July 24, 2017

 




Interview:
Phil Jimenez

By Ed Mathews



Phil Jimenez is a professional comic book artist and writer who has been working in the industry since 1991.  He has worked on New Titans, Team Titans, Robin, Guy Gardner: Warrior, Swamp Thing, Lobo, Invisibles, Girl Frenzy: Donna Troy, Tempest, Planetary/Authority, various DCU Secret Files projects, and JLA/Titans among others.

Phil and I sat down at the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village, NYC, a place that has been the hangout for members of a group of abstract expressionists known as the Club (c. 1950), whose membership included the likes of de Kooning, Reinhardt, Rothko, and Pollock.  An appropriate spot if ever there was one to pick.  We discussed his current plans for Wonder Woman during her 60th anniversary year.

Phil says, “Saratoga Since 1872.”  Don’t ask what that means.  I promised it would be included somewhere in this interview, however. 

Wacky hi-jinks ensue.

20 Questions with: Phil Jimenez A conversation with Phil Jimenez.

 

NOTE: This interview was conducted in Sept. of 2000.

 

1) Phil, John Byrne suggested you as his successor back when he left the book.  Eric Luke and Yanick Paquette (and later Matthew Clark) had the unenviable task of following him.  Interpret that as you will. In other interviews, you have stated that it has been a lifelong dream to write and draw Wonder Woman.  Why did we have to wait this long?  Was it bad timing?  Were you offered the gig before this current yearlong stint?

Let me go backwards in time.  The only other time I was ever offered a chance to draw Wonder Woman was when John Byrne was leaving the book. John called me and asked me if I was interested in the job, and I thought about it.  But then I realized that they weren’t interested in having me write or plot it in any way and quite frankly, I was a little insulted by that.  After a discussion with Eric Luke, the new writer, about his plans for the book, I realized that his vision for the character was different from my own and so I declined.  

I am on the book now because I finally made a pitch for it after just so many years of what seemed like a directionless book and a group of writers who liked to write around the character of Wonder Woman instead of writing her.  It was a lifelong dream to write and draw this book, obviously, but more than anything, I was just desperate to see her done in a way that it could become a comic I’d want to read.   If the previous creators were doing a book that I wanted to read I would be happy and fine and just continue collecting Wonder Woman. But I finally felt like I had strong stories to tell and I also realized that writers were missing some substantial points about the character and her world, and so I wanted to write a group of issues that got her back to that.

2) Ok, Phil, you mentioned that you’re going to be co-plotting, meaning with another plotter… You'll have co-plotters throughout your first year? Can you let the cat out of the bag and let us know who they are?  The first one I know is JM DeMatteis with Joe Kelly following, yes?

Yup.

Who is the third?  Is it top secret? Like Alan Moore or Warren Ellis top secret?

The third is going to stay secret until it’s publicized because I want confirmation.  Until the work is on paper, I don’t want to announce anything because it could fall through at any minute, but I just spoke to Joe Kelly today and he’s still psyched about joining me for an issue.  And Marc DeMatteis is actually dialoging my first story arc.  So, I’m just going to keep the third person a big secret.

Oh, yeah?

Yeah.

I can’t ask?

You can ask…

I can ask.  George Pérez? (Phil gives me a vague look)  Not Alan Moore?  Could be Alan Moore… (Phil shrugs)  Fine… we’ll move on…

3) In pre-Crisis, the Clark Kent/Superman/Lois Lane situation was one that never allowed for Clark to become a romantic interest for Lois since Lois was in love with Superman, but not Clark.  Wonder Woman had her Steve Trevor, who eventually did fall for Diana Prince.  Fast-forward to current canon.  Wonder Woman no longer has Steve Trevor as a love interest thanks to George Pérez.  It is as if the sexual tension has been removed from the book.  Is this a flaw?  Is Diana allowed to have a love interest now, and if so, who should it be?

For a long time I was in the camp that Diana didn’t need a love interest per se for the sole reason that I thought she was a fine and whole character without one.  Wonder Woman had a mission. She had a goal, she was self-sufficient, she wasn’t someone that was defined by her other half and therefore didn’t need one.  But rethinking that, I do realize it has been 14 or 15 years since the reboot, 14 I think, and all of Diana’s love interests have been married or unavailable.  So I got to rethinking the topic and I just had a conversation with Jeanette Kahn and I ran an idea about a love interest to her and she really liked it, so about halfway through my run, expect to see a new potential love interest for Wonder Woman.

4) The Boston cast during the Pérez days has been given little if any focus as of late.  How much will we be seeing of them during your run?  Also, many writers tend to avoid writing Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman's own comic book. (which we have gone over, but…) Any assurances that this will be Diana's story?  That this year is Diana’s story…

Well, 2 things.  The Boston cast will return.  We’ll be seeing Steve and Etta and Julia and Vanessa. I’ll be dealing with Vanessa very specifically in a story about how she has become a little bitter and resentful that Wonder Woman just sort of tossed her aside and made this new girl Wonder Girl.  I actually want to play a story about how Wonder Woman has affected the lives of these two young women, one in a very positive way and one in a not-so positive way and the effects of that we’ll be seeing later.  All of my issues, despite the fairly large supporting cast, every issue I have, every story I have is about Diana.  Each of the finales depends on her, each story is hers… each story links thematically to some aspect of her, so I firmly believe this will be Diana’s book.  I like writing Diana.  I find her an amazingly fascinating character and I’m not frightened of her so I don’t feel the need to write around her.

5) If this year is successful in restoring Wonder Woman to high sales (cross your fingers), will you consider staying on the book with Greg Rucka when his writing on Wonder Woman starts?

Well… I’m going to say, “we’ll see.”  I know what Greg has planned for the book.  It’s probably not what I would plan for Wonder Woman, but he’s very passionate about the character, so in the months to come, we’ll see what happens and if we could find some sort of happy middle ground to work in.

What if they made you co-plotter?

I just know that his vision of the character is markedly different from mine, so… I’ve talked to a couple of people about that and we were sort of joking about how it might actually be an amazing combination, but I do suspect sparks would fly… (Ed giggles) (Phil says “Hi, Greg.”) So, we’ll see about that. I mean, I have a year’s worth of stories to tell and a year’s worth of stories to draw and if I can cover those bases, then I’ll be fine with that.  I have the good fortune to be able to write and draw her during her 60th Anniversary, so I sort of feel if I can come sort of set her up for Greg, then I did a good job.

6) Phil, you've worked with some of the best in the industry, from Devin Grayson on JLA/Titans: Technis Imperative to Grant Morrison on Invisibles Vol. 2 to Warren Ellis on Planetary/Authority.  Does anyone stick out in your mind as someone who would be a natural writing partner?  What do you look for in a creative team?

I loved working with the three people that you cited immensely and for various reasons.  God, I don’t even know where to begin. I mean each one of them had very particular strengths and each one of them was very open to what I had to say in my work and each one of them had ideas that were very exciting for me to draw.  I mean, I love Devin because she’s a good friend of mine and we can sit back and we talk about these characters and their lives and we laugh and we joke and we put up with things and that’s great.  

My relationship with Grant is a little more distant.  His plots for THE INVISIBLES would come in and I’d find them to be utterly brilliant and it was just unfortunate that scheduling problems prevented us from working together longer because he was a genius.  And Warren Ellis was amazing if for no other reason than the sort of scripts he writes are page-turners… like every script that I get, I have to know what happens on the next page!  He’s just brilliant about that.  And so each one of them has very specific strengths. I learned a lot working from with each of them; how to think about characters, how to think about scale, how to think about scope, how to twist things on their ear… I mean each one really brought something to me and my work.  

My ideal working partner/writing partner would just be someone, any of them, who I could bounce ideas off.  If there was a group of characters or a character that we had a similar vision on that we could just develop and grow with, and which they could play and they could let them play, that would be a perfect working union. I’ve had very few complaints with the people I’ve worked with in the past few years because they have been really good to me and have been very good for me.

7) Phil, <Phil is smiling> I can see you smiling because you glanced over at my questions…

No, I’m just sort of thinking… I’m in a nebulous thinking zone…

Phil, Who is Donna Troy?

How do you want me to answer this?

Well, how would you like to answer this?

Donna Troy is the… in my run on Wonder Woman, will be the best-dressed heroine in comics.  She is going to have the best hair.  She’s going to be the woman who I would be if I was a woman.

<Loud laughter disturbing the next booth> Oh, God!

I don’t know how to answer that question otherwise. I mean, Donna is going to be smart and funny and she’s going to be the Donna Troy I remember with the added aspect that she was at one time Wonder Woman’s twin sister.

Phil, how did you write her for that Grrl Frenzy one-shot without knowing who she was going to be?  What is the essence of Donna Troy?

The essence of Donna Troy: In my head, Donna Troy is a woman who is incredibly good, who is incredibly nice, who is extremely nurturing, and is good at just about everything she does. She’s well liked by everyone and wants to live in a world where people are nice to each other, where people treat each other with dignity and respect, and she’s willing to fight for that world.  That’s Donna Troy in my head.

8) Phil, you designed some characters for Eric Luke during his run, namely the Children of Chronus.  Will we be seeing the Children of Chronus during your run?

No. <emphatically stated>

Oh… <giggle> that was quick… Do you have any stories to tell about the Children of Chronus, anything?

I designed them sitting on a bus (where was I headed?)… out of Port Authority, I think it was going to Montclair, New Jersey. The editor asked me to design these characters, and so I said “Ok.” and I did. And that’s my official Children of Chronus story.

<we are both laughing> So, basically the Children of Chronus were on the bus to New Jersey…

They were designed while I was sitting on the bus to New Jersey. <laughs>

He’s laughing because he knows I live in New Jersey.  That’s ok… it’s all good…

I’m laughing because that’s literally what happened.  I remember very specifically designing Arch because I was in this zone where I was just drawing without really thinking of the characters, so their designs are probably a little more subconscious than other ones because I had no reference. So I was just… sitting there drawing.

9) Other writers and artists have noted that certain characters "speak" to them, or rather they speak through the voice of the characters.  Of the characters that you have redone (Tempest, Donna Troy, etc.) which one speaks most in your voice and why?

Speaks in my voice? I think I’m probably a little smarmier than Donna Troy, but if there is a character that I hear very easily in my head, it’s her.  Same with Diana, same with Wonder Woman: I didn’t redesign her, but when I see her in a situation, her voice comes very naturally to me. If not in terms of actual dialogue, certainly the way she would react to something, the way she would perceive something, the way she thinks about something, at least my interpretation of the character, obviously.  So the Wonder Women, Diana and Donna… I haven’t worked with Tempest in a long time and I know he’s gone through a lot of stuff so his voice is not as clear to me as it once was.  The idea that he has this wife and baby, you know, I’m not sure that the Tempest I know would have a wife and baby, so it’s sort of… it doesn’t resonate right with me so Tempest’s voice is more vague in my head than it once was.

Would he have ever gotten over Tula (Aquagirl died during the Crisis and was featured in the Tempest mini-series)?  Would he have?

I think he would have gotten over Tula. I think he did get over Tula, as we saw in the Tempest miniseries. I don’t know if he would have married this woman (Dolphin) who was sleeping with the man who’s essentially his father [Aquaman –ed.] at the same time to the point where, I don’t know if this was in print, but originally there was a paternity question, like “whose baby is it?”…

Ew… ew, yuck! I’m sorry…

So, yeah, that I have big issues with… like him marrying a woman who wasn’t sure whose baby it was…

<stunned look> … sorry… Ok, I’m back…

10) I read somewhere that you wished that you could have been raised as the only boy on Paradise Island. (Ok, that’s not fair… Anton and Kevin pulled it out of you on the gayleague.com website...) How would you write raising one boy on Paradise Island and what would be your design for this "Wonder Boy"? (And I will ask for this later… I want a sketch…)

We actually, Eddie Berganza the Superman Editor and I were joking one time about… we had a “what if?” story, like what if Superman’s, Kal-El’s rocket landed on Paradise Island? And it was very, very funny, because out comes this little naked baby boy and all these Amazons looking down on him and sort of shaking their heads thinking “well, what do we do with him now?” And it was all played for comedy, and it was all played for laughs…  

Clark would bring an Amazon a pot that he had just forged, she would look at it and knock it out of his hands spitefully.  Anyway, he ended up being just this horribly tormented boy because the Amazons treated him so poorly. And it was just really, funny… again, it was all played for laughs. Superman eventually ended up in some sort of Toga-ed uniform, because that’s what they wore.  Like I said, it was not serious.  It was all sight gags.  So my Wonder Boy would look like a sad, lonely, beat-up boy in a toga…

11) What happened with the never seen Hellblazer issue you did for Warren Ellis? Will it ever see the light of day?  What was the problem?

The fact that Kyle Baker’s story is getting reprinted after being pulled and won an Eisner, no less, makes me believe that perhaps one day that story can be printed.  It’s easily my favorite piece of work to date.  I think the art is the most beautiful that Andy [Lanning] and I have ever done together.  It was an amazing story.  

The problem was the point of view of the story, which I can’t really reveal without ruining the end.  But Warren had a very specific, very harsh point of view about, not necessarily why kids shoot each other, but about the kids who get shot.  And… it’s not that they deserve to get shot, don’t get me wrong, but basically the point of view is presented where John Constantine finishes saying… he’s telling this American woman that kids use guns because we live in a society that lets them and encourages them and encourages violence among children and it’s a terrible world we’ve given them and their reaction is a completely sane one. I mean, that’s basically what it was. 

I’ve had people read it from in this country and from other countries and the people from other countries are far more receptive to it than the people in this country. I think it’s because it is an outsider’s view of America about children and gun violence and I think Paul Levitz just, he just so vehemently disagreed with the point of view of the story.

This was going to be published around the same time that Columbine happened…?

I saw my first set of inks the day of the Columbine shootings… I totally forgot about that.  The day of the Columbine shootings, I had got home to turn on the TV to watch All My Children and here was all this live footage, and I had just come home with copies of the first five or six pages of inks on that story. So, yeah, I think its timing was unfortunate as well, and sort of eerie at the same time. But there might be copies of it floating around the Internet.  I know I’ve given copies to different people and I know that it’s been sort of asked so it’s out there. But I don’t want to give away any more specifics in the hopes that someday it will be printed.

12) Are there any contemporary artists that have caught your eye in some of your comp piles? Who gets the Phil Jimenez seal of approval?

You mean comic artists?

Comic artists, or if you want, other artists… but first, comic artists. After all we are in the pub where Pollock lost his brain cells in, so…

Greg Land on Birds of Prey and Nightwing is genius. I just got done reading the “Hunt for Oracle” in Birds of Prey and Nightwing and the art on that just blew me away.  Both Jackson Guice and Gred Land I thought did sort of amazing work.  This Justiano guy who has been doing a lot of work for Titans and the Beast Boy mini-series… there’s something I think that’s sort of very fetching about his artwork.  I’m still a sucker for classics like Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes… who else is out there? Oh! Leinil Yu from X-men who’s work I adore. I think it is beautiful.  I’m not really keen on those costumes; I don’t know who, nothing personal, I hope he didn’t make those costumes.  They’re kind of terrible. 

The artwork I think is actually very beautiful.  I really dig Bryan Hitch, I think he’s amazing.  He’s grown so far from being the Alan Davis clone that he once was; his work is just stunning.  I really like the work on Planetary with John Cassaday who has gotten so much better since he began.  I’m always a sucker for Tony Harris on anything… J.G. Jones, his stuff on Black Widow… he is just so good.  Doug Mahnke on Superman [Man of Steel]…

Really?

I really like his work a lot.

Wow.

I think that’s it for now.

Fair enough.

13) I know something other people don't know...

Yes?

You're a self-professed big fan of the X-Men.  What did you think of the movie?

I saw it twice. I thought the movie was flawed, but considering the disaster it could have been I thought it was really amazing.  My criticisms of it come from my long history of criticizing.  It needs to be said that I came out of that film so happy, I was cheering, I was laughing… and all my friends really liked it, and the criticisms come just because that’s what I do.  It was a little humorless, which was sort of unfortunate. Going into it, I knew the characters were going to be different, so I didn’t really care. I love what they did with Rogue, I love what they did with Wolverine, I love that whole relationship, I thought it was great. Obviously, and it has been said a million times, Storm and Cyclops got the short end of the stick…

Oh, no kidding!

…in character development.  And I walked out of there thinking, “Who is Storm?  Why is she there? What’s her purpose? What’s her function?” And, I got, for the first time, why Halle Berry might not have been so excited about that role, because good or bad for the film, she didn’t really have that much to do.  I mean, I know scenes got edited…

Sorry, Phil, I have to interject… I totally, totally, totally felt that [SPOILERS] when she was talking to Sen. Kelly as he was dying that that was the perfect time to do her origin.

Yes, absolutely.  That’s so funny that you say that, because I was telling a friend of mine that.  I was arguing with him that that was her moment.  That’s when we learn who she is, why she was there…  whatever X-men movie version of her origin, that’s it, and they didn’t do it.  And I find myself wondering if it was Halle Berry’s weaknesses or if it was writing… I’m not sure but I would love to know…

...”I fear people”... uh, hello, cut to Cairo…

Exactly, or even not, but we could have had it in a 30 second dialog! Cutting to Cairo costs money and I understand that, but he could have said “so what’s your story?” and she could have said “well, people hunted me in Cairo” or Kenya or whatever X-men movie version of her history was there…

…Halle Berry’s soliloquy cut... ugh

I had quibbles with that and a few other things, but for the most part I loved the casting, I loved the look, I thought it was an amazingly good set-up for a really, really good movie.  I hope they follow through. I thought the Sen. Kelly speech at the beginning with Jean Grey was a little embarrassing; I would have liked it to be a little more subtle, and the obvious racist, anti-gay overtones were there, but I wanted more of that.  I wanted it to really get nailed home.  I didn’t get the sense in this movie, that mutants are born that way, they can’t help it, that’s just what they are, that’s just what they do.  And I really wanted more of that. Mutants can’t help who they are and for the most part, most of them try to live normal decent lives and don’t try to get in your way. 

Of course there are going to be people who are obnoxious and evil a la the Brotherhood, but I didn’t feel that the anti-gay/mutant chord was played enough.  In my head, the perfect X-men movie would have been that adaptation of the Chris Claremont “God Loves, Man Kills” graphic novel from 1983. I loved that story to death, and I think it says more about the X-Men then the past five years of in continuity X-Men comics.  But, I really loved the X-men movie.  I’m very happy that its done as well as it did.

I hope it follows up…

I do, too. Plus, I got to go to the NY press junket, and what was really cool about that is that a friend of mine in the entertainment press let me in with him. I got to talk to Bryan Singer for a few minutes, and what was cool was that they [the actors] were all so into it.  You could tell that their time in the movie was difficult and that while making the movie they had no idea what they were creating, but afterwards they learned and started to get excited by it and I was excited by their enthusiasm.

14) You’re going to hit me, or do the verbal equivalent… If you could pull a Zero Hour and eliminate one story that you've drawn or written from your history so that everyone would have to forget it was ever done, what would it be?

You mean my most embarrassing moment?  Oooh… this is a toss-up between X-Men: Liberators and Team Titans

<Hysterical laughter> Sorry… go on…

It’s interesting though… each one were huge failures for very specific reasons.  X-Men: Liberators I agreed to do verbally with an editor as a 3-issue series starring the several X-men characters. It was dropped for months and then suddenly I was called up and told “We need the first issue soon because it’s been solicited, and it’s now a 4-issue series instead of 3.” So, I was in the middle of JLA/Titans and I’m like “are you serious?”  I know I made this verbal commitment to it, but there was no warning, no build up, and I agreed to a 3-issue story and not a 4, so I ended up doing layouts for the book and I had 3 inkers. And the story just wasn’t very good. Here I am, I’m working on JLA/Titans and it got to the point where I had to crank the X-Men stuff out as fast as I could.  I was reduced to doing layouts on a story that was being constantly edited all the way through, so it was not the glorious thing that I wanted. So much for my first X-Men gig.

And my Team Titans story I’ve told a million times. Everyone knows it. I was hired to be co-writer of Team Titans and the story we pitched was very Grant Morrison, Doom Patrol influenced.  We were taking these characters and making them this bizarre little group.  We did not want to do classic mainstream stuff at all.  There’s enough of that out there.  

Let’s do something kind of fun and kooky and self-referential, we thought, and what we didn’t know was that the editor-in-chief wanted a DC Comics version of X-Force. So from beginning to end we were fighting constantly because had they told us... The problem is that no one told us what they wanted until it was too late.  Halfway though our run, which we had planned as this 5 year multi-arc thing, my cowriter and I were told to wrap it all up in 4 issues.  Zero Hour was coming and they figured out what they were going to do with the Team Titans in Zero Hour, so we were left, basically, with a story that was going to take us 2 or 3 years to write that we were told to wrap up in less than half a year.  It was terrible.  I wasn’t speaking with my editor, I just was so angry. I quit the art chores after 2 issues because it got so bad.  And if they’d have told us this we could have revamped everything, but they let us proceed, let us get halfway through and then said, “no, we want you to do a 180.”

Wow.  So basically bad communication channels…

No.  Lies!  It wasn’t even bad communication because they weren’t telling us because they wanted me on the book.  I was told this.  They wanted me on the book and they knew that I wanted to do the book a certain way so the hope was to kind of…

Finagle?

…get me to get as much of what I wanted in, try to get what they wanted… hopefully transform it… it was so frustrating.  And, this is actually funny: my co-writer at the time said “oh, we can do this. It’ll be great.  We’ll just give them what they want.”  And I kept saying I don’t think we should; it’s a bad idea because we’re being compromised in such an enormous way. And he told me recently that we should not have done it because we were so compromised and to this day we read bad reviews about it. What happened was that we were compromised from the beginning.  And we were writing fill-ins at the end and our last issue was significantly different because of Zero Hour. It was all so ridiculous.  

Had they just told us at the beginning what they had wanted then we could have given it to them, but they let us proceed without being honest with us, so both of them are like blots on my career.  I would probably have to say that X-Men: Liberators is a slightly larger one because it was just egregious. At least in Team Titans there are 2 or 3 issues that I can look back on and go “the art was good on that,” and Bryan Hitch drew one and everyone really liked the art on that issue, there are a couple of really funny jokes in it… I mean, X-Men: Liberators, there was just nothing funny about it.

Oh, my. Would you play with the characters that survived Zero Hour?  Would you bring back Mirage, for instance?

Geoff Johns is bringing back Mirage.

Really?

Yeah, I think... well, I know we talked about it.  I really don’t have much to say about Mirage. I want to work with characters I think I still have something to say about, or on ones writers can convince me there is something left to be said about.  If Mirage lived with her baby in Rio, I think that would be fine.  I’m not one of these people who can’t let go, and I’m not one of those people who feels that they need to have a character around just because. If they don’t have a function, if they don’t serve a story function, if they don’t have a purpose, then they are just there because we like them and they are familiar to us.  I find that problematic. 

So, I’m not someone who likes to bring characters back from the dead, or if I do, I don’t leave them around.  I usually bring them back for a story function and then get rid of them.

But in JLA/Titans she showed up…  well, everybody showed up!

Everyone showed up.  Honestly, that’s the only reason I did that book.  I said, if I can draw every Titan, then I’ll do it. And…

…every Titan?

Yeah, every Titan.  The original story was much smaller and I said I really wasn’t interested in doing a small-scale story. George Pérez’ first Avengers issues had just came out and all the Avengers had just been assembled and so… I don’t remember if we were plotting before that happened. I don’t think it was an influence but more of a concern.  I just remember that if we were going to do this, let’s try and make it a big story and let me draw everybody.  When am I going to get to draw Rose Wilson again?

14) You’re going to hit me, or do the verbal equivalent… If you could pull a Zero Hour and eliminate one story that you've drawn or written from your history so that everyone would have to forget it was ever done, what would it be?

You mean my most embarrassing moment?  Oooh… this is a toss-up between X-Men: Liberators and Team Titans

<Hysterical laughter> Sorry… go on…

It’s interesting though… each one were huge failures for very specific reasons.  X-Men: Liberators I agreed to do verbally with an editor as a 3-issue series starring the several X-men characters. It was dropped for months and then suddenly I was called up and told “We need the first issue soon because it’s been solicited, and it’s now a 4-issue series instead of 3.” So, I was in the middle of JLA/Titans and I’m like “are you serious?”  I know I made this verbal commitment to it, but there was no warning, no build up, and I agreed to a 3-issue story and not a 4, so I ended up doing layouts for the book and I had 3 inkers. And the story just wasn’t very good. Here I am, I’m working on JLA/Titans and it got to the point where I had to crank the X-Men stuff out as fast as I could.  I was reduced to doing layouts on a story that was being constantly edited all the way through, so it was not the glorious thing that I wanted. So much for my first X-Men gig.

And my Team Titans story I’ve told a million times. Everyone knows it. I was hired to be co-writer of Team Titans and the story we pitched was very Grant Morrison, Doom Patrol influenced.  We were taking these characters and making them this bizarre little group.  We did not want to do classic mainstream stuff at all.  There’s enough of that out there.  

Let’s do something kind of fun and kooky and self-referential, we thought, and what we didn’t know was that the editor-in-chief wanted a DC Comics version of X-Force. So from beginning to end we were fighting constantly because had they told us... The problem is that no one told us what they wanted until it was too late.  Halfway though our run, which we had planned as this 5 year multi-arc thing, my cowriter and I were told to wrap it all up in 4 issues.  Zero Hour was coming and they figured out what they were going to do with the Team Titans in Zero Hour, so we were left, basically, with a story that was going to take us 2 or 3 years to write that we were told to wrap up in less than half a year.  It was terrible.  I wasn’t speaking with my editor, I just was so angry. I quit the art chores after 2 issues because it got so bad.  And if they’d have told us this we could have revamped everything, but they let us proceed, let us get halfway through and then said, “no, we want you to do a 180.”

Wow.  So basically bad communication channels…

No.  Lies!  It wasn’t even bad communication because they weren’t telling us because they wanted me on the book.  I was told this.  They wanted me on the book and they knew that I wanted to do the book a certain way so the hope was to kind of…

Finagle?

…get me to get as much of what I wanted in, try to get what they wanted… hopefully transform it… it was so frustrating.  And, this is actually funny: my co-writer at the time said “oh, we can do this. It’ll be great.  We’ll just give them what they want.”  And I kept saying I don’t think we should; it’s a bad idea because we’re being compromised in such an enormous way. And he told me recently that we should not have done it because we were so compromised and to this day we read bad reviews about it. What happened was that we were compromised from the beginning.  And we were writing fill-ins at the end and our last issue was significantly different because of Zero Hour. It was all so ridiculous.  

Had they just told us at the beginning what they had wanted then we could have given it to them, but they let us proceed without being honest with us, so both of them are like blots on my career.  I would probably have to say that X-Men: Liberators is a slightly larger one because it was just egregious. At least in Team Titans there are 2 or 3 issues that I can look back on and go “the art was good on that,” and Bryan Hitch drew one and everyone really liked the art on that issue, there are a couple of really funny jokes in it… I mean, X-Men: Liberators, there was just nothing funny about it.

Oh, my. Would you play with the characters that survived Zero Hour?  Would you bring back Mirage, for instance?

Geoff Johns is bringing back Mirage.

Really?

Yeah, I think... well, I know we talked about it.  I really don’t have much to say about Mirage. I want to work with characters I think I still have something to say about, or on ones writers can convince me there is something left to be said about.  If Mirage lived with her baby in Rio, I think that would be fine.  I’m not one of these people who can’t let go, and I’m not one of those people who feels that they need to have a character around just because. If they don’t have a function, if they don’t serve a story function, if they don’t have a purpose, then they are just there because we like them and they are familiar to us.  I find that problematic. 

So, I’m not someone who likes to bring characters back from the dead, or if I do, I don’t leave them around.  I usually bring them back for a story function and then get rid of them.

But in JLA/Titans she showed up…  well, everybody showed up!

Everyone showed up.  Honestly, that’s the only reason I did that book.  I said, if I can draw every Titan, then I’ll do it. And…

…every Titan?

Yeah, every Titan.  The original story was much smaller and I said I really wasn’t interested in doing a small-scale story. George Pérez’ first Avengers issues had just came out and all the Avengers had just been assembled and so… I don’t remember if we were plotting before that happened. I don’t think it was an influence but more of a concern.  I just remember that if we were going to do this, let’s try and make it a big story and let me draw everybody.  When am I going to get to draw Rose Wilson again?

15) As recent as this last story-arc in Wonder Woman…  I have to ask this question because this drives me up the wall.

What story arc?

Let me just ask the question, because you’ll know what story… Ok, what is everyone else's obsession with Diana as Golem?  What is your take on the magical clay and will this be canon?

I have no idea.  I have no idea what is people’s obsession with it.  It makes no sense.  A lot of people have really enjoyed that story, which I find really frustrating.  I think people have enjoyed it because it’s sort of fun and simple and not like the past 2 years of Wonder Woman which have been so depressing. Diana’s been so whiney, and so unlikable that this Clayface story is just sort of fun, a throwback to a day and an age when comics weren’t all about epic stories of life and death. 

It’s just a fun story focusing on Wonder Woman.  But, I think it inherently flawed because (a) I don’t think it works (Sorry, Brian) because Wonder Woman is not made of clay and I don’t know why nobody understands that.  She’s been flesh and blood since she was a little baby. So, she was clay for about 2 seconds when she was a kid, mom sculpted her out of clay, she was infused with a soul, and she suddenly came to life as a living, breathing person with a heart, veins, blood, a brain, and… I really, really have no idea why people are obsessed with this idea. It’s amazing in this particular mythology what people latch on to. The “made from clay” thing… a lot of people are really in to that.  I don’t know why.  I can’t give you a good answer.  I’m less fascinated by it.  It’s like the same thing that Clark Kent was this protoplasm before that thing opened and suddenly, there’s little baby Kal-El.

I actually heard somebody argue that “Well, I haven’t picked up a Wonder Woman comic in years” and we’re talking about years prior to Pérez…

Right.

…”and that’s the Wonder Woman I remember. She was clay!  She is a golem.”  Are you just saying that Pérez is the starting point, like 1986, everything else I may play with, but that’s not canon?

Well, with the Pérez version… that was a two-fold question.  Yes, so the Pérez stuff is canon because that was the reboot.  If it wasn’t rebooted, I’d be playing with everything, but it was, and in the same way that much of Superman’s history was revised, that Batman’s history was revised in 1986, so was Wonder Woman, so that’s the history that I play with. It’s frustrated me in recent years that people have this insane desire -- I think out of nostalgia and a desperate need for familiarity -- to bring back stuff from 20, 30, 50 years ago.  Somehow, there’s a void.  Obviously a Golden Age Wonder Woman, obviously Hippolyta fills a need.  A lot of people think there should have been one and were angered when she was removed from continuity.  I never really cared.  But what I find interesting is when I started reading DC comics in like the…

mid 80’s?…

Early 80’s, soon before Crisis, like right around the Great Darkness Saga [Legion of Super-Heroes –ed.] and the New Teen Titans #12.  I started reading comics around then. I didn’t have a huge love affair with DC Comics or its continuity before that.  I understood it, I got the Earth-1 / Earth-2 thing really well; I thought that was really great.  When Crisis came and the world was restructured, and histories were rebooted, I thought, for me that was really exciting because it was a chance to reinvigorate these characters and renew them. And for me, a continuity hound, Wonder Woman’s departure and Black Canary’s replacement in the JLA, was fun, because, well, how does this story now work with Black Canary in it?  

I never cared that it wasn’t Wonder Woman.  I was more interested in the making sense of a new history because that was exciting to me. Because with that new history came all of these wonderful new stories.  But a lot of people just couldn’t handle that.  They felt that there were certain things that just needed to be there, things they’d invested in financially and emotionally. 

So anyway… when I got the chance to write and draw Wonder Woman, I sat down, got the entire collection, read it, re-read it, and made a huge 74-page bible, all post-Crisis stuff, and that’s what I’ve been using as my source book.  I have no interest in bringing back characters from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, unless they serve a story function. I do have a surprise in an issue that should make a lot of people happy, but it won’t be until the end of my run.  It’s sort of a throwback to the old days, it’s kind of like a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge.”  But I think there is a lot of richness in these 5 years of the Pérez books. But it got really damaged along the way. In [William Messner-]Loebs’ run, in the letter columns, there’s this horrible, horrible stigma attached by the editors who address the Pérez run… when you go back and read, you can see that the editors were sick and tired of being told, “well, Pérez wouldn’t have done this. Pérez wouldn’t have done that.”  And they started doing things, you could tell, that Pérez would never have done, i.e. Taco Whiz…

<hysterical laughter>  I wanted to ask what’s up with Taco Whiz [Diana took a job at a fast food restaurant called Taco Whiz. –ed.], but… you got it.

That’s it. It was basically a slap in Wonder Woman’s face and I wish I could understand the disdain for that Pérez stuff by certain folks. I like the character, and that version is one of the most focused runs of any material I’ve read in years.  Her character had a purpose and a goal where story builds on story builds which builds on story. And I don’t love every story, but I am amazed at like the through-line from Pérez’ first issue to War of the Gods.  I can totally see the transformation of the character and I don’t think a lot of people give George credit for that.  Also, some bad artwork after George left the pencilling chores in the middle of that couldn’t have helped.  The George Pérez stuff to me is canon, but I am also not excluding the Loeb stuff, the Byrne stuff, the Luke stuff. Whatever I find is applicable that makes some sort of sense, I use.  Byrne introduced the idea that Paradise Island can travel wherever it needs to, so I used that idea.  I mean it’s there, it’s been said. Artemis was the second Wonder Woman, there’s all sorts of stuff there to play with.  Circe had a baby.  We’ll be seeing what happened to that baby.

Wonder Girl?

Which Wonder Girl?  Cassie?

Cassie… of Young Justice.  I think that Cassie has developed into an interesting character…

Well, I think Peter David did some amazing things with her in Young Justice, so I take more of my cues from that than what actually happened in Wonder Woman.  I didn’t like Wonder Girl until I started working with her and then I kind of got into her head a little bit.  I started talking to other girls about her and I’ve figured out a way of working with Cassie.  She’ll be fairly prominent in 3 of my 5 story arcs.  One of them is the Wonder Girl/Vanessa, Cassie/Vanessa story where we’re also going to get a new villain in that story.  Peter David has basically written her well: she’s smart, she’s going to become the leader of Young Justice, she’s spoken on the White House lawn to people.  

I mean, she’s this 15 year-old girl who, as a superhero, she’s kick-butt; as a teenage girl, she still gets shy around boys.  And once that was sort of explained to me, that was kind of cool.  I kind of want to tweak the costume just a little bit to refine it for the millennium.  I like that she’s in street clothes.  I think that young girls that read the book probably like that costume.  I want to give her a pierced eyebrow, but Eddie Berganza doesn’t want me to. I want her to be like a skateboard girl.

Oh, totally…

I think she would be. The other thing that Eddie and I talked about was how if Artemis trained her, Artemis’ tribe of Amazons were different from the Greek Amazons and they have different methods of fighting, she probably taught her weapons making. Cassie’s probably really good with a gun, and is probably a sneaky, dirty fighter. So we want to have a scene with Wonder Girl and Robin (I hope this sees print, because we talked about this) where she and Robin are sparring and Robin is playing off of his Batman tricks and she’s playing off of her Artemis tricks and they both find out that they can be dirty fighters.

Interesting.  Who wins?

Oh, she does.  I mean, he can out think her.  I think Robin is smarter than she is, but he’s not faster than she is, and I also think that in a small space she would smash him to bits.  I just think she would.  I’m not playing favorites, as I actually like Robin more than I like Wonder Girl, but objectively, she has the power of Zeus!  I mean there goes poor little Robin and I think she goes “Smash” and he’d be dead.

She has to meet up with Mary Marvel at least once…

There’s a lot of demands to see Mary Marvel.  There’s only been one place where I plan on using Mary…

A plan that nobody else knew, so now I pulled that out of you. Let’s talk about Mary Marvel…

Well, Mary is actually (hopefully) going to be part of one of my story arcs, I can only talk about this a little bit, but it involves using the women of the DCU.

Ooooo…

It’s my final story arc, actually, so I want to gather as many female characters as I can, and I probably won’t go into to much more than that except for to say that the story is inspired by a story in the early 80’s run of Wonder Woman.  Gene Colon drew, Paul Levitz plotted, and I think Roy Thomas dialoged it or something like that…

So in other words, I know which one it is, though…

It’s like 293 – 295?

Oh, God…

It’s the one with the Adjudicator and I wanted to do a story like that where Wonder Woman basically led a group of super heroines in adventure and I figured out a way to do it that’s not particularly hokey. At least I don’t think it’s hokey.

Well, we’ll see…

Yeah, we’ll see.  Absolutely.  So, Mary should be in there… the thing is I don’t want to use any character where I have to say to whoever is working with Mary “Oh, I want Mary for this story.  Give her to me.”  I want anyone to contribute who wants to contribute to contribute.  I want their ideas. I want their feedback.  All I want to do is make sure these women come off as being strong, capable women.

16) Speaking of strong, capable, powerful women… Hippolyta is now a fixture in the JSA, or at least a reserve member.

She’s a fixture.

Yes, she is. Will we be seeing any Golden Age tale of "Polly" (whoa, you should have seen his face when I said “Polly”) during your run?  What do you think of Byrne putting her in World War II?

We will not be seeing any Golden Age adventures in Wonder Woman. I just don’t have room, not that I’m not interested.  I don’t have space in my 12 issues to do a Golden Age adventure…

What about a 13th?

Well, we have been talking about doing a Hippolyta special or something like that, so we’ll see.  As I said, I never thought that there needed to be a Golden Age Wonder Woman, but now that there is it’s great as it gives Hippolyta several new dimensions.  When I actually sat down and wrote that bible and I did her history and incorporated as much of the Golden Age Wonder Woman’s history, as I could. I adjusted it appropriately. Her history took up like 5 pages of text!  It’s huge! And so it completely changed her character in my head because I suddenly realized she had all this history to draw from.  And the thing is, in my head I think she really likes being Wonder Woman.  I think she’s good at it.  I think she likes being in the JSA.  I think she’s ruled Themyscira for 3,000 years, got this taste of what it was like to be a hero, to do something other than nurturing her little nation of 3,000 Amazons. 

And so I think that transformed her.  I actually kind of like her. It took me a long time to admit that.  It took me about a year to adjust to her because I hadn’t done that chronology and I didn’t understand her as Wonder Woman. It was played so cavalierly, like “Oh, I just went back in time for 8 years, and now I’m back and things are great.” And I hated that.

(ding)

Yeah… But what I wanted to know is what happened during those 8 years… how did she change, and who became her friends… how did she change the world.  What I find fascinating is that Hippolyta’s back in the 1940’s for 8 years. What did she do that Diana has or has not to make the world a better place?  Were their missions the same?  Like, when she went back in time did she just fight Nazis or was she promoting peace and women’s rights as well? I mean, what did she do in her down time? So, that’s why I think I had such a hard time because her time there was so ill defined.  She barely knows English.  Apparently she’s now speaking it flawlessly, so she obviously learned some languages while there.  And I know fans really like it.  I’ve actually really grown to like her a lot.

There are two things I keep in mind with Hippolyta that will reflect in my run so I have a big Hippolyta story.  One is that she’s Wonder Woman not because she won a contest, but she’s paying penance for letting two women die and I think a lot of people forget that.  I kind of want to play with that notion that, Artemis, who was totally set up…

Oh, yeah, from the get go…

…by this woman.  Artemis is probably not as fond of Hippolyta…

…oh, no doubt…<laughter>

…and so there will be a moment where Artemis really sort of has it out, not necessarily literally, with Hippolyta. And in my first issue, we actually see a touch of that in a scene where Artemis stumbles into this huge trophy room that Hippolyta’s Amazons have designed.  And it has all this stuff about Wonder Woman and her time, and even a little alcove for Artemis, but only a little alcove, and Artemis is just sort of standing there. And she’s thinking “this is amazing, what they’ve done is amazing, but everyone seems to forget that Hippolyta was Wonder Woman because she set me up to die.” And why is that?  And it sort of sets that question up to be explored later.

The other things with Hippolyta… we’ll be talking about her leadership and who has been leading the island while she’s been off traipsing away with the JSA. When it comes right down to it, Hippolyta does just about everything she does because she loves her daughter more than life itself and she will act even irresponsibly to protect her. She’s a mother, and she loves her daughter, and as much as she loves the adventure and the glory and the new friends she’s made, she’s also doing all she’s doing as a tribute to all her daughter did.  She could not have been Wonder Woman if not for her daughter.

That’s an interesting time travel play… she knows what Diana did and then she’s going back into the past…

To make sure that Diana does it. I actually love that loop because basically, Diana had to be Wonder Woman for there to be a Hippolyta… And I also have Diana Rockwell Carver in there, basically because Hippolyta as Wonder Woman, she had that invisible plane, she inspired Diana Rockwell’s group, and Diana Rockwell landed on Paradise Island and therefore sacrificed herself and became Diana’s namesake, so there’s this sort of time loop.

Oh, that’s an interesting way to tie that in!

Yeah, so you don’t lose that element… you gain one, so Wonder Women all basically inspire each other.

Wow… Ok…

17) I know that you've done some work outside of comics, such as box art for videogames and posters for some RPGs.  What other media do you plan on working in?  Are multi-media comics either on game systems or online the wave of the future, and what is your take on it?

I don’t know if they are the wave of the future, however… I’ve been contacted; I have a contract I haven’t signed yet…we’re negotiating it with an online group, an online company that wants a series of webisodes, who wants to take a property of mine and do, not necessarily online comics, but an online serial.  I think it is foolish to ignore the power and the inherent draw of seeing animated figures on a computer. Like watching Wonder Woman move on screen in a serialized adventure. 

I somehow doubt that we will see the end of comics within the next couple of years.  I think they are going to be around for at least another half-decade or so.  I think that the readership that we have now is small, but vigorous.  I don’t think they are willing to let comics die quite yet.  I’m not saying that they are going to be around forever.  I think that the industry is in trouble, obviously, but I also don’t think that it is going to be gone tomorrow.  And I do believe that we are going to see a lot more online comics, a lot more webisodes, a lot more interactive adventures. 

I think people just really like interactive media, seeing characters move and hearing them speak. They like choosing their adventures.I know there’s Superman webisodes you can like choose one or two paths depending on which part of the adventure… like does Superman chase Lex Luthor or the Parasite… I think people like that.  At the same time, I also think people like stories just to be told to them and don’t want to have to make those decisions.  I think that people find, much in the same way that people find in a movie, a good movie, the process of having a good story told to them, of being taken away by that story. 

So, I think comics will change.  I think we’re going to see a lot more trade paperbacks, I think we’re going to see a lot more quarterly books… I don’t think that they are going to be gone forever.  I’ve gone to a couple of conventions in the past couple of years where numbers are up and younger people are there and women are there. Believe it or not, I saw more women at the San Diego convention than I have ever seen…

Excellent!

Yeah, it’s kind of amazing. And these women are smart, they have great things to say, who liked adventure comics, who liked serialized action stories, but who also liked strong, sympathetic characters.  I can think of several women who I spoke to who have nothing but interesting insight… so, I think comics will be around for a couple more years, but I think to deny the power and the draw of the internet is foolish and shortsighted.

18)…we’ll get back to some of this later, but let me ask you a very important question… you weren’t always on this coast…

Right.

You were on the other coast for a little bit… the left coast… them guys… What was it like working for WildStorm?  And will you consider doing more work for them after your exclusive contract is up?

Well, technically because DC owns WildStorm, I can do work for WildStorm.

Oh, interesting…

Yeah, I loved working for WildStorm. John Layman, my editor on Planetary/Authority, he was great, he was wonderful to work with, he always provided me with work… he was fabulous.  I would love to have done that Apollo/Midnighter one-shot.

Really?

I would have loved to have done that…  I mean, I’m actually sort of bothered that they didn’t ask me, but…

Is this a pitch?

What?  I think this is a done deal.  I don’t think I have any…

It was rescheduled…

Yeah, I know it was rescheduled, but…

Oh, ok…

I couldn’t do it now anyway if they wanted it… I couldn’t do it because I’m just too busy, but…

I’d say shelve it and wait until you’re done, but that’s me…

I mean I could ask, or do it in little bits and pieces, but I think they’d want something… but anyway, WildStorm is great.  You know actually, what I would like to have done is the next League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  That was my big dream.

Oh my goodness…

Just to have done the second one…

…with Alan Moore…

Would have loved it.  I would have given my left arm for that series.  Loved it.

Wasn’t it great?

Loved League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Got that? He loved League of Extraordinary Gentlemen in case you missed that.

I’d totally work for WildStorm again.

Ok, Alan Moore approaches you tomorrow and says “I’ve got an ABC title… want to work with me?”

I’m committed to Wonder Woman for the year.  It’ll all depend on…

…if he did that three issue story arc at the end of your run?

What? (laughs)  What do you mean?

That last story arc… “Alan, you do mine, I’ll do yours…”

Nononono…

No, that’s not it? ;)

I mean, I want to be able to draw on schedule and I’m on schedule right now.  So I’d have to tell Alan, could you wait until next Spring.

Oh, no, I meant after your current commitments…

Oh, absolutely.  I would do it in a heartbeat.

Ok! Just checking, I mean, whoa, hello…

Definitely.  I just can’t commit to anything huge right now because I want to finish Wonder Woman.

19) Are there any lesbians on Paradise Island?  Some previous stories have suggested this, including a Justice League tale during the oh, so memorable Jones run.

Ah, well, I’m actually not going to be referring to the Jones years, but I will be referring to a couple of other things.  In the Pérez run it was established, very clearly during the summit where man first came to Paradise Island, that some women on the island do indeed sleep with each other.  I actually just got the go ahead to do a story with Wonder Woman and Troia. It’s about a civil war on Paradise Island and it’s a war between the Greek and the Egyptian Amazons. 

The story is framed by these two lovers, one Themysciran (Greek) and one Bana-Migdhall (Egyptian), who were established in a Wonder Woman: Secret Files story that I did with Devin Grayson, and they fall in love with each other and they can’t be together because their two nations are at war. So of course, Diana and Donna and Hippolyta have to settle things, obviously so that… partially that these two women can be together.  

What’s kind of thrilling about the story is that, believe it or not, this sounds so clichéd and terrible, but it didn’t dawn on me while I was writing it that I was writing a specifically lesbian love affair…?  I was far more interested in the fact that there were these two people from opposite sides of the tracks. And when it really dawned on me... I mean, obviously I knew it, but the point of it wasn’t simply that they were two women.  The point of the story was that we have two warring cultures and how does this affect their love affair. So that was kind of exciting. It just kind of grew organically. I had no real agenda. And so that the lesbian thing came in later, I was like, “oh, that’s so cool!” Just one more layer to the story.  So, we’re going to be seeing some lesbians on Paradise Island.  And some straight women, too.  And some women that just don’t even want to touch anyone.

No gay men?

There will be gay men… not on Paradise Island.

Because they can’t be.  Well, I remember at least in pre-Crisis continuity…

Men have always been allowed on Paradise Island.

Really?

That has been canon for like 14 years.

Yeah, you’re right.  My bad.

It’s really funny because an editor just brought that up.  He’s like “well, man can’t go on the island.” And I was like “they’ve been going on the island for like 15 years.”  This is kind of a divergent thought, but obviously, that memory is so entrenched in their heads that 15 years later they still think things are the same way they were in the 1970’s, 80’s… and it’s not 2 years ago now, it’s 15 years ago and I’m curious as to when that…

Well, you know, recently in JLA: Created Equal when …

That was an Elseworlds.

...right, that was an Elseworlds, fine, but they wrote it such that Superman couldn’t touch Paradise Island and he floated above it.

Who wrote that, I forgot. [Fabian Nicieza –ed.]

Kevin Maguire did the art.  It was actually not bad, but it was kind of a little smarmy there…

I though it was actually kind of gross.

I mean, let’s be honest (*cough* Super-sperm)…

Like the big canister at the end I thought was a little nasty.  And Phillipus was white!  Which was like horrifying.

Ahhh!

Like one of the only black characters in the Wonder Woman universe and there she is… white as snow.

I was just a little freaked out that Superman and Power Girl had a kid.

Well, they’re not cousins…

…I know they’re not cousins anymore, but I don’t care what you say, but they’re cousins.  That’s a [insert state here]…

Can I just say that Power Girl is the one character, even if she’s 47, should always call herself a girl? 

Oh, no! <laughter>

There’s just something I love about that.  I hate the name Power Woman.  I don’t think it rings off the tongue as well as Power Girl. But there’s also something I find kind of great about this really assertive, obnoxious, and bitchy woman who calls herself girl… who has no problems with it.

I think it’s funny, too, but unfortunately, some people who are trying to be faux-hip might would like try and change it to Grrrl…Kill it.

No, she’s Power Girl.  She’ll be Power Girl when she’s 57.

Ok, that’s the hook.  (To waitron: Hey, how about that water?) Yeah, Phil Jimenez here, parched…

Yes.

We’re here at the Cedar Tavern, which is an excellent place.  Jackson Pollock got drunk here, but Phil’s drinking water, and apparently they don’t bring water unless you have something else in it… here we go…

20) This would be the 20th question in theory.  We’re just going to call this “A conversation with Phil Jimenez” because that’s just how it is.  But I’m still going to ask this, because I want to, because I really was touched when I heard this… You’re the stuff of convention legends.  First, the "hijo" story from George Pérez, and more recently, this tale that just blew me away... I have been told that you asked a father of a young girl at the San Diego con if he felt that the content of your Wonder Woman would be appropriate for his little girl and, rumor has it, you gave her the issue.

Yeah.

 First, is this true, (obviously it is) and are you concerned with broadening the fan base of your book for the next generation reader?  How do you think this can be achieved?

Ahhh… that’s a good question.  I gave that man… actually, let me backtrack. When I was on a subway, I happened to look down at a group of little girls and at that moment I realized that my Wonder Woman might be a little too intense for them.  I don’t mean violent or… it’s just that the themes I’m dealing with are really intense and I just thought, “would a little 8 year old girl be into this?  Would she want to be into this?  Is this a Wonder Woman that I would want to give her?”  And then I started thinking, “is the Wonder Woman that I want to give an 8 year old girl the same Wonder Woman I want to give a 17 year old girl?”  Then I thought “mmm, probably not.” 

So, at this convention, I talked to a father and his young daughter.  I asked the dad if he would go though my first issue and see if there was anything objectionable and he looked through it and a couple of things I thought he might find problematic he didn’t. And he said “No, I actually think that this is ok.” And then he asked his daughter to look at it, and she did… and we were both fascinated because she didn’t care about any of the scary stuff. She just liked looking at the pictures of Wonder Woman.  She was very excited about her.  She didn’t care much about anything else going on around her. So that sort of informed my decision.  And I thought I can’t write a comic that’s going to be for everyone necessarily and I’m not sure I want to in terms of… I don’t want to write a book for 8 year olds, but I want to write a book that an 8 year old can look through and go “look at the pretty pictures.” 

So, I was a teenager when I started reading comics.  The kinds of comics I tend to write are for me back when I was 15, 16, 17…  and those are the people that are my target audience, because I think that if you write comics with certain sort of stories at a great time in their life then they’ll be open to them, and can serve various functions. They can be the friends that they don’t have in the real world; they can provide a fantasy world; they stimulate imagination; they give artists something to look at and sort of be inspired by.  So, my hope is that in doing Wonder Woman we can promote it in certain venues.  I’ve done certain magazines, magazine articles; I’m doing online interviews like for web sites like Slush Factory. My hope is that a broad variety of people will read that and maybe pick the book up and slowly but surely get new people in.  

I’m not sure I could have ever expanded the fan base enormously.  I think comics are sort of hard to find and I think even people that are interested in them, if they have to look too hard, they’re not going to struggle.  But my hope is to promote this stuff the next few months and say that, you know, it’s successful to a lot of people.  I’ve talked to a lot of women about what they’d like to see in the book so I’m hoping to make a book that’s reader-friendly towards young girls and young women.  I guess the bottom line is that you have to make good books with pretty art and good solid stories and one way or another they’ll find themselves into hands of people that want to read them.  With of course, a little help.

Right.

Does that answer the question?

I think that does, but by the same token, I’m curious… would you consider, or … is the third person a woman? The third writer… I mean it seems like a woman would naturally be someone who would be able to plot a woman’s book.  I may be wrong…

Whoa! You mean my third person… I thought you meant in the third person…

No, not in the third person… no no no no… I mean the third person in your run… not necessarily in your run, but what do you think of the possibility of having a woman writing Wonder Woman?  Is that not a natural marriage?

I don’t know, actually… it really all depends.  Some women that I’ve asked to help me sort of don’t want to do it because it’s sort of Wonder Woman being the iconic female character, they don’t want to feel that they were chosen simply because they were women…

Oh, yeah…

And which I find fascinating.  I’m shocked by that.

Well, I would hope that you wanted Midnighter and Apollo because you have an interesting story to tell. Not because…

No, I wanted them because they were gay.

Oh, ok, you wanted them…

I wanted to, because they’re like the first two sort of major out gay characters and I wanted to do a book with gorgeous gay men, basically. I don’t like either of those characters particularly much.  I would like to have drawn that because I also think that a book like that which focuses on two gay characters, I just have a sensibility that, necessarily, a straight person wouldn’t.  And it’s a pretty balanced one and to some degree, ego, but I’m not “hyper-gay”…

No, you’re not.

My whole life is not about being gay, and yet at the same time, I’m very gay and I think I could kind of bring a happy marriage of that sensibility to that book.  And do like all the hardcore action stuff, but I’d bring a certain “knowing” to those characters that a straight person might not be able to.  Like I’ve said, the couple of women that I’ve asked to help don’t want to do it for the very reason that they are women and didn’t want to be associated with that book simply because they were women. So, I thought that was sort of fascinating. And then the one other woman that I could think of I just don’t think that I would ask because our sensibilities are so askew that…

Creative differences…

…yeah.  I chose people… I had to judge it going into this.  I already had the stories.  What I needed was someone who could dialog with me and co-plot with me.

Why is that?  Why can’t it be a Phil Jimenez written/drawn/whole shebang?

Well, part of it was commercial.  With the Batman crossover, Denny O’Neil pretty much insisted that I needed “help”… it was basically an edict. Ok, fine… and quite frankly, J.M. DeMatteis has a sort of voice that will lend itself perfectly to the project.  For the other projects, I wanted people that were either familiar with the characters or were commercial names because Wonder Woman sales are so low right now that anything to resuscitate that I think is good.  So, a Batman crossover, which I wanted to do anyway…

Right.

But a Batman crossover is smart because you get some Batman fans into it…

That was originally supposed to be the No Man’s Land thing, right?

Yeah, it had to be revised. And it revised actually pretty well.  It would have worked better in No Man’s Land, but it’s still works fine.  Joe Kelly and Marc DeMatteis are also Superman writers, and Wonder Woman and Superman do a lot of crossover in the year. And it’s great to have an extra writer there, it’s great to have an extra voice, an extra person to say this doesn’t make sense, the extra person to say “well, what about this?” And for that first half-year it’s just a nice, commercial way to bring in potentially a few thousand more readers who might not have read it if it was just me, but if it’s “oh!  Joe Kelly!”

"Oh, well, I like Joe Kelly…"

Yeah, so let’s see what he has to say, or Marc DeMatteis “oh, he’s great!  Let’s see what he has to say…” and I tried to pick crossovers the first year that would interest people; the Batman/Wonder Woman one would interest Batman fans, the Wonder Woman/Troia one Titans fans would read, the Wonder Woman/Superman/Lois Lane one Superman fans would read.  Hopefully, the Wonder Woman/Wondergirl story Young Justice fans will read.  The idea was to pick, and actually it wasn’t as deliberate as it sounds because these are stories that I wanted to tell. It sort of worked out. And then, with the women in the DCU, hopefully we can get readers of all sorts who are interested in seeing their supporting characters in the story who might now go “oh, look Power Girl is in the story.  Oh!  Dr. Light!”  oh, Vixen even. Whoever is available…

But not Crimson Fox.

Crimson Fox is dead.

All of her…

Every one of her.

Every one with or without a French accent is a dead Fox.  I want you to know that Phil is actually putting his hand over his face. He cannot believe that I mentioned Crimson Fox.

I can’t believe that I know that both of them are dead.

That’s a great thing, actually.  However, he brought up Dr. Light and he brought up the memory.

Well, I’m thinking of the Dr. Light…

Kimi…

Yeah, but not the horrible character that was assassinated in Justice League, but like the…

Oh, the bitchy, just come out of Pérez like…

Yeah… like she was amazing.  I loved her. Then she got the yellow suit and she was terrible.

I’m sorry, but not only did I love that one, but I loved her during the first year of the Giffen/DeMatteis run…

In the Justice League.

She was like “What am I doing here?”

“I don’t want to be in the League!”

“Screw you.”

She was fabulous.  That will be kind of great. 

So anyway, hopefully, we can do a bunch of series that will get new readers and enough promotion in other media to get a few new people to stay.

Is there any way you can get DC to do an MTV ad or anything?  I’m sorry, but most ads seem to be in-house.  How can you expand the reader base if you’re only advertising within comics?

I… I don’t know. It’s a question I have… the problem is that even if you advertise you have to make the material available.  I can’t answer that because I’m not in marketing and I’m not in distribution.  I have my feelings about it, but ultimately it’s their choice to make.  They will either be smart enough to cross-promote in other media, or they won’t.  And if they don’t, then I have to figure out ways to get the word out myself… interviews like this and other venues, and hopefully, like the name brand alone will be enough to get a few new people.  The X-men movie has kind of helped, too, because it has put the idea of comic books back in people’s heads. Hopefully, and I don’t think they are, but hopefully comic book companies will be smart enough in the next few months to take advantage of that interest before it dwindles and do something about it.  One other thing, and I don’t know if you know this, but you might, but one area where DC is doing really well is in trade paperback sales.  They are like skyrocketing.  You put this stuff in bookstores and eat it up. 

It’s amazing; because here is the outlet where you really should be having your comic books… it’s not that there aren’t people who are hungry for it…  sorry, rant… (It’s called a conversation now, not just 20 Questions…) but when I walked into a Waldenbooks, my first comic book was an Atari Force

Yeah.

It was José Luis García-López, because my dad had an Atari computer, we played videogames, there it was, pretty art… then, “oh, what’s that?  Looks kind of similar…” It’s got the Flash on it.  The final fate of… Crisis?  I didn’t know José Luis García-López from George Pérez anyway, but I knew that they look kind of similar and that they both had pretty art…

Right.

And with all the editor’s notes, they wound up getting me to buy every comic in town! I’m not surprised that people are buying things up in Waldenbooks and B. Dalton or Barnes and Nobles because that’s the natural outlet.

The other thing to consider are trade paperbacks. I had a friend in marketing who we were discussing this with, and trade paperbacks are easier for people to read than comics because it is a self-contained story and it’s all there.  There aren’t like 5 or 6 books that you have to find out there, sort out, put them in order and read them, keep track of, but a single volume. 

My friend in marketing was saying how reading habits have changed and how that should be taken into account while producing comic nooks because people have more outlets to buy a complete work because its just easier.  They can read it on the subway.  When I talked with a guy in my gym, he had a Batman trade paperback and I asked him if he read comics and he said yeah, but he doesn’t buy the comic books, he waits for them to be collected. So, it’s just an interesting insight and its why we're told to make stories that can be turned into trade paperbacks because they can be reprinted later.  They can be printed cheaply over the course of a couple months and then collected…

…nicely…

…nicely and inexpensively… they have the material that they can reprint in the store… basically, they don’t have to commit to like a 96-page graphic novel.  They can see how it sells and then put it together.

So it’s sort of like the serialized fiction is the test market.

Yes, exactly.

That really hurts because some of the best pieces of work are comic books that weren’t successful on their initial run, but then become mega-popular after they are dead… we’ll have to reference a previous interview with JH Williams III…

When they did Chase

Chase.  It’s going nuts. It’s going gangbusters.  People are trying to find it at conventions. 

Yeah.

I asked him about a trade paperback and he said he’s going to push for one.  We can hope.

Well you know, it’s interesting, they try to do trade paperbacks that they can sell with something, that they can market in some way, although I have this feeling that they are going to get around to reprinting everything at some point just because.  They have this enormous wealth of material that they can repackage, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see if they start putting out these huge volumes… I mean they already have a backlist of like hundreds of titles, so… I suspect actually that should be thousands, which is another reason I don’t think comics will die, but just transform.  That’s the trick.

Did you read my article on the gayleague website?

I haven’t been to that website in a while.

Ok, well, I wrote about how what comics really need is exposure…

Sure…

And why not take the 4 Superman titles that connect and make one story and turn it into a magazine.  Take that magazine and throw in ads from everywhere else and get it on the newsstands.  Now, I mean in magazine format…

…because… well, I have my opinions and theories about this, but it has to do with a marketing plan, it has to do with Warner Bros. and how they affect us, and it’s a lot of political/economics stuff that I’m sort of aware of it, for instance, just because I have friends who deal with it.  But a lot of these questions have been asked and I know their answers may not make any of us happy, but it’s not as if they haven’t been considered.  It’s that the conclusions that these people come to are for whatever reasons are different.

You should remind them that I work for the NYU Economics department… but go ahead. ;)

I’m just saying… I’m not saying necessarily that they’re right, either.  I’m not saying that their plans are sound, but they have them. I’m not in any position to make any sort of drastic changes.  I just have to sit back and watch and kind of plot quietly with friends and high ups in the company and see what we can do to get the word out there.

Are we any further along in the possibility of a Wonder Woman movie?

I don’t know.  I have no idea.  I think Joel Silver still has the rights to it. I suspect with the X-men movie doing relatively well, that various superhero movies will be green lighted. But I know that the script is being written by the guy that wrote “Minority Report.”  Jon Cohen… he wrote “Minority Report” for Steve Spielberg and Tom Cruise.  So I know the type of script and I’ve talked to a couple of Hollywood insiders, and Jon’s fine.

Ok, this sounds ok so far, but I always fear the butchery of Diana…

…in the biggest, hugest way, yeah.

Ok, fun question… why not?  The 70’s TV series… what’s your favorite Diana change?  Like when she does her (imitating sound made when Diana Prince changes into Wonder Woman on the TV show)…

Favorite change? You mean like which suit she changes into?

Oh, absolutely.

Well, the diving suit is always fabulous.  When you see her in her motorcycle and her skate gear, that’s always great, too.  My favorite, though, is in the early “40’s” episodes when she would spin and change and then check to make sure that the tiara and belt were in place.  Is it all there…?  Like somehow in the transition something might not have shown up?  So that was always my favorite.  Anything where she had to wear a variation on the diving suit was always great.

Phil, thank you very much.

You’re welcomed.

I would like to take more of your time on this but…

…you and I have to go home.

We both have to go home, and to be quite honest, if I don’t let you go home, we don’t get another issue of Wonder Woman.

Ah, there you go.

And I will not be the man responsible for that, so thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you for letting us turn your brain to Slush.  Yes, unfortunately… Phil just let out a laugh... we absolutely have to say this at the end of every interview.

Really?

Well, Brian says so.

That’s very funny. That’s actually very, very funny.

We were going to actually get you a “slushie”, but they don’t make any here.  They don’t make frozen drinks.

I can’t have one right now anyway, so it’s ok.

Thank you, Phil.

You’re welcome!

 

Shazam.  Thank you Phil Jimenez for allowing us this amazing interview.  Slush and our readers appreciate it greatly. And thank you Ed Mathews for conducting the interview and transcribing it.  That took effort.  Kudos to everyone.

 

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