BACKSTAGE – INTERVIEW WITH GREG WEISMAN
Greg Weisman: Well, the thing to keep in mind is that I actually started with issue #0. And obviously, I was paying very close attention to issues #1-6 as well, so I really feel like I’ve been on it from beginning to end. My main intent was really just to have this great second venue for telling stories with these terrific characters in the Earth-16 Universe. Brandon Vietti, Kevin Hopps and I just had so many ideas, and so few episodes with which to bring them to our audience. It was great to have another two dozen or so bites at the apple. On that level, I’m pretty happy with what we accomplished.
WF: Looking back at DC Comics’s assorted animated titles over the last few years, this title was easily the most connected to its source animated material. What type of benefits do you think that allowed for the book? Were there any drawbacks?
GW: I think there’s tremendous benefit to our audience. The Young Justice title helps flesh out the animated series, lending depth and breadth to the characters and further exploring the world they live in. The idea – if we were successful – was that you didn’t need to read the comic to enjoy the cartoon or vice versa. But that without a doubt, you’d get more out of both if you opened yourself up to both. The same holds for the Young Justice: Legacy game due out this coming fall. As for drawbacks – well, I don’t see any. But there are challenges. Obviously, it’s a complicated dance to keep all the continuity straight. And since the series’ stories all were set in stone way in advance of the comic, it was sometimes difficult to make sure the comic stood on its own, even if you didn’t watch the TV show. But those are challenges that I enjoy. And I feel we largely succeeded.
WF: Month-to-month, the series followed along with its animated counterpart. However, when the show jumped five years into the future, the comic did as well …. kind of. It would move back and forth between five years ago and the invasion era. Was it complicated to write such a story that required constant flashbacks and time jumps? Was this arc set to be a transition story before moving into the invasion era full-time (something that now will not happen)?
GW: Ah, it was incredibly complicated. I had so many multi-colored index cards on two bulletin boards that I was juggling to tell this story. I really wanted to start the Invasion arc with a bang – and then when we found out it would be the last arc, I still wanted to end with a bang. I suppose it works as a transition story, but I’m not sure that was truly my intent at the time. I think this Lost model of jumping back and forth between eras was perfectly suited for the book. And though I wouldn’t have felt married to it every issue, it was a structure I was planning to continue using. It’s really something I experimented with in the Gargoyles comic, and I feel it can be very creatively satisfying. For me, at least. Hopefully, for the readers as well.
WF: Like the animated source material, this book didn’t shy away from the sometimes complicated history of DC Comics. How did creating your own established world or heroes and villains make things easier, or perhaps a wee bit complicated, when crafting your stories (with implied history, etc.)?
GW: From the beginning, with Earth-16, we strove – in both the show and the comic – to create a coherent and cohesive vision/version of the DCU. Generally, this made things easier. Plus it’s fun to play with audience/reader expectations. Fun to make them think we’ve changed something when we really haven’t. Fun to surprise them with how things are the same. Fun to see the parallel universe differences. I haven’t had time to keep up with the New 52, but I imagine they’re doing much the same thing.
WF: Before the last issue hits, fans have the opportunity to catch up on the entire comic. Young Justice – the entire run to date is available on Comixology through ReadDCEntertainment.com , and the first 19 issues collected in trade paperback. With some back issues hard to come by or simply out of print, what are your thoughts on these increasingly popular methods of getting the Young Justice comic fix?
WF: A semi-follow-up to the previous question. How do you find your work reads better as a monthly title or as a series of collections? Were you aiming to tell a great story month-to-month, or a an overall story-arc every 2 – 6 issues?
GW: For the first 20 issues (including issue #0), we wanted each story to be relatively self-contained one or two-parters, so that each issue had either the beginning of a story and a cliffhanger or a recap and the conclusion. That way it was easier to jump on board. The only exception was our semi-three-parter in issues #11-13, but each of those stories almost stood as single issue stories with a thread running through them. But for issues #20-25, I think these might benefit more from sitting down and reading them together. It’s a much more complex story, with a lot of jumping around in time and a more continuous arc.
WF: Before the “Players” arc, there was a few arcs planned such as the The Arrow Family (Green Arrow, Black Canary, Artemis, Red Arrow) story (set after Episode 1×14) was originally planned for Issues #20-21 and a Marvel Family story was planned. Can you talk more about these stories and any other ideas/arcs that were planned?
GW: Well, the Arrow Family arc would have adapted the Earth-16 version of the DC Showcase short film that I wrote, which featured Green Arrow, Black Canary, Merlyn, Count Vertigo, Henchy and Perdita. But it also would have involved Artemis, Red Arrow’s life as an unwitting mole and the death of Perdita’s father. The Marvel Family story would have introduced Billy’s three best school friends: Freddy Freeman, Kit Freeman and Mary Bromfield.
WF: Do you have any stand-out moments from the Young Justice comic series that you’d like to acknowledge? Favorite character beats, action sequences, or just moments you were really proud of?
GW: I kinda loved issue #0. And there are definitely moments in issue #25 that I don’t want to scoop, but which I’m very proud of: page 16 may be the single most chilling page I’ve ever written, and pages 20 and 21 really make me smile (But I should give a lot of credit to artist Christopher Jones for really breathing life into the characters on those pages.) In between, I like the Artemis arc in #7 and #8. I like the back to front storytelling in issue #12. And I love the first few pages of issue #20. I think this last six-parter has some great bookends to it. Oh, heck, I’m not modest. I like the whole run. But I guess those are the standouts for me. Oh, and I like Ra’s al Ghul’s line to Batman in issue #11: “There’s just no pleasing you.”
WF: The final issue of Young Justice hits in February, with the last episode of Young Justice‘s current season in March. Is there an air of finality around these projects for you? If you never had to opportunity to work with these specific characters again, would you be happy with how you and [Young Justice producer] Brandon Vietti left things?
GW: I’m not writing an epitaph here. But the nature of the business is that you never know if you’re going to be picked up for more episodes or issues. So whether it’s Captain Atom, Gargoyles, W.I.T.C.H., The Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice, I always try to end each season or run at a good place to stop, with what I like to call open-ended closure. So with the Young Justice book and show, Brandon and I tied up enough threads that the audience/reader can feel satisfied, but we’ve left some questions unanswered, some threads dangling intentionally, so that we have the chance to come back. And I would love to come back to this world, these characters. Believe me.
WF: One last question a fun one. Can you tell us why fans should rush out on Wednesday to snatch up Young Justice #25?
GW: This issue is truly jam-packed. I think the biggest complaint about it – and it’s fairly legit – is that it may seem a bit rushed and very crowded. But there’s no shortage of content, that’s for sure. And I do think we took the time with the moments that truly mattered. A lot of questions get answered (Though I’ll admit, a few still remain.) Shippers are gonna fight over this one. And it will become clearer how it all ties in with the events of Season Two of Young Justice: Invasion. Plus, Chris [Jones] and colorist Zac Atkinson truly outdid themselves on this puppy. The book looks gorgeous, despite the fact that I forced Chris and Zac to juggle at least 47 characters in a mere 21 pages (That’s right, 21 pages as opposed to 20! A little extra added value for your $2.99).
“Young Justice” issue #25 will be available in comic book and hobby stores, along with regular digital outlets, on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013.
“Young Justice: Invasion” airs Saturdays at 10:30am (ET/PT) as part of the DC Nation programming block on Cartoon Network. Special encore presentations air Sundays at 10:30am (ET/PT).
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