Through the Mail Slot

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Having just finished up an ASTRO CITY letter column, which’ll go up shortly, I figured I’d check and see what kind of non-Astro City mail we had here in the blog mailbox.

Ulp.

Looks like I haven’t answered any blog mail in a year. Aheh. Sorry.

Let’s do some, and at least make a start on digging out.

First up, from MIKE, on 12/11/12 (yes, just about exactly a year ago):

Just reread AVENGERS: ULTRON UNLIMITED. Masterful entertainment.

Thanks.

Thank you, Mike! And, um, sorry to be so delinquent in responding.

Next, from THOMAS:

Okay, so you get a brother hooked on ASTRO CITY, then it’s gone. I think it’s the best written book of the last twenty years. Please let me know if it will ever be back.

I’m an English prof at a small community college, and I’ve written a few small projects for small comic book publishers. Your work was not only entertaining; it was inspiring. I hope it will return soon.

Thanks, Thomas. Glad to have had an effect, creatively if not as an avatar of productivity.

I hope you’ve noticed by now that ASTRO CITY’s been back since June, and (so far at least) hitting all our release dates. Hope you’ve been enjoying it!

Next, LARRY:

Any DC plans in the near or far future? You’ve been away from the DCU (and the DCNu) for too long. I, for one, would like to see you writing SUPERMAN as I think you could return that book to the proper place it deserves. It has been floundering (to be kind) since the relaunch, I think.

I haven’t been keeping up on Superman lately, but from what I’ve seen online, people seem to be happy with what Scott Snyder, Scott Lobdell and Greg Pak have been doing with the books, so I hope it’s been to your taste.

No ongoing DCU plans for me, at present—though I am still slowly working on BATMAN; CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, the “thematic sequel” to SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY, for which John Paul Leon is doing a masterful job with the art. But beyond that, I’m hoping to concentrate more on creator-owned material, and have a few projects in the works that you’ll get to see begin sometime next year.

So I won’t be diving into the waters of the New 52, but I hope I’ll be able to do other books that’ll capture your imagination and attention…

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Through The Mail Slot

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So, where were we? What, mail to answer? Okay, mail to answer.
First up, from CALVIN:

Hey, Kurt, we met at the Portland show and I bought SUPERSTAR and thought it was great. Any more of this coming out? Thanks and I am looking for more of Superstar.
Not soon, at least. But more Superstar is definitely something I want to get to—if nothing else, I came up with a big sprawling epic story for the character and haven’t been able to tell even that one, much less all the others. So someday, I really want to get to that one, at least.
And, uh, sorry for taking over a year (!) to respond…
Who’s next? Ah, DEAN:

I really hope this isn’t the end of Superstar! What can we do to revive his career? He has so much potential, not only to fight evil, but really change to world for the better by inspiring his fans to volunteerism and activism.
Captain Amazing, at one point in the movie, violently rips the Pepsi logo off his costume from among the many others festooning it. Does he wear the pink ribbon of breast cancer, the multi-colored one of autism awareness, the black one in memory of MIAs and POWs? Does he go on talk shows to defend against drinking and driving, teen pregnancy, racism, or illiteracy?
If it’s revealed that he can only take the life force of willing givers, that goes a long way to alleviating my former apprehension of his soul vampirism. Superstar is the first hero I know of who has the responsibility to use his power to support itself. Remembering that he uses life force, he has to use it in a way that his fans feel is appropriate or he will lose his fans. With great power comes great responsibility and that is no more true for any superhero than it is for Superstar.
Captain Amazing?
Yes, Superstar’s energy donors are all volunteers. And Superstar’s not devouring their souls, just absorbing some sort of bio-chemical energy, or something along those lines. It’s science, not spiritualism, and he doesn’t take it by force, like a vampire.
But that big epic story I mentioned above? It’s very much about the idea that if he doesn’t do what his supporters feel is appropriate, he loses his support—and thus, his power. What happens when his supporters feel he’s unworthy? Similarly, what happens if he doesn’t want to kowtow to popular prejudices? He’s something of a politician-hero, or needs to be, and that’s very much a two-edged sword.

Continue reading

Reading Marvels? In Class?

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As I’ve noted before, I try to avoid e-mails that fall into the category of “Can you answer these questions for my school report.” I’m not in school any more, and despite that, I seem to have plenty of my own homework to do.

But every now and then, someone finds a way around me on this. Julio, here, tells me:

Hello my name is Julio. I’m a high school student. We have an assignment on interviewing a comic writer. I chose you because you’re very talented and we are reading your comic MARVELS. It’s very good. by the way.

They’re actually reading MARVELS? For class? Well, okay, I guess since I haven’t done this in a year and a half, I can do another one. But I’m answering here on the blog, so anyone else who’s interested can read it.
On to the questions:

1. What is the work that you are planning on or that you are working on?

At the moment, what I’m working on is ASTRO CITY, the series I do with Brent Anderson and Alex Ross, and KIRBY: GENESIS, which I’m doing with Jackson Herbert and (again) Alex Ross. On top of those two, I also have a series called BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT to write, a novel featuring ARROWSMITH, a character I co-created with Carlos Pacheco, and a new series called THE WITCHLANDS.

2. What was your first work?

My first professional comics work was a 7-page “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps” story that appeared in GREEN LANTERN #162, back in 1982. That same day, POWER MAN & IRON FIST #90, which I also wrote, came out as well, but I didn’t actually write that story until about a month after the Green Lantern story, so I count GREEN LANTERN #162 as my first.

3. What was your proudest moment?

In comics? It was probably when the first reviews and reader reactions started coming in for ASTRO CITY #1. Alex Ross and I had won a lot of awards and gotten great reaction for MARVELS, but getting that same kind of response to something that I’d created from scratch (with the help of Brent, Alex and others, but not any pre-existing characters or publisher’s universe) was a real thrill, and really made us feel like we’d accomplished something worthwhile.

4. What is the most challenging aspect of working in comics?

For me, it’s the deadlines. Comics are usually monthly, so if you’re writing a series, you need to write a new issue every month, month after month, for as long as it lasts. If you’re writing more than one series, that just means more deadlines. It can be exhausting—writing one good script is a lot of work, but doing it time after time after time requires a lot of stamina.

I used to be able to write a script a week, but the longer I do this, the harder it gets to maintain that kind of speed.

5. What is the most rewarding aspect of working in comics?

It’s hard to say which is better: Getting to collaborate with talented artists, letterers, colorists and editors, so you’re all working together to make a comics story that’s the best it can be—or get to reach a large audience of readers, who want you to tell them a story in the first place. The idea that an audience is out there that wants to read what I write is what keeps me doing it, both because telling stories to people is why I write in the first place, and because it’s the fact that those readers buy the comics that allows me to keep writing them.

6. What does it feel on having an amazing gift such as writing?

It doesn’t feel like a “gift,” it feels like a skill. Something I learned by practicing it and getting better at it over time, just like someone who practices piano, or practices at playing baseball, will get better and better. It can be a lot of work, but it’s worth the effort.

7. How was it like working with Ross on MARVELS?

Alex is one of the most thoughtful and dedicated artists I’ve ever worked with. Doing MARVELS with him was a lot of fun, because we both put a lot of thought into how best to tell the story, and we each had a lot of input into what the other guy did. He had suggestions and ideas on the story, and I had suggestions and ideas on the art. We’d go back and forth, talking over even the smallest details — sometimes we’d be on the phone for hours, talking about stuff that most readers would never notice. But even if a reader doesn’t consciously notice it, it made the story better, and helped us make the stuff the readers did notice all the more real and effective.
I still work with Alex, on ASTRO CITY covers, and on the KIRBY: GENESIS series, and it’s still a rewarding and enjoyable experience, because of the attention and thought Alex puts into what he does.

8. Do you have new ideas?

Tons of them. I have more ideas than I could use up in a lifetime—and I come up with new ones all the time!
The better you get at writing, the more easily ideas come, I think. It’s one of the best parts of the job, coming up with new things, new stories and new ways to tell them.

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Hope that helps!

A Bargain and a Book

OUT TODAY!

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The Astro City Special Edition—described by DC like so: “The hometown heroes of Astro City were first unleashed on the world in this adventure that introduced Samaritan, Honor Guard and more! Reprinted for just $1.00, this issue is featured in the Astro City: Life in the Big City TPB.”
By me, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross. And only a buck!
Plus, you can download a preview of it here.
And that’s not all! You can also get…

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Marvels: Eye of the Camera Premiere Hardcover—which Marvel plumps for thusly: “The long-awaited sequel to the award-winning publishing sensation that made Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross into stars! News photographer Phil Sheldon’s back, with the man-on-the-street’s perspective on the big events of the Marvel Universe, from the Avengers, the all-new X-Men and the Secret Wars to Dracula and the Werewolf By Night. But this time, Phil’s world is going to be rocked not just by superheroes and super-villains—but by something far more personal, as well. Featuring the Marvel debut of artist Jay Anacleto, whose gorgeous, photorealistic pencil renderings give a new look at the Marvel Universe, and what it would be like to actually be there. Collecting Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1-6. Rated A. $24.99″
I’m pretty proud of both of ’em, and glad they’re out and available. Give ’em a look, won’t you?