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Year Ender 2004: The Creators - Part III

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As part of our Year Ender feature, Broken Frontier has asked a lot of creators about how they look back on 2004 and what's in store for each of them next year.
From Monday through Friday, you'll get to find out what their answers are to the five questions we asked them.

Today: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Jim Rugg, Mike Choi and Michael Avon Oeming.

 

JEPH LOEB

BF: Creatively, what were some of your highlights in 2004?

JL: Personally? Well, it does hurt having the #1 book, that's for sure! Look at the people I got to work with this year - Ed McGuinness, Pat Lee, Michael Turner and Carlos Pacheco. Who died and made me lucky?
Topping all of that, Tim Sale's artwork on Catwoman When In Rome is by far his best stuff to date - another leap up for a master illustrator. And any chance I get to work with Richard Starkings and Comicraft who make my words look better than the writing is always a highlight!

BF: Which mainstream book of the past year did you enjoy reading the most and which was the best small press book in your opinion?

JL: The one I looked forward to the most would have to be IDENTITY CRISIS, because I think Brad just squeezed about every drop of emotion out of a bunch of characters (Elongated Man? C'mon!) that nobody else could've done.  Also, guys like Joss Whedon, Geoff Johns and Mark Millar continue to delight. 
I can't think of any small press books that I like better than Mike Kunkel's HEROBEAR, so he wins every year!

BF: Which fellow creator's work are you dying to read in 2005?

JL: Dying?  I'd rather enjoy the books!  Oh, it was just a figure of speech... [Laughs] Again, I think I'd have to go with Whedon, Johns and Millar.  If Brad Meltzer does something else, he'd be at the top of the list.

BF: Are you satisfied with the way the industry evolved over the course of the year? Are there any trends in particular you noticed that are going to be relevant in 2005?

JL: Well, the most obvious is the strength of the DC Comics line under Dan Didio. When November has 4 out of 5 of the top books - and Whedon is the only one to slip in there - that's a whole new world.  And what I've heard of 2005, DC has only started firing off the guns.  But, I think it's all good. If it gives Marvel a kick in the pants and has them running around making better books, excellent, we all win!

BF: What is up your plate in 2005?

JL: Over in Superman/Batman I get the pleasure of finishing up Carlos Pacheco's arc "ABSOLUTE POWER" to which the retailers’ and readers’ reaction (say THAT five times fast!) has been phenomenal. That gets followed by a single issue of Superman/Batman (#19) that features Supergirl - who I've really fallen in love with - drawn by Ian Churchill.   Ian's Supergirl is really something special and that issue will have a few surprises or three!  Then I get to wrap up my run with the guy who helped me launch the book, Ed McGuinness, on the last arc that builds to issue #25 where everything will be all tied up in a neat little bow ... or not!

With Tim, we're nearly done with Catwoman When In Rome, and after that we're coming to something HUGE that we talked to DC about for a very long time and Tim's passion for it is just extraordinary.  Can't really talk about that one yet, but it's a goody!

So, I'm really very, very lucky to have had such a wonderful year and I can't thank all the fans  who have supported my work enough.
To all a good year and see ya 'round the spinner rack!


JIM LEE

BF: Creatively, what were some of your highlights in 2004?

JL: Finally getting a chance to do something more substantial in length and scope with writer Brian Azzarello. Who would have thought it to be on Superman? Can't wait to see it all wrap up, it's going to raise some excitement among the Superman fans.

BF: Which mainstream book of the past year did you enjoy reading the most and which was the best small press book in your opinion?

JL: It's a tie for mainstream. Astonishing X-Men was fantastic. You would have thought Whedon and Cassaday had been doing comics together their whole careers; it's a great creative combo. Ex Machina, though not clearly a mainstream book, was my other choice. Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris hit this one so hard out of the ballpark that Balco has to be the one to blame. Can't say enough good things about this book, it's my favorite at the moment.

Small press, well, it's such a monster that I would hardly call it that and I know it came out earlier, but I finally got around to reading my copy of Blankets by Craig Thompson. Wow, what a great book, it certainly lived up to its praise and hype. It’s so different from my own childhood, but the story's nostalgia, charm and beauty really hit me hard.

BF: Which fellow creator’s work are you dying to read in 2005?

JL: My next project following Superman. I’ve never worked with this writer before and I am dying to see what he has in mind... it's going to be mind-blowing to be collaborating with him. Less self-serving, I am looking forward to Gabriele Dell'Otto doing Batman, a character he was born to do and Lee Bermejo on Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. He's hit the next level with his work on this mini. Really incredible work.

BF: Are you satisfied with the way the industry evolved over the course of the year? Are there any trends in particular you noticed that are going to be relevant in 2005?

JL: No, I think the mid-tier and lower-tier books have to find a way to raise their numbers consistently. 2005 will be DC's year. The things in store are going to be senses-shatteringly mind-blowing, and we will be setting up huge WildStorm changes for 2006 as I prepare to come back to the WildStorm Universe in a big way.

BF: What is up your plate in 2005?

JL: My follow-up project to Superman: For Tomorrow and Batman: Europa, also with Brian Azzarello.


JIM RUGG

BF: Creatively, what were some of your highlights in 2004?

JR: I'm very happy with my Street Angel experience. I think there are many rough areas in the book, but I also think I learned a lot and I think my work is improving. During the summer, I did a short color story for Project: Superior. I was pretty happy with that as well.

BF: Which mainstream book of the past year did you enjoy reading the most and which was the best small press book in your opinion?

JR: 100 Years of Comic Strips was my favorite mainstream book. It's 500 pages, color, hardcover, and it's only 20 bucks at Barnes and Nobles. My favorite small press book is Eightball 23 (if that's considered small press). If it's not small press enough, then I'd say Big Questions #6, Guardians of the Kingdom, or Lumakick #2.

BF: Which fellow creator's work are you dying to read in 2005?

JR: It's so hard to name just one. I think Sammy Harkham has a couple of books on the way from Drawn and Quarterly. I like his work a great deal.

BF: Are you satisfied with the way the industry evolved over the course of the year? Are there any trends in particular you noticed that are going to be relevant in 2005?

JR: Yes. I think the industry is doing well. The trend I most enjoy has been the acceptance of comics as a viable medium of expression. I see a lot of new people turning to comics as an outlet for their creativity. I enjoy that as a reader and as a cartoonist.

BF: What is up your plate in 2005?

JR: Street Angel #5. I'm very excited about this issue. It's quite challenging for me, so I'll be curious how it turns out. After that, Slave Labor will be collecting the first five issues into a trade paperback, with some extra stuff, so I have to spend some time putting that together. Beyond that, I have no plans yet. Brian and I have written a number of new Street Angel stories I'd like to draw. We've also been writing another character, but the trade paperback will take the first part of the year and I can't really plan much further than that.


MIKE CHOI

BF: Creatively, what were some of your highlights in 2004?

MC: Seeing the first four books of my career see print and meeting other professionals who I've admired as a fellow professional. Talking to Jim Lee on the phone. Geoff Johns telling me he'd actually read my stuff and enjoyed it (even though all writers are liars). Playing poker with Mike Turner and Jason Mewes. To put things in perspective and think back that in 2003, I was an information management consultant at IBM, this year has been a blast.

BF: Which mainstream book of the past year did you enjoy reading the most and which was the best small press book in your opinion?

MC: Mainstream: Millar and Jones' Wanted. Morrison and Silvestri's New X-Men. Azzarello and Lee's Superman, I actually like that one way more than Lee's Batman run. Warren Ellis et al's Global Frequency.

Small Press: Millar and Gross' Chosen. Kurth's PVP. Kirkman's Walking Dead. 

BF: Which fellow creator's work are you dying to read in 2005?

MC: Mark Waid and Marc Silvestri on Hunter/Killer.  Jim Lee on Superman and Batman.  Brian Azzarello on 100 Bullets and whatever else he's working on.  Ron Marz on Witchblade (I hear he's really good).  Hitch and Millar on Ultimates vol. 2 and anything else Millar might do for Top Cow.  Bendis and Finch on New Avengers.  Morrison and Quitely on Superman.

BF: Are you satisfied with the way the industry evolved over the course of the year? Are there any trends in particular you noticed that are going to be relevant in 2005?

MC: The main difference between 2003 and 2004 was my presence in the industry. This makes me very satisfied. [Laughs]
I for one am very happy with the trend towards a more writer-driven market.  I read comics for their writing first and then the art, which is probably why I prefer Jim Lee's Superman run to his Batman run.  I loved Loeb's writing in Batman, and I feel he used Lee's talents in drawing action shots to a better advantage, but Azzarello's writing makes me think about it long after I've put the book down.

BF: What is up your plate in 2005?

MC: Witchblade, Witchblade and more Witchblade. So long as the current team stays on the title I'd love to be a part of it until I'm fired for drawing little penises on all the background people's heads (they haven't caught me yet).


MICHAEL AVON OEMING

BF: Creatively, what were some of your highlights in 2004?

MAO: I think Powers’ move to Icon/Marvel. We just published the FOREVER trade of Powers and the THOR TPB and I think it’s my proudest moment in comics.

BF: Which mainstream book of the past year did you enjoy reading the most and which was the best small press book in your opinion?

MAO: Hmm.... I read Bendis' X-men run - I think that was my favorite mainstream book. I know that seems expected, but hey, I don’t get to read much comics [Laughs]. Pinky and Stinky by James Kolchalka was my favorite indie book! My son loved it too.

BF: Which fellow creator’s work are you dying to read in 2005?

MAO: More Mignola, I can’t get enough of that. I miss Paul Pope stuff too and can’t wait to see more of that either.

BF: Are you satisfied with the way the industry evolved over the course of the year? Are there any trends in particular you noticed that are going to be relevant in 2005?

MAO: I’m pretty insulated in my drawing room, so all I can say is I think things look good for comics right now. That’s good enough for me.

BF: What is up your plate in 2005?

MAO: TONS of creator-owned stuff. At least three books or projects outside of Powers and Strormbreaker at Marvel. Quixote is next, then 86 Voltz: The Dead Girl, both drawn by me and written or co-written by Bryan J.L. Glass. Wings and Blood River are one shots I wrote but are drawn by others, and I’ve also got a pretty big writing gig coming up that has yet to be announced!

- Frederik Hautain

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