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WAITING FOR TOMMY: JOE CASEY
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: "Swinging For The Fences". It's the title of an autobiography. Let's look at some of those balls: Superman. X-Men. Batman. Cable. Hulk. WildCATS. I read a story by you from Dark Horse not too long ago where you wrote about the pressures of writing for thinly disguised franchises. How have you found working on such properties affects you and your work? Have things improved as you've gained name recognition?

JOE: When it comes to pre-existing, company-owned characters, I can get my geek on just as much as the next guy. Maybe even more so. But I do have specific tastes. Had I been a complete nut for the X-Men, I might've done a better job on that book. But I wasn't, and although I did the best I could under the circumstances, the missing ingredient that could've made it a lot better for me and for the readers was, for lack of a better term, "love". I eventually learned to love those characters, but I didn't have it going in, and that's where I f**ked up on that gig. You've got to be strong right out of the gate.

I love Superman as a character and as a myth, but the realities of working on what's become such a corporate controlled trademark can obviously get you down once in awhile. If anything, I've been guilty of caring too goddamned much and when that happens you're always risking heartbreak. Some lessons just have to be learned the hard way, I guess. I have to be honest with myself now and when I consider what company-owned superheroes I'd like to take a shot at writing in the future, it'll only be the ones that I loved as a kid. Writing the big franchises when you don't always have 100% enthusiasm for them can be a painful experience, because you certainly aren't going to get 100% creative freedom. So you have to love them almost unconditionally. Name recognition means nothing in the absence of passion for what you're writing. That, and a newfound personal understanding on how to write classic, well-known superheroes should make whatever happens next in my career fairly interesting.

 

UNCANNY X-MEN #394 - SIGNED VERSION

RICHARD: Where did these f**kups happen do you reckon? And this new understanding - would you consider yourself a born-again traditionalist?

JOE: "Born again"? I don't know about that. On the right property, I'm all about tradition. When I wrote UNCANNY X-MEN I had no problem vowing to myself and anyone that would listen that I was going to do "new" things with the series (like I said before, I'd never been a huge reader of the X). Things you'd never seen in an X-Men comicbook. In other words, not just the same old crap you'd read a million times before. No, I was gonna' give you all-new crap. Mutant whorehouses, Supreme Pontiffs, teen pop pregnancy scandals and mutant drug lords. I thought I was being revolutionary but -- while I'm not ashamed of the work I did -- I was completely off the mark in a lot of my thinking.

Meanwhile, over in NEW X-MEN, besides the fact that he's a top-notch comicbook writer, Grant trotted out the Sentinels, the Shi'ar Empire, he dealt extensively with Xavier's school, the Hellfire Club, he's currently in the middle of a Magneto storyline and all signs point to his collaboration with Silvestri as yet another take on the "Days Of Future Past" concept. Basically, he did all the "classic" elements that X-Men readers want to see. but they want to see them done well. And, of course, when Grant brings in a new element like Fantomex, the majority of longtime X-readers scream bloody murder because it's not familiar (no matter how well-done it is). So, what I've learned is that the mythology of any given superhero concept is an all-inclusive thing that's not limited to the core concept. it includes their greatest enemies, their greatest adventures and certain specific chords that are struck with the readership. The Fantastic Four without Doctor Doom, Galactus and the Negative Zone is an incomplete mythology. To write those classic, long-running series with any degree of success, you have to learn how to play those chords and play them well. Some wheels simply don't need reinvention. they simply need to be greased once in awhile with the best quality oil you can find. And for a writer, this can be great fun. on the right property.

WILDCATS, on the other hand, doesn't have much -- if any -- real tradition to draw on, so I feel more free to create some of my own. But with the venerable superhero concepts that have been around longer than you or I have been alive (and will undoubtedly outlive us all), there's a definite playbook you can refer to. It's up to the writers and artists to call the plays and to execute them with style and verve.

RICHARD: WildCATS uses the aspects of superheroes to create a new genre - super company executives. What other aspects of society or literature could gain a new narrative edge by making the characters 'super'? What else should be tackled by my new term, I just made it up, it's mine, "superfiction"?

JOE: Gossip columnists, unquestionably. I think the world is ready for "super-gossip". Or maybe "hyper-gossip". At the very least, "meta-gossip".

RICHARD: Hmmm. I'll pitch Wildstorm later this week. Need a name of course. Chinese Whisper? The Grape Vine? Ohh, I know. THE GUTTER. Of course. Care for a WildCATS crossover sometime, once Jim Lee gives the automatic rubber stamp to such a superb idea? Maybe HALO could invent a perpetual motion rumour generating machine, threatening The Gutter's very raison d'etre and they could fight and exchange cutting remarks? Oh go on then, you come up with something better.

JOE: For free? Oh, I don't think so.

RICHARD: Damn. Why did you break up Casey and the Sunshine band?

JOE: Don't you mean "K.C.".?

But, to answer your question (if you could call it that). why the break up? Because we sucked, obviously.

C'mon, Rich. you can do better than this.

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

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