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Waiting For Tommy XXIX
By Richard Johnston
 
RICHARD: Okay, but you've struck me before as a comic book pro who's also seems to be a fan. It's not just a job, it's more. You certainly seemed that way when you joined Marvel Knights. Is that the case, if not when did it go away? Or is it just Marvel you're not as bothered with anymore? If not, why not?

JIMMY: When we did Marvel Knights, the books we worked on were the only books I read at Marvel at the time, all of my buying money was at Vertigo, Dark Horse and foreign companies, which would explain the list of creators we got to work on Marvel Knight's titles.

Me not buying Marvel comics has nothing to do with the actual company, it's just that my tastes are for more genre-related books, and not so much superheroes anymore. I'm guessing Marvel's output is 90% superhero, which is something they do best. The Max line is the only part of the company I always check out because of the different genres, though for the most part, they seem to still be mostly superheroes as well, but doing them with an edgier take, which I enjoy.

I am a total fan of creators and some of their properties, but like I said, only a couple are actually working on Marvel product right now and even less on non-superhero titles.

I tend to follow creators, not companies. I do not believe in buying from only one company, and I put that rule into effect with my freelance work as well. I will work for everyone as long as they respect my work and pay me. It's all the different opportunities that come along that keep me interested and maintain that whatever I am working on is always fresh and exciting.

RICHARD: Nevertheless, the current Marvel work does seem to have been directly affected by you and Joe's time at the company together. Yet it's been said that your role on what New Marvel is today has been whitewashed out of their history. Do you see a contradiction here?

JIMMY: Whitewashed out? That's funny. Every single person that has been with Knights knows I was there for them and put the work in. to tell the truth, I also inked 3 out of the 4 titles at one time or another that we did. Punisher, Dr. Strange, Black Panther and Daredevil off the top of my head. The names are on the books and we did a lot of good while there. To this day, I still work and hang out with almost every single person we started Knights with.

The thing Joe and I brought to Marvel in the form of Marvel Knights was the idea of experimenting with new ideas and making the production values of the artwork significantly better then what was the current product coming out at the time. We were able to do this because we had a bigger budget for the 4 titles, a sharper eye for good storytelling and had the attitude that we could do it better than anyone else was.

I have to think Joe still has that attitude and energy going, or why bother being the EIC. We have always had something to prove.

My influence on the Marvel Knights books was being part of a team. Joe and I had our own ideas and way of looking at things. We both had great relationships with other writers and artists and we both had something to prove beyond the Event Comic's titles. If people think it was all Joe's doing at Marvel Knights, so be it. I do not have the time or energy to run around like an idiot trying to convince some small minds otherwise. I let the work speak for itself.

At the end of the day all that matters to me is that we did right by everyone involved and did some fine work together.

21 DOWN #1 - SIGNED VERSION

RICHARD: Talking of which I hear that while your book Resistance has been cancelled, your other title for Wildstorm, 21 Down has been confirmed for another year. With both books selling pretty much the same, do you know how that judgment call was reached?

JIMMY: That's easy, 21 Down sells better [even if it is only a few thousand more] than Resistance and is an easier read for most. The Resistance is about 9 characters, 21 down about 2. The artwork on 21 Down is simple and graceful, the art on resistance is brilliantly complicated and unique. It's really easy to see what the audience is going to grab off the racks. The Resistance is a complicated, deeply involving, multi-cultured sci-fi epic that would have had a better life if it came out in Europe.

The frustrating thing about the Resistance book is that it never failed to get great reviews, but couldn't find an audience. Another factor in determining its sales was that we were trying to answer the cry of the fans saying they want something new yet, when delivered, they still go back and buy the same old thing over and over. There is safety in the same old.

The current comic buyers really seem to not want new titles. Read the Diamond Top 100, it is all there in plain sight. Take movies for an example. Spider-Man 2, X-Men 2, Blade 3, Star Wars 6, Rambo 5, Spy Kids 3, and so on. Movies like Equilibrium, Below and Frida suffer because they do not cater to the masses. It's reality. If I thought ahead, I would have worked a future Batman in the book and it would have lasted longer, but to tell the truth, the book is something we are all proud of and are really glad we got 8 issues done which is a miracle in itself these days.

21 Down is more of a real world superhero book and we all know by now that this genre will always sell better that sci-fi, unfortunately.

Just try to Name 3 other sci-fi books in the Top 100... it is impossible. 21 Down will be around for a while and in the next 6 issues we introduce a whole new world to the readers that they will never see coming. We shall see where this path takes us.

RICHARD: Talking of paths, your 'thematic sequel' to last year's hit The Pro, by the same creative team, is said to be called LCX. Does the 'c' stand for anything naughty, and can you tell us any more?

JIMMY: Can't say more than that it will be out 2004, by Garth, Amanda and myself, and make The Pro look like an Archie comic. This book will be part 3 of a trilogy that has nothing to do with each other except for the talent presenting it. The hard thing about doing these books is that we don't get paid till after they are done, so for us to make a living, they have to be done in-between jobs, that's why they take so long to put together. Trust me, it's going to be funny as hell.

RICHARD: Hell's not funny. I've been there recently, ooh, last interview but one. During that infernal toasting Joe Quesada accused me of wanting to leave advertising for a career in comics. As a man who has worked in both, can you give me any career advice?

JIMMY: Do what is less stressful to you and understand what is most important in life. My revelation came in '89 when I left advertising and made comics a full time job. I knew I had to simplify my life or I was going to test the limits of my blood pressure. I had many other career changes in comics as well, and every choice came with its ups and downs. Fortunately, I am on the up swing now and really enjoying myself the most I have ever had in the past 12 years. Other than 21 Down and Resistance, Justin and I have another series coming out in the DCU, as well as a one shot, and two other series for different companies. All with creator involved deals behind them.

I have a great writing partner and friend in Justin Gray, the perfect love of my life in Amanda Conner and the best of all worlds with the variety of good people I have chosen to share my time with. I am very fortunate that I continue to keep creating comics and still find time to time to travel the world and explore.

1 | 2 | 3 Continued Here...

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