Wednesday Interview: Owen Craig

This week (and possibly also last week - reports vary) sees the first trade collection of me-favourite Kill Shakespeare in stores, and in addition to the tale of a plucky Danish prince embroiled in a sea of Elizabethan intrigue and attempted deicide, the book features a bonus story written by newcomers Owen Craig and Curtis Westman. To commemorate this event, here is an extra-special bonus feature for this here blog, namely the return of the Wednesday Interview for a talk with Owen Craig!

Huzzah, and here we go:

First of all, how about a pocket bio of Owen Craig?

I was born in Perth, Ontario. Don't worry if you haven't heard of it, it's an extremely small town located between Kingston and Ottawa. I moved to Toronto as a teenager and then I went to York University to study theatre where I became interested in both comics and writing (remember that, it'll be important later). I started doing some work with a high school friend, Curtis Westman, and we collaborated on a short film called "Hamlet: A Comedy in Three Acts", which lead to us writing together on a regular basis. Since then it's been pretty much business as usual for any budding writer: working a boring day job and writing in the evenings and on weekends.

So: your story is appearing in an upcoming trade of Kill Shakespeare. Give us the one-sentence plot hook that will make everyone completely unable to pass it up. And maybe throw in a couple of other sentences if you feel the need.

Yeah, our story is in the first trade paperback of Kill Shakespeare. Curtis (my writing partner, I don't remember if I established that I work with a writing partner) and I approached this story with the goal of building on the Kill Shakespeare world. When looking at their concept it occurred to us that one Shakespearean play which would be difficult for Conor and Anthony to bring in would be Julius Caesar, so we've taken the moment of Brutus making his decision about whether or not to participate in the conspiracy to murder Caesar and shown how that particular moment plays out in the context of the Kill Shakespeare comic. It's basically a fun Easter egg for fans of both Shakespeare and fans of Kill Shakespeare, with some pretty cool ties into the main book.

How did you get mixed up in all of this Kill Shakespeare nonsense, anyway?

While at the Wizardworld Toronto (formally known as the Paradise Toronto Comicon) show I came across the Kill Shakespeare table. As a former theatre student I was naturally intrigued by the book. I ended up talking to Conor and Anthony for... I don't know... half an hour? It was one of those "damn, I wish I'd thought of it" concepts. On an impulse I asked them if they would let me pitch them an idea for a backup story and, much to my surprise, they accepted. So I got together with Curtis and we wrote up a couple of proposals, which they ended up liking. It's pretty much the classic story of being in the right place at the right time with the right idea. Conor and Anthony deserve a lot of credit for giving a couple of first-time writers their first break, it's an extremely cool thing that they're doing and I couldn't appreciate it more. Between the opportunity, their guidance and their constructive criticism I owe them a lot.

Did you have to revise your plot at all? Were there any cases of Conor and Anthony saying that they were actually already using Character X for something in the main plot, or did such things come together without a hitch?

We pitched them a couple of stories, and there were definitely some characters that we quickly realized were more off-limits than others. One of the stories we pitched was problematic because we were told that the character we wanted to use wouldn't be introduced until issue 7 or 8, so our story would predate the character's first appearance. That's part of the reason we pitched a Julius Caesar story, as there would be no crossover characters and it gave us a lot of freedom.

It's worth mentioning, though, that Conor and Anthony were extremely generous about letting us play around with some fairly major elements of their story. In fact, there are a couple of hints in our story as to what is coming up in the main book (yet another reason for fans to buy the trade).

Where can people look for more Owen and/or Curtis if they like what they see in the trade?

Well, nothing is coming up soon, but you can rest assured that Curtis and I are hard at work on some original material we hope to be pitching to publishers in the near future. We have a few ideas that we're very excited about. Plus, if everyone's happy with this story than there's always a chance that there might be another Owen/Curtis story in the second Kill Shakespeare trade! In the meantime you can check out our blog at, Curtis and my website.

Gratuitous Canadian question: How do you take your Tim's?

Well, I may not drink a lot of Tim's but I think I can top that for being Canadian: I WORKED at Tim's. That's right, I worked at the Tim Horton's in Perth (Ontario), which falls on Highway 7 between Ottawa and Kingston. Let me say, everyone, treat the staff there well. They work extremely hard.

And finally, a two-parter: name your favourite a) play by Shakespeare and b) comic book series and attempt to link them thematically.

Favourite Shakespeare book and comic series...that's a tough one. I don't know that I could pick a favourite of either, definitively, but I'm a huge fan of both Hamlet and James Robinson's Starman. Both are stories about young men who find themselves suddenly immersed in a situation they don't want to be in and don't understand. And, hey, both young men spend more time thinking and talking about their situation rather than acting on it! There you go!

Edit: Whoops, I'm a dope. I didn't even think to ask about who did the art on the bonus story. Turns out that it's J. Bone and it's unsurprisingly awesome.


Wednesday Interview: Gregg Schigiel

Chances are you are more familiar with Gregg Schigiel's work than you think you are. Not only is he the writer of Marvel's current X-Babies mini-series, he is also one of the official Spongebob Squarepants artists, and he has done an impressive mountain of licensing art for Marvel, DC, Nickelodeon, Disney, and other heavy hitters. He is also known as the guy who drew me a totally awesome Namor sketch at HeroesCon '09. X-Babies #2 drops this week, and I got to talk to Gregg all about those adorable little mutants.

How did you get to be involved with X-Babies?

By accident. Yeah, I had pitched something else entirely, a couple of times, with Jacob Chabot (the artist on X-Babies), a Spider-Ham mini-series. But because of other things going on that pitch wasn’t viable. The second editor we pitched it to, Nick Lowe, asked if we had any X-Babies ideas. In that moment I didn’t, but I went into brainstorm mode and came up with the story people are reading now. I ran it by Jacob and he was on board...and Marvel liked it to. Next thing you know, I’m being interviewed on Living Between Wednesdays.

Your Spider-Ham mini-series pitch to Marvel expanded the idea of Spider-Ham to create a whole Avengers team of animals. Although that wasn't picked-up, this X-Babies series is sort of in the same category of off-beat versions of Marvel heroes. Are you a big fan of the weirder elements of mainstream comics?

Oh, it was more than just an Avengers team of animals. The idea was the reinterpret the Marvel Animals (or AniMarvels, as I was calling them) as being essentially an alternate world/dimension where every Marvel Universe character had an animal counterpart, be they Avenger, X-Man, cosmic level dude...everyone. In the pitch I explained the equivalent of mutants on this world were birds, feared and hated for their feathers and flight...that sort of thing.

I like the weirder and more playful elements of superhero comics, and it seems as more and more attempts are made to prove how grown-up and realistic comics can be, much of even the basic tenets, like costumes, code names, using super powers, have become the weirder elements.

But if a concept or character are inherently weird or different, it’s fun to play them straight. If a character is a normal or typical thing, it’s fun to take them to weird places...if that makes sense. So the X-Babies...we’re playing this one relatively straight, but letting the quirkiness of these wee X-Men exist as they would. I don’t know if any of that made sense, but there you go.

I find it really interesting that you have done a lot of work for DC and Marvel, as well as Nickelodeon, outside of monthly comic books. You have done illustration work for colouring books, children's picture books, advertising, and guide books for both companies. For our illustrator friends out there, how did you get into that kind of work?

The terrible answer is the classic “it’s who you know”. While I was at Marvel as an assistant editor
I learned quite a bit about licensing art and that whole department and did work with them (there’s a drawing of Electro I did for them years ago that still pops up pretty regularly). So that was the first eye-opener to the world outside sequential comics specifically. Then, My old boss at Marvel, Tom Brevoort, knew someone at Nickelodeon looking, at the time, for freelance cartoonists to help out with licensing work. I was put in touch with that guy and that led to a full-time position there which eventually led to me leaving there to work as a full-time freelancer.

Though for the sake of our illustrator friends out there, the lesson should be: there are other opportunities to find work drawing for a living beyond specifically comics. I realize it’s hard to even think that way, especially when you love comics. And especially when the nature, at least of licensing work, is drawing to a style as opposed to in your own, personal style.

But it’s important to know it’s out there. And I think a way to approach looking for that sort of thing is contacting art directors and such at licensed publishing houses and asking to test for specific properties (which is to say you do samples to see how well you can draw something “on-model” (which is to specs so it looks like it does on TV, for example). That’s how they determine if you make the cut and then, maybe, there’ll be work there. A lot of companies might have in-house staff for their style guides and such, but you could still inquire with them as well.

I’m not saying it’s all a guaranteed pot of illustrator gold out there, but there are opportunities, certainly. You just gotta keep your eyes and mind open.

Who is the most adorable X-baby?

Of the X-Babies proper, Jacob’s version of Kitty Pryde is super-cute, no question about it. Of the Adorable X-Babies, who we first met in X-BABIES #1, Jacob’s design for Stormy, as she’s called in that form, is brilliant with the pacifier and onesie. But in issue one we only showed you some of the Adorables...

What other projects are you working on now?

These days I’m working on the last chapter of my 5-part back-up comic, PIX: TEENAGE AMERICAN FAIRY, for Chris Giarrusso’s G-MAN: CAPE CRISIS mini-series, which is a really great book that I’m very pleased and honored to be a part of...the fourth issue of which I believe is on sale next week.

I’m also starting work on some books in the animated Batman and Superman styles for DC Comics’ licensed publishing group, some early-reader chapter books, as well as working on a comic for a fast food chain that’ll be part of their kids meals in summer 2010 (I can’t say which chain though, yet). There’s some SpongeBob stuff around the corner. And I’m sure there’s something else I’m forgetting...

Wednesday Interview: Curt Franklin and Chris Haley

If you enjoy comic books, and I know some of you do, then you should probably be reading Let's Be Friends Again. Writer Curt Franklin and artist Chris Haley combined forces in October, 2008 to create something awesome, like Voltron, or the Planeteers, or, I suppose, that Transformer that's a big Transformer made out of little Transformers. The strip, a loving parody of the comics characters and creators that we all hold so dear, comes out several times a week. If you haven't yet, take a half hour of your life to read all of them from the beginning. It's one of the best gifts you will ever give yourself. Do it while other people are doing yoga or something.

Not unlike Grant Morrison, Curt and Chris make themselves the star of their own comics, along with a rotating cast of superheroes, television characters, classic cartoon characters, political figures and rap stars.

I let Curt and Chris write my post today interviewed Curt and Chris for this week's Wednesday interview because all of the comic creators in the world are busy getting ready for San Diego I think everyone needs to read their comic. I got their Blackest Night hopes and dreams, and got up close and personal with two of the comic book world's biggest heartthrobs. The interview is helpfully peppered with links to their strips so you can read along.

I'll bet you guys have a pretty awesome origin story. When did you first team up?

Curt:  Like most milestones in my life, our first meeting took place at a karaoke bar. Chris was a friend of a friend and we decided to duet My Sharona.

Chris:  From there we discovered that we were the only two people on Earth who could do Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure" justice besides Freddie Mercury and David Bowie.

Wait, this interview is about our singing isn't it?

Curt:  You wish it was. It's the only thing you're good at.
Chris:  I think Nerd Dads would disagree.
Curt:  Cool. Get Nerd Dads to write comics for you. Get used to drawing stories about changing diapers and playing Naruto: Evolution.

Chris:  This may be getting away from us.

In your comic you have taken shots at people like
John Byrne, Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, and Tyler Perry. Do you guys have a hit list that you are working your way through?

Curt:  I'm hoping to get to the point where we're completely unemployable in the comic book industry due to ruined husks of bridges we've burnt, which is when I'll take my mask off and reveal that I've been Chuck Austen all along and I'll welcome Chris into my bunker; my years of work having created the perfect sidekick to aid me in exacting revenge on everybody who hated WorldWatch.

Chris:  That would actually explain a lot about Curt's mysterious secretiveness.

Curt:  Well, to seriously answer the question, there's no agenda to people we make fun of. I really like Bendis. I have never met Tyler Perry though I think a little bit of Tyler Perry exists within all of us. Jeph Loeb has been putting out a terrible product for a while now. And John Byrne is, by any measure, an asshole. Those two, on the hit list.

Chris:  John Byrne's got good qualities too though. And we did that comic about Bendis after Ed Brubaker told me that Bendis had really liked one of our strips, so if anything, I felt like that one was done lovingly.

Curt:  So, it depends. We make fun of the ones we love and the ones we hate. And ourselves. Who we hate.

Chris, you are obviously a giant Superman nerd. What comics are you into, Curt?

Curt:  I'm always drawn more to writers than artists, though after doing Let's Be Friends Again for almost a year I have a much greater respect for artists than before. Having said that, I'll get the predictable Alan Moore and Grant Morrison answers out of the way. All of the ABC comics I think I've gone through at least ten times, and I remember Doom Patrol was one of the first comics where I paid attention to who the writer and artist were. Until then, I didn't think it really mattered. I'm a huge fan of Chris Onstad's Achewood, which has some of the most amazingly developed characters. I re-read Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Sleeper every few months. There are so many that I'm going to forget. Starman. Hitman. Recently, Iron Fist has completely kicked ass.

I just like good comics. Western, kids, super-hero, manga, indie, whatever, if it's good and somebody I respect recommends it, I'll read it.

Chris: I wanted to chime in and say that it's not that I'm a Superman nerd, it's that I'm a Superman some other word I can't think of.. what would the word be?

Curt:  A Superman-phile. Like a pedophile, except instead of children you love Superman.

Chris:  Come on, dude, don't make it that way. I'm trying to say that it's like he's what I believe in.

Curt:  Like a religion.

Chris:  ... yeah, but not like a dick about it just you know, he is like the dude I look up to
Curt:  Yeah. I get that. People believe way more cruel and hurtful things than any Superman comic would ever teach you. Not to get too personal, but I know Chris had a tough childhood, and sometimes Superman was the only constant thing in it. Growing up in a non-stable environment, moving around a lot, never having the same friends, I'd feel lucky to have my kid turn to Superman for life lessons in that situation. And it's turned him into a pretty alright guy for the most part, so you'll never hear me make fun of the Superman nerdiness. Too bad Superman can't help him draw any better.

So how about those Harvey Award nominations? Do you think NASCAR Heroes #5 will sweep?
Chris:  Imagine us both answering 'Yes' in unison.

Curt:  YES. If it wins, I think we deserve full credit. That whole thing is ridiculous, but if everybody was working within the system I can't see anybody blaming a publisher for trying their best to get awareness of their comic out.

I hear rumours that you guys are planning on collecting your strips in a book. That would be awesome. How's that going?

Curt:  It's challenging doing it by ourselves. We're still trying to determine exactly how and what to collect. We looked at sites that some of our friends have used, but the cost for doing a color book is very prohibitive. We looked at some of the strips in B&W and it doesn't seem like it would be worth it to go that way. So, we're definitely planning on having something ready for SPX in September, but, right now, we're still not exactly sure what. But we need to hurry.

Probably the most intriguing thing about you, Chris, is your love of 90s-era Halifax, Nova Scotia indie rock. Especially since you live in Memphis or somewhere. Can you please explain this to me?

Curt: Smoke break.

Chris:  Comics, music, and cereal are really the only chapter headings in the book of my "background", so I don't really know how to obsess over much else. Ages ago, one of my best friends and former bandmates, Edward Stanley, let me hear "Coax Me" from Sloan's "Twice Removed". As is my way, I spent the next several years scouring used CD shops for their back catalog. By the time "Action Pact" came out they were well on their way to becoming my favorite band. Being a huge fan of theirs has led me to meeting other people who like them who have then told me to check out Thrush Hermit and Joel Plaskett Emergency and so on.
Plus it always gives Bryan Lee O'Malley and I something to talk about at conventions so it's not just me gushing over how much I love him.

Curt:  You worked in your O'Malley love, impressive.

Chris:  :)

In the interest of balance, what kind of music are you into, Curt?

Curt:  I'm listening to The Flaming Lips right now, but I usually listen to older classic rock and hip hop. Queen bonded Chris and I in a lot of ways, most non-sexual. I have a history with Elvis and classic country and blues. The Elvis stuff comes partly from growing up in Memphis, but mostly from working at the largest annual Elvis impersonator's contest that my parents started a long, long time ago. They also owned a country-western bar, so the first few notes of any Garth Brooks tune trigger a childhood urge to flee to my dad's office where I can watch cartoons and look at my dad's Playboys that he thinks are hidden.

What are each of your top five favourite ongoing series right now?

Curt:  I'm a wait-for-the-trade heathen, but I have the luxury of reading everything that comes out because the guys at the local comics shack, Comics & Collectibles, owe me a blood debt. I'd go with RASL, Green Lantern, Incognito, 20th Century Boys, Young Liars.

Curt:  And I know it's not an ongoing series, but I read the first two issues of Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers today, and I love them. No joke, it's genuinely funny and surprisingly well drawn.

Chris:  I'm scared to answer this question, because every time I start telling people how much I like some book, it seems to get cancelled. I know it just started, but I'm really excited about Wednesday Comics. Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason on the Green Lantern books makes them must reads. Anything Grant Morrison does is must read for me, so Batman & Robin has made an All Star Superman-less world a little more liveable. Up until the last issue, I was a huge Invincible fan.

Chris:  Agents of Atlas is taking the place of Captain Britain & MI13 on this list since it just got cancelled. God, I'm leaving so many out. Captain America! Iron Fist! The Unwritten! Anything Stuart Immonen draws!

Who do you hope comes back from the dead in Blackest Night? And do you think your White Lantern vision will come true?

Curt:  I hope Sue and Ralph Dibney come back and can enjoy whatever brief respite from evil and danger and madness fictional characters can. And if the rumors are true and Hal Jordan becomes a White Lantern at some point, I'll be disappointed if John Stewart doesn't at least raise an eyebrow or something.

Chris:  I'm really not that interested in seeing characters I love (Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Firestorm, Ted Kord, blah blah blah) come back as monstrous bad guys, and I can't really think of any characters that I didn't like that are dead, so I'm just kind of along for the ride.

Chris: If the White Lantern thing does happen, I just hope they ask me to do an alternate cover.

For real, guys, Let's Be Friends Again is the most consistently hilarious web comic that I read. Will you do it forever?

Curt: We'll do it 'til we're bloody well dead. Or until we split up over a woman's love.

Chris:  Unless he dies before me and I get the map and keys to the Scrooge McFranklin Money Vault, my plan is to be drawing Curt and I being friends (again.. and again) forever.

Wednesday Interview: Jeff Lemire

Ontario-based cartoonist Jeff Lemire is the award-winning creator of the Essex County Trilogy (Tales From the Farm, Ghost Stories and The Country Nurse) and Lost Dogs. Essex County, Lemire's beautiful story about hockey, family, and rural Ontario life, is being collected into a hardcover edition later this year.

Despite his affinity for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jeff Lemire is one of my favourite comic creators right now. I love his distinctive thick-lined artwork and his ability to create powerful emotions using very quiet storytelling (I have cried real tears while reading his books). Lemire was recently drafted to the big leagues, with an all-new hardcover book, The Nobody, being released by Vertigo today. He will also be writing and drawing a new ongoing series for Vertigo starting in September called Sweet Tooth. I did a little interview with Jeff to find out more.

Can you describe what The Nobody is about in your own words?

The Nobody takes the protagonist from HG Wells' The Invisible Man novel and reimagines him in a modern small fishing village. It's about paranoia and rural clausterphobia and how outsiders are drawn together.

The Essex County trilogy was, I think, an amazing accomplishment. The storytelling was beautiful, and I actually had tears in my eyes when I finished reading the second book. Is The Nobody going to be a major departure from the Essex County series, or do you think there will be elements that readers will recognize from your previous work?

After finishing with Essex County I needed to try something new. Those books were obviously deeply personal, and drew from a lot of my own life.  I wanted to do something a bit darker, a bit pulpier and a bit more genre-based. So, in a way The Nobody is almost the flipside of what I was exploring in Essex County.  While those books looked at what pulls rural communities together, while The Nobody looks at what can tear them apart. But, having said that it still has the same earmarks and storytelling style of EC.

A lot of your work, including your upcoming Vertigo projects, is set in small towns or rural areas. What is it about these settings that appeals to you?

I just think that 99% of movies and comics are set in New York or a New York-like big city. There are so many others stories to be told, so why not explore smaller town and bring other perspectives to the table. Also, on a visual level open fields are easier to draw than buildings. (kidding)

One of my favourite things about Essex County is how Canadian it is. I know that your upcoming series, Sweet Tooth, is set in America, but it has a Canadian look to it, if that makes sense. How important do you think it is for Canadian creators to tell Canadian stories?

Very important. This is a rich and beautiful country full of diversity and character. I love mining it for my stories. Plus, I write and draw what I see and know. And both Vertigo books are not officially set in Canada, but unofficially they are to me. Sweet Tooth starts off in Nebraska. I chose that because it looks the most like southwestern Ontario.

I am really looking forward to reading your ongoing series, Sweet Tooth. Is this the first time you have told a story in serialized issues?

Yes it is, it was a challenge to try and maintain my style and voice and still cram it into 22 page chunks, but I think I've made the transition successfully.

I am guessing, given where you are from, that you are a Maple Leafs fan. Does that make it hard to get up in the morning?

It makes it very, very hard. But I have hope, because without hope you're just a Senators fan.

Wednesday Interview: J.Bone

I don't make a secret of the fact that I love J.Bone. And I really love it when he gets to do some interior art, as is the case with this week's issue of Super Friends! When he's not busy drawing awesome things, he is crocheting awesome things! He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about Super Friends #15, the Doom Patrol, Captain Marvel, The Brave and the Bold, and other things he loves.

The last issue of Super Friends that you did the interior art for was the Superman's birthday issue. This time it's Batman's birthday! Is it in your Super Friends contract that you get to draw any and all birthday issues in the series?

Batman’s birthday? I don’t know what you’re talking about. (’s a surprise party...on’tday elltay atmanBay) It’s no coincidence, though. My editor, Rachel Gluckstern, let me know right after the Superman issue that Batman’s was coming up and that she’d like me to draw it.

Your art is perfect for all-ages comics, and you seem to have a genuine excitement about making comics for kids. What do you think of the efforts by DC and Marvel in recent years to make comics for kids again?

Why thank you, Rachelle! I do indeed love to draw comics for kids. I’m thrilled that Marvel and DC are doing kid friendly material. DC’s always had the Johnny DC line with its tie-ins to the Cartoon Network and Warner animated properties. The fact that Super Friends is based on a toy line has come up more than a few times in reviews of the comic. It’s used as a negative which I don’t get at all! It’s not as though DC "sold out" and are now targeting kids with nefarious marketing ploys to try and get them to buy toys! The opposite is’s about time toys AND comics were aimed at kids again! Um...they were made for kids in the first place.

Secondly, being a cartoony guy there really is no other chance for me to draw DC’s big six! That a book like Super Friends exists and I get to work on it is all the info I need! I just hope that DC and Marvel see a profit from these titles so that they continue to run and entertain kids.

I notice you did the cover of the upcoming July issue of Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam. Any chance you might be doing some interiors on that title now that DC has decided to change the creative team?

I tell ya, I’d like to. But, as with the amazing Andy Suriano on Brave and the Bold, the fact that Stephen DeStefano is drawing the book means I’d rather see his art than mine!

I have to ask you about this: you mentioned on your blog that you are drawing an upcoming issue of Batman: The Brave and the Bold that will feature the DOOM PATROL?! That must be a dream come true for you.

It is, absolutely. I’ve got my list of dream characters to work on and, happily, I’ve crossed quite a few off my list over the past few years. Starting with Spidey and the Fantastic Four back on the Tangled Web book with Cooke. Wonder Woman and Aquaman in the Super Friends (although I’d still love to take another shot at both with a style closer to my own...sorta like the New Frontier One-Shot with my Wonder Woman story written by Cooke). And now the Doom Patrol in Brave and the Bold. I knew that Torres was writing the story and that he too is a fan of the Doom Patrol. I’m glad the editor (once again, the fabulous Rachel Gluckstern...and also Michael Siglain and Harvey Richards) gave us the thumbs up to go ahead and throw the DP into the Brave and Bold Universe.

As yet unchecked on the list: Metamorpho, Plastic Man, Hawkman, Metal Men and the She-Hulk. I’ll get them. It’ll take some time, but I’ll get them. And when I do I will have one Comic Book BINGO!

What other projects do you have on the go? A how-to-crochet super heroes book? That would be rad.

Believe me, a How-To book would be a lot faster to make than some of the dolls I’ve tackled. I’m working on creating simpler designs (like the little Batman and Spidey that I made for you and Cal). They take less time but still aren’t as easy as just drawing a picture of Batman or Spidey.

I’ve got a few of my own characters I’d like to get out in comic books soon. Jett Vector has been too long on the shelf and must get finished by the end of this year! I’m also working on a sketchbook with my pin-up art, both the cheesecake and the beefcake. I’ll be gathering up the artwork from years passed and should have a book (or two) put together by mid-summer! Most likely it’ll be a print on demand type of collection through one of the many online printers.

Wednesday Interview: Sterling Gates

If you have been reading Living Between Wednesdays for a long time, then you might be familiar with my long struggle with Supergirl. It went from apathy to hate to offense to curiosity to optimism to love in only a few short years. Supergirl's role in the current New Krypton event has solidified my love of the latest version of the character. Much of this can be attributed to the current Supergirl writer, Sterling Gates. Today Supergirl #40 hits stores, and the mysterious Superwoman will be revealed! Sterling was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

1. How did you get the gig of writing Supergirl? Was she a character that you specifically wanted to write?

Well, I liked Supergirl a lot when I was a kid. Like, a LOT. The "Supergirl" movie came out when I was very small, and I was really, really drawn towards Helen Slater and her interpretation of Kara. DC published a comic adaptation of the "Supergirl" movie around that time, and I read it enough times the cover fell off. So she’s always been a character I was interested in and enjoyed.

As for writing Supergirl, it was a combination of wanting to write it, some really hard work, and some fortuitous circumstance. I work as Geoff Johns’ assistant when I’m not writing, and over lunch one day I was telling him all these ideas I had for Supergirl, and what I would do with the title. He gave me some great advice over that lunch, and told me I should just go away and write my first issue. That is, write what I would write if I were to suddenly be handed the title.

I spent a weekend writing an issue on spec and a series proposal and emailed them off to Geoff. Geoff really enjoyed the script, and he sent it off to James Robinson (who writes Superman) to check out. He liked it, too, so the pair of them approached Superman Group Editor Matt Idelson with it.

Matt and the other super-editors at that time, Nachie Castro and Tom Palmer, Jr., had been actively looking for someone to take over that book. They responded to what I’d written, and a few days later, Matt called me and asked if I’d be interested in being the new Supergirl writer.

Naturally, I freaked.

After I’d picked myself up off the floor, I told him that I’d absolutely love to write the book. And the spec script that I’d written turned into Supergirl #34 and the very lovely and talented artist Jamal Igle signed on to draw the book a few weeks later.

But I really owe Geoff and James and Matt and Nachie and Tom for giving me the chance to write Supergirl. I can’t possibly thank them enough.

2. It seems that Supergirl's return, starting in the Superman/Batman title, has been awkward and only very recently have we seen her find her place in the DCU. I feel that in the past year or two, DC has really thrown a lot of support behind Supergirl as a character and as a title, and including her in this crossover New Krypton event is a good example. Do you find it to be an exciting time to be writing Supergirl as a character, and have there been a lot of discussions about the future of the character?

Well, personally, it’s one of the most exciting times I’ve ever had in my life. Every day I get to go to work and write the adventures of the strongest girl on the planet. No, scratch that -- strongest girl on TWO planets, Earth and New Krypton. And yes, I’m thrilled that DC has put so much support behind Supergirl. Jamal and I have been working hard to make sure Supergirl’s as good a book as we can possibly make it, and I’m grateful that DC has been so supportive of us.

I know that I have discussions with my editors Matt and Wil Moss and the other super-writers almost every day about Supergirl’s future, and her as a character, and what the best possible stories are that we can tell to service her character.

At the end of the day, I want Supergirl to not only be an iconic superhero in the DCU, but also a good role model for kids and adults alike. Jamal and I’s take on the character is a little different from how other writers and artists have interpreted her, I know. But in my head, she’s a member of the Superman Family, so I’m going to write her as such, y’know?

That isn’t to say we’re going to tell “boring” or “safe” stories with her, which are accusations I’ve seen leveled against Superman before. What I mean is: Supergirl’s a hero, and I’m going to write her as a hero. A hero that makes mistakes, sure, and lives and learns from them. Her flaws can be very noticeable, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Supergirl should be someone we can all identify with and support and root for and learn from.

3. New Krypton seems like a very tight crossover. Are there regular meetings or discussions between yourself and the rest of the New Krypton team (Geoff Johns, James Robinson, Greg Rucka)? Have you found it challenging to write a series that ties into a larger story?

It can be a challenge, yes, but it’s also part of the job, taking into account what’s going on in the bigger picture as you write.

James and Greg and Geoff are really a blast to work with, and I feel that I'm very, very blessed to be working alongside such talented writers.

Greg and James and I have a weekly conference call with editorial where we sit down and plot and plan and break stories and figure out the beats in August’s crossover and just how long has Jimmy Olsen known how to ride a motorcycle and where could we find a good Kryptonian animal for Non to fight? “Oh, what about a torquat?” “What’s a torquat?” “Who’s got reference for a torquat?” “Well, they’ve only appeared once before, in Krypton Chronicles #2, I can send you a scan…” It can be a madhouse on the phone sometimes, but I think all of us really want to make the Superman Family of titles as strong as possible, and we're working hard towards that goal.

Plus, there’s a HUGE endgame in mind, which you’ll start to see the first few strains of in August’s big Superman crossover. It's not going to be an easy couple of years for Kal or for Kara.

4. Is Superman going to stick a braided wig on Kara and force her to live in an orphanage again?

Ha. No.

…although, that does give me an idea for something...

5. What other projects are you working on now, and what have you got planned for the future?

Well, today I’m working on Supergirl Annual #1, which I think is scheduled to come out in September. As I said before, we’re doing a month-long Superman crossover in August across the four main Superman titles, and we’re producing a pretty extensive Superman Secret Files to go along with that story. It won’t quite be on the scale of the Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Secret Files that Geoff and I wrote, but it’ll be a really great resource, with extremely detailed maps and profiles and stuff.

As for future plans, there are things in the works, but nothing I can announce yet. Sorry!

I can tell you that I’m planning on staying on Supergirl as long as DC will let me write it. Maybe, just maybe, I can figure out a way I can put Supergirl in the braided wig at some point. 

If I do, you’ll know it’s just for you, Rachelle.