Exclusive Jeph Loeb Interview
[Date: May 14, 2001]
Jeph Loeb is currently the Writer on the "Superman" comic books.
The Superman Homepage would like to thank Jeph for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.
Q: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
A: I was raised in a small town in Kansas... wait... that's not me...
Oh. I'm Jeph Loeb and I'm the luckiest man on Earth. I get to do my childhood dream and write comics with the greatest artists currently working. Ed McGuinness on Superman monthly. Tim Sale on Daredevil: Yellow. Carlos Pacheco on Fantastic Four. Wild.
Q: When and How did you become a Comic Book fan?
A: I always read Superman and The Legion as a really little kid. Archie comics too. But, in the Summer of 1970, I was with my family on Cape Cod. My parents had gotten a divorce and felt the world was really spinning out of control. I found a comic book rack at a local store and brought home a bunch of books. Sub-Mariner #29 was the first Marvel comic I ever bought. There were ads in it for "back issues" and I started buying stuff through the mail. It started there. I now have about 100,000 comics. Anybody want to open a store?!
Q: When did you first decide that you wanted to work on comic books?
A: It was just a dream. It seemed like fun. I met Elliot Maggin when I was in junior high school. He went to the college up the street from where I lived. My stepfather knew him and brought him home to meet me. Elliot knew Neal Adams! I was in heaven. It started then. I wrote stories and sent them to Elliot and he'd give me advice and so forth. I was about 12.
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: Columbia University in New York City. I went there undergrad for American Literature and to the Graduate Film School for screenwriting.
Q: How did you go about becoming a comic book writer? What was your first big break into the industry?
A: I was working on a "Flash" movie for Warner Bros. The producer, Stan Brooks is my closest friend, and he introduced me to Jenette Kahn, the publisher at DC. Hearing about my passion for comics, Jenette asked if I wanted to write a comic book for them. It was like Santa asking if I wanted a ride in his sleigh. That eventually became Challengers of The Unknown mini-series.
Q: Would you recommend that others join the comics industry?
A: Sure. Follow your dreams. ANYWHERE.
Q: Who's your favorite comic book hero?
A: That's hard. Usually, it's whoever I'm working on that day. It helps to be "inside" that head. But, I'd have to go with Superman. He has taught me so much in the last few years -- no other character has affected me that way -- in movies, television or comics. I can't explain it. It's the magic.
Q: What comics do you personally read?
A: What DON'T I read is a better question. I'm pretty much a hardcore superhero fan. So it goes from Superman to the Hulk to Spidey to Batman -- it goes on and on. Needless to say, not a lot of work gets done on Wednesdays. (When the new comics come in).
Q: Can you let us in on any up-coming Superman storylines you are working on or will soon be working on?
A: Well, this summer, I really am proud of all the teams, Joe Casey & newcomer superstar Mike Weiringo on Adventures, Mark Schultz & Doug Manke on Man of Steel and Joe Kelly & Kano on Action for this "Our Worlds at War" storyline. It is a very intricate thing to pull off and I THINK we have. It is a very emotional story -- full of action and drama that looks at WAR and what it does to the DCU. At the center of it all is Superman and it takes a toll on him. Good stuff.
Q: What are the chances, by your reckoning, of Lois getting pregnant to Clark, and carrying to term; both within the DC Universe, and from an editorial point of view?
A: No comment.
A: I don't know. Tim is not big on having both heroes in one book. But, I had a great time working with Greg Rucka and Ed McGuinness in our recent Superman/Detective crossover. Folks seemed to like it.
Q: What's it like being part of the DCU Superman team? What are the rest of the team like to work with?
A: We've never been closer. I think that's a compliment to Eddie Berganza who really has come into his own this year and taken the wheel from 4 very different guys. I keep thinking about a rock band and how we all fit in. Each of us makes the music, but each has their own unique way of doing it. Together -- we try and make hit records. Adding Joe Casey has been an enormous help in putting the puzzle together. He's fresh, wild, unpredictable -- like a comic should be. Mark Schultz has a wonderful imagination and is probably the best storyteller in the bunch. Joe Kelly is my anchor. He's the only writer who is a bigger softie than I am -- so if I can get him excited, that's the day's work.
Q: You are widely regarded by the fans currently as the writer who can do no wrong when it comes to Superman. What kind of pressure does that put on you, and does it make your life easier, at times, meaning do you have more editorial say?
A: Well... I take that as an enormous compliment -- but, I'm not sure if I agree with it. I see a LOT wrong with my work and that's what keeps me interested. I want to get better. I want to be a better storyteller.
AND, most importantly, I don't work in a vacuum. I have a team within a team (of Superman Titles). My Captain is Eddie Berganza, so much of the success has do with him. Ed McGuinness is the star -- I just get to aim him and shoot. Richard Starkings will always be my good luck charm; he does the finest design and lettering in comics. And Tanya and Richard light it all up so it looks as good as it does. With that team, of course, ANYBODY could do no wrong!
I just try and tell the best stories I can. Some of them I think I do successfully, others are kinda creaky, but I think get by. That's both the problem and the joy of doing a monthly book. You have to have one come out a month and it's hard to keep up the same quality. I hope to leave before the creaky outweighs the good!
Q: Will Krypto be a regular side-kick for Superman, appearing in most issues, or will he be called in only when necessary, or relegated mostly to one book, like Steel and Professor Hamilton?
A: Krypto is as Krypto does. We'll see...
Q: Do you prefer the 4 Superman titles remain as seperate books? Or would you prefer that they returned to being one large, unending story again?
A: We do both. I think that is working. Next year they will be even more unlinked, so we'll see.
Q: Probably a question you cannot answer due to surprise and spoiler factor... but is the new Krypton a real embodiment of the Krypton Superman came from in a pocket Universe, or the real Krypton somehow displaced, or something else? Can you give any clues as to its origin?
A: It's a never ending battle. I'm not sure the Kryton story is over -- but, maybe it is...
Q: Can you give a number... not approximate, not close enough for litigation... but just a number, a guess, a hint, of how many characters are going to die in the up-coming Imperiex storyline?
Q: How did the position of Superman writer come about for you? Who contacted you?
A: Eddie Berganza called. I was completely caught off guard. There had been some talk about turning Superman For All Seasons into a monthly sort of Year One comic book -- but without Tim, I didn't know how that was going to work. But, other than that, it was completely out of the blue. I didn't know Eddie. I didn't know if I wanted to go into the monthly world again after working for so long in the X-Men office.
I only had one request: Could I do it with Ed McGuinness? Berganza went away and I thought it was over. A few weeks later, he had made it happen! So... I got greedy and asked if Joe Kelly could come on and take over Action. Well, by the time THAT happened, Eddie and I had gotten married, had kids and I knew I wasn't going anywhere!
Q: Other than Superman, what else are you working on at the moment? What plans do you have for the immediate future?
A: I have to finish up Daredevil Yellow. The Fantastic Four is great fun -- but really Carlos' book. So those are my responsibilities. In my other life, I'm starting as Executive Producer (with Buffy Creator Joss Whedon) Buffy The Vampire Slayer Animated, which will be on Fox in about a year. It's wonderful.
Q: How long do you anticipate you'll remain on the Superman books?
A: I originally had planned on leaving at #175. It would have been 2 amazing years. But, McGuinness felt he wanted to stay another year and Joe Casey joined up. Those two reasons -- and Berganza telling me I owed him a year of being pleasant to make up for my first year of whining! -- won me over for October of 2002. And, to be honest, the fans had a lot to do with it. The Superman fans are the rightest, wrongest, brightest, funniest, wildest, most opinionated bunch I've ever encounted and they SHOULD be -- Superman deserves no less. Currently, they seem to want me to stick around. When that changes, I'll be so gone, you won't even see the blur.
Q: Who would you like to see play Superman on the big screen in another Superman movie?
A: I sort of fall in to the category that we should find someone new. Nobody knew who Christopher Reeve was -- he just WALKED in and took the part. There's somebody out there -- we just haven't seen him.
Q: What do you think of the Superman Homepage?
A: It's where I go to get the latest on Superman news!
A few "off topic" questions:
Q: What bad habits do you have?
A: I work too much. I need to spend more time with my wife and kids. I know it.
Q: What is the best advice anybody ever gave you?
A: It comes from a book. William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade. "Nobody knows Anything". Meaning, don't let anyone tell you that you can't achieve your dreams. Nobody.
Q: Who would you most like to sit next to on a long airplane flight?
A: Hmmm... That changes too. Elizabeth Hurley seems to stay right near the top. And it isn't because she's stunning -- she's quite witty and charming. She'd have to be to keep Hugh Grant in line all that time. Someday...
Q: Who would you least like to sit next to on an airplane flight?
A: Myself. I'm the worst flyer. The absolute worst. I panic at the slightest bump. But, I'm trying to get better.
Q: What is the one thing you can't live without?
A: My kids. Bar none.
Q: If you were down to your last $10 how would you spend it?
A: I'd probably give it to somebody who needed it more than me.
Thanks for allowing me to interview you!
THANKS! And good luck with the new site!
This interview is Copyright © 2001 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
IntroductionThe Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.
Question and Answer Interviews:
- Interview with Christopher Priest about the Superman vs. Deathstroke story in Deathstroke #8 (November 2016)
- Interview with Sterling Gates about the 'Adventures of Supergirl' digital-first comic book series (January 2016)
- Interview with J. Michael Straczynski about Superman: Earth One - Vol. 3 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski talks to us about the third volume in the Superman: Earth One graphic novel series (February 2015)
- Interview with Jim Krueger - Writer Jim Krueger talks to us about his The Dark Lantern story in the Adventures of Superman comic book title (November 2013)
- Smallville: Season 11 Interview with Bryan Q. Miller - Writer Bryan Q. Miller talks to us about his work on the Smallville: Season 11 comic book title (October 2012)
- Supergirl Interview with Mahmud Asrar - Artist Mahmud Asrar talks to us about his work on the monthly Supergirl comic book title (July 2012)
- Superman/Batman Interview with Joshua Hale Fialkov - Joshua Hale Fialkov answers our questions about The Secret 3-part story in Superman/Batman #85-87 (July 2011)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates - Sterling Gates answers our questions about where Supergirl is headed post War of the Supermen (June 2010)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle - Adam Dechanel chats with the Supergirl comic book team about the Maid of Might (March 2010)
- Behind the Scenes of the Super Friends - Four part indepth look at the Super Friends comic book title with artists J. Bone and Stewart McKenny (February 2010)
- Interview with Landry Q Walker and Eric Jones - The writer and artist discuss Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade (May 2009)
- Interview with Elliot S! Maggin - Legendary Superman writer and novelist discusses his career (January 2009)
- Interview with J. Bone - Artist discusses Super Friends comic book (November 2008)
- Interview with Mark Bagley (September 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #18 (September 2008)
- Interview with Jake Black (May 2008)
- Interview with Cary Bates (June 2008)
- Interview with Jack Briglio - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #14 (May 2008)
- Interview with Ken Pontac - Writer discusses Justice League Unlimited #44 (May 2008)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #13 (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #11 (February 2008)
- Interview with Fabian Nicieza - Writer on Superman comic books (June 2007)
- Interview with Danny Fingeroth - Writer of the book Superman on the Couch (May 2007)
- Interview with Jesse McCann - Writer on the Krypto The Superdog comic books (December 2006)
- Interview with Matt Haley - Artist on the Superman Returns comic book movie adaptation (November 2006)
- Interview with Ethan Van Sciver - Artist on Superman/Batman (September 2006)
- Interview with Mark Verheiden on taking over the writing duties on Superman/Batman (April 2006)
- Interview with Matt Idelson on taking over as Superman group editor (March 2006)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb on Sam and Superman/Batman #26 (February 2006)
- Interview with Roger Stern (December 2005)
- Interview with Marv Wolfman (November 2005)
- Interview with Gail Simone (May 2005)
- Interview with Greg Rucka (April 2005)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (January 2005)
- Interview with Glenn Whitmore (November 2004)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (September 2004)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (September 2004)
- Interview with Ron Garney (September 2004)
- Interview with Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark (May 2004)
- Interview with Ed McGuinness (March 2004)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (March 2004)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Superman: Red Son] (March 2003)
- Interview with Min S. Ku (September 2001)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (May 2001)
- Interview with Joe Casey (April 2001)
- Interview with Mike S. Miller (September 2000)
- Interview with Denis Rodier (August 2000)
- Interview with Grant Morrison (December 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 2] (November 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 1] (April 1999)
- Superman vs. Terminator - A Chat with Fight Promoter Alan Grant. (January 2000)
- Superman: The Dailies (1939-1940) Graphic Novel Review.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 1) - Superman is reborn... again.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 2) - Eddie Barganza on taking the character in a new direction.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 3) - Jeph Loeb discusses writing the Man of Steel.
- Lex Luthor For President - Forget Superman. An updated Luthor's new enemies are Gore and Bush.
- Superman: Last Son of Earth - Steve Gerbern Interview - The writer discusses flip-flopping the Man of Steel's origin. (August 2000)
Krypton Club Interviews:
When Lois & Clark started production in 1993, there was an obvious relationship between the comic book people and the Hollywood people.
A trade paperback Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, was published, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher on the cover. It included reprints of comic book stories that were the inspiration for Lois & Clark, helping to define the characters. Comic's included are: The Story of the Century (Man of Steel miniseries #2), Tears for Titano (Superman Annual #1), Metropolis - 900 mi (in SUP #9), The Name Game (SUP #11), Lois Lane (in ACT #600), Headhunter (AOS #445), Homeless for the Holidays (AOS #462), The Limits of Power (AOS #466), and Survival (ACT #665).
A number of comic book writers and artists had roles as extras in the episode I'm Looking Through You (Season one, episode 4). Their presence was immortilized in the Sky Trading Card #34.
Craig Byrne, president of the online Lois & Clark fanclub The Krypton Club, carried out a series of interviews with comic book writers. The interviews are reprinted with permission of the Krypton Club.
- Interview with Roger Stern (June 1995)
- Interview with John Byrne (June 1995)
- Interview with Mike Carlin (July 1995)