@’s by DC Comics’ Geoff Johns!!!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So, I’m here at the DC booth with Geoff Johns. I talked to you just a couple of months ago in San Diego, what’s been happening since then?
GEOFF JOHNS (GJ): Geez! It feels like San Diego was like last week.
GJ: Let’s see, what’s been happening? I don’t know, lots of stuff, I guess. How about you? What’s been happening with you?
BUG: Uh, you know, living life. Livin’ the dream.
GJ: Good, me too...
BUG: How about you?
GJ: ...Yeah, living the dream.
BUG: Yeah? Well, you guys have a bunch of stuff. I mean, you’re doing a bunch of stuff right now with JUSTICE LEAGUE, and AQUAMAN, and GREEN LANTERN. What do you want to talk about first?
GJ: I could start about the artists I work with.
GJ: I think I work with some of the best artists in the business and I think that guys like Doug Mahnke and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado and Gary Frank. It’s just been, it’s been great. I feel like I work with the best artists in the business, and I’ve been really fortunate that way. They’re my collaborators and partners, so. You know, I’ve been working with Doug for a long, long time, with Ivan for a long, long time, Gary for a long, long time. The guys I work with, we really have a great creative relationship and collaboration that continues on, and I think that’s key in producing a good book is that relationship between writer and artist.
BUG: Yeah, and you have a new series coming out, well, not series; you have a short story in GHOSTS, is that correct?
GJ: Yeah, with Jeff Lamire who’s a great writer himself, great artist. And Mark Doyle, the editor, said, we were talking, and we wanted to do a story, so we all got together, and Mark Doyle, who’s the editor, got this anthology going. So, I talked to Jeff about this story idea I had called “Ghost for Hire”, and I said it’s kind of like if Abbott and Costello were still around, what would I, what movie would I want to write for them? How would I want, so I did this little story, and Jeff did a great job on it, and I can’t wait until it comes out, it’s fun.
GJ: Very different than other things I’m doing.
BUG: Well, what I’ve noticed is you do a lot of superhero stuff, but it does have, there’s always a hint of horror in there, I mean with THE BLACKEST NIGHT and SINESTRO CORPS WAR, and a lot of that stuff. Is that of interest with you, or does it just creep in? Or, what is that?
GJ: I don’t know, it’s just I like high states. You know, it’s funny, cause Ghosts is a horror anthology, and ours is more of a comedic story. Yeah, I know. It’s whatever the story, however the story gets inspired, it’s...
BUG: Do you think your stories go towards a more dark edge?
GJ: Oh sometimes, Shazam certainly doesn’t. My run in Superboy certainly didn’t. Power Girl, my run in Power Girl certainly doesn’t. You know, I think people try to put you in a box, but...you know, you can’t. It’s like, if you really look at the whole, REBIRTH is not a horror story. It’s about coming back from the dead in a very positive way, so no. Yeah, some of my stories are dark; some of my stories are light.
BUG: OK. Let’s talk about, AQUAMAN. What’s going on with him, what’s happening with him in the next couple of months?
GJ: Well, we’re wrapping up the other’s arc, which finishes in issue #13, it’s out in a few weeks. And then, we have a prologue issue to The Thorn of Atlantis, the storyline that goes between JUSTICE LEAGUE and AQUAMAN. That really focuses on Atlantis, and I don’t want to get in too much to it, but I will say Atlantis isn’t just an underwater army. It’s not just a city that’s going to attack. It’s much more complicated than that. Their view of us is very vastly different than what you might expect, their motivation is vastly different. They are, you know, by all, with all, they kind of are like an alien society, really, and Ocean Master is at the front of that. You’ll see the relationship between Arthur and his brother Orm, who’s Ocean Master. You’ll get a little bit of history from that, and you’ll see how the League learns more about Aquaman through this story and comes to understand what he’s really about through this story. You know, for me, the Justice League, for the first year, they get together every couple weeks or month and save the world, and then they go their separate ways, and really we’re getting into the next evolution where they’re learning that they need to and want to be a real team and understand each other, and get to know each other. So, as we go into the second year we’ll be revealing secrets about the team members that they share with each other and deal with. Things like Atlantis and what it means.
BUG: Yeah, it seems like it has taken a turn in just the last couple of months to that point where it’s like they have to be serious now.
GJ: Yeah, well, they have to be a real team, and it can’t just be for show, and it can’t just be because it’s necessary. The only way they’re going to really be able to affect the world and help one another is if they connect.
BUG: The new series that’s going to be coming out of Justice League...
GJ: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA.
BUG: What can you tell us about that?
GJ: You’ve seen the characters that are in the team to start. It’s going to be, David Finch is a fantastic artist. We have a lot of characters that people didn’t expect like Catwoman, and Stargirl, and Vibe. I think not knowing where that team’s going, and the whole issue one sets this up completely, and I don’t want to get into really what it’s all about, so I’ll just say it comes out next year.
BUG: OK. What’s it like going back to Stargirl--this new version of Stargirl?
GJ: Oh, it’s great!
BUG: It’s the first time she’s been in the New 52...
GJ: Yeah, it’s great to go back and reintroduce her in this way. She’s still very much the spirit of Stargirl. There’s some changes to her, obviously, like to everybody else, but it’s exciting, I’m excited to see her, and you can see her up in that team shot. She’s surrounded by all these grizzled guys and gals that are, you know, Katana, Catwoman. and Simon Baz’s the new Green Lantern, and then there’s Stargirl. And you’ll see why she’s on the team very quickly. She’s a big source of light.
BUG: And let’s talk about the new Green Lantern.
BUG: It’s making all kinds of waves; everybody’s talking about it right now.
GJ: I saw a guy dressed up like him yesterday.
BUG: Oh really?
GJ: Yeah. And a kid came up to me yesterday too after the Green Lantern panel and was like, “thanks for creating a character that reflects what I’ve gone through,” so it was really cool.
BUG: Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask. What’s the reaction been like now that the issue is out? There was a lot of controversy when they first saw that first cover; there was a lot of talk about that. Now that people have seen the character and have started to get to know him, what’s everyone saying?
GJ: It’s been really positive; I’ve been really excited about that. I think it’s great to have a character that comes from a different background and deals with fear on a very different level than all the other Green Lanterns do. You know, for me it just made sense when I was recreating this Green Lantern with Doug is it’s exploring fear in a very different way than we have in the past. You know, a very straightforward way with Hal Jordan and the other Green Lanterns, whereas, this is a much more complex version of what fear is and what fear means. And so having a character who’s had to deal with kind of a fear all his life, a cultural fear, and then having that spill into an intergalactic war with the guardians going nuts, it was a kind of a crazy mix, but I think it’s working so far.
BUG: Well, it’s been, you’ve kept it kind of intergalactic here for the pretty much your entire run...
BUG: Is this going to be more of an Earthbound Green Lantern for a while?
GJ: Simon is very much Earthbound for now. He will be pulled in everything else, but as like all the other Green Lanterns, like Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns and Green Lantern Guardians are dealing with the third army and guardian, and all this crazy stuff. Simon is just figuring out what the hell a Green Lantern ring is, what is does, how to deal with it.
BUG: Yeah. I talked with Pete Tomasi last, or yesterday, actually...
GJ: Pete’s an awesome guy.
BUG: Yeah, it was the first time I had met him, it was great. I had wanted to see how the collaboration was, he started out as your editor, and now you’re writing together...
GJ: I mean, we always had a great collaboration of story. Pete’s one of my favourite guys to work with, fantastic writer in his own right, it’s a pleasure to work with him. I will hope to work with Pete in some way forever. He is, yeah, he’s, we’ve clicked since day one, and he’s one of my very best friends, and I really respect his creative vision.
BUG: One of the other projects you’re working on, the Shazam stuff...
GJ: Oh yeah.
BUG: ...where is that going? Is that going to be in its own series...?
GJ: It’s in JUSTICE LEAGUE for now and he’ll become a part of the main story pretty soon. It’s been a lot of fun, Gary Frank and I are having a ball. We kind of say it’s like GOONIES with magic. And in the series, I can’t, the next one’s not out yet, but the next few chapters things get really crazy as we unveil what Shazam can really do and what he’s really all about, and what his job is, and his mission in building Freddy, we’re trying to figure that out together.
BUG: That zero issue that you guys did a while back, that was one of my favorite ones.
GJ: Oh thanks.
BUG: I loved the part where he’s going down the line, and he’s just hitting each of the buttons on all of the Seven Deadly Sins.
GJ: Oh yeah, he’s cool...The one thing that I really am proud of is that it feels like, I really think Gary does, I think they feel like real kinds. They’re not bad kids, they’re not goody two shoe kids, they’re kids, and kids think things are cool, and kids have attitudes…it’s just they’re kids, and I love that Billy sees something, and hit first instinct is, “this is cool.” And then he sees the old man trying to commit the magic drill, and the first thing he thinks is, “stay the heck away from me, creepy old man!” But at the end when Freddy and Billy get twenty bucks for saving that girl, and Freddy says, “this is like the best, man, we’re going to be rich,” and you see Gary have Shazam do that fist pump thing...
GJ: …”Yes!” It just feels very different than anything else out there right now. And that’s what I’m most proud of. I think Shazam is, I’m really proud of our work with Shazam. I think, for me it’s one of my favourite things to work on. It’s a joy to see every panel and page come in. There’s a really funny issue coming up where Freddy tries to get Shazam to do something, and they do it, and it releases all sorts of chaos, and ultimately Black Adam obviously will be in soon...and that’s going to change the story in a dynamic way.
BUG: Well, Geoff, it’s always great to catch up with you...
GJ: Thanks, man. GJ: When is your next book coming out?
BUG: Actually, I have another JUNGLE BOOK comic coming out in the spring?
GJ: Oh really?
BUG: I just finished my signing over at the Zenescope booth, and I ran over here to talk to you.
GJ: Cool. So I should interview you next time.
GJ: How do you like writing with your artist? See, don’t you think collaborating with the artist is key?
BUG: Yeah, very key.
GJ: It’s absolutely key in that conversation about, “hey, this is what I want to accomplish,” because some of that is so subtle. In the conversation of, like, if you say to Shazam, to Gary on Shazam, I’m like, “it’s a touch of whimsy”...
GJ: …you know what I mean? Like it’s a superhero about a kid who gets magical powers, but it’s a touch of whimsy, a dash of Harry Potter. Like there’s a, you need to add that bit of magic to it a little bit, and some of that is more of a conversation that then leads to Gary drawing that fist pump that hilarious shot with their body is perfect for what he’s doing.
BUG: Was that a detail he added or did you communicating with him about that in your script—the fist pump?
GJ: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, but when you’re really on the thematics and you’re really talking about story and what you want to accomplish and the tone of it the tone is so important, and then it just kind of sinks into everything they do. The layouts, the facial expression, it’s all very, very important.
BUG: So, as the series goes on for you, I’m just going by what I did with the my artist on JUNGLE BOOK, but my notes got less and less detailed.
GJ: Yeah, less and less because you’re on the same page like, now with Shazam it’s less because we are in a rhythm, we know what we’re doing. The first time I experienced that was with Scott Collins on THE FLASH where we would talk a lot. It was the first time I really worked with a writer or artist like that where we talked everyday at least once a day, and we talked about Keystone City with THE FLASH, and Wally West, and you know, what did we want this book to be? What was the tone of this book, where is the story going, and we just clicked, and it felt it’s, the book really started to come alive for me. That’s when I knew the most important thing for me is who I’m working with.
BUG: Yeah, very cool. You know, I could talk to you all day, but I know that you have lines of people who have come here to talk to you.
GJ: Cool, thanks man...
BUG: Thanks so much and have a great con.
GJ: I appreciate it. You too!
BUG: Check out Geoff Johns on AQUAMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, GREEN LANTERN, and in the new Vertigo anthology GHOSTS on sale this week from DC!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G