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!

 

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.