Exclusive J. Bone Interview

[Date: November 2008]

Super Friends #9 Dreams of Super Friends, Metal Men, and Wonder Women

By Jason Marsh Larouche.

The first official snowfall of the season befell Toronto, Ontario on a mild Wednesday evening outside Paradise Comics. The slushy sidewalks and busy traffic, however, did not stop fans from stopping in from the frosty flakes to get a chance to meet Super Friends artist, J. Bone.

As he signed autographs and, when I finally got there, busily sketched The Flash in pencils and inks for a fan, he took some time out to talk about how anxious he was when first offered the job. "The editor called me up and asked if I wanted to do it. And I thought it would probably be my only chance to get to draw the DC characters in a fun, cartoony style because that's just not what they do in the regular books. I mean there's the animated series style, but this was just totally aimed at kids, and yeah, as they asked, I said 'Yeah, absolutely.'" However, Bone stressed that his collaborator, Sholly Fisch, was focused on the Silver Age DC stories rather than the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends animated series back in the seventies. Nonetheless, that is not to say that J. has not taken a liberty here and there with his designs, such as with the latest issue. "I used the Hall of Justice from the cartoon as the basis for the museum. So I just kind of took the front and altered a little bit as my sneaking something into the background. Not that that's very sneaky."

A graduate of Sheridan College's graphic illustration program, Bone's background was in designing backgrounds and animated characters for cartoons until he decided to break into comics. As for his creative influences, one of his largest was DC Animated mastermind, Bruce Timm. "I tried to copy his style, especially since Batman: The Animated Series came out in my first year of college, " he explains. "So I was really trying to do what he was doing, the streamline art deco style. And then I read about his influences: [Jack] Kirby, [Mike] Mignola, guys like that. So I started looking more at Kirby's artwork and the older stuff. So yeah, it's like there's still always the Bruce Timm in there, I think I've got some John Byrne in there because he was a guy I used to collect back in the day, Archies, anything cartoony, really. Anything that's light and fun is what I go for."

While he laments that his earlier work was hardly read, he does admit to helping his friend, artist and writer Darwyn Cooke, in his Eisner-award winning miniseries, DC: The New Frontier. "I actually 'ghost-inked' a few pages and basically in issues 2 to 5, I would help him out [with] background stuff, pages here and there. But yeah issues 1 and 6 are one-hundred percent Cooke. So, yeah, I kind of helped out a little but again I was helping a guy who had a huge workload on his hands and I was thrilled to be a part of it." He and Cooke also worked for Marvel, both contributing work to such titles as Wolverine, Tangled Web, and a cover for the Hero Initiative's Ultimate Spider-Man #100 Project.

Another popular Marvel title Bone was involved in was X-Statics, during which he was involved in a controversial storyline that was meant to feature Princess Diana of Wales, but needed to be retooled at the last minute so as to avoid becoming a royal affair. "I think Buckingham Palace was threatening to sue if they went ahead with their storyline. So they had to change the character, and I actually did the first issue. I had the pencils already and I had to change the heads on all the Lady Di characters, but I kept the photocopies just so I'd have proof."

The timing of the ninth issue of Super Friends, in which the team is celebrating Superman's birthday, comes months after the character's official 70th year of existence. As to the secret to the Man of Steel's enduring appeal, J. believes "Probably that he's a good guy. He's the hero who, when you write him, you have to write him like a hero. Superman doesn't have a dark side. You couldn't relaunch him in a [Marvel] Ultimate-style universe and make him a grim, gritty kind of guy because that's not Superman anymore. So, to me, I think, to me, [he's] that hopeful hero, you know, like the kid who wants to be a superhero. And initially, you'd hope that they want to be a good person." While a Superman fan, Bone found Bryan Singer's take on the character in the 2006 film Superman Returns slightly inaccurate, in particular his illegitimate father status. "[Basically] he impregnated Lois Lane and then took off. And don't tell me he didn't know. He took off, and within the first ten minutes of the film, he's spying on her using his x-ray vision through a house. And, sure, it's to keep her safe, but no. She's making dinner, [so] he doesn't need to be spying on her." On the subject of Mark Millar's rumored handling of the character, the writer's characterization does not sit well with J. "I think he [Superman] should totally be a good person, but Mark Millar will not make him a good person. So I say I'd rather not see him in the hands of Mark Millar. Fans I know would definitely disagree [because Mark] has a huge fanbase."

As for future guest stars in Super Friends, Bone would not mind either an appearance of Doom Patrol, The Metal Men - a book he collected more so in his youth than Superman - or an increase in the female quotient of the cast. "Wonder Woman is it, and they need to bring in some more. Zatanna, Hawkgirl would be cool, Black Canary would be cool...there's a Supergirl book coming out, which is good, but I'd like to see more of the females team up with the Super Friends."

But what of, say, the Wonder Twins, maybe?

"Oh no," he laughs. "That'd be kind of fun. [I] know that Super-Pets are coming up next, but they're kind of regular DC Continuity, anyway."

Look for issue #9 of Super Friends on sale now.

This interview is Copyright © 2008 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.



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