Monday, March 24, 2014


Superman is one of those characters you never think you'll get a chance to work on. Arguably THE #1 recognizable superhero and trademark for the industry. The cape, bright colors…truth, justice, and the American way. And when the DC Digital First "Adventures Of Superman" title was announced as an out-of-continuity anthology where creators could put their stamp on the character, it would provide an opportunity to do a story that might be a little old fashioned. One that wasn't tied into the current look or feel for the character at the company. And one I couldn't wait to tackle.

The longer I work in comics, the more I see the chances to work on some of these icons as fleeting. The directions for these characters, their titles, and their creators, all get set up many months if not years in advance. Very few spots become available and very few fill-ins anymore. So when you do get to tell a story with them, you really feel like this might be the only chance you'll get. You really feel the pressure of the "kitchen sink"approach. That you better have a great story to tell and put in everything you want to say about that character, because you might never have another chance. And that's really the approach I took with my story.

Everyone has their favorite version of Superman, whether it's the film interpretation by Christopher Reeve or the era of the comic they first started to read. My approach was more animated. I loved both the Fleisher era and the Timm/Dini/Burnett show that also drew from it. I wanted to include all the classic tropes…The Daily Planet, Lois not knowing Clark's secret identity, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor and Brainiac cameos, Superman put in an unenviable position with a life on the line and no easy answer, and of course, the underwear on the outside. I wanted to split the time in Metropolis as well as a rural small town farm community. And I had to find space for it all in 20 pages.

I don't remember exactly how I landed on the idea of "Letters To Superman". Just that it's probably been done in the Superman comics of the past, as well as for other characters. And it provides for an interesting story angle. For Clark to step outside of his Superman persona for a brief moment and see how others view him. It's something I've recently experienced myself from time-to-time when DC will forward some letters from school students to me asking questions or sending along their words of appreciation. You get so used to sitting in front of the computer or art table, alone in a room, working on comics by yourself; that it's nice to get a handwritten or typed letter from someone you've reached with your work and realize there are people out there enjoying it. 

One thing that surprised me after my story came out was a comparison to the "Man Of Steel" film. One even pointed out that it might've been in direct opposition to it. That the movie had all sorts of collateral damage by keeping the battle in the city and lives lost, while my story took the fight out of the city and into the farmland. To keep any casualties to a minimum. And my enemy wasn't killed at the end but saved through other means. Of course, none of this was on purpose or some kind of statement on my part. I had no idea at the time of writing my story how it might be compared to a film that hadn't come out yet. I had turned in my script at the start of 2013, and a film I didn't know the full details about wouldn't get released until that summer. And while I prefer a more throwback approach to the character in my story, I still am a big fan of the "Man Of Steel" version as well. I think Superman is a large enough character (much like Batman) that I appreciate all variations and that there's room for various interpretations.

But the most amount of fun I had working on this was with my good friend Sean "Cheeks" Galloway on art. I met Sean online waaaaay back before he had broken into the industry. And seeing him rise through the ranks of comics and animation has been a fun journey to witness. As someone who has his own studio of creators working for him at Table Taffy, I wasn't sure how busy he was. So it was perfect timing that he was able to fit this story into his workload. I knew since we both grew up at the same time and have similar interests, that this would be a story he'd enjoy working on and geared to a more all-ages mindset. And he'd be able to give it that sort of cartoon cel shaded style that he's known for (having been the designer on the Spectacular Spider-Man show and Hellboy Animated films). And you'll be seeing more from us in the future as well, as I've written for some of his Kickstarter created projects.

Layouts and finished color art by "Cheeks"

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