Thanks for agreeing to the interview. As I’m a big fan of your work on Earth X we decide to contact with you with the following questions the guys and I drew up and we’re really looking forward to seeing your responses.
What was it like to be named one of the top ten writers in comics by Wizard?
It was really nice. And like all compliments, you kind of hold on to them for as long as you can, and then sort of have to let them go. I live in Hollywood now, which is a very “what have you done lately” kind of town (don’t get me wrong, I love it for that). One of the great things about the comic industry is how it holds up work done 10, 15, 29 years ago. Oh, and Wizard was a cool magazine. In all fairness, I’m not sure there would have been an Earth X without a Wizard Magazine. They were the ones that got the ball rolling.
I personally know you best from your work on the Earth X trilogy, what was your favourite moment in writing the series?
Well, mostly it’s all related to Earth X itself, part one of the trilogy. And, I have a lot of favorite moments. The big plot stuff was especially exciting. The opportunity to look at the Marvel Universe as a whole, especially using the 60s as a starting point, and to realize that there were all these unanswered questions that needed answers, that was amazing. But, for the little moments, I liked writing the Thing as a happy Dad and Spider-Man as a sad Dad, but be funny in the process. I kind of loved writing the Marvel Universe as if it were a DC Comic from 1987.
I should also say that was going to be the narrator for Earth X initially, but the move to Machine Man/X-51 gave Alex and I chance to work with Kirby’s last great super hero that he gave to the Marvel Universe. I loved getting to nudge the origins of the heroes a little bit. And actually became aware of the greatness of the Hulk and Iron Man in the midst of telling their part of the story. I realize as I type this, that a lot of my favorite things have to do with little moments. Like Reed stretching his brain.
I loved writing Cap in a democracy that had turned against him. And the issue where Cap dies, with the “reveal” of his true origins, was something I wanted to tell for a long long time. Also, I loved getting a Joss Whedon intro. And I loved my growing friendship with Alex.
Earth X serves as an excellent counterpoint to DC’s Kingdom Come in that it shows the ultimate fate of the marvel universe. Was that coincidence or intent?
Intent, of course. The whole series came about when Wizard Magazine approached Alex and encouraged him to do a series of sketches of what the Marvel Universe would look like in the future. This was pst Kingdom Come.
The Earth X series took some well known characters in surprising directions. How much freedom were you given by Marvel in using their characters?
It was pretty much total freedom. I think the only editorial moment was to tell me that the Cerebro Helmet wouldn’t work on Reed, and that led to the idea of Reed stretching his brain to look like Xavier’s. So that, too, was very lucky.
You also worked with Alex Ross on Justice, what is it like working with him and what attracts you to such epic stories?
So much of it is Alex and Alex’s love for giant stories with lots and lots of heroes. Justice was so much more straight ahead than Earth X. But in both, I think, the fun is in seeing the characters intermingling. If I were to pick a favorite moment in Justice, it would be Batman and Superman in front of the Fortress of Solitude and Batman telling Superman how smart he is for telling the world he has x-ray vision. I think Batman’s line was something like “No one would dare commit a crime in Metropolis now. You’ve taken away the shadows. And people call me the smart one.”
Are there any other artists you’ve particularly enjoyed working with and on what projects?
Well, Alex, of course, especially on Earth X, was just amazing. We haven;t done anything together of late, but we still talk about things we’d like to do, including a prequel to Earth X. I’ve enjoyed working with Phil Hester many times. And Steve Yeowell (on Foot Soldiers, the X trilogy where he was inked by Bill SIenkiewicz, and on an old Banshee back up feature for an X-Men book). I even have a couple stories I did with Tim Sale, which was amazing. Really, everyone I’ve worked with has been great. Right now I’m doing things with this artist named Zach Brunner who is just amazing.
You’ve worked on a number of other titles, what are you most proud of as an author?
There are a lot of things coming. I don’t believe in peaking in High School, though that’s the challenge having gotten to do something like the Earth X trilogy so early in the game. For the most part, though, it’s all the personal stuff I like best. Foot Soldiers, Clock-Maker (which I will probably end up redoing one day), The High Cost Of Happily Ever After, The Runner, Alphabet Supes. All the stuff that lets me create a world, not just respond to it. I’m also working on a series of prose books. The first of three, which just hit Amazon, is called THE FRANKINCENSE MONSTER AND OTHER HAUNTED CHRISTMAS STORIES. It’s lots of fun.
And of course, Earth X. It was very special.
Is there any advice you can offer aspiring authors trying to break into the genre?
Keep on writing, and don’t expect life to be easy. People who write aren’t allowed to have easy lives, not if they’re really going to have something to say.
What can you tell us about anything you’re working on at the moment?
The Runner, about a man who’s been on the run from Death for the past 70 years should be out soon. I’m working on a small Superman thing, but its one of those stories I’ve wanted to tell forever, so it’s very rewarding. More Christmas stories and some Hollywood stuff.
Interview by: Stuart Duff