over the next year or two–a period filled with the Persian Gulf War and the Los Angeles riots and the looming Presidential elections–we discussed the idea that there were really two Americas, the flawless giant we were told about and the rather fragile creature we were seeing in the raw. Then, as the years went by and one of us became a hot property–I’ll let your readers guess which one–Karen Berger approached the hot one about the idea of doing something for Vertigo. Alex brought up “U.S.” and the ball was officially rolling.

 

Jamie: I’m sure you got some reaction from conservative readers regarding Uncle Sam, how did you deal with them?

Steve Darnall: I accepted them as part of the diversity of opinions that make this nation great and wished they could have directed some of their indignation towards their elected officials, who are doing a far better job of selling us down the river than I ever could.

Actually, there wasn’t a lot of negative feedback brought to my attention, and most of what I did see came from people who’d only read the first issue. In fairness to them, I only read the first half of their letters.

 

Jamie: I got to ask this.. Who did you vote for in the last election?

Steve Darnall: Let me put it this way: neither Kang nor Kodos.

 

Jamie: What new books will you be writing?

Steve Darnall: The one thing that remains firmly in place is writing and publishing Empty Love Stories–something of a job in itself these days–and I’m working on getting a new issue written this spring so my artists can have it ready for release next January–just in time for Valentine’s Day. Jeff Smith is scheduled to do the cover. I’m keeping busy freelancing for some other media, in case the powers that be sink comics entirely.

Beyond that, I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline but nothing so final that I want to talk about it now.

 

Jamie: As a writer, who are your influences?

Steve Darnall: Oh God…one that leaps to mind is S.J. Perelman. An absolutely brilliant humorist. John Steinbeck. Graham Greene. Howard Zinn. Willie Dixon. Shakespeare. Woody Guthrie. Hunter S. Thompson. The Beatles.

In terms of comics: Will Eisner, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Los Bros. Hernandez.

 

Jamie: What comics do you recommend to other readers?

Steve Darnall: Of the current crop, my hands-down favorites are Bob Fingerman’s Minimum Wage, and Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting. I’ve never been big on fantasy storytelling but Linda’s work has a great sense of humor and I’m always drawn to that clean, fluid style of art. I thought Ragmop was tremendous; I was really sorry to see it go. Starman has always impressed me: it’s great to see DC publish a book that’s basically about getting along with your father. Let’s see…Palookaville, Manya, Action Girl, Scary Godmother, Bone…I must like Lethargic Lad, since I’m always calling Greg Hyland with story ideas I hope he’ll use…the EC reprints, of course…and of course, anything by Evan Dorkin.

 

Chris Eliopoulos Interview

This is one of my earliest interviews and it’s with Chris Eliopoulos. It was published in April of 1998. This interview focuses on a comic strip / comic book that Chris was working on called Desperate Times which I really enjoyed at the time, but it gets a bit into lettering as well.

 

Chris Eliopoulos Interview

Chris Eliopoulos.. Do you recognize the name somewhere, but not quite sure where? He’s the LETTERER! You’ll find his name inside many big name comic books. Right now he works on Green Lantern and Savage Dragon (hmm.. a Green fetish? whats next, the Hulk and Martain Manhunter?!?). But forget all that. He’s now doing his own funny book called Desperate Times. No that wasn’t a crack, it truly is a funny book. Full of laugh your arse off comic strips that he’s been doing in the back of Savage Dragon. But enough of the introduction.. let Chris tell you about it.

 

Jamie: Why did you start Desperate Times?

Chris Eliopoulos: I’ve always wanted to do a comic strip. I was telling Erik that one day and he suggested I do one in the back of Savage Dragon.

 

Jamie: What is it about?

Chris Eliopoulos: Basically, it’s about two guys recently out of college, living in an apartment. One guy is cynical and the other a nice guy who is too shy. Marty(the cynic) looks down on everything while Toad is just trying to meet a nice girl. There are other characters as well as time goes on.

 

Jamie: Will it be a running story strip like Doonsbury or just one strip gags like Garfield?

Chris Eliopoulos: I like to do a running storyline with humorous endings. So, each strip can be self-contained but can be read on the whole and still, hopefully, get a laugh.

 

Jamie: Be honest, are you the main character?

Chris Eliopoulos: Marty is definitely me. I’ve gotten quite cynical. Toad is based on a friend of mine from college–he looks like him, but he is the more thoughtful me from years ago. I always read interviews with creators saying their characters are other people, but also themselves and now I see what they mean.

 

Jamie: Are all the gags completely made up or did they happen in real life?

Chris Eliopoulos: Most of the storylines are based on things that have happened to me or things I’ve experienced, but it usually just gets my mind working and I play with the ideas until I get something funny.

 

Jamie: Have you ever tried to do comic strips professionally before?

Chris Eliopoulos: I’ve tried sending out samples to Syndicates, but I was always trying to give them a very homogenous, unoffending strips. Now that I’m working on DT, I don’t try to cater to people or not do something because I’m afraid of what people think. I do it for me. I’ve also done cartoons here and there in other comic books.

 

Jamie: What are your favorite comic strips?

Chris Eliopoulos: My all-time favorite is Bloom County. Great characters with an edge. Calvin and Hobbes was great. I try to enjoy Krazy Kat, but it’s kind of like Picasso–you know it’s great, but you have to work at it to enjoy. FoxTrot is good, For better or worse is a very nice strip, but sometimes gets too sickly sweet for me. It’s the cynic in me.

 

Jamie: Now that you have a monthly book full of Desperate Times, will you continue to do strips in the back of Savage Dragon?

Chris Eliopoulos: We’ll see if it’s a regular book. I’m going to put it out every other month if sales are good enough, if not Image will pull the plug. I plan on doing the strips in back of SD as long as Erik will have me. who knows, maybe if the book sells, I can do another strip in the back of Dragon.

 

Jamie: Do you want to do any crossovers with other comic books or strips?

Chris Eliopoulos: I don’t think my stuff lends itself to crossovers with many comic books, but there will be a slight crossover with Savage Dragon’s main story in issue #48. As for other comic strips, I’d like to see Marty bump uglies with Cathy.

 

Jamie: When will Desperate Times come out and how much is it?

Chris Eliopoulos: The first issue will be out in June with a $2.95 cover price.

 

Jamie: Do you think you will try other strips in the future?

Chris Eliopoulos: Like I said earlier, I may if the circumstance presents itself.

 

Jamie: Okay, now on to lettering. We always hear how artists like Jack Kirby and such are inspirations. Who do letterers get their inspiration from?

Chris Eliopoulos: Like everyone else, I never paid much attention to lettering, but I picked up on it later. Jim Novak, Mike Heisler, Ken Lopez, Phil Felix, Tom Orzechowski, Bill Oakley among others I think are great hand-letterers.

 

Jamie: How many books can you letter a month?

Chris Eliopoulos: Depends month-to-month. When Image first started I was doing something like 23 books a month. I’ve cut down a bit over the years to save my sanity. Now I do between 5 to 10 a month.

 

Jamie: Do you letter by hand or are you using computers and special fonts now?

Chris Eliopoulos: Both.

 

Jamie: What do you think of the computer lettering and special fonts?

Chris Eliopoulos: The process is good in that it saves time, but you have to be careful not to overwhelm the art by having every bell and whistle blaring. Lettering should be very subtle and not take away from the stars of the book–the art and writing.

 

Jamie: Do you have to fix spelling mistakes all the time?

Chris Eliopoulos: All the time–it’s a wonder that some writers can be call writers since they can’t spell a word.

 

Jamie: Who gets blamed when spelling mistakes gets through, you or the editor?

Chris Eliopoulos: The editor is ultimately responsible, but they also have proofreaders and others who check the book, but even so mistakes get through.

 

Jamie: Anything else you want to say?

Chris Eliopoulos: I just hope everyone gets a kick out of my stuff!

 

Erik Larsen Interview

This is my very first comic creator interview. I used to hang out on an IRC chat channel called #ComicBooks and one of the other participants was Sheryl Roberts. She said she wanted to put together an online fanzine and was looking for contributions. At the time I was part of a Fin Addicts Online mailing list devoted to Savage Dragon and also on there was Erik Larsen. Through the mailing list we’ve responded back and forth to each other’s messages and thought since we “knew” each other I could do an interview with him. I asked Erik ad he agreed. This interview was published in the very first CollectTimes issue, in April of 1998.

Erik Larsen 2008 San Diego Comic Con

Erik Larsen 2008 San Diego Comic Con

An Interview with Erik Larsen

Erik Larsen once wrote and penciled Spider-man stories for Marvel Comics. In 1992 he left Marvel to help form Image Comics and produced his own comic called the Savage Dragon. While continuing Savage Dragon, he has recently sent proposals to write Marvel and DC titles. Erik will be writing Aquaman starting with issue #50. With this interview, we ask him about his Incredible Hulk proposal, The Savage Dragon, Aquaman and writing in general.

 

Jamie: Erik, Sorry to hear you didn’t get the Incredible Hulk job. How were you told that you didn’t get the job, and how do you feel about it?

Erik Larsen: I got a phone call from Bobbie Chase and she gave me the news. I don’t feel too good about it, as you might expect.

 

Jamie: Can you tell us any details about your Hulk proposal?

Erik Larsen: Yes, but I’m not going to. It was pretty involved–eight pages, single spaced. There’s no point going into it.

 

Jamie: Some people are still suspicious about you proposing for two books that Peter David just left. Why did you propose for these books?

Erik Larsen: Well– I just thought I needed to get out and do something else for SOMEBODY. It’s been six years since I’ve done any work for anybody but myself and I wanted to get my name out there. I was talking to Chris Eliopoulos and frankly, I don’t know anybody up at Marvel or DC anymore. I asked him to let people know I was looking for a book to write and Kevin Dooley at DC called me about Aquaman. Now, I’ve never read the book so I had nothing to go by. Kevin sent me a few issues and I visited an Aquaman website to get up to speed on the basics. I thought about it and put together a proposal.

Later, Peter left the Hulk and since that was the book I always wanted to do–I HAD to do a proposal for that even knowing that it was a long shot since most hiring at Marvel goes to their lunch buddies.

It wasn’t so much of a “Peter David thing” as it was “these are the books that are open.” Had Kevin offered me Green Lantern, I’d be doing a Green Lantern proposal and trying to get caught up on that title.

 

Jamie: Will you be sending proposals for other Marvel and DC comics?

Erik Larsen: Not to Marvel– I’ve had my fill. At this point I’m a little burned out of the whole proposal process. At some point I’ve got to think that perhaps my body of work can speak for me. I really hate to piss away days out of my schedule to have the job be given to whoever shows up at the door. It’s quite frustrating.

 

Jamie: Are you trying for any writing job or are there characters in particular that you want to work with?

Erik Larsen: The Hulk was a character that I was very familiar with and I wanted to write–Aquaman was just the book that was available. I’ll make something out of it and I’m sure I’ll think he’s cool as all hell in a few months but I never thought of it as a book that I desperately wanted to do.

 

Jamie: What Marvel or DC character currently without a title would you like to do a new series with?

Erik Larsen: I’m not so ambitious that I want to do that at this point in my life. I liked Nova at Marvel and some of the Kirby characters that have been folded into Jack Kirby’s Fourth World at DC such as the New Gods and Mister Miracle but those are hard to sell without a strong artist attached to the project. It’s much easier to keep a boat floating than to build or repair a boat. You just look out for rocks and icebergs.

 

Jamie: Writing wise, how many other books can you take on?

Erik Larsen: If I wasn’t drawing–a lot. As it is–maybe four.

 

Jamie: Over the last 5 years with Savage Dragon, you have chosen not to use gimmicks like special covers or major crossovers. Why?

Erik Larsen: I’m more interested in doing cool comics. I’ve tried a few things to get some attention but I keep falling back on doing what I think are cool comics.

 

Jamie: What can you tell us about Savage Dragon #50?

Erik Larsen: It’s the conclusion of the Unfinished Business story where Dragon goes back to Chicago.The Dragon takes on the Vicious Circle in a final desperate battle. Carnage is the order of the day as the S.O.S. comes in to help Dragon against the most vile group of bad guys imaginable. An extra-length dose of Savage Dragon for those diehard Dragon fans! Dragon faces Horde at long last and damn near everybody gets into the action.

It’s a 100 page spectacular! Featuring pinups by the best guys in comics– Todd McFarlane, Greg Capullo and more than a few surprise artists (superstars >all)! Wizard Comics’ much sought after Savage Dragon 1/2 is reprinted for the first time along with Mighty Man stories that detail the past of Dragon’s most despicable bad guy–Horde!

Plus, a never-before seen Freak Force yarn by Larsen, Vic Bridges and Al Gordon tells the story of how that team came together band more Desperate Times from Chris Eliopoulos! Savage Dragon #50 wraps everything up in a nice neat bundle and paves the way for a brand new story in a completely new direction. It’s great jumping on point for new readers! Comes with our Highest Possible Recommendation!! You’ll blow a fat $5.95 on this thing.

 

Jamie: You have created a lot of weird villains in Savage Dragon. Who are your favorites and why?

Erik Larsen: Whoever I’m doing at the time. BrainiApe is a lot of fun to draw as is Octopus and OpenFace.

 

Jamie: Will Savage Dragon ever become a cop again?

Erik Larsen: That would be telling. I don’t like to give away much of anything.

 

Jamie: Are you involved with the Savage Dragon appearance in Big Bang Comics? If so, are you a fan of the Silver Age?

Erik Larsen: I’m involved as a reader. I enjoy the book a lot. I’m a big fan of comics from all ages.

 

Jamie: You have taken books like A Distant Soil by Colleen Doran “under your wing” into Image. Are there any new books coming in under you that we should watch for?

Erik Larsen: Desperate Times by Chris Eliopoulos.

 

Jamie: Will you be giving Aquaman any new powers?

Erik Larsen: No.

 

Jamie: What makes Aquaman an interesting character?

Erik Larsen: He’s underwater–his world is a different world than the one we live in. The fact that he’s a king. There’s a lot of cool stuff and potential.

 

Jamie: Do you plan on creating any new villains or supporting characters for Aquaman? If so can you tell us about them?

Erik Larsen: There will be a LOT of new stuff.

First there’s Noble-who comes from the hidden city that is deep below where Atlantis now sits. It was his understanding that HE ruled the sea and since he’s never run into Aquaman and since his race predated the sinking of Atlantis–se seems to be in the right on this one. Noble is young and handsome–He’s clean shaven, dark haired and has a cleft in his chin–very dashing. Think Lancelot. He sweeps Mera off her feet and forces poor Arthur to fight for her affection.

Lurkers– are Noble’s people. They’ve dug a maze of tunnels through the earth that are like subway tunnels to other oceans. This is all in the darkest depths of the ocean and very appealing to the Atlantians and Aquaman in particular. These tunnels will lead to the discovery of many undersea races and cities all over the globe.

Rock Creatures– are the race of lava men whose path the Lurkers crossed to build theit underground tunnels. They’re stupid and deadly.

Land Lovers. Blubber, Sheeva and Lagoon Boy are three characters who fall in love with and want to explore the surface world. Blubber is an intelligent whale (son of Pakkul: Aquaman’s whale friend while growing up) who’s an inventor. He’s fashioned mechanical legs and arms for himself and a wheel chair for the mermaid Sheeva. Lagoon Boy is a kid version of a Creature from the Black Lagoon type who can puff himself up like a blowfish to frighten off prey. This intrepid trio is earthbound for adventure.

Plus a lot more–especially villains.

 

Jamie: Do you have plans for other DC heroes appearing in Aquaman?

Erik Larsen: Not right away. Okay–some right away but none are there to hang out for long. My first issue Aquaman #50 has his birthday and folks drop by to pay their respects.

Although Aquaman is in the Justice League– I’m not going to dwell on this. In terms of the character and the book–Aquaman should never seek their help. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t ever show up but that he’d feel that asking for their help was a sign of weakness–to Aquaman, they need HIM–not the other way around.

I want to make this a great comic that stands up on its own–not one dependant of guest stars to keep it going. That means I’m going to have to make Atlantis and Aquaman the focus– not dwell on other characters from comics outside of my influence. I can’t plan anything long term with a guest star so why go there when I can do something better that’s internal and can have lasting effects on the book?

 

Jamie: Thanks again for the interview. Any other comments you want to add?

Erik Larsen: Buy lots of my funnybooks so my kids can eat.

 

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