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Waiting for Tommy: Jeff Scott Campbell
By Richard Johnston

We all first saw his work on Gen 13. Well, not all of us, some lucky people at Wildstorm saw this young Jim-Lee inspired star's work in earlier portfolio, a few projects here and there, but no for the rest of us, it was Gen 13, the new book from Wildstorm/Image that looked like Jim Lee with a penchant for slightly thinner, scrappier characters, breakout with this new teenage superhero book.

We'd had them before, but this one had an edge about it. This was a superhero book for sure, the team had a mentor, but they looked different. 'Spunkier' as you Americans love to say (and we Brits love to laugh at). There wasn't anything truly punk, or anarchic, no, we'd have to wait for Brats Bizarre or DV8 for that, but there was something slightly off kilter. The Beach Boys in a world where we'd only had the Everley Brothers. Clothes were tight (when existent), hormones were high and the kids were gnarly.

It was enough, Gen 13 exploded, J Scott Campbell's style quickly resolved into one that was very much his own and imitable in its own right and a star was born.

Sales rose, schedules slipped, Campbell left, sales slipped and Campbell started a new series, from the new creator owned Wildstorm imprint, Danger Girl. Schedules slipped all over the place, resembling mythical beasts. Slowly, month by month, issues of Danger Girl, this James Bond meets Tomb Raider meets Campbell's bizarre character designs that served him so well on Gen 13. Known more for its extreme lateness than its content, Danger Girl topped the charts before vanishing as the series ended.

Since then, very little. Covers for Amazing Spider-Man teased and tantalized readers with the funkiest Spider-Man in the world, and if it were anyone else other than John Romita Jr doing the insides, fans would have been very disappointed indeed. But enough it was. And, in the time, Campbell has been working on something new. Will he tell us what it is in this Waiting for Tommy? Guess you'll have to read and find out...

 

ARMY OF DARKNESS: ASHES 2 ASHES #1 REGULAR COVER SET

RICHARD JOHNSTON: Gen 13... from a number-one selling title, to a comic that just never seemed to find its audience anymore. Was there something very mid-nineties about Gen 13 that just can't catch fire again?
JEFF CAMPBELL
: I don't think that it was a mid-nineties thing at all. I'm not one of these snooty comic book snobs who looks down on late 80's and early 90's comic books like they were some kind of embarrassing 'glam pop' period that we have to be ashamed of and put behind us because we are all so much better than that now. I'm not fond of the pseudo-intellectual dominated comic book climate that we find ourselves in right now. In general, I think comic books aren't very fun right now, but I'll go into that more later.

As far as Gen 13 goes, when it first burst onto the scene, I think fans gravitated to it mostly because it seemed, for lack of a better word, "HIP!" It felt very, "now". I tried to illustrate the kids acting, doing, and looking like how kids seemed to me at that moment, and I think the young fans especially, really responded to that. I also thought of the book as very personality driven. I don't think that a lot of fans would remember in great detail any of the stories in those early Gen 13 books, but everybody seemed to really know who these characters were, their individual and unique personas. And at that time, I think it was a really unique idea, to illustrate the individual character's wide range of emotions and everyday interactions with each other. I think that the felt real to the fans, relatable, and they became comfortable with these relatively NEW super-heroes very quickly. I don't think you have many characters in comic books today that achieve that.

However, like anything that's marketed as "hip" or "cool!", the shelf life is often accelerated. Kind of like the coolest kid in school that ends up hanging around his old school years after he's graduated, not quite so cool anymore. Or that last year or two of 90210, kinda sad. It's inevitable when you create something around youth, they eventually grow up, and they're not so cute anymore. I also wasn't the biggest fan of what transpired after I left the book. I kind of felt that suddenly the Gen kids were being told to stop acting so stupid and to "sit up straight at the table". They stopped having fun, and the fans picked up on this. They were suddenly overnight a deep "Vertigo-esque" book and that just wasn't what the fans wanted their book to be. I did however like what Adam Warren tried to do with the book towards the end, but it was just too little, too late.

All that being said, I do have some very specific ideas of what could be done to return Gen 13 to it's former glory. Gen 13 was not just a 90's thing, it could be every bit, if not more awesome now.

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

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