Wednesday, June 13, 2012


"Capes are sooo last century!"
There's something to be said for getting the chance to write characters you love. Characters you grew up with. To have the chance to play in that sandbox, might be one of the most enticing things about working in comics (that and of course owning and telling stories of your own creations). But it's that whole idea that the toys you loved as a kid, you're now getting to play with as an adult. Just as long as you don't break them. You want a chance to make your mark on a title, while also being respectful to the property and what has come before. And who knows…maybe someone reading it today will be inspired just like you were when you first came across it years ago. Every generation and every comic run inspiring the next.

I've been working in comics on the art side of things for the past 13 years, but only more recently in the last few years expanding out into writing. And I don't know if you're ever quite ready to be given the keys to the kingdom. Yet you always sort of hope you will get that chance, and then…not screw it up.

Cover prelims by Dustin Nguyen
With Justice League Beyond, I was pretty darned ready. Many years ready. I had seen every single episode of  the DC animated shows when they first aired. Batman:TAS all the way up through Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited. Ah the days of recording episodes, sans commercials, on VHS tapes (thankfully we now have DVD series sets of everything). I had shown my art portfolio and taken storyboard tests to try to get a job on the show. And of course, after working in comics and building up enough of a resume of work at DC, Dustin and I had proven ourselves and pitched the project to them. Little did we know that the whole Beyond universe would sort of grow from there into what it is now.

When Batman Beyond was being created as an animated series, they went the route of going forward. All new characters and villains. They didn't want to take the easy road and fall back into just having offspring of the villains (i.e. Two-Face Jr.) or show a lot of the older DC characters that might still be alive. It could've backfired, but it was a smart move to establish the new direction. Plus they still had an older Bruce Wayne to have that tie to the past. For the comics, I feel we can sort of tread both grounds. The comic fans are always interested in what happened with certain characters and who is still around and alive in the future. But we also get to explore new territory and will create new characters as we move forward. But I definitely wanted to use this as a chance to not only tie into the Batman Beyond show, but Justice League Unlimited as well. There's some definite middle ground to cover whenever we decide to flashback. It's a real exciting prospect to have that ability to maybe iron things out as well as how that relates to moving forward.

Cover by Dave Wilkins
With the Arkham City property, I was less prepared, but no less enthused. See…I had given up on gaming for the most part, after high school. The years spent playing Atari, Nintendo, and Playstation were behind me. I knew once I was trying to break into comics, I made a focused effort to set those aside and concentrate only on creating art samples and going to conventions to try to get work. Years and years of this paid off. And then the real work began with chaining yourself to the art table and staying on deadline. And as it goes with things you put down…you sometimes have a tendency to not pick them up again. Aside from hearing about games or watching friends play, they were out of my life.

But once I was brought on to help script some Arkham City comics which led into launching an ongoing Arkham Unhinged title, it was now time to get back into gaming (at least in Gotham). Got myself a PS3, plowed through Arkham Asylum in a couple weeks, and then got to play Arkham City before it was released. I was devouring as much information on the topic that I could get my hands or eyes on. For awhile there, it felt like I was living a life in Gotham. I'd track down all the gaming guides, read articles online, look at promotional art and youtube clips. I wanted to be as versed in the games as I could when writing them. And as I played the games, I was taking down notes, noticing stories and ideas that could come out of those games. It was a real crash course, and still is as we continue forward. That I get the chance to tell stories in current game Gotham as well as future Gotham for Beyond, is a fun treat.

In comics, you don't always get to work on things you want. Most of the time, you're handed and take whatever you're given (especially if you want to make a career and living out of this). You might toil on something you know nothing about, with unfamiliar characters, many that you aren't interested in writing or drawing. All with the hope that, around the corner, you'll get a chance to work on characters you do know. Stuff that you were a fan of. Titles you were buying to read and enjoy and now are contributing to. So I guess the idea is, to stick with it. It won't be given to you. With anything in life, the more you work at it and prove yourself, the better the reward.


  1. Question/Comment:

    I love what you're doing with Justice League Beyond. Your stories are very clever and brilliantly capture the personalities I remember and expect of each character.

    Did either you or Mr. Nguyen receive any instructions from the DCAU OG's like Timm or Dini, or do you guys have total creative reign over the title?

    In 'the Call', we see on the computer screen that Aquaman has gone missing. I've noticed that he is back and active in JLB. Will we get to see what was going on with that?

    I also love that you haven't forgotten about Micron (even though it seemed that by the time JLU was airing, that the creative team certainly had, lol). Do you guys intend to expand on him a little more? Like, have you thought up a secret identity for him?

    Again, huge fan of what you're both doing for the title. Keep up the good work!

  2. Cool to hear and glad you're enjoying it!

    We haven't had any instructions from the original showrunners of Timm and Dini. So DC has been very hands off in letting us tell what we'd like, which is both refreshing and a little shocking. Of course I like to think it's in good hands with huge fans of the shows, so I'm trying not to contradict too badly what went on before. I think there's this tendency when bringing animated show ideas into the comics, to make them more in line with comics continuity. But I've been a firm believer that the shows are our starting point, and I want to keep it in that universe.

    Nothing pertaining to Aquaman or his disappearance just yet. But never say never. There's always the opportunity to revisit things like that and explain if it fits into the larger scheme.

    Yeah poor Micron. I think we almost made it a running joke that he's spent a lot of time in a giant test tube from the few appearances he's had (in the show and in the comic). He'll get to shine more in the story as our arc moves along. Plus...he gets his own Beyond: Origins story that will flesh out how he got his powers. And I'll tease that it's drawn by someone that is currently on a hit book at Image.

    Thanks again for writing!