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WAITING FOR TOMMY: GEOFF JOHNS
By Richard Johnston

Geoff Johns came into our lives when we weren't looking. No, really, our backs were turned, we were all off looking at Neil Gaiman or something, and in he snuck. Started getting itty-bitty writing assignments, a superhero icon here, another there, and before we knew it he was running the show. He's leapfrogged over his immediate peers, and has carved out a rather attractive looking space for himself in the industry. He's the clean, healthy face of modern superhero comics. Ant Man massages aside, of course.

And when it comes to being a hack, well, apparently Geoff Johns doesn't know the meaning of the word. Read on.

RICHARD JOHNSTON: Geoff. You're an oddity in comics at the moment. A young, fairly fresh faced writer who's seemingly been successful at moving up the ranks at Marvel and DC, while exhibiting a different set of attitudes, it seems, than many of your peers. Some would say "traditionalist" in the face of progressives. Is that fair?

 

JLA/JSA: VIRTUE & VICE - SIGNED BY WRITER GEOFF JOHNS!

GEOFF JOHNS: An oddity? Yeah. I guess so. There's a reason that a "traditionalist" approach still works when it comes to super-heroes. Because people love super-heroes. I like to write super-hero stories in the more traditional style because I guess I like tradition. Especially when it comes to comic books.

It's funny, sometimes it seems like there are people out there who don't like super-heroes writing and editing super-heroes. Some say they're the bane of the industry, or that they hate super-heroes or that there's nothing left to do with super-heroes. That's like saying you can't make a Gangster or Western film anymore. Super-heroes are a genre, and a great one, and kids love them. I grew up and still am in love with the costumes and the bright colors and the super-villains. The wonderful universes these heroes live in. There's been a trend to deconstruct and extend super-hero stories, and like I've said before, this is a trend. Just like the big guns and shoulder pads of the 1990's. I really hope and believe that over the next few years we'll see many more of the super-hero books go back to telling complex, compressed, comic book stories. And that there'll be more interaction between the books and characters in their respective universes. Which means, yes, continuity.

Continuity has become a really dirty word because everyone says the stories got too complex and we had to start "getting new readers in" -- yes, that's very important, but the reason we lost new readers wasn't due to content alone -- it was for a variety of reasons, including distribution and the speculators. And I'm going to constantly go back to when I was a kid -- and the books intertwined, the universes shared tones and events, there was no big "Part 1 of 5" on the cover, there was no Previews -- I still got it. Kids aren't stupid, new readers aren't stupid. Yes, these books need to be accessible, but at times in my opinion, it's gone too far. Not many people picked up Avengers #1, a lot of people picked up #143 or #256. They figured it out and kept reading because there was something cool about what they saw. Remember when you wanted to buy back issues because you wanted to find out more about a character or storyline that happened? It was about reading. Now -- erasing the use of subplots, ignoring history, not using a character unless they're on a lunch box, trying to build completely self-contained arcs with no character growth or threads, eliminating the one-issue story -- I have no interest in that when working on a monthly book. I want to do a one-issue story about the JSA on Christmas visiting an old friend, or a subplot about Reverse-Flash's wife dealing with the fate of her husband, or have Superboy deal with his genetic heritage over the course of a year, or Jack of Hearts struggling with his powers and how they effect the Avengers. And I want to see subplots and threads build over those stories into the bigger ones. And if discarded characters like Heat Wave or Hawk & Dove can help a story, there's no reason not to use them.

Right now not only are some of the readers embarrassed to admit they like super-heroes, some of the books themselves are even embarrassed to be super-hero books.

And don't get me wrong, I like non-superhero books too -- Wildcats, Powers, Fables and Queen & Country, Hellboy are just the tip of the iceberg -- but in my mind, if we are working on mainstream super-heroes we should celebrate the great American mythology, not turn away from it. I hope to write comics a long time, and I hope to always be doing super-hero books.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 Continued Here...

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