"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
You’ll be forgiven if you missed Sweatshop the first time around. Sure, it was created, written and mostly drawn by Peter Bagge, and yes, it was published by DC Comics, but not for long. It lasted just six issues in 2003 and, according to Bagge’s afterword to the new collection (published not by DC, but Fantagraphics), then-DC President Paul Levitz decided to pull the plug around the time the second issue shipped.
The unlikely pairing of DC with talent like Bagge was apparently an outgrowth of editor Joey Cavalieri’s success with the hardcover Bizarro Comics anthology, which teamed “alternative” comics creators with DC regulars. Bagge, who had written DC’s poorly received nine-issue Yeah!, met with Cavalieri and decided on a pretty perfect premise for a comedic comic book. (Yeah!, by the way, was drawn by Gilbert Hernandez and was also collected by Fantagraphics rather than DC.)
Students of DC Comics’ publishing history can probably rattle off at least a few editors from the company’s first few decades. Whitney Ellsworth edited the Batman and Superman books in the 1940s and ‘50s before becoming a producer on the Adventures of Superman television series. In the Silver Age, Mort Weisinger presided over an exponential expansion of Superman’s mythology, including all those varieties of Kryptonite, the introductions of Supergirl, Krypto and the Legion of Super-Heroes, and ongoing series focused on Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Similarly, as editor of the Batman titles, Jack Schiff supervised one of the character’s most recognizable periods, filled with colorful mysteries and giant-sized props.
Of course, the phrase “Silver Age DC” is virtually synonymous with Julius Schwartz, who worked with writers Gardner Fox and John Broome and artists Carmine Infantino, Mike Sekowsky and Gil Kane on rebuilding DC’s superhero line. One could argue fairly reasonably that without them DC Comics as we know it today might not exist (and neither would today’s Marvel).
However, while Ellsworth became DC’s editorial director in 1948, Schwartz Schiff, and Weisinger weren’t in similarly lofty positions. Today we readers hear a lot about “editorial control” and the dreaded “editorial interference,” charges aimed largely at the men at the top: Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. We hear a lot from them (illuminating and otherwise) about the general direction of the company. We also hear a good bit from various writers and artists, including Johns and Lee, regarding specific titles.
Nevertheless, on the management tier in between are the books’ editors themselves; and that’s the area about which I’ve become rather hazy. Therefore, I started looking through New 52 credits boxes, and supplementing this research through the Grand Comics Database, to see who was editing what.
Matt Kindt is a writer/artist who is on the eve of being a monthly frequent occupant of retailers shelves after years of increasing recognition for his graphic novels. First up, on April 18, Dark Horse releases 3 Story: Secret Files of the Giant Man (Kindt’s follow-up to his 2009 graphic novel, 3 Story: The Secret History of the Giant Man)–a set of three stories collected in one book that originally appeared in MySpace Dark Horse Presents. That April 18 release also features a preview of his new monthly Dark Horse espionage ongoing, Mind MGMT, which officially launches on May 23. I was interested in email interviewing Kindt to find out how it feels to be meeting the monthly deadline (as opposed to his creative process when working on standalone graphic novels). And, of course, I took the opportunity to find out more about his other major ongoing project, assuming the writing reins from Jeff Lemire on DC’s Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (his first issue on that high profile assignment goes on sale June 13 with the release of issue #10). My thanks to Kindt for his time and thoughts. I particularly appreciated his belief that the “art-form of a good monthly comic has sort of been lost”–and his resulting aim to regain some of what’s been seemingly lost. Once you finish this interview, be sure to also read CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud’s late January 2012 interview with Kindt in which they detail the upcoming Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. work.
Tim O’Shea: How hard is it to decide to take on the monthly grind with Mind MGMT? Have you had to make adjustments to your creative process, or has the demand on you increased on you (as opposed as to when you were doing standalone graphic novels)?
Matt Kindt: It wasn’t a hard decision at all really. I’ve always wanted to do a monthly book. That’s the format I grew up reading and so it’s always been kind of a dream of mine to eventually work in that format. I’ve been spoiled my whole career, starting out doing OGN’s — which is something I know a lot of monthly guys aspire to so I’m just coming at it from the other side. I still love the OGN and it’s my favorite way to create but I think you get a different experience with a monthly book. When you read a monthly, you’re growing and changing and aging along with the characters. And you’re thinking about the story and the characters month after month instead of just reading 300 pages in one sitting and then moving on. I think you begin to actually care a little more about what’s going on.