The Combined Best Comics & Graphic Novels of 2023!

Since October 2023 there have been many, many websites with “Best of 2023” lists concerning comic books, manga, webcomics and graphic novels. If you’ve looked at a few, you may have noticed some of the same books on different lists and seen some unique to only that list.

I went through 226 different URLs with “Best Of” Lists regarding comics and combined them into a spreadsheet. There are over 3,800 different listings of books from these websites. I should note that I’ve included books that were given honourable mentions. In short, if somebody thought it was a good book that you should check out, it’s on here.

This year the #1 book was Monica by Daniel Clowes, published by Fantagraphics.
Daniel Clowes and his book MonicaThe #2 book was Roaming by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Drawn & Quarterly). Squeaking into 3rd place was Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamad (Pantheon). There is a 3 way tie for 4th place with Blood of the Virgin by Sammy Harkham (Pantheon), A Guest in the House by Emily Carroll (First Second) and The Talk by Darrin Bell (Henry Holt and Co.). 5th place was Why Don’t You Love Me? By P. B. Rainey (Drawn & Quarterly).

Below are all the books with 5 mentions or more.

Book Title Count Writer Artist Publisher
Monica 62 Daniel Clowes Daniel Clowes Fantagraphics
Roaming 51 Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki Jillian Tamaki Drawn & Quarterly
Shubeik Lubeik 37 Deena Mohamed Deena Mohamed Pantheon
Blood of the Virgin 35 Sammy Harkham Sammy Harkham Pantheon
A Guest in the House 35 Emily Carroll Emily Carroll First Second
The Talk 35 Darrin Bell Darrin Bell Henry Holt and Co.
Why Don’t You Love Me? 27 P.B. Rainey P.B. Rainey Drawn & Quarterly
W0rldtr33 24 James Tynion IV Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire Image Comics
Birds of Prey 23 Kelly Thompson Leonardo Bastos Romero, Jordie Bellaire, Matt Herms DC Comics
Mexikid 23 Pedro Martín Pedro Martín Dial Books
Transformers 19 Daniel Warren Johnson Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer Image Comics
Family Style: Memories of an American From Vietnam 18 Thien Pham Thien Pham First Second
The Immortal Thor 17 Al Ewing Martin Coccolo, Matthew Wilson Marvel Comics
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 17 Mark Waid Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain DC Comics
Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller, The Man Who Created Nancy 16 Bill Griffith Bill Griffith Harry N. Abrams
Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story 16 Julia Wertz Julia Wertz Black Dog & Leventhal
Wonder Woman 15 Tom King Daniel Sampere, Tomeu Morey DC Comics
Local Man 15 Tim Seeley, Tony Fleecs Tim Seeley, Tony Fleecs Image Comics
Parachute Kids 15 Betty C. Tang Betty C. Tang Graphix
Time Under Tension 14 M.S. Harkness M.S. Harkness Fantagraphics
Girl Juice 14 Benji Nate Benji Nate Drawn & Quarterly
The Gull Yettin 14 Joe Kessler Joe Kessler New York Review Comics
Do a Powerbomb! 14 Daniel Warren Johnson Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer Image Comics
Things in the Basement 14 Ben Hatke Ben Hatke, Zack Giallongo First Second
20th Century Men 14 Deniz Camp Stipan Morian Image Comics
A First Time for Everything 14 Dan Santat Dan Santat First Second
Boys Weekend 13 Mattie Lubchansky Mattie Lubchansky Pantheon
River’s Edge 13 Kyoko Okazaki Kyoko Okazaki Kodansha Comics
Daredevil 13 Chip Zdarsky, Ann Nocenti Various Marvel Comics
Fantastic Four 13 Ryan North Iban Coello, Ivan Fiorelli Marvel Comics
Sunday 12 Olivier Schrauwen Olivier Schrauwen Colorama
Void Rivals 12 Robert Kirkman Lorenzo De Felici, Matheus Lopes Image Comics
This Country: Searching For Home in (Very) Rural America 12 Navied Mahdavian Navied Mahdavian Princeton Architectural Press
The Incredible Hulk 12 Phillip Kennedy Johnson Nic Klein, Matthew Wilson Marvel Comics
In Limbo 12 Deb JJ. Lee Deb JJ. Lee First Second
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons 12 Kelly Sue Deconnick Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha, Nicola Scott DC Comics
The Enfield Gang Massacre 11 Chris Condon Jacob Phillips, Pip Martin Image Comics
What Awaits Them 11 Liam Cobb Liam Cobb Breakdown Press
Nejishiki 11 Yoshiharu Tsuge Yoshiharu Tsuge Drawn & Quarterly
Social Fiction 11 Chantal Montellier Chantal Montellier New York Review Comics
Are You Willing To Die For The Cause? 11 Chris Oliveros Chris Oliveros Drawn & Quarterly
Night Fever 11 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips Image Comics
The Human Target 11 Tom King Various DC Comics
Akane-banashi 11 Yuki Suenaga Takamasa Moue VIZ Media
Bea Wolf 10 Zach Weinersmith Boulet First Second
Juliette: Or, the Ghosts Return in the Spring 10 Camille Jourdy Camille Jourdy Drawn & Quarterly
The Second Fake Death of Eddie Campbell 10 Eddie Campbell Eddie Campbell Top Shelf Productions
Hungry Ghost 10 Victoria Ying Victoria Ying First Second
The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich 10 Deya Muniz Deya Muniz Little, Brown Ink
PeePee PooPoo 10 Caroline Cash Caroline Cash Silver Sprocket
The Naked Tree 10 Keum Suk Gendry-Kim Keum Suk Gendry-Kim Drawn & Quarterly
Danger and Other Unknown Risks 10 Ryan North Erica Henderson Penguin Workshop
Rare Flavours 10 Ram V Filipe Andrade BOOM! Studios
Goodbye, Eri 10 Tatsuki Fujimoto Tatsuki Fujimoto VIZ Media
Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story 10 Sarah Myer Sarah Myer First Second
Damn Them All 10 Si Spurrier Charlie Adlard, Sofie Dodgson, Shayne Hannah Cui BOOM! Studios
Werewolf Jones & Sons® Deluxe Summer Fun Annual! 9 Josh Pettinger, Simon Hanselmann Josh Pettinger, Simon Hanselmann, Nate Garcia Fantagraphics
W the Whore 9 Katrin de Vries Anke Feuchtenberger New York Review Comics
I Am Stan 9 Tom Scioli Tom Scioli Ten Speed Graphic
Okinawa 9 Susumu Higa Susumu Higa Fantagraphics
Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees 9 Patrick Horvath Patrick Horvath IDW Publishing
Miles Davis and the Search for the Sound 9 Dave Chisholm Dave Chisholm Z2 Comics
Carmilla: The First Vampire 9 Amy Chu Soo Lee Dark Horse
Peacemaker Tries Hard! 9 Kyle Starks Steve Pugh, Jordie Bellaire DC Comics
Phantom Road 9 Jeff Lemire Gabriel Hernandez Walta Image Comics
I Must Be Dreaming 9 Roz Chast Roz Chast Bloomsbury Publishing
Mimosa 9 Archie Bongiovanni Archie Bongiovanni Harry N. Abrams
Sunshine 9 Jarrett J. Krosoczka Jarrett J. Krosoczka Graphix
Saga 9 Brian K. Vaughan Fiona Staples Image Comics
Ghost Book 9 Remy Lai Remy Lai Henry Holt and Co.
Love Everlasting 9 Tom King Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth Image Comics
Fielder 8 Kevin Huizenga Kevin Huizenga Self-Published
Unended 8 Josh Beyer Josh Beyer Uncivilized Books
Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey 8 Edel Rodríguez Edel Rodríguez Metropolitian
The Super Hero’s Journey 8 Patrick McDonnell Various Harry N. Abrams
Buzzing 8 Samuel Sattin Rye Hickman Little, Brown Ink
Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends 8 Kaz Windness Kaz Windness Simon Spotlight
The Ribbon Queen 8 Garth Ennis Jacen Burrows, Guillermo Ortego and Dan Brown AWA Studios
My Picture Diary 8 Fujiwara Maki Fujiwara Maki Drawn & Quarterly
Ultimate Invasion 8 Jonathan Hickman, Donny Cates Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, Alex Sinclair Marvel Comics
Kaya 8 Wes Craig Wes Craig Image Comics
Eerie Tales from the School of Screams 8 Graham Annable Graham Annable First Second
G.O.D.S. 7 Jonathan Hickman Valerio Schiti Marvel Comics
The Moth Keeper 7 K. O’Neill K. O’Neill Random House Graphic
Baby 7 Patrick Kyle Patrick Kyle Breakdown Press
The He-Man Effect: How American Toymakers Sold You Your Childhood 7 Brian “Box” Brown Brian “Box” Brown First Second
Somna 7 Becky Cloonan, Tula Lotay Becky Cloonan, Tula Lotay DSTLRY
Now Let Me Fly: A Portrait of Eugene Bullard 7 Ronald Wimberly Brahm Revel First Second
Saving Sunshine 7 Saadia Faruqi Shazleen Khan First Second
The Great Beyond 7 Léa Murawiec Léa Murawiec Drawn & Quarterly
Parasocial 7 Alex de Campi Erica Henderson Image Comics
Eden II 7 K. Wroten K. Wroten Fantagraphics
Green Lantern 7 Jeremy Adams, Peter J. Tomasi Xermanico, Scott Godlewski, Darko Lafuente, Romulo Fajardo, Tamra Bonvillain DC Comics
Artificial: A Love Story 7 Amy Kurzweil Amy Kurzweil Catapult
The Man in the McIntosh Suit 7 Rina Ayuyang Rina Ayuyang Drawn & Quarterly
Avengers Inc. 7 Al Ewing Leonard Kirk, Alex Sinclair Marvel Comics
Brooms 7 Jasmine Walls Teo DuVall Levine Querido
The Nice House on the Lake 7 James Tynion IV Alvaro Martino Bueno DC Comics
Doctor Strange: Fall Sunrise 7 Tradd Moore Tradd Moore, Heather Moore Marvel Comics
Nightwing 7 Tom Taylor Bruno Redondo, Geraldo Borges, Wade von Grawbadger, Adriano Lucas DC Comics
Gotham City: Year One 7 Tom King Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, Jordie Bellaire DC Comics
Superman 7 Joshua Williamson Various DC Comics
Immortal X-Men 7 Kieron Gillen Lucas Werneck Marvel Comics
Moon Knight 7 Jed MacKay, Danny Lore Federico Sabbatini, Alessandro Cappuccio, Ray-Anthony Height Marvel Comics
School Trip 7 Jerry Craft Jerry Craft Quill Tree Books
Where the Body Was 6 Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips Image Comics
Brooklyn’s Last Secret 6 Leslie Stein Leslie Stein Drawn & Quarterly
Four Eyes 6 Rex Ogle Dave Valeza, Ash Szymanik Graphix
She Loves to Cook, and She Loves to Eat 6 Sakaomi Yuzaki Sakaomi Yuzaki Yen Press
Minami’s Lover 6 Shungicu Uchida Shungicu Uchida Fantagraphics
I Wish I Was Stupid 6 Ebisu Yoshikazu Ebisu Yoshikazu Breakdown Press
The Great British Bump-Off 6 John Allison Max Sarin, Sammy Borras Dark Horse
Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville 6 Joanne Starer Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain DC Comics
Tegan and Sara: Junior High 6 Tegan Quin, Sara Quin Tillie Walden Macmillan
Prokaryote Season 6 Leo Fox Leo Fox Silver Sprocket
The Chromatic Fantasy 6 H.A. H.A. Silver Sprocket
Swan Songs 6 W. Maxwell Prince Various Image Comics
Danger Street 6 Tom King Jorge Fornés, Dave Stewart DC Comics
March Comes In Like a Lion 6 Chica Umino Chica Umino Denpa Books
X-Men Red 6 Al Ewing Stefano Caselli, Juann Cabal, Andres Genolet Marvel Comics
Superman vs. Meshi 6 Satoshi Miyagawa Kai Kitago DC Comics/Kodansha
Grace Needs Space! 6 Benjamin A. Wilgus Rii Abrego Random House Graphic
Pet Peeves 6 Nicole Goux Nicole Goux Avery Hill Publishing
The Hard Switch 6 Owen D. Pomery Owen D. Pomery Avery Hill Publishing
Hexagon Bridge 6 Richard Blake Richard Blake Image Comics
Batman: City of Madness 6 Christian Ward Christian Ward DC Comics
Where I’m Coming From 6 Barbara Brandon-Croft Barbara Brandon-Croft Drawn & Quarterly
Anaïs Nin: A Sea of Lies 6 Léonie Bischoff Léonie Bischoff Fantagraphics
Spa 6 Erik Svetoft Erik Svetoft Fantagraphics
Clementine Book Two 6 Tillie Walden Tillie Walden Image Comics
Sensational She-Hulk 6 Rainbow Rowell Andrés Genolet, Dee Cunliffe Marvel Comics
Scarlet Witch 6 Steve Orlando Various Marvel Comics
Poison Ivy 6 G. Willow Wilson Atagun Ilhan, Marcio Takara, Arif Prianto, Ivan Plascencia DC Comics
Chainsaw Man 6 Tatsuki Fujimoto Tatsuki Fujimoto VIZ Media
All Against All 6 Alex Paknadel Caspar Wijngaard Image Comics
Miracleman: The Silver Age 6 Neil Gaiman Mark Buckingham, Jordie Bellaire Marvel Comics
Batcat 6 Meggie Ramm Meggie Ramm Harry N. Abrams
Action Comics 6 Phillip Kennedy Johnson Various DC Comics
Two Tribes 6 Emily Bowen Cohen Emily Bowen Cohen Heartdrum
Barnstormers 6 Scott Snyder Tula Lotay Dark Horse
Dear Mini: A Graphic Memoir 5 Natalie Norris Natalie Norris Fantagraphics
The Penguin 5 Tom King Rafael de Latorre DC Comics
Lo and Behold 5 Wendy Mass Gabi Mendez Random House Graphic
Maple Terrace 5 Noah Van Sciver Noah Van Sciver Uncivilized Books
Proof That the Devil Loves You 5 Gilbert Hernandez Gilbert Hernandez Fantagraphics
The Buildings Are Barking: Diane Noomin in Memoriam 5 Bill Griffith Bill Griffith Fantagraphics
The Heavy Bright 5 Cathy Malkasian Cathy Malkasian Fantagraphics
Where Monsters Lie 5 Kyle Starks Piotr Kowalski, Vladimir Popov, Joshua Reed Dark Horse
Stories from Zoo 5 Anand Anand Bubbles Zine
Insomniacs After School 5 Makoto Ojiro Makoto Ojiro VIZ Media
Watership Down 5 Richard Adams, James Sturm Joe Sutphin Ten Speed Graphic
Choujin X 5 Sui Ishida Sui Ishida VIZ Media
The Night Eaters 5 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Harry N. Abrams
I Thought You Loved Me 5 MariNaomi MariNaomi Fieldmouse Press
The Ojja-Wojja 5 Magdalene Visaggio Jenn St-Onge Balzer + Bray
Universal Monsters: Dracula 5 James Tynion IV Martin Simmonds Image Comics
The Mysteries 5 Bill Watterson Bill Watterson, John Kascht Andrews McMeel Publishing
Ephemera: A Memoir 5 Briana Loewinsohn Briana Loewinsohn Fantagraphics
Blue Book Volume 1: 1961 5 James Tynion IV Michael Avon Oeming Dark Horse
Huda F Cares 5 Huda Fahmy Huda Fahmy Dial Books
Killadelphia 5 Rodney Barnes Jason Shawn Alexander, German Erramouspe, Lee Loughridge Image Comics
The Summer Hikaru Died 5 Mokumokuren Mokumokuren Yen Press
Last on His Feet: Jack Johnson and the Battle of the Century 5 Adrian Matejka Youssef Daoudi Liveright
Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham 5 Rafael Grampá Rafael Grampá, Steve Buccellato, Mat Lopes DC Comics
Detective Comics 5 Ram V, Simon Spurrier Rafael Albuquerque, Dani, Hayden Sherman, Dave Stewart, Nick Filardi DC Comics
It’s Jeff! 5 Kelly Thompson Gurihiru Marvel Comics
Asadora! 5 Naoki Urasawa Naoki Urasawa VIZ Media
Love and Rockets 5 Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez Fantagraphics
Earthdivers 5 Stephen Graham Jones Davide Gianfelice and Joana LaFuente IDW Publishing
Eight Billion Genies 5 Charles Soule Ryan Browne Image Comics
Squire & Knight 5 Scott Chantler Scott Chantler First Second
Monstress 5 Marjorie Liu Sana Takeda Image Comics
Hoops 5 Matt Tavares Matt Tavares Candlewick
Shazam! 5 Mark Waid Dan Mora, Alejandro Sánchez DC Comics
Alison 5 Lizzy Stewart Lizzy Stewart Fantagraphics

The full spreadsheet with pivot tables for books, writers, artists, publishers and more is available here.

Regarding Publishers:

The biggest surprise this year was the 110 self-published books that made the list. That’s more than double the number of self-published books that appeared last year.

There was a tie for the publisher with the most number of books being picked.
DC squeaked into first place with 93 books picked.
Image came in 2nd with 92 books.
Marvel came in 3rd with 79 books.
Fantagraphics came in 4th with 58 books.
Dark Horse came in 5th with 53 books.

The most popular webcomic picked was Darlin’ and Her Other Names by Olivia Stephens and After School Lessons for Unripe Apples by Soonkki, Maengin, Yulpi tied at 3 picks each. Returning to the list for the 3rd time is Batman: Wayne Family Adventures by CRC Payne, StarBite, Maria Li and Lan Ma with 2 picks this year. Also getting 2 picks were Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques, Eleceed by Jeho Son & ZHENA Studio, To Be An Actor by Kimhaema, Gogwang & 2:00, Nap Comix by Rachael Smith and What We Mean By Yesterday by Benjamin Marra.


Where a reviewer/writer wrote ‘best of’ lists for multiple websites, I’ve cross referenced their lists and removed books that were named twice. I did not think it would be fair if those writers could tip the popularity scale by naming the same book(s) over and over again on multiple websites. Sadly, there was an increase of websites publishing lists with no credit to who (or whom) created the list. In those cases I marked them as n/a but the practice of not crediting writers is a shameful one. Although for libraries I understand fully if the Librarians picking the books want to remain anonymous due to the threatening, targeted climate in the United States.

If a writer wrote for multiple sites, but one of those sites picks was a group effort, I did not remove books that are listed twice.

I generally did not include lists that were a mixed of prose books and graphic novels unless there were a significant number of graphic novels on the list, or they had a list of GNs only and put a GN on a otherwise list of prose books. I did find there were more lists like that this year, which was one of the reasons it took me this long to finish this. Many YA prose books have Graphic Novel looking covers and I need to examine previews to determine if it’s comics or not. If this continues to be the trend I may need to just focus on GN/Comics only lists.

I did not use lists where the website was not in English and the books appeared to be translated versions.

With inkers and colourists I often, but not always included them within the Artist section. Where there were multiple (usually more than 5) involved in a book, or in the title’s run over the course of the year, various was used instead of listing them all. In some cases, I combined those involved even if they worked on the title for different issues. Where the translators were credited (without me having to really dig for it) are mentioned on column G of the data. The same goes for the editors of anthologies.

For simplicity sake, if a list named a specific comic book issue or specific volume of a graphic novel, I removed those specifics and just listed the series title, with rare exceptions. The same goes with issue #s. My apologies to the reviewers of those books.

Some reviewers included books that were published in 2022 or earlier. Normally the amount of times these books were mentioned isn’t significant. Often (but not always) the work was published again in a new collected edition and that is what the reviewer picked.

Most of the lists were general ‘best/favourite books’ of 2023, but I also included lists dedicated to young readers, manga, LGBTQ+, etc… What type list is noted on column B in the spreadsheet.

A small number of lists also had rankings and those are included in Column C.

This list of websites this list is compiled from:

Site URL
Ash Ave Comics
Asian Movie Plus
Bam Smack Pow
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble
Big Comic Page
Book Riot
Book Riot
Book Riot
Bram Stroker Awards
Broken Frontier
Broken Frontier
Brooklyn Public Library
Chicago Public Library
Comic Book Couples Counseling
Comic Book Herald
Comic Book Revolution
Comic Book Revolution
Comics Beat
Comics Beat
Comics Beat
Comics Beat
Comics Beat
Comics Beat
Comics Grinder
Cybils Awards
Cybils Awards
DC Blog
DC Blog
DC Blog
DC Blog
DC Blog
Denver Public Library
Denver Public Library
Denver Public Library
Denver Public Library
Derby Comics
Diverse Tech Geek
Diverse Tech Geek
Doom Rocket
Drawn & Quarterly
Drawn & Quarterly
Drawn & Quarterly
Drawn & Quarterly
Excelsior Awards
Excelsior Awards
Excelsior Awards
Excelsior Awards
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Game Rant
Games Radar
Geek Dad
Geek Vibe Nation
Go Bookmart
Good OK Bad
Gosh Comics
Gosh Comics
Graphic Policy
Graphic Policy
Hollywood Reporter
Horn Book
Horror News Network
Horror News Network
Horror News Network
Imagination Soup
Imagination Soup
Imagination Soup
Indianapolis Public Library
Indianapolis Public Library
Indianapolis Public Library,_mystery,_and_horror
Indianapolis Public Library
Irish Examiner
JAMA Network
Japan Geeks
Joshua Edelglass
L.E. Phillips Library
Library Journal
Los Angeles Public Library
Los Angeles Public Library
Mercury News
Monkeys Fighting Robots
More to Come – PW
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Multiversity Comics
Nerdy Book Club
Nerdy Book Club
New York Public Library
New York Public Library
New York Public Library
New York Times
New York Times
No Flying No Tights
Our Queerest Shelves
Panel Patter
Publisher’s Weekly
Random Thoughts
Read Brightly
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
School Library Journal
Screen Rant
Seattle Public Library
Seattle Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Skokie Public Library
Star Trek Daily News
Superhero Hype
Texas Library Assocation
Texas Library Assocation
The Comic Pals
The Comics Journal
The Globe and Mail
The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian
The Irish Times
The Mary Sue
The New Yorker
The Popverse
The Shepherd
The Telegraph
The Turnaround Blog
Theron Reads Comics
Toledo Library
Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Washington Post
Why So Blu?
Women Write About Comics





1st Mark Waid Interview

Originally published in February 2000. Mark Waid is almost always a great interview. He can be funny and snarky. It’s too bad Gorilla Comics (referenced heavily in this interview) did not pan out as planned. I should note the $400,000 number referenced in this interview came from a magazine article that looked into how much creative people in different industries get paid. Waid was featured for comic book writer and the article said he made that amount of money.


An Interview With Mark Waid

Mark Waid is known for many successful comics including Flash, Kingdom Come, Captain America and more. In the future he will be taking over DC Comics top comic, JLA and is starting up a new imprint with Kurt Busiek called Gorilla Comic. This month we were able to get plenty of information about Gorilla Comics and his new series EMPIRE! Plus we get some answers about JLA, Flash, Impulse, his short Avengers run, Hypertime and how much money he makes.

Mark Waid at 2012 New York Comic Con

Jamie: When I heard the rumors about the Gorilla imprint, it seemed a forgone conclusion that it would be done through Image Comics. What took so long to finally get the deal through?

Mark Waid: It never seemed like a foregone conclusion to US. We had companies vying for the rights to distribute what we published almost from the get-go, and it took us a while to winnow our choices down to the best–the fine folks at Image, who’ll back us all the way.


Jamie: The Gorilla line has been called Comics worst kept secret for several months now. Did the news/rumor leaks through Rich Rumblings website bother you in any way?

Mark Waid: Nah. That’s not to say I haven’t been pissed off by a thousand OTHER things Rich has reported, but this isn’t one of ’em. Besides, it was fun to see all the misinformation fly (“Bulldog” Comics?)


Jamie: There was a rumor of an editor, specifically Matt Idelson, helping oversee the Gorilla imprint. If there is an editor helping out the imprint can you tell us who s/he is?

Mark Waid: We are in the process of hiring a coordinating editor, but please, no resumes — we’ve already set our sights and are in preliminary negotiations.


Jamie: Is the editor you have your sights set on currently working at Marvel or DC?

Mark Waid: No comment. Sorry!


Jamie: What books will be coming out through the Gorilla imprint and what are they about? Can you give us details about the book(s) you and your collaborators will be working on?

Mark Waid: By now, you know about Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen’s SHOCKROCKETS; I can’t at this stage really give much information about my own launch the following month other than to say that, yes, it’s the long-promised EMPIRE, by myself and Barry Kitson.


Jamie: What is EMPIRE? What’s it about, the characters, setting, etc.. I want to know everything!

Mark Waid: Bone-chilling action coupled with satanic soap opera. EMPIRE is the near-future story of Golgoth, the first super-villain to actually WIN and conquer the Earth. Unfortunately, winning the crown and keeping it are two different things altogether. Now Golgoth must constantly watch out for traitors, for terrorists, even for extraterrestrials who were biding their time until he gathered all the reins of power. It’s also the story of his Cabinet of Ministers–evil and twisted all–and how they interact and scheme to gain the Empire themselves. This is not a bright, happy super-hero story. There are no heroes in EMPIRE. Only villains. Monthly beginning in May from myself, Barry Kitson, and colorist Chris Sotomayor.


Jamie: Will the Gorilla line be superhero comics only?

Mark Waid: Hell, no. We’re building a home where we can publish whatever the market will bear, and while I’ll probably never get tired of writing super-hero comics, I’ve always made an effort to write other genres–I loved writing the few Archie stories I had a hand in, and to me, IMPULSE was never a super-hero comic but rather a sitcom on paper.


Jamie: Will Gorilla comics be available on the newsstand market?

Mark Waid: No immediate plans, but we’d sure love to get there sooner than later.


Jamie: Will anybody be allowed to join the Imprint at a future date or just big name comic professionals?

Mark Waid: Who knows? Let’s just get off the ground first and see what the future holds. There’s no official membership “cap,” though a partnership of 27 isn’t exactly gonna be a Swiss watch.


Jamie: Don’t you find it ironic that an “Hot writer” based line is being publishing through a company founded by “Hot Artists”? Especially when some of which didn’t put quality writing as a priority in their own comics?

Mark Waid: Oh, I guess, but to be honest, I haven’t really thought about it much. The broader commonality is that none of us wanted/want to spend forever in work-for-hireland.


Jamie: Creator owned comics have a bad reputation for blowing deadlines. Can you give us any assurances that Gorilla books will come out on time?

Mark Waid: Without a crystal ball at my side, no–all I can assure you is that, if you look at our roster, Gorilla is clearly made up of industry professionals who’ve been hard at work for anywhere from five to (hi, George!) twenty-five years. We know what deadlines are, and we know how important they are.


Jamie: You and Kurt Busiek are DC and Marvel fans respectively. Will your Gorilla comics have homage’s from those universes?

Mark Waid: Can’t speak for Kurt, but mine won’t; with all due respect to the many talented people who’ve headed that way in recent years with some fun and excellent product, if I read another “homage” series, I’m gonna go postal. If I wanted to write Superman, I’d write Superman. If I wanted to write Dial H for Hero, I’d write Dial H for Hero. If I want to write something NEW, I go to Gorilla.


Jamie: Do you have any new work lined up with other publishers?

Mark Waid: Other than Black Bull’s GATECRASHER, nothing at the moment.


Jamie: I hear there will be some changes to the JLA lineup when you take over as the titles writer. Can you tell us what the changes are, why you want them and what characters will be in the new lineup?

Mark Waid: I’ve made no secret of the fact that I can’t juggle 14 JLAers without having an embolism. The core seven are what everyone expects, and I think Plas is iconic enough to have earned a slot beside them. That said, expect plenty of guest-shots, as needed, from everyone from Steel to Atom.


Jamie: Grant Morrison had a philosophy of JLA being something like The 12 Knights of the Round Table. How you do see the team?

Mark Waid: Like an All-Star baseball team.


Jamie: What would you have done with Avengers if your run lasted longer than 3 issues?

Mark Waid: Demanded an artist who could tell a story.


Jamie: During the 3 issues you introduced MASQUE and BENEDICT, two plot lines that are still left dangling. Who were these characters and what were they to do or become?

Mark Waid: Hell if I know. Don’t you know the Marvel Marching Drill by now? “I was just following orders.” Jesus, even I don’t remember someone named “Benedict”…guess it’s time to crack open the back issues…


Jamie: Do you have any consultation or input in Impulse’s own title or his use in Young Justice?

Mark Waid: In his own title, yes; each month, editor L.A. Williams extends me the unheard-of courtesy of sending me black-and-white advances for my comments, and I’d like to give him his public props for that. I don’t, however, have much TO say–writer Todd DeZago, besides being a good friend of mine, has a terrific handle on the character. And with YOUNG JUSTICE, I trust Peter.


Jamie: Some people reading your and Brian Augustyn current Flash now assume Hypertime’s purpose is to write stories that don’t have to adhere to continuity. Is that Hypertime’s purpose?

Mark Waid: Ghaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

No. Hypertime has no “purpose” any more than the color red has a “purpose.” Hypertime was introduced both as a way of expanding the ever-shrinking, ever-regulated, ever-constricting DCU and as a way of tipping the hat to old-time readers who are tired of being told the stories they read and loved “never happened.” It was introduced to remind people that comics aren’t about rules, they’re about flying. And don’t draw ANY conclusions from the current FLASH run yet–there ARE purposes to the STORY, and only Brian and Grant and I as yet know what they are….


Jamie: You have been one of the writers credited with digging comic books out of the Grim and Gritty heroes. Then you and Brian write a Flash who is very grim and gritty. Why?

Mark Waid: Just pitching a change-up, man. Gotta stay versatile. Gotta keep you on your toes.


Jamie: Hey, last year you made around $400,000! Did you make that kind of money again this year?

Mark Waid: My accountant would be stunned to hear that. If by “around,” you mean “way, way, way, way less than,” then I guess so. Believe me, I NEVER made 400 grand in a year, not even close. I did have a couple or three really good years for which I’m really grateful, but salaries and royalties across the board have been a lot more realistic for quite a while, my friend….


Devin Grayson Interview

Originally published in March 1999. This was the first female comic creator I interviewed and I again wince at some of my questions. I was very happy to be interviewing her as all of my previous interviews were with men. For those with short memories Devin was in a relationship with Mark Waid at the time and she was falsely accused of getting and keeping work at DC Comics because of that relationship by assholes back in the day. Devin stopped writing comics after a while and I can’t say I blame her. I hope she’s happy doing whatever it is she’s doing today, she deserves it.


An Interview with Devin Grayson

The fastest rising hot writer in DC Comics is here. Devin Grayson has been wowing people with her Catwoman work and has recently gotten more spotlight with her JLA/Titans crossover, the new Titans series, and her upcoming work involving the Batman’s No Man’s Land event. With this interview we find out who Devin is, how she sees things and what she’s up to.
Jamie: You’ve said in the past you didn’t get interested in comics until you saw the Batman Adventures cartoon. What did you do before becoming a comic writer?

Devin Grayson: I went to college and took some post-graduate courses in writing while working on a novel which I have yet to complete (I got sidetracked by the comics!) and I had a day job as a project manager in the research division of a large Northern California HMO.


Jamie: Before breaking into DC Comics, what comics did you write?

Devin Grayson: None, actually. My interest was pretty limited to the Bat-verse (that is – I didn’t really want to “be a comic writer” I just wanted to write Batman and Nightwing and all of the cool Gothamites), and “Like Riding a Bike” in The Batman Chronicles #7 was my first professional work in comics.


Jamie: Did you ever have any association with the Friends of Lulu and do you have any opinions of female focused groups like that?

Devin Grayson: I am not a member of the Friends of Lulu, and don’t intend to become one, nor would I presume to generalize about female-focused groups (they can be assumed to vary widely, both in intent and effectiveness). All I can say is that for myself, personally, there’s a danger in joining such groups. My fear is that instead of actively doing things that challenge gender-bias, I would let “being a member” serve as my “good deed” – that is, I could begin to assume that my membership in and of itself was what I was doing to promote healthy gender politics and – let me emphasize this again — for myself, personally, that’s not the best way to effect change.


Jamie: Who are your writing influences?

Devin Grayson: In comics the writers I turn to most frequently for inspiration are Alan Moore, Neil Gaimen, and Frank Miller, though there are certainly a whole bunch of other people I admire and have learned from, including, among many others, Dennis O’Neil, Terry Moore, Chuck Dixon, Scott McCloud, and Mark Waid.

In other media, I’m deeply influenced by Milan Kundera, A.S. Byatt, Stendhal, James Baldwin, Tom Stoppard, David E. Kelly, Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Rilke, Anne Rice, Nabokov, Tori Amos, Terry Gilliam and then also by people like Jung, Joseph Campbell, Thomas Moore, and more recently Buddhist scholars like Pema Chödrön and Thich Nhat Hanh.

Really, though, the lovely thing about writing is that you’re constantly influenced by absolutely everything. My own psyche influences my writing more than anything else, and my psyche is a magpie.


Jamie: Are there any particular artists that you would really like to work with?

Devin Grayson: I’ve been very fortunate with artists. I’d love to do more with Greg Land and Brian Stelfreeze someday soon, and there are some wonderfully talented people out there who would be a lot of fun to work with, but I enjoy coming across people by chance – there’s no one in particular that I’m obsessing over right now.


Jamie: Are there any characters that you haven’t written yet that you want a crack at?

Devin Grayson: There really aren’t. Again, I’ve just been so tremendously fortunate. The characters I feel most attached to are the Bat-characters and the Titans- characters, and I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to work closely with both.


Jamie: Avengers fans are confused as to why a new Black Widow is being created when there is a perfectly good one already in existence. Can you tell us the reason for the new Black Widow?

Devin Grayson: Um… because it’s a story element? Tell you what — a good remedy for being confused about something is to check it out. This would make more sense to discuss AFTER the miniseries comes out, no? 😉


Jamie: After reading The Titans it’s pretty clear you really know these characters and how they think and feel. But you’re not a long time comic fan, how did you “catch up”?

Devin Grayson: I read a whole bunch of stuff at once, instead of having to wait for the monthly to come out. It was great! I just brought up all the back issues I could get my hands on, until eventually I had them all, and then I read them straight through (after reading them out of order, actually, which was another thrilling exercise). What I lost was the anticipation of waiting for the next installment to come out, but the end result is that it’s probably fresher in my mind than in yours. You were probably reading The New Titans in the eighties, I was reading The New Titans two years ago!


Jamie: Now that the Titan lineup has been revealed, who are your favorite members?

Devin Grayson: Oh, I really can’t answer that, I’d make the characters jealous. 😉 The truth is that it’s a lot of fun to play with all of them, to juggle and watch them have their moments and shine in different stories.


Jamie: Comic fans on Usenet have been a hot topic lately, do you lurk on the newsgroups and have any opinions on them?

Devin Grayson: I don’t lurk, I don’t read newsgroup boards, and I have a personal policy against posting. I also don’t coddle professional friends who go onto the boards and then get upset about something they read there, I just tell them to get off the boards. I do have a website (2KComics.COM) where you can get information about what I’m working on, and an active email address that seems to allow people to contact me with relative ease (you had no trouble tracking me down for this interview, for example!).

As a newcomer to all of this, I find it a little disturbing just how accessible so many of the comic pros are, and accordingly, how entitled many fans feel to their attention – you don’t get mad at screenplay writer when he won’t show up in a chat to discuss his latest work, and you don’t demand that novel writers read your opinion of, or riffs on, their stories. I guess it stems from the fact that the majority of comic professionals were once fans themselves, so there’s a slightly more natural mutuality there than in the other media I mentioned, but that relationship also seems to foster some real serious jealousy and nastiness that really is a little bizarre when you step back from it. I think there are a group of pros who really like getting “strokes” from fans, so they put themselves out there, and after awhile that breeds familiarity and expectation. And if it works for them, great, but I don’t want to be held accountable to that. Personally, I don’t like receiving feedback about the work I’m doing while it’s still in progress, except from the editors, whose job it is to guide me and assess my work. I’d much rather do the work than talk about doing the work. And personally, I do find negative feedback hurtful to receive, and positive feedback distracting. Not to mention that so much of it gets so unnecessarily personal – after Wizard magazine ran a picture of me, a well-intentioned friend forwarded me some posts about whether or not I was “doable” and whether or not I needed to lose weight, and whether or not I could possibly actually be in love with my boyfriend. I mean, these were “threads”! And all I could think was, would these people say this stuff to my face? It’s not all like that, obviously, and I feel bad for all of the truly kind, well-meaning fans who get drowned out by this cacophony, but I’ll tell you – if even one person is posting things of that nature, why on god’s earth should I be held responsible for checking it out to “be in touch with my fans”? I absolutely refuse. There’s nothing in my job contract that says I have to be subjected to that. I’d rather do interviews like this, and enjoy the really nice experiences I have meeting fans in person at conventions, or receiving the frequently very kind and encouraging emails and letters they send.

I’ve always felt very grateful for the level of enthusiasm present is so much of comic fandom, but I think that there needs to be some space for fans to discuss whatever they want to discuss WITHOUT fear of hurting anyone’s feelings, and message boards seem like a good place for that. So I give myself the space I need to work and the fans the space they need to comment by staying away from all of it.


Jamie: Has your The Weinbergs been given a new title yet? If not what are some of the alternatives being suggested?

Devin Grayson: No, alas, we’re still in flux, and the book has now been pushed back for a December release –which is disappointing for me, since I’m excited about it and I really want it to be out there, but is in the long run a huge show of faith by DC. They want more time to market it, and also, our artist, Yvel Guichet, got the chance to work on a high-profile No Man’s Land assignment (the two-parter which introduces Harley Quinn which I saw some sketches for today – it’s amazing!), so I’m excited for him and pleased that more people will get a chance to see how remarkable his work is before The Weinbergs comes out.

The one other title we played around with was RV5: Relative Velocity, but I think somebody somewhere had concerns about that, so I’m not quite sure where we are now.


Jamie: How will The Weinbergs be different than other ‘kids with powers’ book like Power Pack?

Devin Grayson: As much as I enjoyed Power Pack, I don’t feel that the series have anything in common. I’ve been struggling to find an eloquent was of explaining this, but The Weinbergs doesn’t fit into any pre-existing genre I’m aware of. The Power Pack was an utterly charming tale of innocence wading through polarized alien forces of good and evil. The Weinbergs is very human, gently making fun of the superhero genre while absolutely revering and empowering it. The Weinys aren’t kids who find themselves suddenly blessed with magical powers – their powers are their PROBLEMS, they’re unhealthy manifestations of social dysfunction, and to top it off, these kids aren’t particularly good at using them on command anyway. They set off on their mission for all the wrong reasons, pursued by all the wrong factions (including the police, Child Protection Services, and the D.E.O.) and are very much their own worst enemies. Yet I don’t want the story to sound overly dark or, well, grim and gritty. It’s a very personal piece of fiction, and these kids have managed to utilize a lot of my humor and a lot of my pain. The Weinys have powers the way we all have powers – these weird things we can do that we’re not always comfortable with, like manipulating people (Allure), or bullying them (Temper). Instead of having to learn to be better superheroes, these kids really need to learn to be better people. Fighting supervillains may be the easiest part of their day.

As I’ve said in other interviews, in a very real sense, The Weinbergs is my way of using some of my pre-comic-reading-days sensibilities about characters and story-telling to celebrate my newfound love of the medium. When working on JLA/Titans, I was very aware that the project was something of a love-letter to the die-hard fans – it’s not a book I would hand to someone unfamiliar with comics. But The Weinbergs was crafted with my non-comic-book-reading friends and family very much in mind – it’s meant to be accessible to a very wide audience, and it’s the kind of project that really makes me wish there were easier ways to get information about comics out to people who don’t normally read them. It was so excited to “discover” comics in my early twenties, and then to watch my friends and family start to get turned on by them. My mom, a family therapist, now takes comic books to meetings of the American Psychological Association, and reports that they love them there – I just think that’s so cool, and as hard a time as the industry is having, I truly believe that the medium is viable, young, and nowhere near to having maxed out on its audience potential. The Weinbergs is my way of saying, look, this stuff’s not so scary, it’s not all “super” this and “uncanny” that – the stories can be character-driven, you may find you can relate to some of them, and its totally worth checking out. And that this is a DCU book, and I’m able to say all of this from WITHIN the superhero genre, is really exciting to me.


Jamie: Your new Vertigo mini called MUN deals with role playing games. Is this something you did in the past?

Devin Grayson: Actually, I had a bad month with titles. 😉 “MUN” is now called “USER.” And to answer your question, yes, I did do role playing in the past, particularly online role playing, which is what “USER” covers. Offline, I had friends who sort of made up their own games – funky amalgamations of different series – so I don’t know what they would properly be called (well, I do, but it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone but my gaming buddies – a shout to all of you Sapien gamers!). Online, I was part of the AOL “Rhydin” community, which I think now has a fancier name, but at the time was basically (and delightfully) free- form.


Jamie: Can you give us some details on what the book is about?

Devin Grayson: User is about a mun in trouble. “Mun,” short for “mundane,” is a term online role-playing gamers use to refer to their real selves when they’re IC (in character). For those unfamiliar with the concept, online role-playing is a lot like traditional role playing (Dungeons & Dragons being perhaps the best known example), except that it’s all done through computers, with players using screen names to portray fantasy characters that then interact over the course of fairly unstructured, spontaneous adventures. There are ways to roll dice online to help determine the winner in “combat” situations, but unlike live role-playing games where you play in person with a group of friends, in online gaming you might never know the real identities – the “muns” — behind the other characters you play with.

The story is about a young woman who, when threatened by a dangerous family situation, manages to challenge her own faulty self-preservation instincts through the medium of online role-playing. Though the fantasy world she explores turns out to be easily as fragile and damaged as her day-to-day reality, the ability to learn to honor the archetypal masquerades chosen by herself and the other players in the fictional world awakens her own sense of empathy and competence in the real one. In my time with online RPing a couple of years ago, I was really struck with how creative and powerful some of it is. I mean, yes, there’s also the more obvious flip side about how some people take it much too seriously, and initially the protagonist of “USER” is using it in an unhealthy way for escapism. But she soon learns that slaying dragons is the easy part. It’s making sense of the little evils of everyday life that’s almost impossible.

We have John Bolton on board to paint the “virtual world” scenes, and Sean Phillips to pencil the “real world.” I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with!


Jamie: Do you prefer to write established characters or your own creations?

Devin Grayson: It’s so different, it really is. I guess, from a technical point of view, I prefer my own characters, because frankly, it’s easier. It’s easier politically (no editorially forced crossovers or the like), it’s easier in terms of reader response (fans can’t say you’re “wrong” about your own creations), and it’s easier in terms of not tripping over stories that have already been told. And there is no rush like watching an idea turn into a character right in front of you – that moment when the character transcends the little notes you’ve been scratching onto an index card or whatever, and steps forward and introduces themselves (and then immediately starts bossing you around :: laughs: :).

But on the other hand, comics is a highly interactive medium, and part of the special thrill of the job is getting to work with what I call “communal characters” and icons. The first time I wrote the word “Batmobile” in a script – a professional script I was getting paid for – I had to stop to let an absolute laughing fit pass over me. It was just too cool. And when I was done laughing I sat back and really felt just awed and proud for a sec. I was putting words in Batman’s mouth. That can be pretty heady stuff. I don’t think I could stand to do either exclusively though, so right now I’m really enjoying moving back and forth between the two.


Jamie: How much detail do you give your artists when you write?

Devin Grayson: Judging on what I’ve seen of other professional’s scripts, my panel descriptions are pretty detailed. In my first year of writing comics, I spent a lot of energy researching and choreographing fight scenes, and I soon realized that that was actually something a lot of artists prefer to have less direction on, and I was fine with that and I pulled back a little. I think you know, when you’re writing, how important any given detail is. Sometimes a lot of details really are important to set-something up or communicate a plot point, and other times, there’s some room for the artist to come in and let their style shine through. So in any given script I’ll have several dense three paragraph panel description and a page or two full of: “he arches an eyebrow.”


Jamie: What comics are you currently reading?

Devin Grayson: One of the downsides of being a relatively new comics fan is that I’m not in the habit of reading titles on a regular monthly basis. More often than not, I let some stuff accumulate, and then read it all in one sitting. So there are a bunch of books I enjoy, but none that I’m reading in the traditional sense of remembering to run down to the comic store every Wednesday and scoop up the next installment. The exceptions are stuff I have to read for work, like the Bat-titles, for example, which I often read in the script or Black and White phase because I have to be current, and stuff my friends do, which they make sure I have.


Jamie: I can’t help but think that you and Mark Waid read, discuss, and influence each others work. How much influence do you think you’ve had on Waid’s work, and vice versa?

Devin Grayson: Let me say straight off that it makes me uncomfortable to be asked about my private life in a casual way. I understand that since Mark and I have the same profession, it makes the relationship seem like a part of my working life, and therefore fair game for questions. But actually, the relationship is part of my personal life, and isn’t an appropriate subject for professional or causal conversations. That said, in the interest of clarifying: Mark and I actually have very well delineated boundaries around work issues. We have separate offices, separate jobs, separate editorial contacts, and with one or two exceptions, spend more energy on staying out of each other’s ways professionally than on working collaboratively. We also have very different thematic sensibilities, and are invested in very different kinds of material – I really love the dark, reality-based Bat-stuff, for example, and he’s much more into the shiny, happy side of heroing, which I don’t relate to as well. Obviously, it’s great to have someone around who you can run things by, and we have a lot of respect for each other’s work – I think he’s certainly one of the contemporary masters of story structure, exposition, and clarity – but overall, I think that’s one of the least valuable parts of the relationship, especially when put into perspective with the costs of trying to share a life, and a professional field, in public. Every now and then Mark and I manage to be really helpful to one another – clarifying a plot point, or offering up an observation on characterization or some such, but there are a lot of pros I do that with – and actually, Mark has his own little cabal that he tends to turn to, and I have mine (chiefly Jay Faerber and Brian Vaughan, my 2KCOM brethren), since Mark and I kind of come from different comic-writing “generations.”


Jamie: You said you got interested in Comics in your early 20’s, what do you think is needed to attract other adults to comics books?

Devin Grayson: Creative, accessible, contemporary material that doesn’t rely on nostalgia for the medium or the assumption of previous reading experience. Sandman was one of the first comics I became seriously enamored of – by the time I started reading it, it was already partly in trade paper back, so it felt familiarly “book-like” to me, and the story didn’t presuppose that I’d read anything other than the story itself.


Jamie: Currently you’re writing Titans and you have Black Widow (Marvel), Mun (Vertigo), The Weinbergs (DC) mini series, and a 4 part Huntress/Scarecrow arc coming out in the Batman books. Is there anything else?

Devin Grayson: Well, “Mun,” as I said, is now called “User,” and I’m also working on a thirty-eight page No Man’s Land one-shot for The Batman Chronicles about Leslie Thompkins and her “hospital zone.” I added a few small contributions to the Nightwing Secret Files, and co-wrote JLA #32 with Mark Waid — one of two exceptions to my let’s-keep-our-professional-lives separate rule! The story deals with the JLA’s response to No Man’s Land, so I came in to that project as sort of a Bat-representative. And I’m discussing a Legends of the DCU story with a couple of different editors, and also still hoping to do a Nightwing/Oracle miniseries, and perhaps more Bat-work down the line.


George Perez Interview

George Perez – 2003 HobbyStar Toronto Fan Expo

This was originally published in June 2000.

This interview became a wake up call for me. Normally when somebody got some breaking news other sites would mention it and link to the source. It was seen as ethical, without it being formally defined in that way. George Perez leaving the Avengers (which was a top selling book at that time) was major news and it wasn’t announced anywhere yet. When I told Comic Book Resources I was stunned to see that instead of mentioning it and linking to the interview, they instead contacted George, got confirmation and then announced the news themselves as if they broke it. I learned after that to not give them anymore news. The internet comic community, which used to be very volunteer minded, co-operative place was now commercial. The desire to maximize traffic to make money was now more important.

Anyway, I’ve seen George at many conventions over the years and he’s always been super nice to me. He’s generally known as one of the nicest creators out there.

An Interview With George Perez

George Perez has been working in the comic industry for about 25 years. While some hot pencilers come and go, he’s is one of the very few that remains a fan favorite through the years. He has a long list of very popular works behind him both in DC and in Marvel. Among them, Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, Crisis of the Infinite Earths, and currently Avengers. George answers all sorts of questions and gives us some details about when he is ending his run on Avengers and starting his new work Crimson Plague, coming out through Gorilla Comics.


Jamie: We have heard lots from Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek about why they formed Gorilla Comics, but we have yet to hear from you. What is your reason for doing comics through Gorilla?

George Perez: The chance to be in full control over my own work is way too tempting to resist. However since I was on exclusive contract with Marvel, I couldn’t work on any new projects until July 2000 when my Marvel contract expired. Except for CRIMSON PLAGUE, which predated that contract With Event Comics seemingly on hiatus while Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti worked on marvel Knights it seemed the perfect time and place to restart the series. With Joe and Jimmy’s generous blessings, CRIMSON PLAGUE became my contribution to the Gorilla launch.


Jamie: Crimson Plague is coming out again through Gorilla Comics (Image). For those that don’t know anything about the series, what is it about?

George Perez: It’s about a genetically engineered woman who was first discovered as an embryo inside a dead woman on a mining colony on one of Jupiter’s moons. As the woman (named DiNA: Simmons) grew to maturity it was discovered that her blood was becoming more and more toxic until it was capable of totally disintegrating any organic or non-organic matter. And since DiNA: is a woman, the scientists learn that her menstrual blood could become an airborne virus capable of destroying an entire planet. She becomes a walking crimson plague– and that plague is on its way to Earth.

The artistic gimmick for this series is that every featured character is modeled and named after a real person. There really is a Dina Simmons (who is now pursuing a modeling career using the DiNA: Simmons spelling of her name). It’s a real artistic challenge.


Jamie: After the one shot, will Crimson Plague turn into an ongoing series? If so can you draw both it and Avengers at the same time?

George Perez: CRIMSON PLAGUE is scheduled as a limited series, currently eight bi-monthly issues, although that may change. As for AVENGERS, my contract expires in July and it looks like I won’t be continuing with it as a penciler past Issue #34, another double-sized issue. I just need to take a break from the monthly grind for a while and I’ve been offered a few short-term assignments that I’m looking forward to working on.


Jamie: What all happened with that thing? Fans are still confused.

George Perez: As of now, there are still talks going on and, hopefully, this will all be settled by the end of June. I wish I could be more definite and forthcoming, but I’m just waiting with guarded optimism. Things look promising though and Gorilla Comics will survive regardless.


Jamie: Will Gorilla Comics be keeping their TPB’s in print and accessible like DC Comics does?

George Perez: That’s one of the cornerstones of Gorilla policy.


Jamie: Avenger fans wonder and worry how long you’ll be on the series. Any definite answer?

George Perez: I think I answered that already. It hasn’t been announced officially, but I see no reason in keeping it mum now. I should explain that this decision has nothing to do with my working relationship with anyone on the AVENGERS team. I love them all. It’s just that, according to my last medical check up, I need to slow down. My blood pressure’s up and my diabetes needs to be controlled better. That means more exercise, among other things, and my current schedule just doesn’t allow that. I’ll still be doing a lot of work; it just won’t be on a monthly title for a year or so.


Jamie: If you could add one more character to the Avengers, simply so you can draw them who would it be (excluding the Beast)?

George Perez: Tigra. I love the babes.


Jamie: You have done a lot of costume designing for Avengers, do you have a favorite?

George Perez: The Scarlet Witch. I think her costume is a perfect reflection of her character.


Jamie: Kurt Busiek is big on creating minority characters and made the amount of them on the Avengers team a major plot line. What is your feeling on minorities and their portrayal in the Marvel Universe?

George Perez: As a member of minority group myself, (I’m Puerto Rican) I must say that the issue never really meant anything to me one way or another. To me a hero transcends racial barriers. It is nice to see different races represented, but I’m more likely to follow a character because he or she or it is written well and drawn well. I do, however, enjoy characters having distinctive personalities and often that is well-served by the character having a unique background that distinguishes him her or it from the other. For example, I always liked what Victor Stone (Cyborg) brought to the Teen Titans dynamic. Ironically, the one Puerto Rican character I am credited for creating, the White Tiger, was actually created by writer Bill Mantlo. I just visualized him, using my childhood as reference. But it was Bill who gave that character his soul.


Jamie: There is a rumor floating around that after Avengers you and Kurt are going to do a series for DC featuring their Golden Age characters. Any truth to it?

George Perez: None whatsoever. Besides, I wouldn’t have wanted to compete with the memory of James Robinson’s and Paul Smith’s GOLDEN AGE. I thought that was great.


Jamie: You had once penciled a JLA vs. Avengers crossover that never saw print. One side says it didn’t come about because of politics, the other (Jim Shooter) said it was because of bad writing and when the writing got fixed you had found other projects to do. What is your take on that mess?

George Perez: To tell you the truth, this is a very old topic and my position is already well-documented, so I’ll just let it pass. All I can add is that, regardless of statements to the contrary, there was no other project I wouldn’t have dropped if the JLA/AVENGERS project ever had gotten greenlighted.


Jamie: Some people had doubts that you could keep a monthly deadline when it was announced that you were penciling Avengers. How do you draw all those details and keep the book coming out regularly?

George Perez: With great force of will and little sleep. Actually, it’s the only way I know how to draw. I love groups and details. I just had to work on my work discipline. Despite my health problems, I’m proud of that achievement.


Jamie: Where did you get your art training and how did you develop your popular style?

George Perez: I’m self taught and my style was based on emulating the artists whose work I admired.


Jamie: Who are your art influences?

George Perez: This is always a hard one. There are so many. Among the comic artists my first major influences were Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Gil Kane, John Buscema, Barry Windsor-Smith, Jim Starlin, Nick Cardy, Mort Drucker, George Woodbridge, Leonard Starr, Murphy Anderson, the list goes on and on, and continues growing. Outside the comics field I’ve been forever inspired by the likes of Norman Rockwell, Alfonse Mucha, N.C. Wyeth, Virgil Finlay, Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher, Bob Peak, Richard Amsel and so many others.


Jamie: If you weren’t an artist what would you be doing?

George Perez: Probably interviewing an artist.


Jamie: You have been a very popular artist for a long time, while many hot artists turn lukewarm in a few years. To what do you owe your longevity?

George Perez: I haven’t the foggiest idea. I try to maintain a certain level of excitement to my work and never sacrifice storytelling for flashy visuals– although they are not mutually exclusive. I just hope that my love for what I’m doing is evident– and contagious.


Jamie: Which of your many projects on are you proudest of?

George Perez: Inking Curt Swan on “Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?” A dream come true.


Jamie: Are there any writers you have yet to work with that you’d really like to?

George Perez: Yep. If Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman, Mark Waid, James Robinson, Grant Morrison, Devin Grayson, or Garth Ennis are ever interested in working with me, I’d be proud to be in any of their company.


Jamie: As of late we’ve had Siegel’s family, Joe Simon and now Martin Nodell ask for their characters copyrights back. What is your take on these events?

George Perez: I’m all for creators getting all the rights they can and there seems to be little dispute about the validity of the Siegel’s claims. There does appear to be some disagreement with the others, and I’m not familiar enough with those cases to make a valid judgment. Speaking strictly from a moral and artistic standpoint, however, I believe that all these creators were screwed out of just rewards for creating characters that have netted millions for their respective publishers. But then again, business decisions are seldom made by artists and moralists.


Jamie: I hear you are involved with a few charities. CBLDF just gave you a DEFENDER OF LIBERTY AWARD for the money you raised for them over the last three years. Can you tell us which charities you work for and what you do for them?

George Perez: I do pretty much the same thing for all of them. I go to conventions and draw like crazy, donating all my commissions to charity. I also boost the amount by printing up some color prints (colored gratis by my friend Tom Smith) of my CRIMSON PLAGUE characters DiNA: Simmons and Shannon Lower and those girls hawk them and pose for photos — all for donations. Among the organized charities I’ve worked for are The Charlotte Firefighter’s Burned Children Fund, The Muscular Dystrophy Association, Make-A-Wish, Florida Hospital Diabetes Association and The Juvenile Diabetes Association. I’ve also raised money to help some friends in dire financial straits and have presided over a few charity auctions as well. Interestingly, the CBLDF is the only charity that I ever have to explain or justify — and that makes it all the more imperative that we never take it for granted.


Jamie: I notice you are now posting on the Message board, but you are very rarely seen elsewhere on the internet. Do you visit any other comic related web sites or gatherings (like Usenet)?

George Perez: No. I browse and lurk from time to time, but I’d never get any work done if I sat and typed answers all day — like I’m doing now. Hmmm.


Jamie: Anything else you’d like to say to the readers?

George Perez: Only that I’d better get back to work — or else they’ll have nothing of mine to read next month. Take Care.