For this interview I went into full fanboy mode. As I mentioned in my last Roger Stern interview, Roger’s was my favourite writer as a kid and I was happy that after many years of not working for Marvel he was writing for them again. I pretty much used this interview to help promote his upcoming work as I was worried that his ‘star power’ had dwindled since the 1980s and his work wouldn’t sell.
An Interview With Roger Stern
Roger Stern has been working in the comic industry for a long time, lately he’s been doing numerous special mini-series for Marvel Comics. I had the pleasure of interviewing him back in May of 1998 and decided it was time for an update. In this interview, he talks about what he’s doing now, in the future and what might have been. Enjoy!
Jamie: The first issue of AVENGERS TWO starring Wonder Man and the Beast just came out. What was it like working with penciler Mark Bagley?
Roger Stern: Great fun! I’d briefly worked with Mark before — on an 11-page story for IRON MAN #21 — but this was our first opportunity to collaborate on a longer piece. And if you liked the first issue, just wait’ll you see #2 and #3!
Jamie: For those of us who didn’t read the end of the Wonder Man series, what was it that Simon Williams did that was so bad and needed cleaning up?
Roger Stern: Well, Simon blames himself for the deaths of a couple of people … there are some other folks to whom he inadvertently gave super-powers (which messed with their lives greatly) … and then, there’s the matter of the woman he was engaged to marry! He died before he could come to terms with any of that. So now that he’s back, there’s just a wee bit of business to settle. But you’ll find out all you need to know by reading AVENGERS TWO.
Jamie: My understanding was the original plans for MARVEL: THE LOST GENERATION was to re-write ‘Marvel time’ to fit in to a 7 year period. Why was that scrapped?
Roger Stern: You misunderstood. There’s no need to re-write time. Marvel has operated under a sliding time scale, since long before I first started working there in 1975. In fact, it’s that sliding time scale that made LOST GENERATION possible.
Jamie: Where did the idea to turn the Marvel Universe series into a series exploring Marvel’s hidden past come from?
Roger Stern: That was the idea right from the start — Tom Brevoort’s idea, to be specific! — and a pretty good one, I thought.
Jamie: Will MARVEL: THE LOST GENERATION have only previous Marvel Characters or will there be some new ones in the series?
Roger Stern: Previous, in the sense that their careers pre-date the origin of the F.F. — new, in the sense that you’ve never seen them before. Unless you go ‘way back and remember the Eternal Brain!
Jamie: Okay we know that AVENGERS INFINITY is a follow up to the very successful AVENGERS FOREVER you wrote with Kurt Busiek. So what is AVENGERS INFINITY all about?
Roger Stern: It’s about four issues long. It’s about a select group of Avengers who are specially assembled to deal with a serious threat from beyond the farthest star. It’s written by me, penciled by Sean Chen, and inked by Scott Hanna. And since the first issue won’t go on sale until July, it’s a little premature to say anything else about it … except that it’s never to late to start bugging your favorite comics retailer to carry it.
Jamie: Do you think there will be another series after AVENGERS INFINITY?
Roger Stern: You mean, spinning off from the events of the series, the way that INFINITY spins off from FOREVER? Maybe. But that’s really in the future!
Jamie: Tell us about this new GREEN GOBLIN mini-series you’re doing with Lee Weeks.
Roger Stern: The working title is SPIDER-MAN VS. the GREEN GOBLIN. It’s three issues long, and Lee will start penciling it as soon as he finishes his DOCTOR OCTOPUS project. And, as it won’t go on sale until the end of August, I’m not going to say much more about it … except that it focuses mainly on Norman Osborn, and it will have some serious effects on issues of the regular SPIDER titles which follow it!
Jamie: You mentioned that some of your unused MARVEL UNIVERSE stories were to be used elsewhere. Do you have anything else from the series that can still be printed?
Roger Stern: Yes, there’s a DOCTOR STRANGE story which Neil Vokes has penciled. As soon as I get some breathing space in my schedule, I’m going to script it. Then, it’ll be Tom Brevoort’s job to find some way to get it into print! Oh, and elements of a rough idea I had for a Sub-Mariner/Yellow Claw encounter will be turning up in LOST GENERATION.
Jamie: Can you tell us about any proposals that you have given to Marvel for either comic books or novels?
Roger Stern: There aren’t any. I’m lucky to be too busy to turn out proposals these days.
Jamie: Have you been offered any titles that you turned down? If so, why?
Roger Stern: Years ago, I was offered POWER MAN & IRON FIST, but didn’t have the time. I was also offered the last six issues of CAPTAIN ATOM at DC; but since I loved the old Charlton series and didn’t care for the DC version of the character, I passed. I was also offered the NEW WARRIORS some years ago, but — as there’d been about fifty issues of the series at the point, and I’d never read single one — I figured that I wasn’t the best qualified for the job. Oh, and I recently had to pass on writing a few issues of PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN … just had too many prior commitments.
Jamie: Would you work on a Marvel Knights title if it were offered?
Roger Stern: I never say never. It would depend on the project, the artist, and the schedule.
Jamie: Since you and Busiek are good friends, one has to wonder if you’re going to do a creator-owned series through the GORILLA imprint at Image?
Roger Stern: I’d love to, but I haven’t been asked.
Jamie: You did the scripts for the original SPEEDBALL series, would you like to do another series on him?
Roger Stern: Gee, that was so long ago. I really haven’t followed the character since I scripted those stories. I hear they changed his costume a couple of times.
Jamie: Any changes to the Photon/Captain Marvel name situation? You said you didn’t want her name to be changed.
Roger Stern: I didn’t want her name to be changed from Captain Marvel. I do want it changed from Photon. I have some ideas along those lines.
Jamie: I heard that before you left the AVENGERS in the mid 80’s you planned on doing a story with Iron Fist. Is this true and were you going to make Iron Fist an Avenger?
Roger Stern: Couple of things wrong there. I didn’t leave the AVENGERS — I was fired! And my plan was to write a story featuring Power Man, not Iron Fist (who was fairly dead at the time; it was only later that he got better). Whether or not Luke would have become an Avenger, I can’t say.
Jamie: I recall reading that your Wife Carmela was writing some Legion stories uncredited when you were doing the Legion books. Does she want to do more comic book writing?
Roger Stern: Actually, Carmela assisted Tom McCraw and me in co-writing LEGIONNAIRES from shortly before issue #50. And I had just about gotten DC to agree to give her a rate and a real credit before there was an editorial shift. If not for her help and support, I probably would have left the series after the Mordru story. She’s pretty busy these days with volunteer work to do much more than proofread my stories, which is a shame.
Jamie: Last time we had an interview, you mentioned having a number of pet snakes. How many do you have and which ones are your newest?
Roger Stern: Sixteen, not counting the babies. The newest is actually the oldest as well … a 30-year-old ball python, whom we adopted when his owner passed away. He’s a mellow old gent. We hope he has many happy years ahead of him.
Jamie: Who are your inspirations?
Roger Stern: I always liked Roy Orbison.
Jamie: What do you do when you’re not writing comics?
Roger Stern: I read, though not as often as I’d like. I hit the health club three days a week, and with the hint of warmer weather in the air, I’ll soon be hitting the pavement more often. (The simple act of walking is one of life’s great pleasures.)
Jamie: Anything else you’d like to tell the world?
Roger Stern: Read more and take time to smell the roses.