Okay, You Get it Now, Boss? This is What Ya Gotta Do!
An interview with Greg RuckaBy Neal Bailey
[Date: April 2005]
You know, it's a real privilege to work for the Superman Homepage website.
We've been in TV Guide and Wizard, newspapers, magazines. I've been interviewed by the BBC and by students, and I get the joy of actually getting to interact on a regular basis with the people who create the comics that I love.
I've shot emails with Jeph Loeb, I've talked on the phone with Ed McGuinness. It's just a blast.
I don't say that to brag, I say that to get to my point. Out of all of these experiences, out of all the joys, out of all the privilege, one experience stands out in my mind as the most fulfilling.
Talking to Greg Rucka. And the funny thing? I think even if I hadn't been press, even if I hadn't had the interview to throw at him, I think he's a good enough guy that he would have sat down with me anyway.
In the four times I've seen him in person, he's been gracious, humble, frank, and to put it plainly, about everything I've hoped for in a Superman writer. Last year, I hardly knew him, and he leapt from the gate to prove himself to us all. Now, a year later, with perspective, I sat down to speak with him about upcoming events, his professional career in general, and why Wonder Woman is so "talkie" (not my words, you'll see).
He's given me advice that I use, no kidding, on a daily basis. He's helped direct me down the path to becoming a novelist, and he's bought me lunch twice.
Also, despite an extremely busy schedule, he gave me four hours of his time. In that time, I did a lot of geeky expositing, but I also managed to get 12,100 words of exclusive interview for you all. My hands are about ready to fall off, but it was well worth it. What follows is a long article. Be prepared to take breaks. But it is also, to wit, incredible monologuing from a comic book genius in his prime. Listen! Heed! Take note!
I honestly believe that Greg is going to write and is writing THE definitive Superman for this decade.
I've divided this into sections so you can take chapter breaks. Enjoy!
WHEN I'M DEAD AND GONE, EVERYONE'S STILL GONNA KNOW THE "S"NEAL: You said something Huuuuuuuuuuge was coming last year, and so it has. Infinite Crisis looks to change the whole universe.
NEAL: Is this a reboot? Will the Universe start again? Will we have a re-organization of origins? DiDio recently said it was a "sequel" to Crisis on Infinite Earths at the end of Countdown, how will this be the case?
GREG: Well, last one first, he said it's a "spiritual sequel." The last thing we want is for people to think it's a literal sequel. Everything I say is gonna be fairly surface stuff because I don't want to give away any spoilers, and I'm really with Geoff Johns on this in the whole feeling that, you know, no comment. We don't want this ruined! And don't ruin it for yourself. Let yourself be surprised. Dan Didio called it, what, a spiritual sequel or the sequel or whatever? Well, then that's what Dan said. Is it a continuity reboot? NO. Absolutely not. And I can understand the nervousness about it. If you're gonna have somebody reboot continuity right now, the guy I would go to in this universe is Geoff Johns, all right?
We LIKE our continuity. Our continuity is actually pretty good. There are great sinkholes in it. I would love to see, for instance, the Wonder Woman origin fixed. I would like to see it streamlined and make more sense. But we're not doing that. That's not what we're after here. This is all - the universe works right now. And all Countdown to Infinite Crisis is, all Infinite Crisis is, that's just us trying to tell the best damn story we can with these characters.
The thing is, they're superhero comics. Everybody gets SUPER, and we all forget HERO. For these people to be heroic, they need to go through Hell. You can't be heroic doing the easy stuff. Superman's heroism doesn't come from the fact that he will put out the fire. That's just within his realm of ability. Any good person with those abilities would do that. That's not what makes him a hero. What makes him a hero is that he is constantly willing to sacrifice of himself for the greater good. But you have to present dilemmas that require that sacrifice, and that means we've gotta put the screws on these characters. Infinite Crisis is putting the screws to the characters, and the argument is, and this has been said elsewhere, the DC Universe is arguably a universe supported by three pillars, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. And as Dan pointed out in another interview, back to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman Batman and Wonder Woman really don't figure prominently in the story.
They figure prominently in this one. The thesis basically is when those three are not in synch, when they're not in harmony - and that doesn't mean they always love each other, that doesn't mean they always agree - but it means if they're not working together, VERY BAD THINGS happen.
N: What I see is a very large scale plan, a very large scale organization, like you said, a bunch of really good writers trying to make a really good story, and it's kind of like, I get the feeling that Our Worlds At War tried to do that, but every artist kind of went their own way, now everybody seems to be focusing on this single-
G: Well I was on the outside of Our Worlds At War, and the problem with Our Worlds At War was that it got dropped in late on other books, so when people were asked to incorporate it, many of them didn't.
N: So this would be an improvement because it's been planned so far-
G: Well, it's not necessarily an improvement in that sense. It is something that has been a long time in the making. It started in - we're in 2005. It started in January 2004. January 2004 there was a meeting in Burbank that was Geoff, Dan, Judd, and then me in a room on the Warner Brothers animation lot.
N: Yeah, six months later is when the hints started.
G: The Countdown meeting, I think, was in late summer. I don't remember the date or time, but I'm thinking it was August. That may not be right, it may have been later than that. The miracle that is Countdown - because frankly I'm very proud of that book, I think it's a very well done book - the miracle about Countdown is that it was broken, the story was broken in one day, and it was completed in very short order, and the whole thing actually works. The turnaround for that comic was very quick, which is why, I think, one of the reasons that Dan was able to keep the real title under wraps for so long is that it just happened so fast.
So you take these meetings and these stories and you have, your complete editorial guidance is coming from DiDio, then it's presented to the editors and released into the books, the story has been created to allow people to play with it, as opposed to say you HAVE to play with it. These things are going on, and if you wanna use this or you wanna use this, or you wanna use this, we've given you four major, major events to build off of to incorporate into your books between now and essentially January 2005, all of them culminating in the event that will be Infinite Crisis.
It's less mandated. The people who are doing the things that HAVE to be done for the story are the people that want to do the things that HAVE to be done for the story. And that's the difference.
In my experience about how crossovers are done at ANY house, most crossovers come up, say, with one writer and one editor going, "We've got this idea for an event!", and then eventually it gets fed out into everybody else's book.
G: So it's up to the other writers on the other books to either be professional and incorporate it and do the best they can, or just be unprofessional and ignore it and kill the event. And I've seen more events killed because writers are like, "Meh! I'm doing my own thing. F you."
N: Yeah, I've seen that. I've seen that a lot.
G: I hate it. There's nothing ruder. There's nothing ruder. You know, I understand, I'm a guy who's been through a lot of crossovers. My Detective run seemed like it was ALL crossovers.
N: Yeah, No Man's Land-
G: No Man's Land, but then after No Man's Land, it was like event after event after event where I had storyline after storyline after storyline disrupted, and it sucked. But it's work for hire, dude, you play the game.
G: And your job is to do it well.
N: That was my main beef with Joe Casey, that he, he would just go off on random tangents while these events were going on...
G: There's a weird cult of personality that happens. It becomes an issue of, one thing I can say about Geoff and myself, with absolute certainty is that we never look at the stories and say, "What's it gonna do for me?" The job is what are we doing for these CHARACTERS? That's the job. And not to make it sound hokey, but you're given the privilege, and it's a privilege to write Superman -
G: - and your job is to serve him as best you can. Not go...aho! MY Superman! Because you know what? When I'm dead and gone, nobody's gonna, you know, I'll be LUCKY if I'm remembered, all right? But when I'm dead and gone everybody's gonna still know the S. Everybody's gonna know the S.
CHESSN: I know you probably can't comment to Azzarello or whatever, but it's the reason, and I won't make you say anything, this is MY commentary right here, Neal Bailey from the Superman Homepage, but as the geek liaison to the fans, the things that the fans resent and the things that the fans love are that you get a writer that obviously loves Superman and a writer who obviously wants to promote his name. And I'm just gonna drop that because I'm not trying to trick you into saying something about it.
G: Well, you know, I mean, it's not even that. It's not even that it's self-promotion or self-aggrandizement, as much as - you know I used to think Wonder Woman was gonna be hard, the hardest writing job I'd ever had. And it's not. Superman is head and shoulders above it. Diana was hard, Diana was very difficult for me to get a take on, figure out how I could write her for me that was respectful, and made her strong and capable, and treat her well. And I do believe I treat her well. I give her stories that I think are worthy of her.
But it's much much harder to write Superman than Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was a hundred times harder than writing Batman. And that's not to insult any Batman fans out there, but he's easier to get a grip on.
N: He's got a very clear direction.
G: Everything about Batman is VERY clear. His powers, his orientation, his goals, his mission, and he's really a fairly simple guy you can build a lot of complications on. Superman paradoxically, looks very simple, but he's exceptionally complex. You look at Superman, and this is why you get people going, "Ehhhh, the Boy Scout" (with a sneer) da da da da da, they take him at face value, they think he's so simple. But he's not. He's the perfect example of still water running exceptionally deep.
And that's very hard to write. Then you add on the problem of the powers, which is he can do so very very much, how do you write a story that challenges him at all? There's a reason why almost all of his villains wear power suits, because one punch usually ends the fight. And this is why - and I'm guilty of it - this is why I very very often have gone to great lengths to neutralize or take away his powers from him, like the Parasites, or Ruin using the Red Sun generator, things like that. Because if they're not gone, there's no fight. And there is, again, the flipside is you get a very different fight if you run towards him. There is a real big fight in #640. The fight in #640 is a great, city block-blowing-up altercation. There's a fight in Wonder Woman #219 that is also on that scale. I mean a huge scale.
N: This is where, you mentioned earlier (off tape) Superman goes into the Wonder Woman books for a bit?
G: It's in that. It's in that story. And that fight is ENORMOUS. But those are two different scales, and you have to scale your enemies. Most of Superman's enemies are people who can blow up city blocks. And the other problem is, assuming you get into that fight, you open up a whole other can of worms. Property damage, lives at stake.
N: That makes Superman have a greater responsibility.
G: Exactly. Exactly.
N: And half the time authors ignore that. It's like, oh, the villain is down? I'm getting outta here. That's so they can continue the narrative, but there's a responsibility.
G: And it's a problem.
N: Damn, I'm glad you know that. (laughs)
G: No, it's just, you know, it's difficult. Eddie Berganza and I just finished a rewrite on #641, and the draft I put in for #641 was a good draft, and Karl was like, yeah, I'm excited, I like it, and Eddie was like, it's good, but see, there's something that happens at Stryker's, and I had initially written that two villains get out. Eddie came back and he said, make it a riot. And you know, I said, "I don't wanna make it a riot!" But he said, you can make it bigger, and that's the great - Eddie is generally the one who calls me on this, and he's right. He gives me notes and reminds me, "Hey, your budget is unlimited."
Half of my head is still over in Gotham Central where when you pull a gun it's a big deal.
G: So I'm like, oh, yeah, I can knock down a building, and -
N: That's Superman on one hand, Batman on the other.
G: Yeah. So I have to be reminded of - you just have to shift gears.
N: Can you please tell us a little bit about OMAC and what the general idea is behind the story? We saw Checkmate with Pete as the president, and they treated him like a lackey. We saw Maxwell Lord shoot Blue Beetle for being insolent. And the idea seems to be that they've been around for fifteen non-comic book years quietly planning. What beans can you spill?
G: Checkmate has been around the DCU for quite a while. What you discover in Countdown or what you start to peel away the edges of in Countdown, at least, is that what you saw before and what you're seeing now are two different things. What Checkmate really is, what the real Checkmate is, is sort of supra-governmental - p-r-a, mind you, not p-e-r - organization. They are above us, and they are oriented towards a very specific goal. At some point, Max came along. What the OMAC Project is about is how Max came along and he changed their mandate.
N: That feeds right into my next question. Why make Maxwell Lord evil? He's obviously a good candidate.
G: Some people would disagree with you...
N: Yeah. Justice League International fans. (laughs)
G: I have to say, I LOVED the Giffen/Dematteiss stuff, and frankly, I'm hoping to see them and basically say, hey, guys, take your shots, because you deserve the right to punch the snot out of us. I loved those books. Those were the books that brought me back to comics.
N: Yeah, totally. That's about my era there too.
G: So I know the people are nervous that I caused, they say, "You're taking away the fun." and "You're taking away the joy." and, well, we're not. What we're doing is we're re-coloring it. I don't think we're invalidating it. I feel with Max, and frankly, if anyone ever looked at Max and thought he was a good guy...they weren't reading the -
N: (laughs) I always thought that he was a scumbag.
G: If they thought he was a good guy they weren't reading the story.
N: I thought he was the perfect choice for a guy to go villain.
G: The question is then how we play that. And Max, we knew Max could do this. Max can push minds, which may be the most powerful ability in the DC Universe.
N: Yeah, I mean, you could take Superman with that easily.
G: And another problem, now here's an insight into how comics work. We had the organization. We had to find the head. We looked long and hard to find a leader, and you know, who it could be, who could it be, who could it be? Max made the final cut from a long list. Will this work, will it match up? A lot of writing comics, the metaphor that I use for writing a comic is chess. It's a game of chess. Then we go back to Checkmate. The chess metaphor's been appearing in my work a lot.
N: And each issue's like a move.
G: Yeah, but it gets even more involved, in a way. You only have 22 pages. There's a finite amount of panels that you can put on each page. Every panel means that there's one less. If you're doing your job right, as you approach the end of the book, the choices for the panels become fewer and fewer and fewer, until ultimately at that last page, that last panel is the only panel you can put there. That is the ideal in the writing. In the same way, when you're building the story you say we have all of these moves, what is the right move here? What is the up and over? We knew we were using Booster and we knew we were using Beetle, and the second we did that it was like, well it HAS to be Max.
WHY IS IT THAT MEN BELIEVE MOTIVATION FOR GREATNESS MUST COME FROM DESTRUCTION AND PAIN?N: You addressed the issue of a kid with Lois and Clark in a way that fans have been clamoring for (while being ignored for years). It was great. But, the natural follow up the fan would have is, "You teased about it, you showed how it was practical and impractical, but...will there be a baby?"
G: I can't possible answer that because it's not my call. I wanted to do a story where you at least see them trying. Where you see them treating it seriously and where you see the lengths they were willing to go to, inasmuch as you can do that responsibly and safely in comics. Up to and including the issue of adoption, because I don't think it's all an issue of them wanting biologically trying to have their own kid as much as they want to be parents. I love the idea of confirming for them that physically, they couldn't do it, or that they could do it, but what was going to be required was maybe so extreme it was gonna be like Lois at STAR Labs 20 hours a day for nine months, well, there's just no way they can do it. So then they decide to adopt and you see them adopt, and that'd be a good story about adoption, I could do that. But these are grand overarching "B" plot stories, and that's a year and a half right there. And there's stuff going on that makes that patently impossible right now. Ask again in a year, maybe this'll be a different answer.
It matters. They're married, and they love each other. And you can not like the fact that Lois and Clark got married or you can love the fact that Lois and Clark got married, but the fact of the matter is that Superman and Lois Lane are married. And married people have kids.
N: Yeah, they've been married for eight years, when are they gonna go to the natural next step? It's not everyone's philosophy that they should have kids, but that's kind of what's expected, especially coming from that mid-western set of values.
G: It's a real issue.
N: I have two questions that are essentially the same, so I'll read them both. On Infinite Crisis: Base question. What's the body count on this mamma jamma gonna be? Sophisticated question: Why do you think fanboys like body counts? In your last Wonder Woman, through Diana you asked a good question that I want to parrot and have you answer... "Why is it that men believe motivation for greatness must come from destruction and pain? Why do they believe loss is the requisite component of strength?" There's good there and there's bad there, putting the screw to the characters like you said, but also the fanboys are like, "How many people are gonna die?"
G: That's interesting. There's an argument that says "the artist must suffer." That if you want to be a good novelist you've gotta be Hemmingway or Faulkner, and people forget that there's this lady out there named Joyce Carol Oates who's just one of the finest American writers and she's perfectly happy and has kids and a stable home life and once I think she actually wrote an essay in the New York Times Magazine about this Puritan myth that is built into the American psyche that - honestly, I think it goes to the idea that art is frivolous, and therefore you must suffer for it. You have to pay for being frivolous.
N: I get that from my dad a lot. Why don't you just go be a longshoreman?
G: Yeah. And it's like, because that's not what I wanna DO. And it has a merit, but it's hard to explain. What was the first part again?
N: Base question about body count.
G: I can't tell you. But I know of at least two. (laughs) Dramatically, when you tell a story, love and death are two great dramatic components. There is drama in death. The noble sacrifice and then the unfair robbery, these are - we're talking about dramatic conventions. You raise the stakes and when they stakes get high -
N: It can only make sense to kill people.
G: People can lose their lives. That's exactly it. And how much of a threat is Luthor if he says, "I don't want to kill you, I just want to really annoy you!"?
G: The thing about - it's true. You use The Incredibles, but the first face off between Mr. Incredible and Syndrome, Syndrome is trying to kill him. He tries to kill him, and he doesn't stop until he thinks he's done it.
N: And that's the way it goes.
G: Yeah. Do you have to kill a character to make a story quote have a meaning, unquote? No. But at the same time that doesn't mean - people think, there's this group of comics fans that are gonna hate anything that changes what they love, that say, "I want the same thing, but different," who say, "Well, all you're doing this for is to kill somebody." Trust us. If you do it right, you're hurting yourself. The only way that I can describe that is that you never kill a character you hate. Never. You only kill the characters you love. Because if you love them, somebody else does. It means nothing if you kill Freddie the Freeloader. But, and I'm not saying this is gonna happen (grabs the recorder and leans in) I said I'M NOT SAYING THIS IS GONNA HAPPEN.
G: But if Jimmy Olsen died, people would just be crazed. It would HURT. We love Jimmy! You can't take Jimmy from us! People come in and they're like, "Ah, you know, you killed Blue Beetle, nobody at DC likes Blue Beetle!" Wrong! We looked at Blue Beetle and we were like, no, we don't wanna DO this. This is gonna suck! But DAMN it was a good story. It was dramatically right for that story. It put into motion a whole lotta things. There is gonna be Hell to pay as a result of it.
N: From Blue Beetle dying you get so many other stories, and that drama is then ratcheted up for every other story. Like killing Sue Dibny. All right, that hurts people, but then wow, look at what you got, every hero is now questioning themselves.
G: The difference between Crisis and Countdown and Identity Crisis is about what happens when Sue is murdered, and the result. Countdown wasn't about the murder of Blue Beetle. It was about Blue Beetle. In that sense. In that it was his story. Countdown is his story. And then OMAC Project is very much the result of that death. What happens as a result of that death.
N: Follow up, people say that this is making the DC universe more "Marvelized." I know that's a cliche -
G: (big laugh).
N: But there is some truth to every generalization. There is a lot of loss, and a lot of pain, and some real questioning of motivations. The "event" used to be Imperiex or Doomsday coming down and killing Superman or breaking Batman's back or killing Sam Lane, in a movie-style crossover. Now it's more character and motivation. Is that purposeful?
G: Yeah. And I would take great issue with saying Marvel has cornered the market on that.
N: See, I don't even believe that myself. I just go by what people tell me, like when I talk to them over email at the Superman Homepage, they whine, "Oh, well they're just trying to be like Marvel." From the same people who just say, "Oh, they're killing him just for cheap drama." And if I don't address that, and have you, the professional, talk to it, you know, it can't be debunked.
G: It's always seemed to me that Marvel heroes are almost universally - well, not universally, not all of them - but almost universally, they're heroes that hate the fact that they're heroes.
N: Pessimistic ***holes. Pardon my French.
G: Well, yeah, but they are. I mean, almost universally, people in that universe are "ahhhnnnnnnn." (groan, like they don't want to go).
N: Yeah, I'll save you, but where's my money?
G: The DC Universe heroes are almost universally just people who want to do the right thing, regardless of the cost to themselves. Not because, oh, they're forced to go. The difference between an adult and a child and an adolescent. Marvel focuses on writing that adolescence. The heroes are all adolescents. Even the old people are adolescents. Who knows? They comment, oh, you're darkening it up like Marvel, [which] is to me, fatuous. It just doesn't make any sense. How is Blue Beetle dying any darker than Superman dying?
N: It's not.
G: They killed SUPERMAN! They killed Superman! You know what? Barbara Gordon was shot by the Joker and paralyzed.
N: (mocking) Oh, but no one remembers that!
G: Yeah, but they DO remember it. When it came out I was like, "I can't believe they did it!" and it's so dark because you know what? Every now and again, serious stuff comes down, and you have to deal with those stories. Otherwise you're not serious, it's not serious.
N: Otherwise you just get characters talking to each other about who they are for 22 pages.
G: And you know, all - I'm of the school that stories have to be character driven. For a story to be character driven you have to put the character under pressure. Otherwise you have a very boring story. If they're happy and nothing happens to them, it's boring. That's why you never see a soap opera where people just walk around going "Hey, how are you? I'm good, how are you?" Instead you see stories all the time where you see, "I want you, I want you so badly, but if my husband finds out..."
N: So let's go visit the gun shop!
G: Exactly, you know what I mean? So it's your call. I have nothing to say to that. If you think it's too dark, I'm sorry.
N: Suck eggs!
G: Nah, you know, there are lots of other books out there, enjoy yourself.
Is it a bad story? Nah, I take issue with that. It's not, you know? Nothing is being done just -
N: Yeah, it's obviously not just for show.
G: None of us ever do anything for the Hell of it.
N: I know.
G: We put so much time and effort and thought into this stuff... comics are very immediate. Fans respond to them immediately. So do the writers. We're not just sitting her going "nyeeeeeh." We do this stuff because we love it. And we love it the way the fans love it. So of course the fans get angry. Or course we're gonna react with glee when we see our heroes triumph, and we're joyful for them when they kiss the person they love, and we despair for them when they lose and we're angry when they're stolen from us when some bastard kills them. And all of those are valid reactions. I don't take anything away from that. The question is also, "Is the story worthwhile?" Does it serve the character? Did it serve the character? The answer is yes. And the best thing that anyone has said to me about Countdown is "I didn't much care for Blue Beetle, but you made me love him by 79, and then you KILLED him on eighty." I went "Yep. That was the purpose." The purpose was to make him die and folks go, it is a CRIME, not just it is a murder, but it is a crime that he's been stolen from us. Max is a BAD MAN.
N: I felt like I was reading my first few issues of Justice League again with the improvement of time and where it has taught us comics can go. It's like reading an old issue of Justice League International and going, "Holy crap, what happened here!"
G: And you know what? It IS a good story.
N: And I thought of when I read it... I think I read you saying something about how you thought about what made comics good when you were a kid and you brought that back in, with the chapter format, harkening back to the older days while bringing in the new conventions.
G: It works.
N: It was pretty awesome, I thought. That's my opinion.
G: Rarely can you turn around and say, "We have a success." I think, yeah, that is a success.
743, DEWEY DECIMALS STRIKING AT OUR YOUTH!N: This whole Identity Crisis and Countdown, just in general, well, you know, I thought Our Worlds At War was pretty cool, but I didn't think that it took things to the next level like this.
I wrote an article recently about how the ages in comics have been turning... you have the bronze, silver, gold, and the arbitrary recent age no one can name.
N: Yeah, exactly. But a distinction I saw between pre-Identity Crisis and post is that before, DC had an attitude that we won't do certain things. Of late, though, Preus raped a woman to shreds, Sue Dibny was raped and burned to death while pregnant.
G: Yeah, a lot of rapes.
N: And now, in very graphic fashion, Maxwell Lord, a former good guy, blows a mushroom out the back of Blue Beetle's head. Now, I'm not arguing that this is bad storytelling. It's actually some of the most adult literature in comics that I've seen. But it shows, to me, a very decisive turn toward writing for the general audience of comics now, adults. Aging adults. Are the days of comics for kids gone? Personally, at 12, when I started really getting into comics, I could handle ALL of this stuff
N: But in an increasingly censored society, I wonder about this shift... people no longer say, "I don't like the way he or she said this." They say, "This shouldn't be allowed to be said or shown. Impose fines!" What do you think, are comics still an open venue for kids, and if you had a 12 year old, would you want them to read Identity Crisis and Countdown?
G: Yeah. If I had a twelve year-old, I'd absolutely want them to read Identity Crisis and Countdown. And this is the thing... my job is not to be the parent to your kid. Are there comics for kids? Yes. There are plenty of comics for kids. Do I write for kids? Not in the main. Do I think that for the most part people think that kids are stupider than they actually are? ALL THE TIME. Your average twelve-year-old knows more violence and more graphic violence than anything you will pick up in a DC or Marvel comic.
To turn around and say, "Well you can't do that, this is for kids!" Okay, well just let's see you get rid of the TV, the video game console, and the computer, all right? And again, it's not my job, it's not my job to tell you what your kids should read. We had this problem with Gotham Central. Oh, my God, she's a LESBIAN, I don't want to have to read about a LESBIAN!
Then don't read it!
N: Change the channel, stupid!
G: If a fourteen-year-old or a thirteen-year-old or a twelve-year-old wants to read that story, they will find it. And if they don't like it, they'll go "Ehh!" And they won't ever buy it again. Kids are self-centered but they're not stupid. If parents are doing their job, then they KNOW what their kids are up to. When I was eight I was reading Doonesbury collections in the local library when my mom was at work. She would drive me to the library after school and I would go where they had the comics collection. And for some reason I picked up Doonesbury.
N: 743. Boom.
G: She would pick me up and I would say, "Who's Spiro Agnew?" She'd be like, "What?" "What was Watergate?"
N: (laughs) Refer to Hunter S. Thompson.
G: Yeah, I mean all the time. And, I mean, I don't know what your experience or his experience or her experience is, all I know is my experience. I have not written an issue of Adventures of Superman that I would be afraid to give a kid. I would not hesitate to give them to my son who's five.
I don't want Elliot who is five to read Countdown yet. Because at five, the image on that last page is very graphic. It's very graphic for a reason. He's dead and he ain't coming back. We're showing that this is an evil evil rotten thing that happened. Not, oh look! Maybe he'll get out of it.
No, he didn't get out of it. He's dead.
He's dead and Ted ain't coming back. That's one of the reasons why you use blood in a comic. You do blood to say this is real, in terms of the comic continuity.
I was reading a Stephen Grant column, he's got a column on CBR called Permanent Damage, and he was talking about rape being used as a motivation for female characters, that "I was raped and I..." He talked about Red Sonja, talked a little bit about Black Canary, rape is a separate issue, I think it gets overused because it is such a different societal problem.
N: It's also a more visceral reaction. You can kill a guy, but if you rape someone, it's much more serious in literature.
G: Or even if you murder someone in a story, nobody's worried about the victim. Somebody is raped, you are obligated to honor the survivor's experience of it, and that opens up a whole new can of worms that I don't think, for the most part, that can be done in comics with any degree of ease, because, if you've ever dealt with rape survivors, there's a lot of baggage there. It is something, for lack of a better word, it's something that requires more time. And unless that time's gonna be devoted, no way. It shouldn't just BE there. And I do think rape is turning into a shorthand for very very very bad guy. As if murder wasn't enough. Which is another problem.
N: You just put Sin City into Adventures, quite well I might add.
G: That was all Matthew.
G: People didn't get it. They haven't realized that all of the art in Adventures #638 was by Matthew Clark. Every page was Matthew Clark.
N: He really stretched himself.
G: I was like, totally wow! I didn't know he could do that!
N: Did you write it and say like, "Sin City schema?"
G: We talked, and I asked him, what do you want to do? And he said Sin City? And he said, oh, I can do that. I wanted to do a Calvin and Hobbes bit, I'd been saving that Calvin and Hobbes bit forever.
N: I thought it was awesome, because I just did the same damned thing you did when I was a kid. No one could take care of me while my dad and mom were at work so they'd drop me at the library and I'd find 743 and I was like, "Whoo damn! Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County."
N: So anyway, I hadn't read Sin City until...what is that?
(There's a man on the roof above us looking down.)
G: (laughs) He's probably listening.
N: Yeah. He's a disgruntled fan. You F***ed with the Blue Beetle and now I'm gonna F*** with you! (laughs)
N: Where was I?
521 SQUARE FEET OVER A MUCH LARGER AREA.N: Will Mxy play a part in the Infinite Crisis, or is he going to stay in Adventures?
G: I don't know if Geoff is actually gonna use him or not. Mxy was appearing every four issues, but people will note he does not appear in #642, rather conspicuously. I am trying to figure out the way to bring him back in November. I want him to come back one more time. When he showed up for the first time he said there was a reason, that he had to prepare Superman for something. And now we know what it is. We need that last Mxy tap so he says "Okay, you get it now, boss? This is what ya gotta do!" I love writing Mxy.
N: It's awesome. You write the best Mxy that we've ever -
G: It's a different take on it.
N: Me and Steve, we've written a few scripts for Mxy ourselves, we just love the guy.
G: He's a riot.
N: He breaches the wall, that's what's so cool about him.
G: I really like him. I do think #638 was just his finest hour. "Him? He thinks kids come from doomed planets!"
N: That's the first time I've laughed out loud at a comic since Toyfare and Flaming Carrot. After just having read the Sin City trades, then I pick this up and I'm like HEY, hol-ee...
G: Deadly little Dinah.
N: (laughs) That still gets me.
Who is Ruin? I'll give you fifty bucks to tell me, and I won't even tell anyone. Really. I'll even turn the recorder off. Just kidding. Better question. I won't ask when we'll know who Ruin is, but I will ask, is he a player for your whole run, the lurking background villain, or will that shift?
G: Ruin is a factor all the way until December. (dead silence).
N: Okay. Good answer. Next question!
The Shack was a really cool background element
G: It's DESTROYED! (laughs)
N: Oh really? The Shack's destroyed?
G: Yeah! In the fight... the fight that puts Jimmy in the hospital? It got totaled. It's not going to be rebuilt.
N: You want that off the record?
G: No, it's been assumed. People are just - one of the things you'll see is that - the problem is that the books have sort of moved away, and they're going to start coming back, but they don't really start coming back until #643, you don't really see it until #643 and the effects of all this stuff. You'll see that yeah, the Shack has gone boom and -
N: See, I didn't know that, and that answers my question really well, are you gonna be using the Shack more? Apparently so.
G: Gerry is - Gerry and Jimmy have a thing.
N: They took away Lucy Lane as his girlfriend. Gotta give him somethin', the poor guy. He gets no chicks.
G: Mark Verheiden's doing great stuff with Jimmy.
N: Verheiden, like from Smallville?
G: Yeah. He's doing great stuff. I gotta tell you, his script for July is unbelievable.
N: He's going to start amping Action up?
G: He's doing Superman, Action is Gail.
N: Okay, yeah, I got it now. Sorry.
G: Action is gonna be fun. Gail does fun very well.
N: I was off and on with Verheiden on the Smallville comics, but then, that's a very constrained medium.
G: His Superman's great.
N: And he takes over after For Tomorrow?
N: What's going to happen over the next few months in Adventures that you can talk about?
G: #639 is the part of the Shazam story in all the books. We come back in #640 with, at last, the big face-off between Superman and Ruin. That leads into #641 which is the immediate fallout where Ruin is unmasked. #642 then is in July, which is this larger story that ties in - it goes Superman, then it goes Action, then it goes to Adventures, then it goes to Wonder Woman. That month all the books go to a conclusion in Wonder Woman #219. Then it goes to #643, which is fallout.
In the meantime, Lois is going to be pursuing the person who shot her and why. And we'll eventually discover who shot her. And that will be very interesting. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how she will deal with it when she knows. I'm thinking judicious application of foot and fist, but I'm trying to figure out how she uses it.
N: I've got a few of my own theories...
G: Okay. Tell me then. Who shot her?
N: My guess, if I were telling it, would be Lex Luthor by proxy, because he loves her, and it's unrequited.
G: It is not Lex.
N: Okay. See, my line of logic is that that's something that the books never cover, something I really think they overlook...
N: It's that Lex LOVES Lois Lane. Lois Lane refuted his love and went for Clark Kent the schlub, that's why Lex hates him. That's his central focus to me... I don't think he hates Superman just because he's an alien, I don't think he hates Superman because he's more powerful than he is, I think-
G: He got the girl?
N: When he came to town, things with Lois went to Hell.
G: See, I don't think Lex knows what love is.
N: He knows possession.
G: And that's what he was driving for. He wanted to have her.
N: Yeah, exactly.
G: Oh! And I'm bringing Mercy back.
N: Wasn't she lobotomized or something?
G: I don't care. (laughs)
G: She's coming back.
N: Never mind! She wasn't shot through the back of the head!
N: If she's not around Maxwell Lord, she's a-gonna be all right! Let's see... I already basically asked you that question about things coming together again...
G: Yeah, so things are gonna come together again, but they're not gonna be like you have to buy every issue again, no "triangles." Continuity is going to reflect a little more closely each month.
DRIVE-BYS.N: Fans are kind of ticked, to put it mildly, with people that come on for short runs and then disappear, in general.
G: You mean drive-bys?
N: Yeah. That's a good term for it. Fans admire, at least, in my opinion, people who stick with comics for long runs, because it's obvious they're not in it for a name, but a character. J Mike on Spidey, Dave on Cerebus, even Morrison on X-Men. You've been around for a year, and you've got an obvious vision. Last year, you said you'd go as long as the run takes you. Two questions come out of that. First, how long can you see this going a year later, given an unlimited freedom to write Adventures, meaning an editor doesn't step in there and go, "Yer outta here, pal!" -
G: You know, unfortunately, the answer is not governed by either of those two things. The answer is governed by time. Superman, as I said earlier, is the hardest character I write. He takes a lot of time. That is the big question to me, how much longer am I gonna be able to devote the time. I am on until January of 2006 at the moment. After that is up in the air. I'm gonna finish out what I started to do. Do I have more stories? Oh yeah. You've heard me mention a couple of them. Will I have the ability to tell them now or will they be later, that I can't answer yet.
N: To be honest, to see the way you're moving, in terms of fan regard and in terms of just the way people look at what you're doing, there's no doubt that you're gonna have your choice of projects, you know what I mean? You're one of those people that has the clout that if you wanted to just do an Azzarello, you could do one.
G: I don't wanna do drive-bys. I am personally opposed to the concept of the drive-by. I don't like people coming in and going, "I'm gonna do six issues." At Marvel I was offered the Hulk, and I said "I have one Hulk story in me, ask for another guy." I only have one Hulk story in me, and I may one day write it. It's a long ways off if I ever do. Maybe I'll come up with two -
G: There are some things you can noodle with and be like, well, maybe there's something here. But if you're playing with Superman, you don't monkey around!
N: You either have the story or you don't.
G: Yeah. And you serve him or you don't. We always get stunts in comics, because it's like anything else.
G: Yeah. And you gotta boost sales, and make a big thing, and so on and so forth. I'm excited, you know, I gotta tell you, about the All-Star Superman.
N: I think pretty much everyone's excited about that one.
G: You see Grant talking about it, and he's so excited. There's love there that you can see.
N: I haven't seen such an anticipation in a long time. Everyone's like, "Where can I get it? Now!"
G: I think he's gonna blow people's minds.
N: He'll break sales records, no doubt.
G: I think so.
N: Second, I told you what the fans tend to think about the single run folk... what do you think about the "name" philosophy of comics. IE, you have Jim Lee, you can sell thirty thousand copies, but a good story? Feh. Begone! There's been a real shift from the guy behind the comic being anonymous, and now they try to be rock stars. What's your philosophy about that?
G: My philosophy? How I feel? My job is to write, I'm gonna write. Now, you threw Jim Lee in and that's a different thing, he's exceptionally talented. And one of the things you can do with somebody like Jim Lee, and one of the things that Jim can do is pick a project and work on it for a finite amount of time. People will come because they love Jim Lee. That's his right. That's a great thing. But yeah, Jim's always gonna boost books. Joss Whedon's gonna boost books. The names matter. They're always gonna matter. I don't begrudge it, you know? I don't believe that I have anything like that name. If I do, then I do, and okay great. But at the end of the day, and I think Jim and, you know, all the names, Jim and Joss and down the line are all going to tell you the same thing which is they're not doing it because they have a name to build. The name gives you certain things. It allows you to be able to go to Dan Didio and Paul Levitz and say "I want to do X" and give you a pretty good chance of being able to do X, to do whatever the project is. It doesn't guarantee that the project is going to be good. And by the same token those people aren't looking to do just the thing that's going to give them a big name, they're looking to do something that's good. Nobody in their right mind is - nobody is trying to phone this in. There are some people who are perhaps working harder than others, but you know, nobody takes it for granted. The benefit of being Jim Lee is to say "I want to do THIS now." And then you get to do this thing that you love, and the dividend is that you also boosted sales by thirty thousand, thank you Jim.
I don't begrudge it. I don't have a problem with it. I do think you've gotta remember where you stand in relation to these characters. And I'm going to continue to use Jim as an example, and I do this carefully because, I absolutely don't mean any disrespect.
N: Jim is just a proxy.
G: Yes. Exactly. But let me put it this way. The people who know who Jim Lee is are the barest fraction of the people who know who Superman is. You see what I mean?
G: So until we get a name that's bigger than any of the characters, I think the "name" argument doesn't really matter. It really doesn't.
If Stephen King turns around and says that he wants to write Batman, then you have a name that is on a par with the character in contemporary pop culture. People know who Stephen King is who don't read comics. People who don't read comics do not know who Jim Lee is. People who do not read comics know who Joss Whedon is. That's going to bring some more people in. But even Joss Whedon is not as well known as, for instance, Stephen King.
The name buys you stuff. How you spend your name is up to you. People for the most part should be able to spend their names very wisely, and for the most part they do.
ANONYMOUS INTERNET FANS, MXY IN THE BATHROOM.N: You say you don't check out the internet too much.
G: Yeah, I try not to.
N: And that's wise, I think, but you do cons...
N: And people come up to you and bother you, like me...
G: No no no no no no...let me clarify that. Bothering me is what happens when I'm trying to use the bathroom and someone tries to ask me about continuity. That is bothering me.
G: Bothering me is when, you know, I'm talking to my son when he's in tears, and someone asks me what's gonna happen in, you know, whatever. When I'm sitting there at a table and when I'm there to sign, you're not bothering me, I'm there to talk to you. I want you to come on and talk to me. Because otherwise I'm just bored. I mean, for God's sake.
N: Do you have any nutty con stories, or people just going nuts at you for changing something, like the new Parasite or something?
G: I have yet to have anybody attack me on the Parasites. I've - it's interesting, and this is one of the reasons why I don't like the internet, for the most part. When you go to cons, it's always much more civil. You don't tend to get people who are flamers.
N: People are not anonymous (laughs).
G: They're not gonna come up and say "I hate you and I'm gonna kill you!"
G: And your family and so on. And I've gotten emails saying "I'll kill you." And this is why I actually like cons, because if you don't like what I'm doing, people are not gonna walk up and say, "Hey, F you!", they say, "Why did you do this? I really didn't like this," "I didn't like that," or "I think you're ruining this!". Then we can talk, and I'm happy to talk. I can say, "This is what we were trying to do. If this failed for you, I'm sorry." Or "Yes, I made a mistake." That stuff I don't mind. I like doing the cons. I like talking to fans. I really do enjoy it. It's the internet, where, like I said, nobody has to be responsible. Where you can call yourself "Ironman45"...
N: Or "superwonderfan".
G: And it's like, well, okay. That's great. Congratulations!
N: You've got a keyboard, kid! (laughs)
G: That's the thing. A lot of people - well, not a lot, but a lot of what I end up reading on the internet, which is why I don't do it anymore, are exercises in people going "How cruel and vicious can I be?" You know, if I had the time and energy to devote to it, I could be pretty cruel and vicious too. But I'd rather spend the time playing with my son. Or reading to my daughter. Or oh, I don't know, WRITING.
N: The obvious question... you said you'd write more Atticus Kodiak novels... last year I didn't know who he was, now I'm actually totally taken in by him. Any timeline on that, when the next one might be?
N: Okay. Has DC approached you to write JLA or Superman/Batman? And are there any titles you've turned down or wanted?
G: DC has not approached me to write either of those. And frankly, I don't think I'd do a good JLA. And I'm not sure I want to write Superman/Batman. It requires a different take on writing a comic book that I don't think I'm very good at. I can't deliver what Jeph Loeb delivers. That's what Jeph Loeb does, and he does it exceptionally well, and I'm not going to try. And when Mark [Verheiden] takes over that book we'll see what he does. Actually, there isn't a whole lot of stuff that I've been offered that I've declined. That might be one of my problems.
N: Anything you wanted that you didn't get?
G: Yeah, but not at DC.
N: Okay. Can you comment on it?
G: Yeah, I wanted Captain America when they were doing a reboot for Marvel and Marvel likes Captain America, so -
WHEEEEEEEOOOOOOOWW (A large siren blasts past and garbles some of the response. Seriously...)
G: - but he got the gig instead. And that was one gig I really did want that I didn't get. And there's stuff at DC, stuff that we're talking about so we'll see.
QUEEN AND COUNTRYN: What about the new Queen and Country novel?
G: It's called Private Wars. It comes out in November. There will be a Queen and Country story arc that will link the two novels that Oni will publish, in issues 29 through 33. And I'm trying to get back on track because Queen and Country is one of the things that's suffered horribly this last year and a half. The novels have taken up all the time, that and all the stuff at DC. So we're trying to get that taken care of.
It's a very dark ride, the new novel, it's a very dark ride. It starts with sort of a fill-in, so you know what happened after the first novel. And then basically it jumps a year and a half and uncorks a whole barrel of nastiness. It's grim and gritty.
PERRY WHO?N: Are there any Superman characters you'd like to write or revamp? Are there any you've asked about and been told no?
G: I always wanted to do something with Hope and Mercy. One of the first stories I ever talked to Eddie about was a Hope and Mercy miniseries about how they go around saying "Yes! We're Amazons!" and you find out no, they're not, they grew up on the streets of Boston, and they're just these really smart, determined, self-made people, they've manufactured this myth about themselves. Finally the Amazons come calling and they say "Stop taking our name in vain!" That was an idea.
There's so much stuff, there's just not enough time! I'd love to just do, and maybe I'll propose it, but I'd really just love to do a Lois mini. Just a mini-series about Lois. Where she's like, "I'm on a story." and we just watch her do the story. It's one of those things where if you propose it at DC they'd say, "You know, that's Gotham Central in Metropolis, isn't it, Greg? And nobody is gonna buy, just like they don't buy Central!" Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would love to spend more time on those characters. And that's the thing. You write the book Adventures of Superman, the name's in the title! He really needs to appear very strongly in the book. And that's the hard thing. He's surrounded by such fantastic characters. Perry's gotten really short-shrifted lately.
N: Perry who?
G: Exactly. I would love to spend time on Perry. I would love to. But 22 pages, what you gotta do? We're doing well with Lupe. Lupe does something in #641 that Superman really, really takes issue with. And her story for the rest of 2005 is going to be dealing with the repercussions of that. It really does cross a line. It's something that Superman as Clark witnesses, but he sees it with his x-ray vision, so he can't really prove it. But Superman calls her on it in his way.
N: A Luthor moment with him standing outside with his arms folded?
G: It's more than that. He's actually going to take her badge from her.
G: And tell her that she doesn't deserve it.
N: Sounds pretty harsh. What's gonna happen with Wonder Woman? Is she gonna get her eyesight back? And I thought it was a really good idea when you finally moved literature forward after two thousand years.
N: It's a great idea, because it's like, Homer? Screw Homer! The story moves on!
G: Will Wonder Woman get her eyesight back, what do you think?
N: Yeah, I know, but I gotta speak for the fans, they're like (funny voice) ooh! Will it happen? I don't know!
G: And they need to go, well, what do they think? The question is not will she, the question is how does she? The same way that, "Is Lois going to die?" was not the question when she got shot, the questions was, what's the reaction going to be? Nobody for an instant thinks Diana is going to be blind for the rest of all Wonder Woman. Diana ties into all of the big events that are going on. Rags is drawing, starting #215 to #217 a story called The Bronze Doors, which is Diana, Ferdinand and Cassie going to Hell. They have to go to the Underworld. They come back in #218, deal with fallout, and then #219 has Superman stuff in July. #220 is fallout of that, and fallout of the events of #219 is going to have ripple effects all the way out into late 2006. It's gonna go all the way.
N: You know what's better than even having all the Superman books tied together is when you get what's going on now, with Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman tied together...
G: We need to put them together like that.
N: It's better I think.
G: I get a kick out of it.
N: I liked the cohesion that was there with the Superman books, but I like this better, I think.
G: I also think they never look quite so good as when they stand next to each other. I don't know exactly how to explain it, but they present a wonderful contrast.
N: It's - It's showing the varying modalities in which people can do good. And when you see the ends justify the means person next to the person who makes the means justify the end, it's just nice.
THE PART OF THE INTERVIEW YOU'LL WISH YOU HADN'T READ.N: Who do I have to kill to get a one-shot to write? I'll hire Deadshot, seriously.
G: I'm not sure killing anyone would improve your chances.
N: I might not get hired for that.
G: Seducing people, bribing them...
N: I will show Dan Didio my nipples if I have to.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.N: What comics do YOU read each week?
G: I read all of Geoff's [Jeph's] stuff...Loeb and Johns. I've been reading Ex Machina and really enjoying that, which is Brian K. Vaughn. I'm very excited about the upcoming stuff in Bendis' Daredevil. Looks fantastic. New X-Men Academy X I've been reading, actually. It's by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir. I love their work I've been reading because no one does teen drama like them. Uhm, what else have I been reading that I've been really really enjoying? I still read 100 Bullets. I really like that. Nothing is springing to mind. I'm a blank now. Love as a Foreign Language is fantastic, and that's put out by Oni. I thought that was great. Anthony Johnson's stuff through Oni I love. I think it's only a matter of time before the mainstream discovers him and goes, "Holy Mackerel!"
N: Now that Matthew is off the title, I believe he told me he's going to be working on Teen Titans, correct? And what happened with the switch?
G: What happened?
G: They made a shift. It's a year later and we're shifting up the lines. Matthew is doing, right now, a Teen Titans and Outsiders crossover. And Karl wanted to do Superman. So that's how it happened. That's not us going "rarrhheara ra ra ra!" (sounds of people fighting), that was just, hey, we're gonna shift stuff around and see what happens.
N: What are the last few books you read, and what is the music you listen to when you're pounding away?
G: The last few books I've read, I've been reading Seymour Hersh's book about the road to Abu Ghraib, Chain of Command. I've been reading this book called Kushiel's Dart, it's fantasy, and I can't remember the author's name, and I haven't read fantasy in a while but somebody recommended it. I'm trying to picture the stack of books right now. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time visualizing. There's a guy named Peter Hopkirk who's written a bunch of books about Central Asia and the history of Central Asia and I've been working my way through those, but these are like, thousand page tomes. Most of the reading I'm doing now bookwise is for research purposes. And then I was on Best First Novel Committee for the Edgar Awards this year and that was the other stuff, I read, just STACKS of first mystery novels. Country of Origin by a guy named Don Lee, I think it was. There was a writer, Richard Aleas, I really liked, that was one I read. A-L-E-A-S, so you can guess that's a pen name. The title escapes me, I think it's Goodnight, My Sweet, or Goodbye, My Darling, had a very pulpy, traditional title. The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan was another I read which I loved, I thought that was phenomenal.
Music is weird, music... I used to be able to write to music with lyrics. I can't do it any more. So when I'm working now, I tend to listen to jazz. Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, they tend to be what I write to. And soundtracks. The Lord of the Rings soundtrack I tend to listen to a lot. Right now that's the one... all three albums, just put it on infinite repeat, and that's what I listen to.
N: How long does it take you to write your average 22 page script? Does the character make a difference? Like, Superman, which is not originally yours, vs. Queen and Country?
G: Queen and Country actually takes me a long time because there's a lot of research that goes into those. A script, on a really good day when I know everything that's going to happen, I can write a script in six to eight hours. It can be a good script, I just have to know everything that's gonna happen. On average, it takes me two to three days to do a comic book script. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. Superman tends to be on the long side. Sometimes Wonder Woman, it goes back and forth, tends to be on the long side. I'm getting slower actually, the older I get. The more I write, the slower I write. Maybe because I'm aware now of all the mistakes not to make, so I'm more cautious. It used to be if you asked me five years ago I'd ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM, I would write fast. But now I'm slower. I spend more time really thinking about everything now.
N: I'm beginning to see and understand that too, I can see that. When I wrote my first novel, it was bang, done in six months, manic, but then with the last one it took most of a year, maybe because instead of six drafts it's now eight or ten, and that attention is there.
G: Exactly. It's part of the growth.
N: And I'm enjoying it, actually, even though I'm less productive -
N: - and always downing on myself.
G: Well, no, you're not less productive. That's the thing. You're not less productive if you're successful.
N: And that's the guilt, you know, if you're gonna be writing -
G: Yeah. You gotta have something to show for it.
N: - you've gotta have something, you know? Otherwise, like my Dad says, why not just become a longshoreman? Okay... next question. Do you watch Smallville, do you have any thoughts on the new Superman movie? Superman in the alternate media, in other words.
G: I've never watched Smallville I have to confess. I have two kids and I don't have time. I watch one TV show a week now that I TiVo. I have got all of Battlestar Galactica on TiVo, and haven't seen an episode yet.
G: I haven't watched any of it. The only show that I watch regularly, is my wife and I will watch House. I love Hugh Laurie, and I think it's a very good show. I have high hopes for the new Superman movie. I think it's in exceptionally good hands. I'm excited about it.
N: I'm notoriously hard on movies and I think it's going to be all right.
G: I'm very very excited that there won't be suits that give people powers.
N: What could a guy do with a hundred pounds of Kryptonite?
G: (laughs) REALLY kill Superman. Or protect an awful lot of villains. Protect a location... several locations... or create a real nasty surprise. See, I'm one of those people that thinks Kryptonite KILLS Superman. He'd die. Not get weaker, or -
N: Like be there stranded in the water (grabs chest and feigns falling off the bench) MISS TESSMACHER!
G: I don't even mind THAT. What I mind is - like - I hate to do this, but I've actually got to say this, I had real problems with him getting it in his bloodstream and him living. Kryptonite exists for one purpose. It kills Superman.
N: The ultimate nullifier for the invincible man.
G: Yeah, exactly. That's all Kryptonite does. It kills Superman. Green Kryptonite here, Superman DEAD. End of story. So if somebody's pulling out Kryptonite, that means somebody wants him dead!
N: What did Rann say about Thanagar's momma to get them so ticked off?
G: (laughs) I have no idea. Ask Dave Gibbons. (laughs). These are the questions that came up last night and today, huh?
NOTE: This interview was conducted the day after the release of Countdown to Infinite Crisis.
N: Well, yeah. (laughs) What is your favorite comic that you've ever written (or series)?
G: The favorite one that I've ever written?
N: What you'd be most proud of.
G: Right now it's probably Adventures #638. I think Adventures #638 might be the single comic that I look at right now, the single issue where I go, "That's just awesome.".
N: #634 was good at breaking down that third wall too.
G: I loved #638, and The Tangled Web story with the Kingpin, "Severance Package." I like that story a lot. Queen and Country, Operation: Blackwall I really like, and I don't know why I like that one, but I really like Blackwall. Wonder Woman, maybe, actually, the sequence I just finished, which is the #215-217, I really like it. And I really think it's just gonna, people - it's gonna blow their socks off. Rags is - it looks so good. I mean it looks SO good.
N: Liked your Wolverine stint... what are you writing for Marvel in the future? Or are you going exclusive DC?
G: Nothing right now, I'm exclusive to DC through 2006.
N: How far ahead do you guys have a plan for Superman?
G: We have a plan for Superman into 2006. We're pretty much locked through 2006.
HOME STRETCH: THE ROAD TO RUINN: If you can't say who Ruin is, can you give a clue? It's Jimmy, isn't it? The bow ties pushed him over the edge.
G: It wasn't the bow ties, it was the fact that Jimmy took a look in the DC Encyclopedia and said, "Hey, wait a minute! I'm an inch shorter than Superman and perpetually 16?" According to the Encyclopedia, he's like six-foot one, six-foot two and weighs 210 pounds.
N: I always pictured him like five-three.
G: That's how most people draw him, too. And perpetually sixteen. So the answer to the questions are no, he's shorter, and he's older.
N: I was going to ask about the sales on Gotham Central and what this implies about the existence of God, but I'll just ignore that one.
G: (laughs) It implies very little. God doesn't read comics.
N: How does a comic collaboration work (like Countdown)? Does one guy do the summary, another the script, and another revisions? What did you do for the Countdown issue, for instance?
G: Countdown was weird because it was literally all of us in a room and we broke it down. We said, this is what has to happen, this is how we're gonna break it up. This is what happens in each chapter. We collectively broke down the actions in all five chapters and then we divvied up the parts. This is who's gonna write this... that was overseen by Dan who said, "I pick you to write this, and you to write this.". That's how it happened. It's a unique kind of collaboration. That's a rare thing.
WHY WONDER WOMAN DOESN'T JUST STAY IN THE KITCHEN (FOR DARFUR).N: And now we're down to the total fanboy questions.
G: Keep going.
N: If you were told that you had to kill one of the main cast of the Superman books, if you had to choose, which would you pick and why?
G: If I HAD to kill somebody? Lana. I would kill Lana. Then I'd have... nah, I can't say what else I'd do because that would give things away. I would kill Lana.
N: If you had to bring a dead character back to life in the Superman books, who would you pick? (Parasite is cheating).
G: (laughs) Aw, man, who would I bring back? I guess it would be Mercy.
N: Okay, here's one from a comic book geek at my local store, take it for what it's worth. I just turned and said, "Hey, anyone got any questions for Greg Rucka?" and this was all I got, small crowd. Why is Wonder Woman so talkie?
G: (laughs) Because she believes that she can solve problems through communication. Wonder Woman is so talkie because she believes that communication is the key to understanding.
N: You just got Superman's powers. After the obvious flying around for a while, what's the first thing you would do, other than fly some more?
G: (laughs) Oh, man, I would try and right as many of the grotesque wrongs that are going on in this world. And that would take far too long. Far too long.
N: People turn a blind eye to a lot.
G: I'd take a real quick visit to Darfur in the Sudan, and from there I think I'd start expanding my repertoire. Yeah. That sounds okay. This is why Superman can't exist in our world. He would die of a broken heart.
N: What happens if the two Parasites drain each other?
G: They can't. They can't drain each other. They can share, but they can't take. So all they can do is one of them can go "Rrrrrrrdddddddrp!" (sucking up sound a la The Price is Right) and there's a timer on how long it takes for them to fill up, like I take this guy, I have him for sixty minutes, if I share it, I now have it for thirty and my brother has it for thirty. But Alex can't turn to her and say, "Well I want that other thirty minutes!"
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)