Wednesday Interview: Jeff Parker

Jeff Parker is one of my favourite comic writers because you can tell that he really enjoys his job. He has written (and drawn!) an impressive pile of comics that are all full of action, fun, humour and are often appropriate for all ages. He is best known for his awesome work at Marvel, including Agents of Atlas, X-Men First Class, Marvel Adventures Avengers, Exiles, The Age of The Sentry, and Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. One of his newest projects, however, is and original creation for DC's Wildstorm imprint. Mysterius the Unfathomable is a great new six-issue series that falls into the "supernatural detective" genre, and has amazing art by Tom Fowler. Issue #4 hits stores today, and I highly recommend checking out the whole series if you haven't yet.

Now let's hear what Jeff has to say about Mysterius, Tom Fowler, upcoming projects, and what DC characters he'd like to touch!

I'd like to start with you describing the concept of Mysterius the Unfathomable in your own words and where the inspiration came from.

The book uses the conceit that most stage magicians are in truth actual practicing magicians of the occult. Mysterius is one of the more notorious of these people, and he has always had assistants using the stage name "Delfi." He plays different roles in different time periods, and is a jerk in all of them, but he has an undying curiousness and need to know all things magic.

The inspiration is largely that I wanted to create an amoral protagonist and do something supernatural. Also I wanted something that evoked the works of Douglas Adams, particularly the Dirk Gently books.

Tom Fowler's art is absolutely amazing on this title. Were you paired up with him by Wildstorm, or did you develop this series with him? Do you think that his awesomeness can be attributed to the fact that he is Canadian? 

I was trying to get Tom on a Marvel project when Wildstorm approved this concept. And then that fell through and I immediately bugged Ben Abernathy to ask Tom, who I knew would be perfect. His awesomeness may indeed be inherently Canadian- you seem to have a ridiculous amount of drawing talent. Now of course it's unthinkable that Tom might not have been part of this, so much of the characters is him and his sensibilities.

Comic fans are mostly familiar with your work for Marvel. What attracted you to Wildstorm as a home for Mysterius? Has the experience been significantly different than writing for Marvel? 

They nicely invited me to create something new, and by They I mean Ben Abernathy. And even though they are known for the Wildcats, Stormwatch type stuff, they've done quite a bit of offbeat books so it seemed like it could work. It's different from Marvel mostly because it's creator originated rather than work for hire, so the difference of WS being more hands off isn't really a company one. I didn't really answer that did I? Maybe Marvel does tend to tell people they're putting out these books.

You have now basically conquered the comic writing trifecta: writing comics starring established popular superhero characters like the Avengers and the X-Men, writing comics starring virtually unknown characters that you pulled out of obscurity like Agents of Atlas, and writing comics starring your own original characters. Which of these challenges has been your favourite experience so far? 

Nothing really beats creating your own characters. Really, if your aspirations are ultimately to service other people's trademarks, that's kind of sad. You should always want to contribute something new. Atlas, though I don't own it, does touch that a bit too because I had so much say so in how the characters were reimagined.

Not to say I don't enjoy the heck out of the other stuff. I get a lot of pride out of being able to make the All Ages books actually appeal to readers of all ages, for example. And it's nice to be trusted with the keys to the House of Ideas.

You're a very busy guy when it comes to writing comics, and we fans are grateful! How many comics are you working on now and what projects do you have coming up?

I'm now writing Agents of Atlas, Exiles, The Hood mini and the final 1602 series- I just finished the last issue of Mysterius. There will undoubtedly be surprise one-shots I don't know about yet, too.

Of the dwindling list of characters that you haven't written yet, which do you hope to write someday? 

Dr. Strange and Thor at Marvel. And there are tons of DC characters I've not even touched!