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Waiting For Tommy XXXVII
By Richard Johnston
 
When I first got Mark's script for issue one and the eight page opening scene with Cap in WW2 I thought it was groovy. As I was standing in the shower, I began to play the scene in my head and realised that we couldn't do it in less than fifteen pages. This wasn't because of unnecessary padding, but because that was how much room was needed, bearing in mind what I said about rhythm and volume, to tell that story in the most effective, dramatic and involving way possible. It certainly wasn't because Mark had written it badly, he hadn't. I think this is one of the best written comics of all time and certainly the most involving and well put together work I have ever had the pleasure of working on. The effort that goes into the drawing wouldn't be anywhere near as effective if it wasn't for the genius and quality of the writing. I'm certainly not saying this to blow smoke up Millar's arse. God knows he doesn't need me to do what he is so wonderfully able to accomplish by his own means, it's just that this working relationship is a true marriage of mutual aims and abilities and a very rewarding one for both of us. An interesting aside: I recently read the manga Batman OGN by Kia Asamiya and wouldn't have believed it to be the same chap doing the X-Men. It's only when you realise that he wrote the Batman book, and therefore controlled the storytelling, that you begin to see why the X-Men stuff isn't working as well as it should have on paper. A writer like [Chuck] Austen and an artist like Asamiya should be a great combination, but the fine tuning isn't there and somebody sounds like they have different arrangements of the same song on their music stands. Myself and Waid should have been a knockout, I think, but it fell flat. He and [Alex] Ross and myself and Ellis had been excellent working relationships yielding memorable results, but there are times when it doesn't quite click despite high mutual regard and a degree of ability. Millar and I have the same ideas about how to tell stories and what stories we want to tell together. I think we've spoiled each other for future collaborators.

He's a f**king great creative shag, basically.

Millar and I talk for hours a week about this book (and our follow up projects) and there is so much that would never make it into the book but provides us with material to flesh out the characters, their world and motivations. We actually have to cut stuff out every issue because we simply don't have enough room. If we could do it we would love to have twice as many pages every issue. Again, hardly padding.

Just wait until you see the special 'directors cut" edition...

As for less bang for the buck, considering how much effort and time goes into these issues, I'll try not to take that personally.

RICHARD: Some would say too much time.

BRYAN: I'm sure some would, it being a cheap and obvious shot, but not you Rich.

RICHARD: Mark Millar's made it clear his stint on The Ultimates will be a limited one. Is that true for you as well? Do you have an eye on your next project?

MARVEL SELECT ACTION FIGURE: ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA
BRYAN: Mark and I always saw this as a finite run because we had one big story to tell. This is the origin of the supergroup over 26 issues. Think of it as a novel if that helps: when it's finished, it's finished. That isn't to say it couldn't carry on without us, but if it were my decision (which it isn't) I would end The Ultimates with our final issue and then launch Ultimate Cap, Ultimate Thor, Ultimate Hulk and Ultimate Iron Man in their own regular series to pick up their stories and continue them in greater detail within the Universe we helped define.

Our eyes are always on other projects, and we've made it an extremely open secret that we want to redefine Superman from the ground up. Every generation gets a chance to reinvent it's own mythology, and Superman is an American myth that, like other myths, needs constant reinterpretation to keep it fresh. It's almost 20 years since Superman last got the treatment and it's only got more muddied since Byrne cleaned house. Millar and I believe with what we have in mind we could put him over the top and having him be the industry's flagship hero again.

Of course, this is years away and only a pipe dream at the moment, but given the right treatment for the right audience the success of the '78 movie and the current Smallville series clearly shows that there is a huge audience for the material. Every time a Superman based show or film comes around it has a ready and willing audience because everybody, including the ape creatures of the Indus, has heard of him.

Superman should be the industry's breakout phenomenon, it should be selling in the millions. Shame on DC for their approach and shame on them for always failing to see the potential in their own property.

Mark and I do have all sorts of things coming together post-Ultimates, and it is likely that our next two major works together will be for Marvel if the deals all come together as we hope. And boy arethey biggies! Movie stuff, creator owned stuff, two big Marvel projects both set to be bigger than Ultimates, the future seems very busy, very rosy and very happy.

RICHARD: And finally, Death's Head. Worth a revival?

BRYAN: I'm sure Liam Sharp would think so.

Bryan Hitch is the current artist on The Ultimates. His work and message board can be found on: www.theartofcomics.com. Rich Johnston can be seen kicking several shades of spite out of the comics industry at: http://litg.comicbookresources.com

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The Waiting For Tommy Archive

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