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©2007 NBC Universal, Inc. Pictured: HEROES' Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Panettiere. NBC Photo: Chris Haston.

THE HIT SHOW’S WRITERS SPEAK! DAN BUCKLEY DAN DiDIO Scripts Scripts & & Art Art by: by:

GRANT MORRISON & MARK SILVESTRI ED BRUBAKER & TONY DANIEL

PETER DAVID ON STEPHEN KING’S DARK TOWER 74 1

82658 27765

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©2007 NBC Universal, Inc. Pictured: HEROES' Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Panettiere

M AG A Z I N E Issue #17

Winter 2008

Read Now! Message from the Editor-in-Chief ....................................................................page 2

HEROES WRITERS ON WRITING HEROES Heroically Speaking Interview with Tim Kring.................................................................................page 3 Loeb is a Many Splendored Thing Interview with Jeph Loeb .............................................................................page 13

View From the Top Interview with Dan Buckley ........................................................................page 25

In the Hot Seat Interview with Dan DiDio.............................................................................page 30

Feedback Letters from Write Now!’s Readers ...........................................................page 39

Storming the Dark Tower Interview with Peter David ..........................................................................page 45

Testimony Interview with Douglas Rushkoff .............................................................page 48

My Life in Words: What It’s Like to be a Working Writer Michael Teitelbaum tells all about the world of children’s book writing .............................................................................page 54

Nuts & Bolts Department Script to Pencils to Finished Comic: X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX #1 Pages by Ed Brubaker and Mark Silvestri.............................................page 20

Script to Pencils to Finished Comic: BATMAN #570 Pages from “The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul,” by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel .......................................................page 40

Conceived by DANNY FINGEROTH Editor-In-Chief Managing Editor Special Thanks To: ROBERT ALISON BLAIRE GREENBERGER TOM BREVOORT Designer DAVID GREENAWALT Transcriber STEVEN TICE Circulation Director BOB BRODSKY FOR COOKIESOUP PRODUCTIONS Publisher JOHN MORROW Proofreader ERIC NOLENWEATHINGTON

DAN BUCKLEY KRISTY CHAN KIA CROSS PETER DAVID DAN DiDIO ERIC FEIN STEVEN GRANT DAVID GREENAWALT TIM KRING JAMES J. MARTIN JIM McCANN JEFF NEWELT CHRIS POWELL DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF ALEX SEGURA VARDA STEINHARDT MICHAEL TEITELBAUM STEVEN TICE STEVE WACKER

Script to Sketch to Pencils to Finished Comic: TESTAMENT #6 A page from “West of Eden, part 1: Breishit,” by Douglas Rushkoff, Peter Gross, and Gary Erskine......................page 50

Script to Pencils: CAPTAIN MARVEL #2 Pages from “Reconstruction,” by Brian Reed and Lee Weeks ..................................................................page 59

Creating Comics Step By Step (Part 3 OF 3) Steven Grant concludes his information-packed series on making comic books ...................................................................page 62

Danny Fingeroth’s Write Now! is published 4 times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing, 10407 Bedfordtown Drive, Raleigh, NC 27614 USA. Phone: (919) 449-0344. Fax: (919) 449-0327. Danny Fingeroth, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Write Now! E-mail address: WriteNowDF@aol.com. Single issues: $8 Postpaid in the US ($10 Canada, $11 elsewhere). Four-issue subscriptions: $20 US ($40 Canada, $44 elsewhere). Order online at: www.twomorrows.com or e-mail to: twomorrow@aol.com. All characters are TM & © their respective companies. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © the respective authors. Editorial package is ©2007 Danny Fingeroth and TwoMorrows Publishing. All rights reserved. Write Now! is a shared trademark of Danny Fingeroth and TwoMorrows Publishing. Printed in Canada. FIRST PRINTING.

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HEROIC AL L Y SP EAKING

THE TIM KRING INTERVIEW Conducted by Danny Fingeroth via phone, November 2 and 6, 2007 Transcribed by Steven Tice Copyedited by Tim Kring, Danny Fingeroth, and Bob Greenberger

Tim Kring’s biography, from the http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/ website: “Tim Kring is the creator and executive producer of Heroes, NBC’s Emmy Award-nominated epic saga that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. “Kring grew up primarily in Northern California. Eventually, his parents, who were both teachers, moved the family to Santa Maria on the Central California coast. Kring studied film at nearby Allen Hancock Junior College before transferring to the University of Santa Barbara, where he earned his bachelor of arts degree in religious studies. “Kring later attended the master of fine arts program at the University of Southern California’s renowned film school from 1981-84, then worked his way up in production as a grip, gaffer and on camera crews on various low budget films and documentaries. He continued working in production until selling his first pitch for an episode of Knight Rider in 1985. Kring spent the next 11 years writing feature films, including the sequel Teen Wolf II, series pilots and television movies such as Bay Coven and Falling for You. “In 1996, Kring became a producer on the popular television series Chicago Hope and was elevated to supervising producer on the series a year later. In 1998, he co-created the series Strange World and served as co-executive producer on the drama L.A. Doctors. Kring joined the staff of Providence in 1999 as co-executive producer and signed an overall deal with the then NBC Studios. In 2001, Kring created NBC’s procedural drama Crossing Jordan, which celebrated its historic 100th episode milestone in March 2006. “Kring resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Lisa, who is a social worker, and their two children, Amelia and Ethan. In his spare time, he enjoys collecting acoustic guitars.” Tim was able to take some time from his unbelievably busy schedule to speak to me about his career and, of course, about Heroes. —DF

DANNY FINGEROTH: Was there a moment or series of them, Tim, when you decided you were going to be a writer, or was it a process? TIM KRING: For me it was really just a process. I was in film school, and I thought I was going to be a cinematographer. That’s what I was really interested in. As a prerequisite you had to take a writing class, and I really got into writing, thought it was pretty cool. But I still didn’t think I was going to be a writer. I pursued the whole idea of being a cameraman and a cinematographer. I did that for a few years out of film school, I worked here in L.A. as a gaffer and a camera operator and that sort of thing, on anything I could get work on—low budget films, commercials, rock videos—that kind of thing. And documentaries. And I finally had a chance to get into the camera union, and it was at that point that I realized TIM KRING | 3


that I didn’t really want to be a guy that punched a clock every day, that I had something more to say than that, and I sat down and sort of went cold turkey on cameraman work, and wrote a script. DF: What was that first script? TK: Well, it was in 1984, when a lot of teen comedies were selling, so I wrote, basically a teen comedy. And I took that and went to all these connections that I had made when I did a student film at USC—all these producers and agents that you meet with, you’d show your student film. And I went back to all of them with this script, and one of them got me an agent off of that script, and I went out on the pitch circuit, where I just went and pitched anything I could, literally anything I could. I heard about any assignment, I went after it. DF: Now, like everybody, you must have had a lot of rejection in those early years. How did you deal with that? TK: Well, I still kept my day job. I was still working as a gaffer and a camera loader and that sort of thing. And I was sort of energized by the idea that I was doing something else other than my day job. I was out there taking pitch meetings and that sort of thing. I’d keep a change of clothes in the back of the car. If I had a pitch meeting, I’d duck into the back seat and put on a better pair of pants and run over to a pitch meeting. I did that for less than a year—maybe nine months—at which point, after writing this spec script, I got my first job. And once I got the first job, I literally never stopped working as a writer after that. It was just continuous after that. DF: What was the first job? TK: The first thing I sold was an episode of Knight Rider. I went in one day and I pitched eight different storylines to them, and the first seven of them were rejected, and the last one—my least favorite, it was the most ridiculous pitch—and that was the one that they liked. DF: Well, of course. TK: And for about ten years or so I worked as a freelance writer in features, television movies, and episodic television. It was all jumbled into one career. DF: And from that first sale, you got continuous work. Aside from talent, obviously, is there any key factor that made people keep hiring you? TK: In my case, I think it was partly that I had a real refusal to be pigeonholed into any particular genre, and my tastes in writing were sort of like my tastes in movies. You like to see an action film, and you like to see a drama, and you like comedy. I couldn’t understand why writers were pigeonholed. I just didn’t get why that was, and I sort of refused to be. Maybe, looking back, it might have been to the detriment of my 4 | WRITE NOW

Mohinder Suresh (played by Sendhil Ramamurthy) in the already-classic season one Heroes episode, “Five Years Gone.” [© 2007 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.] career, but in the long run, I think it was beneficial to have so many different genres that I worked in. Also, one thing that I’m a firm believer in, is I didn’t have a grand scheme for where I was going. I didn’t have any real plan of what my career was going to be. It was literally, all about the necessity of paying the rent, and trying to advance my career was really just to try and get another job. And so I would just literally go after any job that I felt like I was capable of. DF: Now, it’s funny—everything you’re saying sort of goes against a lot of the common wisdom you hear. TK: Really? DF: Well, a lot of people will say to have a goal in mind, although you should be prepared to adapt it—and to get to be known for one kind of thing so that your “personal brand” is not all over the place. TK: Oh, well, I can see that. Like I said, the way I did it might have been some detriment to my career, but I had a very different approach. I sort of refer to it as the “Forrest Gump” approach to writing. I just went wherever the river took me. I didn’t come from money, and I literally didn’t have another skill set that I could really fall back on. So I went where the job was. If somebody said, “Can you write a horror film?” I’d go to the video store, rent a couple of horror movies, figure out the format of them, and come back in and say, “Yeah, this is how I’ll do it!”


DF: You did have the cinematography skill set to fall back on, too. That’s no small thing. TK: Well, yeah, but that’s a very competitive world… You can’t just go out and say, “I’m going to be the director of photography of a feature.” It’s a long, long career to build up to that. So the truth is, I think there was a lot to the idea of necessity just being the architect of my career, the necessity of needing to pay the rent. DF: Let’s backtrack a little. Where did you grow up? TK: I grew up in a small, agricultural community in central California. DF: Your parents were teachers. How did they feel about what you were doing? TK: My father was always just happy that I was employed, and my mother was always worried that it wasn’t a real career, because it didn’t feel very real to them. If you don’t put on a suit, and you don’t go to an office, it’s hard to explain to your parents what you do. DF: It’s hard to explain to your neighbors what you do. TK: Right. I did have lots of things produced, unlike a lot of writers in Hollywood who can make huge amounts of money and never have anything to show their parents or their friends about what it is they do. At least I was working quite a bit in the television-movie business. At the time, in the ’80s, that was a huge, booming business. There were three networks, and each of the three networks produced up to sixty of those movies a year. DF: So that was a good time to break in. TK: It was a big, giant business. I was able to have lots of things produced and work constantly in that world. DF: And how did things progress for you from there? TK: I moved into series television in, around, 1995, and that changed the trajectory of my career quite a bit, because I was no longer a freelance guy hustling for jobs. I then had a job, working on a television show, which gives you a whole different set of skills—producing skills and managerial skills and all that sort of thing. You go from being a solitary writer to a writer that works with a staff, which is a real big change-up for somebody who’s been working for ten years by themselves, taking their laptop to a coffee shop. It’s quite a different lifestyle. DF: Was that job something you set out to get, or was it just offered to you? TK: I set out to get it, because I had written several pilots that had not gotten made, and, at the time, the only people who were really getting pilots made were people within the TV business. That was before the television business’s love affair with feature writers. And so I really felt like I needed to be within the system to get a

Heroes is more than just a hit primetime TV series. Its story also unfolds online, including in a weekly web comic (now collected in hardcover from WildStorm/DC) that supplements each week’s episode. This page from the premiere web comic chapter, “Monsters,” is written by Aron Coleite, with art by Michael Turner and Koi Turnbull, and digital inks by Mark Roslan. [© 2007 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.] pilot off the ground. DF: What was the first show that you were on staff for? TK: I went onto Chicago Hope as a producer. DF: How do you define ”producer,” or is it different on every show? TK: Well, it’s different on every show, but the main idea is that on a writing staff on a TV series, you have a hierarchy that starts at staff writer, which is the lowest writer. It goes through story editor, executive story editor, co-producer, then producer, then supervising producer, then co-executive producer, then executive producer. So there’s a hierarchy, there’s a rank, that you march up. Producers on most shows, these days, produce their own episodes. So you are on set, in the introduction, in prep, and in post-production. You’re representing the written word. TIM KRING | 5


LOEB IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING

THE JEPH LOEB INTERVIEW by Danny Fingeroth Conducted via e-mail, October 29, 2007 Copyedited by Danny Fingeroth, Robert Greenberger, and Jeph Loeb

Jeph Loeb writes comics, he writes and produces television, he writes and produces movies, he writes and produces animation. He does material like Batman: Hush and A Superman for all Seasons that mine heroes’ classic mythos for neglected gems. From his days at Columbia University film school, where he studied with the likes of Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and writer/director of American Gigolo and Affliction) and Milos Forman (director of Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), to his work in Hollywood with people like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Michael J. Fox, to much-lauded run as a supervising producer and writer on Smallville, to his time as a writer/producer on Lost, to his current gig of Co-executive Producer and writer of Heroes, Jeph has worked constantly since leaving film school. The fact that in addition to his screen work, his comics work, both in quality and quantity, rivals that of anyone who has ever worked in the industry is simply astonishing. The X-Men, The Avengers, Superman for All Seasons, Spider-Man: Blue, the sales record-setting Batman: Hush, the deeply personal Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, and his latest much-anticipated series, Ultimates and The Hulk, are just part of his comics resume. Tim Sale, Jim Lee, Ed McGuinness and Michael Turner are just some of the superstar artists he has been paired with. Jeph has won four Eisner Awards and five Wizard Fan Awards. Jeph has devised a career for himself where he has a variety of options in a variety of media, which for a working writer is the best of all possible worlds. Here, he speaks, among other things, about his role in and his feelings about the runaway success that is Heroes. —DF

DANNY FINGEROTH: Jeph, do you or Tim Kring (or anyone else) come to a writers’ meeting at the beginning of a season with an agenda/outline for that season? JEPH LOEB: We have a pretty good idea where we are going for the next three seasons. Obviously, year three is clearer than four, etc. But, as we’re doing this interview, only the fifth episode of year two has aired and we’re working on episode 17. So the lead-time is pretty fantastic. The biggest change this year was Kring’s idea of incorporating the volumes into a season. So now the viewer isn’t waiting for 23 episodes to find out who killed Hiro’s Dad. It will all be cleared up and dealt with by Episode 11. The next volume begins with 12 and ends with 18. The last pod—which we are talking about now, is 19-24. More like arcs in comics that become trades. It’s working great. JEFF LOEB | 13


DF: Was there a bible for the series before you started writing it, or did the bible come about as you were writing? JL: There were lots of notes and pages of meetings— and that all got incorporated in a bible that is constantly being updated. The truth is that the folks at Heroes Wiki (http://heroeswiki.com/Main_Page) are about as good a source as we are! DF: Tim seems to see Heroes as his vehicle to influence the world in a positive way. Do you (and the show’s other writers) share that outlook and sense of purpose? Does it spill over to the actors? JL: Absolutely. It’s part of the job. Kring has an agenda to make a difference—both politically and environmentally—and we pepper that in very carefully

to what we’re trying to accomplish. It makes for a kinder atmosphere—and hopefully a better world. DF: You’re Co-executive Producer as well as a writer on Heroes. What exactly is a Co-Executive Producer, at least as far as Heroes is concerned? JL: The same thing as everybody else—I work to make the best show we can. That starts with an idea, then the break, the outline, the script, the production meetings, the casting, the production itself, post with music and f/x and finally delivery. Kring has set up a system where while everyone works on every script, the name of record (the credit) takes it through every step of the way. It’s an enormous responsibility—but a terrific chance to work your craft. DF: Do you consider yourself a Hollywood writer who does comics, or a comics writer doing work in Hollywood, or something else altogether?

Hayden Panettiere was one of Heroes’ breakout stars, playing Claire, the indestructible cheerleader. The catchphrase, “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” helped propel the series into the forefront of pop culture. In the new season, she’s once more a cheerleader, now in California, and still gaining new understanding of how her amazing abilities work. [© 2007 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.] 14 | WRITE NOW


Masi Oka portrays Heroes’ Hiro Nakamura, a fan of American comic books and science fiction, who embraces his newfound powers. Hiro recognizes that his power comes with responsibility, and that awareness inspires his actions. [© 2007 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.]

JL: I consider myself a storyteller. My dad was a stockbroker for 35 years, never sold a story in his life, but he was a storyteller. So was my son, Sam. It’s what we do and folks seem to like it. DF: In a comic, the final product, even with input from editor and artist, is pretty much what the writer hands in. Is it frustrating at all to go through the TV series group writing process? JL: Well, I’d argue that for most writers, the process in comics is very hands off. They don’t have the relationship with the artist or editor that I strive for, largely because most comics need to just get done. The deadline kills the creativity. It’s part of the reality of comics. But, it’s also why there are so many bad comics. Sorry, minor rant there. Television needs the writer’s room. Particularly at Heroes. It’s just such a group effort, I can’t see it any other way. The greatest. DF: One “problem” the X-Men comics had to deal with is the proliferation of mutants, so that being a mutant stopped being special. Do you have to, or think you might at some point have to, deal with a similar issue with Heroes?

JL: Well, if we had 40 years of Heroes I might agree. HA! Talk to me after Season 5. Besides, we kill them almost as quickly as we introduce them too! [laughs] DF: You are, needless to say, extremely disciplined, as evidenced by all the stuff you write. Any tips for writers who may not be so blessed with time and energy management skills? JL: Please. I’m the worst. Call Geoff Johns. He’s the only one I’ve ever met who can come to the office, sit down, say he’s writing this much today and does just that. Me? I just wait until the last minute and flush it out of me! Gah! That sounds awful! DF: What keeps you writing comics? I would imagine you could make more money with your time if you, say, got involved with another TV series or a feature film. Or am I wrong about that? JL: Absolutely a ton more money in TV and film. But I do comics out of love and it’s fun. It doesn’t take nearly as long. It can’t—given how much money I make in TV and the responsibility there. But, I’m very, very lucky that [Publisher] Dan Buckley and [Editor-inJEFF LOEB | 15


T 1—Scott frow

ns as his han ds

1 SCOTT: We 2—Wolverine

grip the control s, the wor ld whi zzing by around them outside don’t know wha . t it is, Warren . Not yet.

looks skeptic

al, keeping his arms crossed. E: He’s got a point, Summe rs. We know next to nothin’ 3 WOLVERIN about this pla E: An’ yet we’ ce. re breakin’ the speed of sou nd to get there. 3—He leans back, crossin g his arms, look across from him ing out the ship on his left, glan ’s window on ces his way, his right side. frow ning. Emma, 4 WOLV: Now Emma can’t rea d any conscio us thought… Which means blocking her som e device is out… Or there ain’t any peo ple down the 5 WOLV: Eith re. er of those sou nds like a trap . 6 EMMA: The re is a third opt ion, Logan. 2 WOLVERIN

4—Scott pulls

back on the con

7 SCOTT: No.

trols, glancing bac

We don’t eve

k at Emma.

n want to thin

k about that. 5—Nightcrawl er is perched up on the edg windshield of e of his seat the jet, eyes now, his hands wide, looking dow n. Outsid pressed against e, orange and the 8 NIGHTC RA red glow from WLER: Mein below. Gott… 9 NIGHTC RA WLER(linked) : I’m afraid, Sco tt…

[© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

For a less experienced artist, Ed might have been more specific in his panel descriptions. But with consummate professional Marc doing the pencils, there’s no need to give more than the briefest instruction. [© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

[© 2007 Marve l Characters, Inc .]

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veys dow n as it sur , its jets pointing skan town (not a ckbird hovers Ala air above an e or so. The Bla the pag in t . the f fee ns) hal tow like eighty sized Alaskan 1—Big panel, g about fifty or e moderately ow. It’s hoverin from two or thre the scene bel rmath of a take reference like it’s the afte It’s a mess, real one, so just ntryside, look cou burning. the it, and r the trees around oldering, cars turned ove and n tow the s sm The center of gs on fire, tree ldings, etc. re are buildin ed walls of bui fire-fight. The under collaps e is the feeling rred corpses really want her with a few cha e, so what we ard the issu the out es lick up tow oke and flam in detail through e Sm . plac else g this thin We’ll be seeing more than any and disaster, of destruc tion it hovers. in the matter . Blackbird, as have a choice hat we may not CKBIRD: …T 1 FR OM BLA back in her eyes, leaning and closes her to her temples s her fingertips put ma Em , s. 2—Inside there, alive. ks a little nervou people down chair. She loo … There are hear them now – wait – I can 2 EMMA: I can 3 EMMA: Ter

rified…

ts his finger as Cyclops poin on his mask, down, pulling forward, looking ning lea is an g. 3—Log dshield, scowlin toward the win ’ warzone. ks like a friggin 4 LOGAN: Loo re – now. Kurt down the and you t an, I wan 5 SCOTT: Log e thing, Slim. 6 LOGAN: Sur star t to fade ears as they d of smoke app ulder, and a clou htcrawler’s sho Nig bs gra 4—Wolverine out. ’s go, elf. 7 LOGAN: Let 8 SFX:

M

[© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

Note how Nightcrawler’s exclamation of disbelief at the bottom of the previous page “pays off” in the “reveal” of the burning landscape in the first panel of this one. This is where the combination of words and images that is comics is on fine display. Ideally, a comic’s creative team wants every page of every story to promise and deliver like these do, in terms of plot and/or characterization and/or spectacle. [© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.] .] l Characters, Inc [© 2007 Marve

X-MEN MESSIAH COMPLEX NUTS & BOLTS | 23


VIEW FROM THE TOP:

THE DAN BUCKLEY INTERVIEW Conducted via e-mail by Danny Fingeroth, November 11, 2007

From Dan Buckley’s official biography: “Dan Buckley is President and Publisher of Marvel Enterprises, Inc., the home of Marvel Comics. “A native of Fort Edward, New York, Buckley’s schooling includes a BA from St. Lawrence University and an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While studying in Japan, the self-proclaimed “comic geek” was graced with a career-driven epiphany, leading him to decide to approach the comics industry. Buckley entered his first tenure at Marvel in the international licensing division and eventually became a vice president for marketing services. “From Marvel he moved on to the Omnicon Group, Inc., a network of globe-spanning marketing agencies, gaining invaluable experience in marketing and communications. In 2003, Buckley returned to Marvel, the company with which he “felt at home” and had absorbed working knowledge of all its many creative facets. As the publisher, he was charged with sustaining and growing all areas of Marvel publishing and reaching out to both new and lapsed readership. “Since his return, Publisher Buckley has worked alongside Marvel’s editors and managers to invigorate the core Marvel Universe titles and characters. The growth of the Avengers books has been particularly satisfying. He is especially proud of the creation and proliferation of the all-ages Marvel Adventures line of comics that provide content-conscious material for younger readers and their guardians. This line has resulted in both healthy trade and far-ranging library programs. “Recently, Buckley’s efforts to increase graphic fiction readership have brought in such media giant partners as Stephen King’s Dark Tower and the Halo franchise. He and Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada continue to build what they see as a new “mindscape” at Marvel, and further grow the burgeoning legitimacy that the comics industry is now beginning to enjoy.” While not a hands-on comics creator, Dan is certainly an important force for determining what the media

giant that is Marvel Comics publishes. As such, it’s of relevance to aspiring and working writers to get some insight into how and why he makes the decisions he does. We were pleased that Dan took the time to answer our e-mail questions. —DF DANNY FINGEROTH: Dan, the title “Publisher” used to mean the guy who owned the publishing company. Now, it’s less specific. Why are you called publisher instead of simply “President”? For that matter, where does President put you in the Marvel structure? DAN BUCKLEY: To be very honest, I really don’t know why I reentered the fold here at Marvel with the title of Publisher. I could have very easily had a more traditional corporate VP moniker like the ones you find in DAN BUCKLEY | 25


all the other corporate divisions. All I can say is that it is a cool title, and it is one that makes me feel like I will be truly connected to the Marvel lore because it feels more participatory. The cool part about being the Publisher is that I am the only one here at Marvel with the publisher title. There are a couple of other divisional presidents, but only one publisher. As for corporate structure the president title denotes that have I full budgetary responsibility for the publishing division here at Marvel. There are other divisional presidents who have similar responsibilities to the Board of Directors.

ticipating editorially and even as a writer in the comics, whereas before that, the publisher’s influence had more to do with general policy and less with hands-on creating. Where do you fall on this spectrum? DB: I am definitely involved in the creative aspect, from the annual planning process and approving the general direction of the key characters. However, I am far from being the only voice in the room when it comes to that planning. I am pretty much out of the daily process with the exception of making sure that we are putting the right talent on the right books. To be very honest, I don’t need to worry a great deal about the creative direction because Joe Quesada and the rest of the editorial staff and talent are the best of the best. I would say that I am much less involved than my predecessor in the creative end, but much more involved than any of the presidents or publishers that preceded him.

DF: How is what you do similar to what Martin Goodman or, say Jim Galton did when they ran the company? How is it different? DB: Tough question, because I am not quite sure what Mr. Goodman’s and Mr. Galton’s day-today activities were during their tenure. I imagine that they both had responsibilities that DF: Are any recent or reached into the daily upcoming storylines the activities of the operating result of an idea of yours? entity like accounting, DB: Franklin Richards: Son legal and general personof a Genius is semi-autobinel management because ographical. But seriously, I their roles were closer to do make contributions in ones of a company CEO meetings and at our than a divisional retreats, but I would not say president. The growing line of all-ages Marvel Adventures titles prothat there are any specific From the stories I have vides the company with an entry point for younger readers. story lines that are a direct heard over the years I Cover art to issue #1 is by Michael Golden. result of an idea of mine. would assume that I am a [© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.] bit more involved in the DF: Do you, or did you ever, planning process and the have any desire to write or draw (or edit) comics promanagement of talent. Their biggest issues were dealfessionally? ing with newsstand distribution, while our challenges DB: Nope. I have no talent in that respect. for today are primarily focused on getting the right talent on the right projects. Our distribution, while more DF: You’re a fan as well as an executive. Is that a limited, is much easier to manage because we are help or a hindrance in doing your job? blessed with a dedicated and hard working hobby DB: Being a fan in my role is a huge plus. It allows retail community. me to speak intelligently to our consumers, retailers, editors and talent. I could not imagine doing this job DF: Your immediate predecessor was famous for par26 | WRITE NOW


IN THE HOT SEAT:

THE DAN DiDIO INTERVIEW Conducted by Danny Fingeroth, November 6, 2007 Transcribed by Steven Tice Copyedited by Bob Greenberger, Danny Fingeroth, and Dan DiDio

As VP-Executive Editor, DC Universe, Dan DiDio has been responsible for implementing sweeping changes to DC’s heroes—reinvigorating old favorites and introducing new ones—and guiding such bestselling series as Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown, and the upcoming Final Crisis. Before joining DC, DiDio was with the computer animation company Mainframe Entertainment where he served as freelance story editor and scriptwriter for the series ReBoot and War Planets. Later he became its Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs, overseeing the development, distribution, marketing, and promotion as well as merchandising and licensing of all Mainframe’s television properties. Among the projects he developed were Weird-Ohs, Beast Machines, Black Bull’s Gatecrasher and Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother. He began his television career in 1981 at CBS, where he worked at a variety of positions before moving to Capital Cities/ABC in 1985. At ABC, DiDio served as Public Relations Manager for the three New York-based daytime dramas, then moved to Los Angeles to become Executive Director of Children’s Programming. There, he was responsible for Saturday morning programs and After School Specials, serving as Program Executive on such series as Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Hypernauts, Madeline, Dumb and Dumber, and ReBoot. Dan also cowrote Superboy, with Jimmy Palmiotti, just before getting his staff gig at DC in 2002. Dan was able to take some time to talk to us about how he got to where he is today, and about the state of comics in 2007, 2008, and beyond. —DF

Dan DiDio, as rendered by Phil Jimenez.

[© 2007 DC Comics.]

DD: No. Actually, the one person who was into that was. When DC was doing New Talent Showcase, [editor] Sal Amendola, and I had a number of exchanges with him on just trying to get a project ready for New Talent Showcase. I never made it to the final cut, but he was extremely helpful and encouraging to me.

DF: When you were a kid, did you think you’d be a writer, or somehow involved creatively in media? DD: Well, I was always writing and submitting. I have a stack of rejection letters dating back to 1976, so I guess there was something in me that always wanted to write.

DF: What was your first entertainment or media job? DD: I started as a page at CBS. I was still in college at the time, and I had the opportunity to get a part-time job as a page at CBS in New York. The first thing I was working on there was The Warner Wolff Show, which was a local New York sports show. I had a chance to work with Warner and his producer, Carmine Cincotta. It was a real fun experience, because it gave me a real behind-the-scenes look, and caught all the fun of the entertainment business.

DF: Any favorite rejection letters? DD: One of my favorites was from Paul Levitz, in which he completely shot down an idea with, “Stock, basic plot with no real value.” DF: Did he encourage you to resubmit?

DF: Now, what led you to do that? Were you a communications major? DD: I was a communications major at Brooklyn College. I was operating as a teacher’s assistant for one of the graduate classes, and ultimately I had seen and watched somebody

DANNY FINGEROTH: Where are you from, Dan? DAN DiDIO: Born and raised in Brooklyn. Went to Tilden High School there, and then went to Brooklyn College.

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from CBS Human Resources have a water-spilling accident on the desk during the whole speech, and his attention was completely on the water that was pouring onto his lap rather than talking to the kids. Well, about three months later, I went to another seminar, and the same guy was there. And I approached him, and he had the typical Human Resources veneer on of just talking at you rather than to you. And I brought up the water incident, and it broke him down to the point he started laughing, and we had real comfortable conversation, and he’s the one who turned me on to the page job at CBS. Ultimately, when CBS offered me a full-time position, I wound up taking it and finishing school at night, because I looked at how people worked and how people progressed in television, and I saw how, realistically, it was more about who you knew, and where you worked, and how you were perceived, more so than the actual degree. I hate to say it that way, but it’s true. And the reality is, I was able to go from one position, from a per diem position to a full-time position there, and then we were off to the races. My most influential teacher was a man by the name of Robert Schimmel. He was the one who I worked as a teacher’s aide for, in Brooklyn College. Also, he taught my script-writing class, and he was also the producer/director of the Gary Moore Show which, during the ’50s, was one of the top shows on the air. Just sitting and working with him and listening to how things were assembled for TV shows was one of the things that made me want to learn more about the TV business, and become involved in it.

art, even if what they’re really enjoying is the story. DD: I was always most intrigued by Stan Lee, always, and I still think what he accomplished in comics stands head and shoulders above what anybody else accomplished. Not to detract from anyone, but to balance the business and balance the promotion side, to be as creative as he was, and as prolific as he was, and being able to control it and really focus it is really a testament to one man’s vision. I mean, you can sit there and argue about who created what, and who did what. And I understand that’s an important issue. But I look at the aggregate, at Marvel Comics as a whole, and what Stan meant to Marvel Comics as a whole, not just as far as the individual characters, but to the entire company, and then ultimately to the entire industry… Jumping ahead for a second, when I first got to DC, I had no publishing experience at all, so it was really starting on the ground floor and learning the business, and one of the games Paul Levitz and I played when I first got here was that I did a breakdown of the first three years of Marvel Comics, about how characters were introduced, how they were rolled out, what types of stories they were telling. It’s an interesting study to see how a universe is built, and, more importantly, how it was built on the fly. You can see how they were experimenting and changing and working to get the characters going in the best possible direction. And we go back to the thing about me studying writers— I’m always more interested in the written word and how

DF: You were a page at CBS. Is that sort of a fancy term for intern? DD: A paid intern. Basically, the page positions at CBS were handling seating of the audience, as well as more like a temp service within the company. And what’s great about that is that you really get a chance to work various departments, everything from videotape management to the CBS Morning News, the reception desk, and so on. And then, from there, I started getting involved with special events, working the Thanksgiving Day parade and the New Year’s Eve show. Then after that... it’s a long litany of bouncing around. It’s a 21-year journey. I went in there cold, and I got a chance for an interview. They just happened to need somebody at the time that I had gone in there. And what I did, then, is I rearranged my college schedule in order to be able to work full days at CBS. And I always say that Warner saved me because he wrote a letter to my French teacher getting me out of my French final, which I would never have passed, and I’d still be in college now. [laughs] The thing for me, also, with that, I always loved writing, so even while I was working my way through CBS, and then ABC, I was finding ways to submit and try to write things. My greatest accomplishment as an amateur writer was that I got an honorable mention in a Twilight Zone magazine contest submission. DF: In an Inside the Comics Writers Studio online interview, you mention that you gravitated, as a kid, to writers more than artists in terms of the comics you were reading. That struck me as kind of unique. Most kids will first look at the

One of Dan’s earliest projects as a TV network executive was the CGI-produced series ReBoot. He transitioned from working at ABC to working for Mainframe, which produced the series—after ABC canceled it. [© 2007 Rainbow Animation, Inc.]

DAN DiDIO | 31


rials. This was all still in New York. From station relations, I went into public relations for three years with ABC’s New York-based soap operas, so it got me a chance to be on set at a regular time, and work with actors. It was an incredible learning experience for me, but I was always writing. And here’s the strange part of the story. At the time, I was also helping out a friend of mine, Jimmy Palmiotti—and, actually, Joe Quesada at that time, also. Jimmy and I had grown up in the same building in Brooklyn. So when Jimmy and Joe started Event Comics, I helped do a bunch of press releases for them. I DF: That’s unusual for a kid. Kids had done some writing for things usually notice the art first. like Entertainment Retailing, which DD: You’ve got to understand that was a Wizard magazine, and Comic I have absolutely no artistic talent Book Week, a Fred Greenberg magat all. So, for me, anybody who azine. I did some work for Nick can even draw anything is already Barrucci, also, when he was doing head-and-shoulders above anythe Creator’s Universe card set. So thing that I could ever accomplish. I found ways to keep my toe in the So I know I can possibly write as comic book water just because I well as someone in the field, but I enjoyed it so much, but my real job know that I’ll never be able to was TV. One of the things that I love draw as well as anybody. So I best about television is children’s think that’s one of the reasons television, which was one my ultiwhy I’m more interested in the mate goals in the television busiwriting side, because I know that’s ness. Again, it’s about persistence. I something that I can strive to applied for the same California job achieve and work at. Of course, three times over the course of everything is a combination—the three years, to get into children’s telperfect storm of character, writing evision programming. To move from and artwork is the perfect storm the East Coast to the West Coast of everything, and those are the within a company was practically books that transcend, that are the impossible in those days, and I was evergreens. But, for me, the charmoving into programming with acter always comes first. There absolutely no programming experiwere six writers, when I got into ence, which was also impossible in comics, who were just exploding Once Dan assumed editorial direction of the those days. But somebody who was on the scene, and I would follow DCU, he “roadmapped” (a phrase he coined) a champion for me over on the them from any book to any book, storylines—events that lead readers through a West Coast, who spoke very highly regardless of what it was, because sequence of stories—throughout many titles, culminating in Identity Crisis, written by of me, was a woman by the name I had complete faith in their storynovelist Brad Meltzer. Cover art to issue #1 is of Linda Steiner, who I had worked telling abilities. They were Roy by Michael Turner. with in New York. What happened Thomas, Gerry Conway, Steve [© 2007 DC Comics.] was that, one position that I was Englehart, Steve Gerber, Marv passed over for opened up six Wolfman, and Len Wein. And, of months later. And at that point they were tired of interviewcourse, all roads lead to Stan. But by the time I was getting ing or something; I just wore them down and got the job. into comics, all his stories were out there, and they were [laughs] So then I was the executive director of ABC chilthe Bible from which all these other guys drew. There are dren’s programming for two-and-a-half years. certain people who transcend the business, and Stan’s such a person. As soon as you see his name on a comic, you buy With every position comes a certain level of authority that it. The same way for me, growing up, you see Jack Kirby’s allows you to do whatever you want in certain areas, name or Neal Adams’ name on a book, you know you’re whether you’re right or wrong. [laughter] And one of the going to buy that book, regardless of what it’s about. things that happened to me early on at ABC was that, I had just started, and I was new to the position, and new to givDF: So, from being a kid who loved comics and science ficing notes and the whole process of production. And I was tion, how did your journey end up at Mainframe Animation sitting down with the writers of our new Free Willy animatand California? ed series. These are Emmy Award-winning writers who’d DD: The dotted line goes from CBS to ABC. At ABC I worked done things like Little Mermaid, if I’m not mistaken. in what’s called “station relations,” which I worked with all I said to one writer, “This script isn’t funny enough,” as the affiliate stations, providing them with promotional mateany true executive would do. [laughs] And the writer things are spoken, all the twists and the turns. Growing up I would love the Alfred Hitchcock shows or the Twilight Zone. I loved the twist ending, the play on words, the allegorical statements being made, the high fantasy, the science fiction. Those were the things that really brought me in, and when I got into reading comics, those are the things I was looking for. I found that there were certain writers that really played into my sensibilities and told the stories that I wanted to read. I stuck with the character because of the writer more so than the artist.

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march them as they We’re following irs into the broad sta together up the r building. Culture Cente IN’ S SHE TALK …WHAT WA TH: ? 1 TIGER MO OW YH ABOUT AN SBIAN! I AIN’T NO HA : TH MO ER le, they 2 TIG ies Angels sty arl Ch Low angle Tiger Moth STAURANT. RE the into march lips. with red, red smiles brightly ER-LUVVIN’ ODED, MURD LO I’M A RED-B Y GAL! TR : UN TH CO MO N ER 3 TIG AMERICA LES, LADIES OSE VALUAB LET’S SEE TH : N! TH ME 4 TIGER MO AND GENTLE a big charity t plays host to The restauran nciers, diplomats, fina rich h wit r gala dinne rs Some party d guest speake movie stars an drink in hand, as everyone s, attendee laugh off panel, uncertain how to ls looks at the gir react. WOO-HOO!

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[© 2007 DC

The current Batman family titles are featuring a serial, “The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul,” with a prelude story kicking things off in BATMAN #570. The story continues Grant Morrison’s run as Batman writer, and welcomes Tony Daniel as the series’ new artist. Inks are by Jonathan Glapton. [© 2007 DC Comics.]

Comics.]

[© 2007 DC Comics.]

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a wild-eyed, t looking up at past Low angle sho wn as she fires do th Mo er Tig grinning st. uplit by the bla us. Her face is E YOU GIV I I SAID DID

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11 DRAGON

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R NOW, DER MY POWE THEY’RE UN HONEY. her watch. se up, checks Dragon Fly clo TO SHOW? ED HE SUPPOS SO WHEN’S AGITATED! I’M GETTIN’ HT TALIA SAID RIG CH BIT N QUEE … ND OU AR ce goes dark. the whole pla They turn as NOW. T RIGHT? SOUND ABOU

[© 2007 DC Comics.]

The three women Batman is fighting are Dragon Fly, Tiger Moth and Silken Spider, three very obscure villains who appeared only twice before. Note that Morrison refers to panels as “frames.” Don’t do that if you’re not Grant Morrison. [© 2007 DC Comics.]

mics.] [© 2007 DC Co

BATMAN 670 NUTS & BOLTS | 41


STORMING THE DARK TOWER

PETER DAVID DISCUSSES ADAPTING STEPHEN KING’S NOVEL SERIES FOR COMIC BOOKS

Interview conducted by Robert Greenberger via e-mail, October 2007 Copy-edited by Danny Fingeroth and Robert Greenberger Peter David, self-proclaimed Writer of Stuff, has shown a tremendous range of styles as he has moved from heroic adventure to comedy to dark fantasy, from comic books to prose to screenplays. No stranger to adaptations, he previously adapted Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country for DC Comics and novelized Swamp Thing, The Rocketeer, and Spider-Man among other properties. His greatest sales success as an adapter, though, was with the seven issue Marvel miniseries that brought Stephen King’s The Dark Tower to comic books. Partnered with co-writer Robin Furth, artist Jae Lee, and colorist Richard Isanove, the title brought critical acclaim in addition to high sales and will spawn a second series in 2008. With the first miniseries now available in hardcover, and the team at work on the next installment, we thought it high time to check in and learn what Peter’s role in the adaptation process is, exactly, and how he approaches it. —RG ROBERT GREENBERGER: Okay, you get the assignment. How do you begin the adaptation process? PETER DAVID: Actually, I don’t. The process is actually begun by Robin Furth, who breaks the story down into a plot structure narrative. Jae Lee then breaks down Robin’s story visually, and I come in and write the scripting. RG: Who is Robin Furth and what is her role with The Dark Tower? PD: Robin may well be the most knowledgeable person on the planet when it comes to The Dark Tower, save for Stephen, of course. She’s the one who worked closely with King to break the existing material down into a comics narrative, and also to develop the storylines that are to come. RG: How much involvement did Stephen King actually have with these adaptations?

PD: King has been involved in every step of the process. He worked up the outline with Robin, he approved all the visuals, and he reads every single script and line edits it. RG: While adapting something as stylized as Dark Tower, what can you bring to the table? Is there any Peter David to be found in here? PD: My job isn’t to draw attention to myself. My job is to be the stand in for Stephen King, trying to adapt his narrative voice as much as I can. RG: You told me once that you try and vary your writing to suit the needs of the material. Was that easier or harder with an adaptation? PD: Easier, since King’s work provides a wealth of material PETER DAVID | 45


TESTIMONY:

THE DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF INTERVIEW Conducted in person by Jeff Newelt, October 2007 Transcribed by Steven Tice

Back in the mid-1990s first flowering of the Internet, every time a major “old media” outlet, say The New York Times, needed a “hip young expert” to explain things to them, as often or not, said expert was Douglas Rushkoff. Perhaps because he always gave good sound bites about the coming electronic revolution, or just because they knew where to find him, not a week seemed to go by when Rushkoff wasn’t being extensively and prominently quoted somewhere. Finally, I saw an event listed that he was moderating. Being in the new media biz myself then—overseeing an electronic comics initiative at pioneering Silicon Alley house Byron Preiss Multimedia—I went to said event, ready to mock Douglas under my breath. Let’s see if Mr. Sound Bite can hold his own live! Well, it turns out, I have no memory of who else was on that panel, just of being highly impressed with this intelligent, opinionated, personable Rushkoff fellow. And who knew that, underneath the new media guy, was a longtime comics fan? Of course, Douglas has a zillion other interests, too, and you can read about them at his website: www.rushkoff.com. And here’s what Douglas’s official bio says: “Douglas Rushkoff is a world-renowned cultural theorist and the author of ten books on media, society, and beliefs, including Media Virus, Coercion, Cyberia, and ScreenAgers. He wrote two novels—one about early 90’s psychedelia called Ecstasy Club, and another about dot.com fascism, Exit Strategy. “He’s made two documentaries about marketing and the co-option of culture for PBS’ Frontline, The Merchants of Cool and The Persuaders, and he teaches popular classes in media, interactivity, and narrative for NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and the MaybeLogic Academy. “Rushkoff doesn’t dabble, but dives. He has worked as a theater director, a fight choreographer, Guardian of London columnist, a rabbi, and a keyboardist for PsychicTV, among other things. “His very first comic, Club Zero-G was about kids who visit a shared consensual dreamspace when they’re asleep— remembered only by one them. Misunderstood as a Matrix rip-off by an inexperienced reviewer, the graphic novel version won ‘Worst Graphic Novel of 2004’ from The Comics Journal. Appreciated by Jonathan Vankin, of Vertigo, as an original and successful narrative experiment, Club Zero-G got Rushkoff a pitch meeting. Testament, Rushkoff’s first comic series, was the result of that pitch.”

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As for me, I figure if Douglas is good enough for the Times, then who are we to say different? Douglas recently sat down with Jeff Newelt and talked about—among other things— comics, new media, religion, and his recent Vertigo title, Testament. Enjoy! —DF JEFF NEWELT: In your comic Testament, I notice a convergence of your favorite themes… “open source” Judaism, alternate forms of currency, media viruses, corporations, etc., etc. Why did you think a comic was the way to express your ideas? DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: In comics you can combine ideas in a way you can’t in an article, an essay, or even a nonfiction book. Prose is a deeply linear medium, you’ve got to have a clear subject and make an ordered, rational argument for it. You can attempt some verbal mash-up, à la William Burroughs, but that’s working against the bias of text and books. Comics are collage. It’s sequential storytelling. There’s both


nate, fertilize, and mutate. They rise again like a mutated monster—these wonderfully rich combinations of thoughts, ideas and imagery that you wouldn’t see anywhere else can grow into new organisms. Comics give me a forum to look at the Bible as a media theorist would, while comparing it to situations, technologies and fiscal calamities that are going on today. So this seemingly staid, holy, redacted and permanent, set-in-stone book gets dragged down into this fertile ground of possibility. It’s not just EC Bible Stories, anymore. It’s a living, mutating set of myths. And that’s what gets people the most upset, but it’s also what gets people the most fascinated: “what if the Bible were alive?” Yeah, put something in comics and it becomes JN: Did you think of that analogy in retalive. That’s why Grant [Morrison] is so rospect, or when you were coming up interested in comics. You take a god with your approach to Testament...? Cover to the first issue of Douglas that’s the projection and imagery of all DR: I’ve always looked at comics as mulRushkoff and Liam Sharp’s Testament, these people focusing on it, you take any timedia—as a precursor to the Internet. Art is by Liam. object and put it in comics… it’s alive! My first books tried to explain the [©2006 Douglas Rushkoff and Liam Sharp. All rights reserved.] That’s what he means when he says Internet to people who had never comics are a “magical sigil”: their creation is a ritual through touched it—who didn’t believe or even care that it was comwhich imagery can be beheld and disseminated. Conjured ing. And it’s hard to explain non-linear, hypertext experiences into existence. to people who’ve never been on drugs or something. But there were a lot of other emerging cultures providing easy JN: Did you have an agenda with Testament? analogies to the Internet experience—fantasy role-playing, rave DR: I’m trying to do to the Bible what Jack Kirby tried to do to music, snowboarding, dj performance. Cultures and art forms his universe. I’m trying to make these characters and situawhere things were juxtaposed, and communicating through tions come alive again by juxtaposing them with near-future their roughness or user’s interactions. scenarios that are actually happening. I’m trying to show that, Comics have always been open to these kinds of mixes— in the best sense, the Bible was warning us about what’s biased toward these juxtapositions of themes, eras and realihappening now: worshiping money, sacrificing our kids to ties. Its position in “low culture” is its strength, because peofalse idols (like oil), taking a scarcity approach toward ple aren’t necessarily expecting it to deliver all those formal resources rather than an abundance approach. At the same requirements of, say, “the sonnet,” or “the novel,” or “the nartime, though, I’m looking at how, well, the Bible didn’t work, rative nonfiction book.” did it? If this is where we are, then its lessons weren’t learned. And I’m finally suggesting that the reason it didn’t work is JN: So the power of comics sneak-attacks you, like sticking because they tried to manage society through a one-pointedmedicine in a kid’s ice cream or something…? ness. Monotheism is fine when it’s universal, but it became DR: Right. And, on top of that, because it’s ostensibly a kids’ something of an “accept our God or you’re out” thing. The medium, you can pull a Pee Wee Herman: “Where am I going notion of a universal, abstract unknowable “God” got corruptto tease and provoke culture about gay values and sexual ed, and became a “this guy is everyone’s God” mandate. innuendo, and where can I do that better than in a kids’ show?” Bart Simpson and South Park allow for a cultural criJN: And you make it clear in Testament, by the “good light” tique and irreverent jamming you couldn’t have had before you shine on the goddess Astarte, she seems to be the god on TV. that comes out the “cleanest”… this one-pointedness is related to a textual repression of the Feminine Goddess Energy, JN: Creating comics must be like messing with a Petrie dish, represented by Astarte…. What is this energy? creating a little universe that comes alive when read. DR: Well, she is responsible for screwing up the heavenly DR: Yes! Alive because it’s a cultural Petrie dish. What is a gods’ whole Eden experiment. But yeah—she’s ultimately the “culture” but a growing, fecund thing? Fecund like manure— one who got screwed over, and something of the hero in my sh*t is great fertilizer! Comics are bottom-feeders in the best god world. She represents the feminine goddess energy, the sense—reworking all of the cultural preoccupations, characters, situations, conspiracy theories that trickle down into its spirit of abundance that agricultural societies worshipped. It is disdained in the Bible, which is really about the superiority of delightful cesspool of ideas. In comics, they can cross-polliword and picture. You can communicate through the juxtaposition of image to image, or image to word, word to word, dialogue to description, or even dialogue to picture. Unlike plain text, the comics medium is biased towards these clashes, toward these mixes. Towards time travel and cultural mixing. That’s why doing comics is like doing Shakespeare. Nobody does a Shakespeare play in its original setting anymore. We perform Hamlet in an office tower or set Macbeth in the Nixon White House. We frame it so that the old myths and themes are relevant to a modern audience, and seen in a new light. There’s spoken word and a visual frame: it’s working on multiple levels.

DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF | 49


comics industry is of taking real risks with their characters. TV shows today are more comfortable killing off favorite characters than comics are. Brian Azzarello kills off a main character in Loveless, everybody’s up in arms, “How can you do that? You’ve killed the series!” And then I hear, “Well, that was an important asset,” as if it was an actor that you’ve lost, it was an asset to your brand. The whole beauty of comics is the freedom it affords. This is a low budget industry and an iconic form; these are not real actors with jobs, these are imaginary beings. You should be JN: Some might say you’re taking some serious liberties with some pretty well able to f**k with them and kill them and change them… let them do things established characters, these gods and that are against the grain. Biblical heroes… The thing that amazes me about the DR: I suppose some fundamentalists comics audience is that everybody’s crymight be upset, because they read the ing out for something new, something Bible selectively. But the Bible characbold, something that breaks the boundters in my stories really only do what aries, but everyone complains if it doesthey did in the original. Incest, murder... The best thing about Testament was that n’t also meet their expectations, and do it’s all there in black and white. And even no two issues were alike, as it explored so instantaneously. So I don’t mind peomy most outlandish interpretations are matters physical, metaphysical, and just ple critiquing that my characters are bad, pretty well supported by historical or plain weird. Here, the cover to #3, by and my situations are bad, and all that. If “Midrashic” (the history of interpretation) Liam Sharp they didn’t believe this, or didn’t believe evidence. It’s pretty solid Bible analysis, [© Douglas Rushkoff and Liam Sharp. All rights reserved.] that, it’s my bad. And I’ll work on getting even if it tends towards some harsh judgit better. When I get upset is when people say, “How can he ments on these guys. The intellectual rabbis and priests are wait until issue three to introduce a major character?” As if actually pretty interested in my perspectives. there’s this formula where every major character has to be What I really shudder at is how frightened the mainstream the ethical, nomadic tribes over the farming polytheists. The nomads were dealing with scarcity. The Bible was concerned with getting people to stop child sacrifice, but they ended up completely bashing the entirety of the religions that worshipped their gods in the abundance tradition. It was a mistake to completely repress the goddess side, though, and that’s why I treat the Torah gods as antagonists by the end of the series. They were too scared of women, and kind of screwed up as a result.

a growing out of n, as if it were old maps of Garden of Ede ctive, like those spe rendering of the per nal le, in tab nsio ng d ime A three-d but it is recedi surface of a car frame of sorts, e. It is like the tabletop. It is a gs in perspectiv see the buildin you ere wh es citi . ctive. h Adam and Eve drawn in perspe ble surface - wit left to e - on that card-ta , as if they walked from top within that fram ape ks dsc wal lan e ek sam ized on the Melch different times We see them two within the same 3-D frame. all gods. Elijah and bottom right, but the table, are the the table. Her hand around or under orts are below e, as if gathered arte and her coh Bad Tree. Ast Beyond the fram n. Ede ve make the the sky abo the tabletop to Krishna are in from underneath pushes through Krishna watch. and ah Elij , arte on, in the sky ery): That Ast Above the acti iring her treach w – almost adm raised eyebro Krishna (with re. the in ak . Managed to sne follow it. is a clever one 's hope they can e one rule. Let paradise will hav Elijah: So man's ugh the floor of thro ng reachi , her hand still of the Tree of the we see Astarte ire "stage" set d take the form need to be not do Beneath the ent the surface, her arm and han o wh h, ove m and Moloc the garden. Ab She is with Atu Good and Evil. Knowledge of n. takes . Tableau One prominently see across the garden to the right, and in two tableaus place am, and Eve are leau Two takes l. Evi Melchizedek, Ad the tree of Eternal Life. Tab and od Go ge of , at place on the left her, at the tree of the Knowled furt Life, that seems probably down tree of Eternal Evil, Garden - one, the the ge of Good and in s tree "main" of the Knowled e two Tre are re The but out of place the er, ul For den. The oth . It is beautif gar way e the in som e in quite at hom or schema arte's coloring should reflect Ast alluring. ly even threatening Even from this est freely eat;. garden thou may Tableau One: everything in the Melchizedek: Of Life. tree of Eternal l, you will not of Good and Evi o: Tw the Knowledge Tableau of this Tree of Melchizedek: But you will die. n as you do, eat - for as soo at her cohorts. p, Astarte smiles Below the tableto

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things along… we might move e an idea how ges Astarte: I hav den, Astarte ana ir lock on the gar of Good and Evil. zeldek erect the ge Elijah and Mechi clue - the Tree of the Knowled the As : ent ha Comm eat " the Garden wit are told they can to "contaminate Adam and Eve not from the in the Garden, Eternal Life - but who can walk of , dek tree izel the m lch Through Me rden, even fro wish from the Ga back; only forward. whatever they y must not look damned tree. The

A page of script, a thumbnail sketch, and art from Testament #6. The script is by Douglas. Peter Gross did the sketch, and Gary Erskine did the art. [© 2006 Douglas Rushkoff and Liam Sharp. All Rights Reserved.]


MY LIFE IN WORDS:

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A WORKING WRITER by MICHAEL TEITELBAUM

MICHAEL TEITELBAUM has been a writer, editor, and packager of children’s books, comic books, and magazines for more than twenty-five years. Starting his career as an editor at Gold Key Comics, he worked as a children’s book editor at Golden, Grosset, and Macmillan. After striking out on his own, Michael’s packaging company, Town Brook Press, created and packaged SpiderMan Magazine, a monthly publication, for Marvel Entertainment. Some of Michael’s more recent writing includes X-Men School, Story of the X-Men, Story of the Hulk, Story of Spider-Man, and Batman’s Guide to Crime and Detection for DK; junior novels based on the feature films Men In Black 2 and Spider-Man (HarperCollins); Smallville: Arrival (Little, Brown); three Justice League novels for Bantam/DC Comics; and a six-book series for Simon & Schuster based on the Nickelodeon hit show Avatar. Michael’s non-fiction writing includes books on baseball, histories of radio & TV, Chinese immigration, and the Texas and New Hampshire colonies; and a book about how comic books are made. Michael’s latest book is The Scary States of America, a collection of 50 stories of the paranormal, one from each state, published by Random House. Here, Michael takes a few minutes to tell us how he came to have such an eclectic and accomplished career, and throws in some tips about how you might be able to do something similar. —DF I’ve sat down at the keyboard hundreds—thousands—of times to write about everything from Spider-Man and Avatar, to ghosts, Bigfoot, and aliens, not to mention baseball, pirates, mountain biking, and the U.S. Constitution. But now the task before me is to write about… me. Well, here goes. As you can see from my bio, I started my career in publishing as an editor at the now-defunct Gold Key Comics. I read lots of comics as a kid—both DC and Marvel, plus the odd Archie and Richie Rich now and then—but I never really imagined that I would end up working in the business. At the time, a few years out of college, I was working at an advertising agency and all my friends knew that I was pretty unhappy there. I had been a Communications 54 | WRITE NOW

major in college with a focus on radio and TV. But when I realized that I would have to leave New York (my first love) to begin pursuing a career in radio (my second love) I was reluctant. Those were the big bad ’70s, when you didn’t have to work on Wall Street to afford an apartment in Manhattan. So, if I was going to live in New York I had to work somewhere. I simply scoured the NY Times want ads each Sunday and applied for any job that required only a B.A. I was just looking to pay my rent and enjoy New York. I hadn’t given much thought to a long-term career goal. The ad agency job was the first one that came along. As it turned out, I did a weekly radio show on a volunteer basis, meaning for no money, on WBAI, a non-commercial station in New York at the same time I was working my day job, so that dream came true to some degree, even though it wasn’t how I was making a living. When a friend of a friend called to say he was leaving


The horror/suspense titles from Gold Key and other companies were excellent training grounds for new writers and artists, as they had to craft stories with beginnings, middles and ends plus a surprise or twist ending, all in five or six pages! Cover to The Twilight Zone # 35 is by an unknown painter [© 2007, CBS] his editorial job at Gold Key and asked if I would be interested in interviewing for it, I jumped at the chance. I was effectively an outsider to the comic book world (and the publishing world in general) but it sounded like it would be a lot more fun than the work I doing at the time. For whatever reason—my boyish good looks? my impressive interviewing skills?—I got the job. I’m not really sure why the executive editor, Wally Green, took a chance on me, but I am, of course, grateful that he did. It was at Gold Key that I learned aspects of my craft that have proven useful in all the writing I’ve done since. I learned how to plot a story using existing, well-known characters. How to set up and pay off a gag, both visually and in words. In those days—the late 1970s and early 1980s—we were publishing Disney and Warner Brothers characters. I edited Tweety and Sylvester among other titles. I also edited several adventure/horror/mystery anthologies for younger readers, as were all of Gold Key’s titles, such as The Twilight Zone, Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery, and Grimm’s Ghost Stories. From these I learned the art of plotting a short story from scratch. The only recurring characters in these books were the hosts who presented the tales and so, for each issue, the writers and I were faced with the task of coming up with a variety of interesting, different stories of monsters, ghosts,

or classic “T-Zone” unexpected twists. Doing all this on a monthly deadline, filling four to five of these anthology titles with three to five of these stories was amazing “in the trenches” training for plotting a short story filled with twists and unexpected turns, suspense, chills, and surprise endings. Everything you learn about storytelling from writing, reading, editing, listening to writers speak, or reading Write Now! to discover the nuts and bolts processes, adds to your growth as a storyteller. Remain open to it all. In time—1982, to be specific—the comic book business shifted from the newsstand to the direct market. The big losers in this move were little kids—in other words, the readers of Gold Key’s line. With comics pretty much gone from the newsstand—Gold Key’s core distribution outlet— Gold Key (once a dominant player, along with Marvel and DC, in terms of sales) went out the comic book business. It was during this fadeout that I discovered the world of licensed children’s books, which not only saved my job at the company, but opened up an avenue for my writing that would, a few years later, become the basis for launching my freelance career. As Gold Key’s comics business was fading away, I spent a lot of time at the office drinking coffee, reading the paper, and talking to my friends on the phone. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that no one was going to pay me to do this forever. So when the handwriting (okay, the lettering) was on the wall about the fate of Gold Key Comics I walked down the hall to the offices of Golden Books—yes, those famous Little Golden Books we all grew up reading. Golden was a sister company of Gold Key, which were both owned by Western Publishing. The children’s book editors at Golden Books didn’t really know us comic book guys too well, so it was with some trepidation that I walked into the editor-in-chief’s office to introduce myself, explaining that I was a good editor, already on the company’s payroll, with not much to do, and asked if I could help them out in any way. When she didn’t toss me out on my ear in the first five minutes, mumbling something about “those damn comic book geeks” I took that as a good sign. Then she handed me bunch of papers and said, “We just got this in and can’t make head or tails out of it. See what you can do.” The “it” to which she was referring was “Masters of the Universe.” Apparently Golden had bought to the rights to do children’s books based on this TV show which had been based on a toy (Oy, don’t ask!). These keepers of the Pokie Little Puppy, the Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Pat the Bunny had no clue what to do with these steroid infested good guy toy characters who battled evil toys, and so the project got dumped in my lap as a kind of audition to see if I was worthy of wearing the mantel of “Golden Book Editor.” I immediately called the comic book writers and artists I was working with—the guys who did the adventure books and the two Gold Key superhero comics I resurrected for short runs, Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, MICHAEL TEITELBAUM | 55


[© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

Marvel’s first Captain Marvel is plucked out of the past for the miniseries entitled, simply, Captain Marvel. Here are a few pages toward the end of the second issue story, “Reconstruction.” The script is by Brian Reed, with pencils by Lee Weeks. The cover (above) is by Ed McGuinness. Note how Reed’s script is structured something like a movie script, with the dialogue set with narrower margins to differentiate it from the art descriptions. [© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

PAGE 18 1 - Int. Mother Starr's office - Night The only light in the room is from Julia's desk. This whole shot needs to be moody and spooky so our red herring of this cult sells properly. Nathan stands at the desk, sorting through Julia's papers. Looking for clues to prove something fishy is going on here. From off panel: JULIA STARR You thought I didn't see you, Nathan? Thought you could slip into my office and started going through my things?

2 - Julia enters the frame, approaching her desk opposite from Nathan.

NATHAN JEFFERSON Then I'll ask my questions quickly.

[© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.]

Why are you doing this, Julia? You have more money at your disposal than some people can even imagine. JULIA STARR There is more to life than money, bedding the next movie star I meet, or getting my picture in as many magaziNATHAN JEFFERSON So, you had a spiritual awakening and now here you are, leading a cult. Is that the story?

6 - Two rather large burly men in red and blue robes appear in the doorway. They are clearly here to kick Nathan's ass. BRUISER HALA CULTIST #1 Is there a problem, Mother Starr?

4 - Julia slams her fist on the desk.

JULIA STARR Just like old times.

JULIA STARR We are not a cult! We are -

NATHAN JEFFERSON Well, not just like... last time you caught me in your office, you pointed a gun at me.

NATHAN JEFFERSON Not a religion, either. Throwing on some robes and preaching twisted versions of -

BRUISER HALA CULTIST #2 Something you need us to... deal with?

PAGE 19 JULIA STARR You're quite lucky I've grown as a person since then. You have thirty seconds to get out of this church, or I call the police.

1 - Ext. Stark Tower - Night 5 - Julia turns towards the door. Pissed off rage, right out of nowhere. Heather Sante's voice comes from the level of MarVell's apartment. JULIA STARR Your time is up! Get out of We can make out the apartment because it is the one my office, now! Get out! part of the building with all its windows darkened. Guards!

3 - Nathan smiles a smart ass smile.

GET HIM OUT!

HEATHER SANTE Director Stark would have my ass if he knew we were doing this. But Mar-Vell called and asked Stark for a meeting at the helicarrier... 2 - Int. Captain Marvel's Apartment - Night Close on Heather Sante. She and a pair of SHIELD Agents are entering the apartment. They all have illuminated flashlights built into their uniforms. They are all wearing rubber gloves. The blinds are closed. The lights are off. HEATHER SANTE CAPTAIN MARVEl NUTS & BOLTS | 59 So we're gonna have a quick glance and then get out. Nobody touch a thing. You're just here to serve as extra eyeballs for me. See things I


CREATING COMICS STEP BY STEP

FINAL 4 steps

By STEVEN GRANT Copyright © 2007 by Steven Grant.

Steven Grant has had a long and successful career as a comic book writer, including work on The Punisher, Spider-Man, Batman, and RoboCop. He is the creator of the independent comics series, Whisper. His weekly column, Permanent Damage, can be found on cbr.cc. Its predecessor, Master of the Obvious, is where “Creating Comics” first appeared (not on Permanent Damage, as we had previously stated), and it is also archived at cbr.cc. For those keeping count, there are a total of ten steps (plus a “substep”) in this series. Here are the final four. The info in them is as valuable as what Steven wrote in parts 1-6. Read ’em and learn! —DF Step 7: Characterization I was doing a job for Louise Simonson, back when she was editing for Marvel, a Battlestar Galactica issue if I remember right, when I asked her about characterization. I hadn’t been hanging around Marvel for that long at that point (neither had she) but I’d become puzzled by one editor or artist or fan after another talking about this writer or that’s terrific characterization. And I’d look at the comics they talked about—and I just couldn’t see it! For the most part it was certainly better than the pure vanilla characterization you saw in most DC Comics of the late ’70s, where heroes were heroes because they were good and when you’re good you become a hero and villains were bad because that’s what villains are, and in Marvel Comics they didn’t editorially blot out all authorial idiosyncrasies so they were more interesting, but when I looked for what, in literature classes in college, was called characterization, it just wasn’t there. At least in any broad sense. It seemed every author would seize on one little character twist, then run it on every character in their stable until it became nothing more than the shtick by which that author was easily recognized. Even with the most interesting characterization, if every character in a story behaves the same, it’s not characterization. So, at the risk of looking ignorant, I asked Weezie about it, though she’d never raved up anyone’s characterization in my presence. She took my issue of Battlestar Galactica, opened it to a certain sequence, and said, “See where this character does this in this situation, but that one does that? That’s characterization.” Yes, it really is just that simple. Sort of. 62 | WRITE NOW

Awhile back in this series I raised some eyebrows when I said, despite schisms imposed by generations of English teachers and literary critics, that plot and character were really the same thing. In real terms, when writing a story, they commingle to the point of inseparability, with character’s actions constantly working on the story to change the direction of the plot and the events of the plot in ways large and small constantly altering character. But in real terms we the audience never see character. Character really only exists in the author’s head. What we see is characterization. As nit-picky as it sounds, it’s important to understand the difference between character and characterization. Characterization is where plot and character intersect. Characterization is the expression of character through action. Characterization is the means by which we (hopefully) convince the reader the story is actually happening about people. It’s an essential part of story logic, because it builds the logic of each character and establishes their behavioral patterns. Characters who establish their own behavioral logic and stick to it become “real.” Characters that play fast and loose with behavioral logic are little more than cartoons. A character demonstrates a mortal fear of choking to death on chicken meat. Given that premise, what strikes you as more logical and “real”: he goes into a cold sweat when his co-workers suggest lunching at Kentucky Fried Chicken, or he goes with them without a thought and chows down on a bucket of buffalo wings while discussing the latest company project? Every movement a character makes in a story, every word, is characterization. Back when characters still smoked, I used that as a characterization example: when your character


lights a cigarette, how does he do it? Matchbook? Cigarette lighter? Kitchen match struck on whatever rough surface is at hand? Does he smoke a pipe? Cigars? If cigars, stogies or cigarillos? Cigarettes? Filtered or straight? Plain or menthol? Straight up or through a cigarette holder? Each choice suggests something different about the character. In my early days at Marvel I’d make sense of characters by figuring out what music they listened to. (Hawkeye, for instance, had a massive collection of rockabilly records, which I thought said something interesting and different about his character.) Broadly, characterization breaks down into four forms: • big action (macrocharacterization) • mannerism and body language (microcharacterization) • background • dialogue Big action is the main form of characterization in most comics: the notion, for example, that Spider-Man will smash into a room through a window without a second thought to save someone inside. But there was a time when SpiderMan would slither in through a vent window and creep along the ceilings like, oh, a spider. But everyone understands big action. It’s the action that pushes the plot along. The cowboy wears his gun low and walks out onto Main Street to face off against three gunmen in a showdown. It’s the most instantly apprehensible form of characterization because it’s the most blatant and the most attached to plot, but it’s also the most overtly given to stereotype: you know the cowboy’s the hero because he’s the one who walks out alone against three killers. What is the perception if his behavior changes, if instead of walking out without cover onto the deserted street he hides in a bell tower or the loft of a barn, or crawls beneath the raised sidewalks of an old west town, and picks off the three killers one by one from hiding, and they never even figure out where he is? That doesn’t discount him from being the hero, but it makes him a different sort of hero (smarter, for one thing). These sound like plot concerns, but they’re really characterization. How the character behaves in the big picture is characterization. How a character behaves in any way is characterization. Not too many comics writers concern themselves with mannerism and body language, partly because of the nature of the medium: control of those things are in the artist’s hand. But they’re of necessary consideration, as they add texture and weight to characters, distinguishing them from others. (Shared or parallel mannerisms can also be used to thematically link characters.) The clothes a character chooses to wear, or whether he bothers with personal hygiene, or whether he prefers to stand with his arms folded or his hands clasped behind his back define him as much as his

willingness to leap through fire. How characters move when they walk is characterization. Everything is characterization. A trained boxer is going to move differently from a chess player, a teenage girl walking through a mall will look at different things than a 35-year-old man will. On a physical level, this kind of characterization—irrelevant to the plot for the most part—defines the relationship between character and environment. Every character in a story, even ancillary characters, needs to have some distinguishing characteristic, even if it’s only the way they stand, whether it’s the decision of the writer or the artist. The real trick to mannerism and body language, or any kind of characterization is: consistency. Once it’s established, follow it faithfully. Not that a character’s mannerisms and behavior can’t shift in the course of a story—most stories are about how characters’ behavior shifts and why—but those changes need to be properly set up and motivated, and for that to work effectively the initial characterization has to be well-established. Background, of course, consists of the details of a character’s milieu, values and history, which are often inextricably meshed, and they all influence other aspects of characterization. Someone who grew up on a farm in backwoods Alabama’s going to have different personality tics and vocabulary (particularly unconscious or automatic slang) than someone raised in a Park Avenue high-rise penthouse. Someone with seven brothers and sisters will likely have different values than an only child. As the forces that underlie personality, milieu values and history have direct effect on character and therefore characterization. It all has to be, in some form, taken into account. The most commonly abused form of characterization in comics is dialogue, which far too often is reduced to what amounts to exposition and catch phrases. The words we use, the rhythms of our speech, our grammatical shortcuts and eccentricities, these are all part of what each of us are. It’s no different for the characters in our stories; it is the most intimate and immediate expression of their psychopathologies and thought processes. But, since dialogue serves many functions alongside characterization, it deserves a discussion of its own. Step 8: Dialogue in Theory In theory, the purest comics are those done without use of any words at all, where the pictures alone carry the entire narrative weight of the story. Comics like that have been done. Very few

Two different ways a spider approaches its prey. The one on the right is Spidey’s first encounter with Doctor Doom, as depicted in Amazing Spider-Man #5, script by Stan Lee, art by Steve Ditko. On the previous page is a bombastic approach, in Amazing Spider-Man #350, courtesy of scripter David Michelinie, penciler Erik Larsen and inker Randy Emberlin. [© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.] STEVEN GRANT | 63


We hope you enjoy this FREE

BACK ISSUE #25 PREVIEW! Edited by former DC and Dark Horse editor MICHAEL EURY, BACK ISSUE magazine celebrates comic books of the 1970s, 1980s, and today through recurring (and rotating) departments such as “Pro2Pro” (a dialogue between two professionals), “Greatest Stories Never Told” (spotlighting unrealized comics series or stories), and more! Issue #25 is our “Men Of Steel” issue. Go behind the scenes of Iron Man’s influential ’80s run by BOB LAYTON and DAVID MICHELINIE, and steel yourself for RICH BUCKLER’s first-ever interview about his cyborg creation Deathlok the Demolisher! Also: MIKE GRELL on the Warlord, JOHN BYRNE on ROG 2000, Charlton’s Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman comics, Marvel’s Machine Man, the FF’s H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot, Superman vs. Brainiac in the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes comic strip, and DC’s Steel, The Indestructible Man. Plus: “Backstage Pass” looks at 1979’s Legends of the SuperHeroes TV specials starring ADAM WEST and BURT WARD! Art by and commentary from JACK KIRBY, BARRY WINDSOR-SMITH, DON HECK, GEORGE TUSKA, and more. With a riveting Iron Man cover by BOB LAYTON! Edited by MICHAEL EURY. Bi-monthly! (100-page magazine) SINGLE ISSUES: $9 US SUBSCRIPTIONS: Six issues in the US: $40 Standard, $54 First Class (Canada: $66, Elsewhere: $90 Surface, $108 Airmail).

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MIKE GRELL • DAVE COCKRUM GARCÍA-LÓPEZ • JACK KIRBY

BRUCE TIMM • ADAM HUGHES CARMINE INFANTINO

NEAL ADAMS • DAVE GIBBONS JOHN ROMITA SR.

FRANK MILLER • MIKE MIGNOLA JOHN ROMITA JR. • MIKE ZECK

TwoMorrows. Celebrating The Art & History Of Comics. TwoMorrows • 10407 Bedfordtown Drive • Raleigh, NC 27614 USA • 919-449-0344 • FAX: 919-449-0327 • E-mail: twomorrow@aol.com • www.twomorrows.com


TM

by

Dan Johnson

cond ucte d July 12, 2007

If you want to succeed in business, you have to tap into your full potential. While on the comics page Tony Stark may have learned that lesson a long time ago, some of the writers and artists who were crafting tales of his alter ego, Iron Man, had not. All that changed though when inker Bob Layton and writer David Michelinie were given the nod to helm the adventures of Ol’ Shellhead from Iron Man #116 (Nov. 1978) to #153 (Dec. 1981). During their run on the book, Iron Man became a major power player in the Marvel Universe and a huge hit with fans of Marvel Comics. More importantly, the man in the Golden Armor, Tony Stark, took center stage in the series and was finally fleshed out as a character. The world that the man behind Stark Industries inhabited, and comics in general, became richer for this new emphasis. Indeed, Layton and Michelinie’s initial run was so successful and fondly remembered that they were asked to return to the book for a second time during Iron Man #215–232 (Feb. 1988–July 1989). Recently BACK ISSUE caught up with Layton and Michelinie and got the story about their two times with the Golden Avenger, and we also got the inside scoop about how they are returning to the character once more in an effort to yet again build a better Iron Man. – Dan Johnson DAN JOHNSON: Thank you both for sitting down and doing this “Pro2Pro” interview with BACK ISSUE. The theme of this particular issue is “Men of Steel,” and you certainly can’t do an issue like this without talking about Iron Man. Tell our readers how you two came to work on this character. DAVID MICHELINIE: We had worked together at DC on Claw the Unconquered and we had become friends over that [series]. We had both recently left DC to work for Marvel and we were offered Iron Man by Jim Shooter. I had never read Iron Man before, and it was one of Bob’s

Iron Men Tony Stark and his temporary replacement as Iron Man, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, in a 2001 Bob Layton commissioned illustration. From the collection of Chris Murrin. © 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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favorite books, so we made a good team. Bob knew all the stuff that had happened in the past, and I knew absolutely nothing, so I was coming to it with fresh eyes. BOB LAYTON: If I remember correctly, there were three books offered to us and Iron Man was one of them. They were three books that were at the bottom [in sales rankings]. Do you recall that? MICHELINIE: It may well have happened, but I have no memory of that. LAYTON: I think I was just so excited to find out Iron Man was one of the books they had available. MICHELINIE: If so, then that’s probably the reason I picked it. The advantage of having you know the character was probably a factor. LAYTON: It’s safe to say that Dave kind of rolled with this. I was always such a huge fan of armored characters anyway, from my King Arthur obsession on, that Dave just listened to all my ranting about this character from my childhood and he formed his take on Iron Man from my opinions. Is that fair, Dave? MICHELINIE: [slight pause] Okay. LAYTON: [laughs] MICHELINIE: I don’t know if I formed my opinions, but I certainly got a great deal of background, and your enthusiasm bled off into my viewpoint, I’m sure. LAYTON: I was a lot more excitable in those days. MICHELINIE: I don’t know if that has diminished. LAYTON: [laughter] Thanks! JOHNSON: You said Iron Man was selling poorly when you took over. When you sat down together to discuss what needed to be done to improve the sales, what conclusions did you draw? What changes did you think had to be made? LAYTON: Get rid of the Ani-Men! [laughter] Wasn’t that our first agenda, Dave? MICHELINIE: I think our first agenda was to push the character into a more realistic direction, looking at Tony Stark as a real guy and determining what would a real guy in his position do. That’s why one of the first storylines we wanted to do was “Demon in a Bottle,” an alcoholism storyline. S.H.I.E.L.D. had been trying to take over his company and [Stark] had all kinds of women problems. As some would say, you wouldn’t give his problems to a monkey on a rock. [Faced with these problems,] what would a real person do? A real person would look for some kind of safety valve and at the time, with Tony being a millionaire playboy in the 1980s before crack cocaine became such a popular item, drinking seemed to be the logical way to push him. That was our main thrust, to try and take this character and change him as a real person and see where that led us.

Corner symbol art by Bob Layton used during the Iron Man run penciled by John Romita, Jr.

Beginnings: Inker on Charlie Nichols’ pencils for “By the Dawn’s Early Light,” published in Charlton Comics’ Beyond the Grave #5 (Apr. 1976)

Milestones: Co-creator of the Huntress / plotter and inker on Iron Man / writer and artist on Hercules limited series / writer on X-Factor / co-founder of Valiant Comics / co-creator of X-O Manowar / co-founder of Future Comics

Works in Progress: Iron Man: The End one-shot / a new miniseries featuring the third installment of the Iron Man/Dr. Doom/Camelot trilogy for Marvel Comics / writer and inker of the online monthly web-comic, Colony, at www.boblayton.com

Cyberspace: www.boblayton.com

BOB LAYTON Photo courtesy of Bob Layton.

Beginnings: “Puglyon’s Crypt,” published in DC’s House of Secrets #116 (Feb. 1974)

Milestones: Co-plotter and scripter of Iron Man / The Avengers / Star Wars / The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones / The Unknown Soldier / The Bozz Chronicles / The Amazing Spider-Man / creator of Venom / Action Comics / co-founder of Future Comics

Works in Progress: Co-plotter and scripter of Iron Man: The End one-shot and Iron Man/Dr. Doom/Camelot trilogy miniseries for Marvel Comics / short stories for Moonstone prose anthologies including The Phantom Chronicles and Moonstone Monsters: Werewolves

DAVID MICHELINIE Photo courtesy of Bob Layton.

© 2007 Marvel Characters, Inc.

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Write Now #17  

WRITE NOW #17 (80 pages, $6.95) is a special HEROES ISSUE featuring secrets behind the hit series, the comics, and the website, from series...

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