Jeph Loeb: When at Marvel - Part I

Lowdown - Article

Share this lowdown

  • Button Delicious
  • Bttn Digg
  • Bttn Facebook
  • Bttn Ff
  • Bttn Myspace
  • Bttn Stumble
  • Bttn Twitter
  • Bttn Reddit

He has the wits, the heart and the know-how to write some damn fine comics. And now, he's got a new Marvel exclusive contract in his pocket as well. Jeph Loeb leaves behind DC's infinite cast of icons (except for Supergirl, that is), only to take on the biggest and baddest at the ultimate House of Ideas.

BROKEN FRONTIER: Why did you decide to go back to the House of Ideas after signing an exclusive contract with DC during that storied summer of 2003? Spill the beans right here, right now, Jeph—how did Joe Quesada manage to lure you back? [Laughs]

JEPH LOEB: Who is Joe Quesada?  What’s a House of Ideas?  What the heck are you talking about, Frederik?!    I got a call from Jack Kirby who needed some background inking on FF #88 and… Um… not buying that are you?

First off, Joe Q is not only a friend -- has been for years -- he’s a damn fine storyteller.  Whether he’s writing (lots of folks don’t mention Joe’s writing because he’s made such an indelible impression as a penciller) or as an artist, he understands story.  I found out most of this first hand when we did DAREDEVIL: YELLOW, SPIDER-MAN: BLUE and HULK: GRAY for Marvel Knights (he and his wife Nanci’s imprint at Marvel). 

The best storytellers, at least as I’ve learned it, are people who infuse the tale with the human element. In other words, to be able to write about character, you need to know about that person’s character. 

Joe knows me. He knows how important our friendship is to me.  So, despite the fact that Tim Sale and I were planning on doing a fourth “color” book, CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE, an opportunity arose at DC.  I told Joe right away.  He was disappointed, of course, but he was also supportive of me as a pal and a fan of my work.  That meant the world to me.

It wasn’t the deal that brought me to DC.  It was that Dan Didio had come on board and wanted to shake things up and he wanted me to be a part of that.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky in the past three years to work with such talented artists (Jim Lee, Ed McGuinness, Pat Lee, Michael Turner, Carlos Pacheco and Ian Churchill to name a few -- I don’t count Tim, he’s like family) and editors like Eddie Berganza, Mark Chiarello and Peter Tomasi.  Wonderful people and a lot of laughter.

Along with Richard Starkings who letters, designs, and generally oversees my stories, I did BATMAN: HUSH; hatched and wrote 25 issues of SUPERMAN/BATMAN; reintroduced SUPERGIRL and launched her in her own new title; and on top of all that I’m most proud of how CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME turned out. 

Didio was right and I think we shook things up pretty good. But, as my DC contract was nearing the end and with INFINITE CRISIS right around the corner -- I knew it was time.

My father always believed in leave the party when it’s roaring.  

When I left Marvel, Joe never said anything negative.  Never implied anything negative.  That’s just not his way.  That’s not his character.  He put it very simply:  “If you’re ever interested in coming back to Marvel, Marvel is interested.” 

So, I talked to DC.  And I talked to Marvel and I thought about my Dad, and I took the Marvel offer.  It wasn’t easy.  At times it wasn’t fun keeping it a secret.  But, now I’ve started and I’m thrilled and excited and I hope that will show in the work.

BF: When the Kubert brothers switched sides earlier this year, they stated a need to breathe some fresh air, creatively speaking. Which factors made coming back to Marvel the best possible situation for you at this point in your career?

JL: In the time I’ve been at DC, look at what’s happened at Marvel, or more specifically in the Joe Quesada era.  The invention and success of THE ULTIMATE UNIVERSE.  The spectacular rise in popularity of Brian Bendis, Mark Millar and JMS.  Joss Whedon coming on board.  Brian Vaughan’s work on anything.   These are new toys, new minds, new opportunities that never existed before for me. 

The Kuberts were/are correct.  The challenge as a writer, as a creator, is to find new chances to hone your craft.  And as a storyteller, to come to a place where maybe I’m not as well known and there is a new audience to read and hear my tales. 

Well, all that and they have really, really cold beer at Marvel.  [Laughs]

BF: Come to think of it, while the Big Two are both trying to restructure their universes for the next generation, each company is going at it differently. The direction into which DC is primarily driven by Dan Didio, Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison, with other writers said to be ‘asked’ to follow suit. Marvel, on the other hand, does have solid plan for the future as well, but appears to allow its group of writers more independent creative control. Did this kind of freedom influence your decision in any way?

JL: There’s some truth in what’s now been coined as “CORPORATE COMICS vs. CREATOR COMICS.”  Part of that, realistically, is that Joe Q is himself an artist, a creator, and a writer -- so he brings that to the table each time Marvel plans anything or someone pitches something to Marvel.  However, to be honest, I’ve been extremely fortunate that I’ve been able to play outside the DC box, pretty much.  When you look at the books I’ve done with DC, it’s not like my hands were ever tied.  They gave me more than enough rope to hang myself.  And man, those rope burns are nasty.  [Laughs]

I expect that it won’t be much different at Marvel. What will be different is the creative input -- from Joe Q to my editors, starting with THE ULTIMATES’ Ralph Macchio, to the other writers -- if for no other reason than these are different characters at a different company.  That has me jazzed.

BF: You sure sound jazzed, too! Now, as a creator who’s worked for both companies and who knows every corner of the comics biz, what is your opinion on the direction either company is going in?

JL: I hate repeating myself, but all I can do is tell the best stories I can and hope folks like them. I had a pretty good run at DC.   It was fun.  At the end of the day, that’s what I, personally, care about.  Dan [Didio], Eddie [Berganza], Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winnick, Brad Meltzer -- these guys are my pals.  I see their work and it’s fantastic.  And the exact same thing can be said for Joss [Whedon], Bendis, Brian Vaughan, Millar and JMS.  Bottom line, whatever it is that either company is doing -- are there good comics coming out of there?  Are the stories compelling?  As a fan and a reader (I still consider myself both) it’s exciting to see such a heavy mix of Marvel and DC in the Top Ten, in the Top Twenty. 

I go to the store every Wednesday. Universal Comics in Studio City, California and be sure to say “Hi” to Cat who owns the joint.  (unabashed plug!)  I have a collection that has filled our two car garage so it is now a no-car garage.  (And my wife would like her garage back, thank you very much!).  When I get my comics and there are so many cool things to read, it’s a smile.  And that’s what’s important. 

BF: How does your move to Marvel affect your remaining DC assignments? Obviously, you’ve already wrapped up Superman/Batman, but what about Supergirl? What is your final issue going to be?

JL: Marvel is being very generous by understanding I still have commitments at DC and wants me to unwind them so that everyone feels good about it.  Maybe that’s because DC was so good when most of HULK: GRAY bled into my DC contract; maybe it’s because it’s the right thing to do in the way I live my life.  I’m working closely with DC to see that the transitions, when they happen, come as smoothly as possible. 

BF: When the announcement of your signing was made at Wizard World Chicago, you stated with regard to Supergirl that you didn’t want to leave an unfinished bed. Where do you still want to take Kara before bowing out?

JL: Kara is on a journey.  Having that “S” on her chest means something huge on Earth.  Did she earn it?  Does she even want to be Supergirl?  How do other heroes see her, do the job, draw their lines in the sand?  That’s the exploration.  I’m not sure -- if it’s handled correctly -- that those answers will come, maybe, ever. 

Look at Ultimate Spider-Man.  Bendis has completed close to a 100 issues of this learning curve with no end in sight.  And Spidey doesn’t have to contend with an older, incredibly famous cousin all the time!  And, no, I’m staying on SUPERGIRL until issue 100.  [Laughs]

Check back on Wednesday for part two of our conversation with Jeph.

Related content

Related Headlines

Related Lowdowns

Related Reviews

Related Columns


There are no comments yet.

In order to post a comment you have to be logged in. Don't have a profile yet? Register now!

Latest headlines


Latest comments
Comics Discussion
Broken Frontier on Facebook