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WAITING FOR TOMMY: JOE CASEY
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: So. Tricks of the trade. Compressed storytelling without doing 20 panels a page. For all the ways the stories are criticized today, Silver and Golden Age comics could pack an origin into half a page, an adventure into eight. How can that be achieved today while still serving the needs of a modern audiences? Lay out your tool box for us.

JOE: "Lay out my tool box".? Is that some kind of weird, British euphemism?

 

THE AUTHORITY: EARTH INFERNO AND OTHER STORIES TPB

RICHARD: Yes.

JOE: You can tell a complete story in ONE panel, if you've got the skills to pull it off. And I'm not sure what "serving the needs of a modern audience" even means anymore. I just think that what started out as a somewhat-innovative approach to writing superheroes has now become an excuse for laziness. We've all seen the complaints about "story padding" from certain corners of fandom and I think that, in most cases, they're absolutely right.

I think the key for creators nowadays is to determine what is essential to show on panel in any given story. Do we want to spend endless pages on a fight scene? Sure, if it's essential to the story. Do we need countless pages of talking heads? If the story demands it, then yes. But these things shouldn't become formula. Let the story and the subject matter determine how you tell the story. If superhero comics have a future -- if they're going to continue to engage and stimulate the readers -- that future will involve new ways of telling a familiar story while simultaneously embracing the things that are great about superheroes and comicbooks in general. New methods, new approaches, new structural forms. That's what I'm interested in. Unfortunately, my opinion might be in the minority right now, but things are definitely turning in this direction. Frankly, I don't think there's any other way to go.

RICHARD: Automatic Kafka seemed to get the opposite reaction. Too much too soon. Cut off in its prime, would you have written the book any differently, knowing now the reaction it would receive?

JOE: I wouldn't change a thing about KAFKA or the experience of writing it. It did more for me as a writer than I could've ever imagined. I've said this before, but I've been able to take the lessons I learned working on that series and apply them to subsequent work, sometimes with better results. And I still like the fact that it flew in the face of practically everything that was in fashion at the time. I'm sure it's still out of fashion but history has proven time and time again that today's underground is tomorrow's mainstream, so who knows what the long term reaction to that series will end up being.?

RICHARD: Can you give us some specifics? Bits learnt from Kafka you used in other titles?

JOE: It's been a little while since I finished KAFKA, so a lot of this stuff has been pretty well internalized at this point. My work on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN certainly went in a more surreal direction, much to the readers' chagrin (and DC's, probably). It allowed me to test my own writing skills (such as they are) with the kinds of new narrative approaches I was describing before. To push something to the extreme while still maintaining the tenets of a "superhero comicbook" was a personal creative accomplishment that I'm still proud of. Right now I'm writing the "Coda War One" storyline in WILDCATS, and my goal there is to do a big, sprawling action-adventure epic without resorting to all those current clichés that seem to accompany anything considered "widescreen". I have no idea if I'll succeed at that, but we're gonna' swing for the fences.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Continued Here...

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