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Waiting for Tommy: Jeff Scott Campbell
By Richard Johnston

RICH: Well, lay it on us, Jeff. Five things that could give the title that made your name, a household name again. Where would you start?
JEFF
: Why did I know you'd ask me that. Well, it's not that I don't want to put my money where my mouth is, but one of my old colleagues over at Wildstorm recently did ask me what I would do with Gen 13, and my ideas seemed to be received rather warmly, so I'm hesitant the give away too many details on the chance that they may go forward. But the basic gist of my idea was; How to you get a group of cool teenagers to be "hip and cool" again 10 years later? My answer: Make them hip and cool teenagers again. And my solution was that you make identical clones of the original Gen kids so that the group is as inexperienced and as young as they were when they first appeared, only now, they exist in 2004 and they would naturally adopt teenage trends and the culture of 2004. Now, cloning isn't without its consequences which would add a whole other level to the Gen mythology. And this wouldn't be like the Spider-Man clone fiasco either. Remember, genetic experimentation has everything to do with the Gen 13 history. It's the whole basis for their existence and to me, it makes all kinds of sense. The idea goes on in more detail from there, but you get the broad strokes.

RICH: Certainly. And I could see it selling too... the time is right. There's been a resurgence lately of hot names from a few years ago being teamed with company icons that seem to have faded in popularity, only to see interest boom in the combination - Jim Lee's Batman being a classic example. Is that a model you might seek to emulate in the near future?
JEFF
: Well, that's always been a no brainer to me. What's truly funny to me are these skeptics out there who seemed truly amazed by the success of Jim's Batman. I mean, you put an amazing and dynamic artist on an iconic character, of course it's going to sell gobs. Unfortunately, I think a lot of the resurgence has to do with the fact that a lot of these other high profile artists tried doing other smaller projects or creator owned material and for some reason or another, found it difficult and had to go back. I would love to someday take a crack at Spider-Man or Batman, my two childhood favorites, and I do think that someday I will. But for right now, my heart is into creating new ideas that I can control, and maybe a few years down the road, when it's not quite so trendy, I'll be able to tackle one or both of those icon books.

 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #500 LITHOGRAPH - SIGNED BY J. SCOTT CAMPBELL

RICH: Look at you... deliberately bucking trends. Danger Girl was one of the last breakout new comic book titles in the industry - and a rare one too, considering it's non-superhero nature. Since the comparative decline of Cliffhanger, everything that's succeeded in the direct market has been, at best, a revival of an older title or characters. What's happened to the industry? Why does it seem no longer to support original work? Would a new title in the manner of Danger Girl succeed as well today?
JEFF: Well, I do think that the industry would and will support original ideas, they just haven't had a lot they've liked that much lately. I think that guys like me have to take some responsibility as well for shaking the retailers' confidence in creator controlled titles delivering on time. They know they can count on Superman and X-Men because there's a large group of artists working to pump those books out rain or shine. They're dependable, if not always consistent in the quality of their content. I also think that a lot of the creator owned fair that I've run across in recent years has been far too self indulgent and the writers and artists seemed to forget the fact that their books were supposed to be entertaining. Besides craving exciting and dynamic art and storytelling, fans want characters that they can relate to and new ideas and genres that are exciting and, most of all, FUN. I don't think that many of the recent original comic book ideas have been all that much fun. In fact, I find most comic books in general these days to be too dark, too slow, and quite frankly...dull! I was watching a DVD documentary on Todd McFarlane recently and there was a sound bite from Jim Valentino on there, where he was contributing his opinions on the early 90's comic boom. He said that the creators of comics at that time were acting like they were rock stars and that the industry itself was like "Arena Rock", and that now, that the industry has shrunk considerably, comic books are once again, more like "boutique jazz". Now, I like Jim quite a bit, but I really strongly disagree with this analogy that comics should settle on being boutique jazz. If we've become boutique jazz it's because we've all allowed ourselves to be that. My thinking is much more like arena rock, and I approach creating my comic books with that mindset. I want my comics to be bigger than life, summer popcorn movies, because those are the comic books I grew up with. I like to think that I'm creating comic books for 13 year olds, and the 13 year olds inside all of us adults. Give the fans Star Wars, don't give them Dune.

RICH: When Gen 13 caught fire, people went a little... odd. I remember the scene in my local hop as people scrambled for a certain variant cover as if their life depended on it. Did you see any of that activity? How did you find the fan reaction at the time? Did it differ to the reception for Danger Girl? Is it one that you'd seek to replicate?
JEFF: Yeah, I did see a lot of that crazy hoopla around Gen 13 and it was wild and exciting to be a part of. At the time, I thought I was really appreciative about it, but looking back on it now, I wonder if I should have been more appreciative. You have to understand, Gen 13 was my first comic book ever, so I've never known what it's like not to be on a hot book. And with the hype that came with starting Cliffhanger, those high sales and attention continued. I do think that we (Me and Joe Mad) squandered that positive attention to a degree, and the negative attention we received from shipping our books so irregularly really took its toll on both of us. Internet message boards were just starting to really take off around the start of Cliffhanger as well, so it was the first time a lot of us were exposed to the really negative bashing that is so common to all of us who regularly check out the internet now. That constant pounding the two of us took for our books coming out late battered us both to the point that we both have virtually dropped out of sight for that last few years. So I think in answer to you question, the Danger Girl success was different because it seemed to be a time of simultaneous extreme highs and lows.

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

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