by James Harvey
Justice League Unlimited #44 features a story with artwork by you and John Delaney. What people may not know is that this story was originally written up when Justice League Adventures was being published. Billed as a "untold tale" by DC, how does it feel to see this comic finally come to print?
I guess the best word is "surprising". Because of publishing demands and schedules, it's a fairly common occurrence to have an inventory story stay in a drawer forever. I drew at least two issue of Legion of Super-Heroes, for instance (pencils and inks!) many years ago, that never saw the light of day, not because the stories weren't any good, but for scheduling reasons. Dan Slott claims he has the record for pages that never came out, as he once counted something like three hundred pages of never printed scripts he's worked on over the years. My number is somewhere around sixty or so, pages of art, and forty some-odd pages of scripts. Now that this issue is finally coming out, the page count of art is down to about forty..
Many fans heard that DC commissioned a host of issues for Justice League Adventures before the title switched over to Justice League Adventures. As a result, many fans figured that these comics would never see the light of day. Is the practice of having a commissioned story shelved for many years common among comic publishers? Are there stories that are written up, art provided, and then just put away for good?
See answer above. And though the practice isn't uncommon, really, it's still something the publishers like to avoid, as commissioning art and then not using it costs MONEY! So if there's ever a way to get the stories out, they try to find away. Sometimes as an annual collection of short stories, or as "special untold tales" issues. It's always nice to see the work finally come out, but I only INKED this issue, over John Delaney pencils, though. It's not my layouts or pencils, so it's not my storytelling, just a little inkwork. Fun job, though.
Can you remember, vaguely, when you first started working on this particular comic?
No, sorry. It was at least two or three years ago, if not more.
Now, since your days at Batman Adventures, we've seen your name pop up at Marvel a few times, specifically Spider-Man/Human Torch: I'm With Stupid (a favorite of mine) and Marvel Adventures. Is it good for your creative juices to sometimes switch it up, in terms of the characters you've worked on. Why?
Oh, absolutely! The differences in writing the Avengers, or Howard the Duck, and writing Batman Adventures are huge. There's a different audience in mind each time, and a different set of sensibilities to explore with each character. Writing the Vision in the Avengers, for instance, is unique, in that he's an android, and the exploration of that character is nothing like writing Robin or Nightwing. And The Simpsons and Howard the Duck allows me to bring some comedy writing muscles into use, that you don't get on Batman (except when writing Joker or Robin, I suppose.)
With any creative process, the more you change up what you're doing, the more you keep it lively.
Keeping in the same fashion as the last question, you've worked on a host of team books, including Justice League Adventures, The Avengers: United They Stand, and Marvel Adventures The Avengers. What attracts you to team books, and why?
Honest answer is that I'm not especially attracted to team books. Coming up with stories that include useful scenes for every character involved is a hell of a headache sometimes. I have NO IDEA how Busiek wrote fifty issues of Avengers before cracking. I've written a total of ten issues of the Avengers in my whole life, and he wrote fifty in a row! Amazing.
But in the case of JLA and AVENGERS, those are the two team book comics I grew up reading (along with Teen Titans, The Howling Commandos, and the Fantastic Four) when I was about nine or ten years old. The rhythms and construction of those sorts of tales are fairly well entrenched in my brain.
The other attraction is that you get to play with lots of toys at once. With the Avengers, especially, when else to you get Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine to play with at the same time. Writing dialog for Spider-Man is a real giggle, but writing an interesting battle scene for Iron Man is its own reward as well. Avengers gives you both fun things to do in one bite sized meal. It's like those chocolate and peanut butter candies.
Now, you've also worked outside of the "big two," specifically on a Canadian comic book company called MR. COMICS. Care to fill us in on what you do with them? And what is it like to work for both a publisher like MARVEL or DC and for a Canadian company like MR COMICS?
For Mr. Comics I was a freelance editor (as well as the head writer for most of the projects I freelance edited...)
That amounted to me "packaging" a comic book, and handing it to the publisher completely done. He didn't have to worry about hiring creators, or lettering, colouring, and post production, or delivering files to the printer, etc. I did all that, assembling pencillers, writers and colorists from my rolodex. Our publisher chose what license to get, and where to put advertising, etc, and I was in charge of making the comics good.
If there's anything I'm likely to do in the future, with Mr. Comics, I might just use the imprint as a place to put small projects of my own, little indy things I write and draw myself...and not worry so much about editing company properties. I think our publisher is using other people for other projects already, so it's already gone that way.... Though it was a very rewarding experience to be "in charge" of a bi-monthly comic, worrying each detail and design element until it was done, it took up a lot of time, for what was essentially very very little money.
In the coming months, what can fans expect from you? Will we be seeing you around the DC or MARVEL camps? Can they expect your name to continue to grace the pages of MR COMICS titles, specifically "Planet of the Apes."
I'll be around the Simpsons for a while, I've got a couple of issues of the Simpsons magazine underway as we speak. My Howard the Duck miniseries is released as a trade paperback in March. I just drew a story for the current issue of The Spirit that's on the stands this week, as well as another issue of Vertigo's The Exterminators that's due out in about a month. Plus...I've got a couple of adverts I'm drawing over at DC to promote the new cartoon series that's being developed ,but nope, I'm not allowed to tell you what it is...
I've got a couple of irons in the fires at Marvel, waiting for a green light on things both mainstream (super-hero stuff) and odd (more like Howard the Duck), and I'm working on a pilot for a TV show called HOVERBOY!
There's a few short videos and Hoverboy episodes online at that site. Go have fun. It will give you a taste of what that's about. I've been fiddling with Hoverboy for at least a year, and we should be shooting more material in the spring.
All my best to you
My best back at you, sir. Glad to chat with you guys. Always my home away from home.
The World’s Finest would like to thank Ty Templeton for
his participation in this Q & A.