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BACKSTAGE - J. TORRES INTERVIEW

J. Torres helped kicked the ongoing Teen Titans Go! series when it premiered and ushered in one of the most acclaimed animated comics titles in recent years. Torres took time to talk to The World's Finest about his work on the series, bringing it to an end, and his plans for the future. Continue below for the exclusive interview.


The World's Finest: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. Your background, your previous work, all that great stuff! Now, you have a boatload of work to your name, so feel free go as detailed or vague as you'd like.

J. Torres:
Well, I've been writing comics for over ten years now, and I dabble a little bit in animation and TV and kids books too. My first comic was called Copybook Tales and that was drawn by Tim Levins of Gotham Adventures fame, and my newest project just happens to be drawn by Tim as well and that's called Family Dynamic which debuts in August. My most recent projects include Teen Titans Go, the Wonder Girl miniseries, and a few issues of Wonder Woman. I'm currently writing Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century and working on a couple of graphic novels for Oni Press.

Right off the bat, what can fans expect from Teen Titans Go! #55, the last issue of the series? Any hints or surprises you can pass along?

Without spoiling too much... a number of cameos, which sort of help bring together certain plot threads from previous issues... and... a villain we haven't used in the series yet. That's all I should say to keep it fun and surprising.

Now, there's a lot you started to set up and explored in the GO! title. The next few questions will cover a few of the ideas you presented. So, let's go! Towards the end of Teen Titans Go!'s run, you set up plot strands concerning Wildfire and Ravager. The former gave us the mystery of whether Starfire would be reunited with him, while the latter presented the possibility of Slade's family, including Jericho, being further explored. Where were you planning on taking these two storylines?

I certainly wanted Starfire to find Wildfire. The story I had in mind for that involved the Titans heading off into space again. As for Slade's family, I had rough ideas for more Ravager, possibly meeting Jericho, but nothing concrete for Slade's re-appearance. We were planning to bring him back at some point, maybe #60, but we obviously didn't get that far. Maybe if we ever got to do an annual or special, it would make perfect sense to go big and use someone like Slade or maybe Brother Blood.

Batman and the Justice League were briefly glimpsed in Teen Titans Go! Given that you used the Doom Patrol on multiple occasions, were you intent on using the the Justice League as well? Would you have been allowed to?

I think we could have, but the thing about the show was that they wanted to stay away from the JL as much as possible to make it about the Titans. They wanted Robin to be the leader of the group, not the former sidekick of Batman who now leads the team, you know what I mean? I get that, so that's why the JL and Batman appeared very minimally in the comics.

You consulted the staff of the Teen Titans animated series for help with several stories, including "Metamorphosis", your 'sequel' to "Things Change". Did any of them share any interesting insight or advice on the work they put into the show? And when you spoke to Amy Wolfram, did she reveal any secrets (about "Things Change" or otherwise) that you could reveal?

Let's just get it out there, shall we? I don't know who Red X really is. I don't know whether that's the real Terra at the end of "Things Change." No one would tell about either of things except to say something like, "we have an answer but don't want to impose it on anyone." And that's my story and I'm sticking to it :)

What plans do you have if a follow-up comic to Teen Titans Go! comes to fruition? What would you advise the fans do to ensure that we get one?

The best thing they can do I think is to keep buying the trades and collections as they come. They can also write to Johnny DC and let him know what they thought of our last few issues. That sort of thing, to let the powers that be know that there's still interest.

Now, Teen Titans Go! isn't the only animated title you've worked on. You've also lent your hand to The Batman Strikes and you're also the current ongoing writer of Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century. While The Batman Strikes is a thematically different title from Go, Legion does share a lot of striking similarities in terms of characters and their traits. How do you keep your writing for Legion distinct to Teen Titans Go?

I of course owe it all to the characters and settings themselves. Sure there are similarities, but it's the differences that set them apart, and make it easy to tell stories with a distinct tone and feel to them.

Legion #13 featured a look at Superman in present time, and contained a huge amount of references to both the movie franchise and the Superman animated series. Care to let readers know about what references they could have missed, and why you took such a radical direction with this issue?

If you look carefully, you'll see that #13 brings together elements from the pilot episode of the show, the last episode of the show, and it bridges the two seasons for both the comic and cartoon. The story was my way of bring a bunch of things together while telling a different kind of story for the series. I wish I had a couple of extra pages in that issue to show more of the Legion, but I also wish I could do more Lois and Clark stories, really.

Now, to hop over to The Batman Strikes for a second, you've done a fair share of fill-in issues for that title, writing stories that feature The Joker, the Man-Bat, and the Riddler. Were you a fan of the show? And how difficult is it to write stories for a title such as The Batman, and then turn around and write stories for both Go! and Legion, three titles which are quite different from each other and, at times, feature a collection of completely different characters and settings?

As I said, it's all about the characters and settings. Good characters make it easy to come up with good stories. And yes, I was a fan of the show, especially after they brought Batgirl and then Robin. I look forward to completing my season sets on DVD.

Of course, your work isn't limited to just animated comics. You did the recently, and acclaimed, Wonder Girl mini-series (with beautiful artwork by Sanford Greene), and you have Family Dynamic (with Tim Levins) coming down the pipeline. Are there any other titles or upcoming projects you'd like to give the fans a heads-up about?

Nothing I can talk about right now in terms of DC stuff, but I do have two graphic novels that I'm writing for Oni Press. One is called Lola: A Ghost Story, which is a story loosely based on my grandmother, and the other is called Dead Goombas, which is about zombies and the mafia. These books have been in the works for quite some time now and I'm eager to see them come out. Hopefully, one's ready for the end of this year with the other following shortly thereafter.

And finally, to wrap this up, let's bring it back to where this interview began - Teen Titans Go!. What are the fondest memories you'll have from your time on that title, and what do you think about the impact the series had on the Teen Titans fanbase?

I truly enjoyed working on the series and often it didn't seem like work at all. I have a lot of fond memories relating to TTG from the past four or five years, but the ones that stand out the most involve going to store signings or comic book conventions and meeting the fans. There's also the T-Robo, a.k.a. the Titans Go Bot 5 in the comics, which I helped design, taking up a prominent place on my bookshelf since it's the first toy to ever come out of something I wrote or created, which was very cool. I also came out of this "assignment" with some friends for life in people like Todd Nauck and Tom Palmer, Jr. I know that wherever the road takes any of us next, we'll still be buds and we owe that to TTG.

The above was conducted by James Harvey. For information on where and when J. Torres's aforementioned works are hitting, contact your local comic book retailer. Plus, check out J. Torres online via his website, J. Torres Online.

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