Pick Your Poison: Five Questions With Jeff Lemire
Apr 08, 2013
His job gives him the best of both worlds. Comics scribe Jeff Lemire reflects on how writing books like Constantine (JAN130262) and Justice League Dark for DC Comics is just as fulfilling as writing The Underwater Welder for Top Shelf. He can pick and choose. And he likes it that way.
PREVIEWSworld: So let's set the record straight, as some folks may wonder what happened between now and the January PREVIEWS catalog. Robert Venditti and Renato Guedes were first announced to be on Constantine, but now you and Ray Fawkes are the creative team for the book. Are you at liberty to say why there was a switch? Is it because you seemed like a better fit as you're already keeping John C. busy in Justice League Dark? And how much trouble are you going make for John now that you've got him coming and going?
Jeff Lemire: The truth is, Rob and I are really good friends from back in our Top Shelf days. Rob was assigned to the book, but was feeling a lot of pressure because he also had been handed Green Lantern and wanted to bring his best to that book. Ray and I had already been writing Constantine in Justice League Dark, so it seemed like a natural fit for Ray and myself to slide over and take Constantine, with me co-plotting the first few issues.
PREVIEWSworld: Keeping the spooky supernatural speed train rolling is what you also do on DC's Animal Man. So between that title, Constantine, and Justice League Dark, you've positioned yourself as some sort of Wizard of Gore over at DC. You've definitely carved out a niche for yourself. How do you keep the ideas flowing to maintain such a workload? What's on your bookshelf? Or are there years worth of scribbles that have been kept in a binder that you're now just starting to open?
Jeff Lemire: I wish there were years worth of scribbles and ideas at my disposal. Truth is I just kind of sit down and try to get into the character's heads, whether it be Buddy Baker or Deadman, and let it flow. I wish there were a master plan behind it all, but I just sort of write comics the way I would want to read them.
I've actually never been a horror fan. Never watched horror movies. I don’t like gore. Yet I like writing it. Kind of weird.
PREVIEWSworld: You produced the moody/humanistic Essex County Trilogy for Top Shelf in 2008–2009, which earned you Eisner and Harvey Award nominations. And since then you've also gone on to write and draw Sweeth Tooth for DC's Vertigo imprint. But then there's Justice Leage Dark, along with Green Arrow — both superhero books. Which genre challenges you the most? Or is it all just Wonderland to you?
Jeff Lemire: I love doing more personal creator owned stories that I both write and draw. It's very fullfilling on a personal and creative level, and I'll always continue to do that. But at the same time, I love writing superhero comics and being part of this big shared universe, and collaborating with great artists like Steve Pugh and Andrea Sorrentino. So as long as I can juggle both, it's all gravy to me!
PREVIEWSworld: The Underwater Welder, published by Top Shelf, received wide critical acclaim. It was one of the books that I remember a reviewer comparing it to an episode of The Twilight Zone. Do you think that TV show or others like The Outer Limits would be received well today in a comic treatment? Sci fi seems to be doing well with the success of books like Saga and The Manhattan Projects. Would you like to swim in that pool?
Jeff Lemire: I think things like The Twilight Zone wouldn't really thrive today as a comic, because anthology comics never seem to sell very well, unfortunately. My next Vertigo series is called Trillium, and is a science fiction love story, so I am excited to be taking a crack at really traditional, hard sci-fi but with a more indie/personal edge to it.
PREVIEWSworld: So what's at the top of your reading pile these days? What are you thumbing through that keeps you torn between doing your own work, and reading someone else's?
Jeff Lemire: My favorite current comics at the moment are Matt Kindt's Mind MGNT and Glyn Dillon's Nao Of Brown. I've also been looking at a lot of Moebius' stuff for Trillium, as well as Joe Kubert's Tor and Tarzan.