10 Questions with Jay Faerber
an interview from titanstower.com
1. Jay, you’ve been a Titans fan from years back. How do you separate ‘fan Jay’ from ‘writer Jay’? It must be hard not to give into fan impulses.
Jay: It’s VERY hard, yeah. I’m kind of scatterbrained when it comes to this stuff, and at least once a week, I come up with an idea for a great new Titans member (an existing character — someone I’ve always had an affinity for), and concoct wild ideas about how this character would fit in, but ultimately, I have to remind myself that I can’t just change the roster to suit my own whims, because it’d never end. We’d never achieve the great character growth that Marv & George were able to enact, because if I gave in to all my whims, characters wouldn’t stick around for more than three issues!
Editor Eddie Berganza is the guy who hired me to take over the book when Devin left, and he’s just as big a Titans fan as I am, so between the two of us, we maybe have gotten a little too self-indulgent. The “Who is Troia” arc, while fun, was probably damned-near incomprehensible for a casual reader. That’s not to say Eddie was a bad editor, or that I think our run together wasn’t good. That’s not the case at all. Eddie’s a lot of fun to work with, and in fact, he was responsible for some of the gags in the jam-packed party scene at the end of TITANS #25.
Andy Helfer’s editing the book now, and he’s got zero knowledge of the Titans, which makes for a nice checks-and-balance system, because if HE can understand my stories, then anyone can. He keeps me focused, so that the stories can be appreciated and enjoyed by readers who aren’t immersed in the Titans continuity. But, being the fanboy that I am, I still work in my nods to the Titans past. For instance, Trident, a villain fondly remembered by most Titans fans, shows up in #27. Stuff like that is nice because longtime fans get a little nod to the Titans’ past, but new readers aren’t necessarily missing anything.
2. What is your take on the Titans? How, would you say, they differ from other team books like JLA or YOUNG JUSTICE?
Jay: What sets the Titans apart is that they’re the first group of heroes in the DCU who benefitted from being sidekicks. They, more than anyone else in the DCU, understands the value of what it’s like to be trained in the use of one’s super-powers. The JLA never really had anyone to train them, and Young Justice is still in that training stage. The JSA has a nice mix of old and young members, but the young members are still pretty green. So the Titans are adult heroes, but they’re the first adults heroes to have gotten where they are because of training, which gives them a unique outlook on super-heroing.
3. Let’s talk about group dynamics. How do you see the Titans as relating to each other?
Jay: Well, this answer could take five pages, but I’ll keep it brief, and just hit the highlights. Dick is the unquestioned leader. The Titans may bicker now and then, but when it comes down to it, they know Dick calls the shots, and we’ll be seeing demonstrations of that in upcoming issues. Dick’s closest to Donna and Roy, has a lot in common with Jesse (since they’re both workaholics), and doesn’t know Toni very well. He’s never been super-close to Garth, but he’s certainly one of Dick’s better friends.
Because of her job as a CEO, Jesse pretty much cuts through all the bulls***, which can come off as bitchy to some of the other Titans. She doesn’t mean to be rude like that, but it happens just the same. Like Dick, she’s got a lot going on in her life (her job as a CEO, her solo career as a hero, and her role as a Titan), and she would probably do well to take some lessons from Dick on juggling her various “identities.” Dick is probably the person she’s closest to on the team, and while she has no use for a boyfriend right now, he’s very much her “type.” People naturally expect Jesse and Donna to be best pals, since they’re the only two women in the group of comparable age, but they just don’t have a whole lot in common. Donna’s a lot more feminine than Jesse is, and Jesse doesn’t know how to react to that sort of woman — her mother, Liberty Belle, was always rather brash and very “tough love.” Jesse’s analytical nature can make her judgmental, too, especially when it comes to Roy’s weird relationship with Cheshire. Jesse just can’t understand why Roy has anything to do with that woman. Jesse’s got nothing but respect for Tempest, since he’s a guy who only speaks when he has something important to say, and can be counted on to get the job done. And she thinks Argent has grown up a lot as a Titan… but she’s still got a ways to go.
Donna is, and always will be, the Titans’ den mother. She’s selfless to a fault — always thinking of others before herself. Dick is her best friend, period, and she’s got a special bond with Roy (and Lian!), as well. She wishes she were closer to Jesse, but can tell that they’ll probably never be best friends. She has a tendancy to mother Argent, which Argent doesn’t always appreciate. And she and Garth have something in common — something they never really talk about: they’ve both lost loves. Donna lost Terry, and Garth lost Tula, so it’s an unspoken sort of bond, but it’s there, and it’s powerful.
Garth isn’t quite the wallflower he used to be. Maybe it’s his increased duties in Atlantis, maybe it’s his increased powers, or maybe it’s his new role as father and husband. Whatever it is, he’s coming out of his shell a little more these days. He’s considered by everyone to be the man you can count on when the chips are down — Garth would sooner die than let any of the Titans be harmed, and he enjoys his role as the Titans’ powerhouse, because it lets him protect his friends. While he’s always had a long friendship with Dick and Donna, he’s probably closest to Argent, of all people. Since he sometimes felt like an outsider back in the early Teen Titans days, he could recognize that Argent was having similar feelings in this version of the Titans — especially after Damage left. So he made it a point to be there for her, and he’s come to genuinely like her, in a kid sister kind of way. Roy gets under his skin more than any other Titan, but he loves him like a brother. He thinks Jesse needs to slow down and loosen up.
Roy isn’t really the jerk he pretends to be. Deep down, he’s a caring, intelligent, guy. He just likes to get a rise out of people — it’s something he learned from his mentor, Ollie, and maybe his “attitude” has increased as a way to keep Ollie around, if only in spirit. He can always count on Dick to tell him when he’s gone too far, though. And even though their romance has ended, a part of him will always love Donna, and when he’s in the dark of night, sometimes he wishes she was the mother of his child, not an international terrorist. Roy likes to rag on Garth, but would be the first to leap to his defense if anyone else started in on him. Roy’s dated girls like Jesse before — buttoned down business-types, so her brash ways don’t bother him as much as they can bother the other Titans. And he thinks Argent’s got a lot of spunk, and sometimes has to stop himself from “checking her out,” considering how young she is.
Toni’s been a Titan for awhile now, but still feels like the “new kid on the block.” She used to have a crush on Nightwing, but that sort of fizzled when she realized she’s the ONLY Titan who doesn’t know his secret identity. She’s closest to Garth, and in her eyes, he can do no wrong. She likes Donna, too (when she’s not mothering her!), and wishes she’d get more involved with photography again, so Toni would have a shot at being a model. She admires Jesse’s success as a businesswoman, but can’t understand why in the world she’s WILLINGLY single. That just makes no sense to her. And she thinks Roy is the hottest single dad she’s ever seen.
4. I think part of what made the Wolfman/Pérez Titans work well is that they were given carte blanche. They didn’t have to share the characters with other books. Do you find that to be restrictive?
Jay: More often than not, yeah. I know the fans like seeing the DCU like one giant comic, with books constantly cross-referencing one another, but it’s a nightmare to coordinate. When I look back on the latter days of NEW TITANS, when the book had Supergirl, Green Lantern, Darkstar, Impulse, and Damage — all characters who either had their own books, or appeared prominently in other books — I can’t imagine how frustrating it must’ve been. I mean, no one’s willingly making this difficult — it’s just the nature of the beast.
5. OK, trying to cover the frequently asked questions of long-time Titans fans. Will be ever see _______ again?
a. Fearsome Five
b. Brother Blood
d. the Protector
e. Pantha/Baby Wildebeest/Red Star
h. Titans L.A.
i. Hawk & Dove
a. Fearsome Five — a new version, yes … and sooner than you might think!
b. Brother Blood — I’m sure you’ll see him again sometime, but I have no plans for him anytime soon.
c. Kole — You won’t see her in my run. I’ve got no interest in her — plus, she’s dead!
d. the Protector — Aside from a Hypertime cameo, you won’t be seeing him in my run, either.
e. Pantha/Baby Wildebeest/Red Star — They could turn up again sometime, but I have no actual plans for them.
f. Jericho — Nope, he’s dead.
g. Cyborg — Yeah, you’ll see Cyborg again.
h. Titans L.A. — You’ll see Titans LA again, too.
i. Hawk & Dove — I highly doubt it — they’re dead!
6. Take us a little bit into the world of comic book writing; How do you approach writing the titles? Do you start with an overall outline for the year? Do you brainstorm with the editors or other writers?
Jay: It really depends on the title in question. Since this is for a Titans site, I’ll talk about how I write Titans, with editor Andy Helfer, and his assistant, Harvey Richards. Since I live in New York, where the DC offices are located, I get together with Andy and Harvey every couple weeks, and we talk about the next issue I’m slated to write. Since this is a serialized book, we generally know where we’re going with any given issue — we know how the subplots are going to unfold, but we don’t know precisely when, for instance. So we’ll sit down, and talk about what we want to accomplish in the issue in question. I’ll take brief notes as we talk, although I’m pretty good about remembing stuff.
We talk out the story in broad strokes, so we’re in agreement on what happens in the course of the story — the beginning, middle, and end, basically. Then I’ll go home, and write up the script. Sometimes I’ll do an outline, if we didn’t talk out the issue thoroughly enough, and there are questions. I do the outline to let Andy and Harvey see exactly how the issue will play out. They’ll then approve the outline, or ask me to make some adjustments, and then I’ll go to script. Once I write the script, I’m pretty much done. Early on in our working relationship, Andy told me there are two ways to write a comic — work out all the details in advance (by talking it out thoroughly beforehand) or write the script, and revise it numerous times afterwards. We all prefer the former, so once I’ve written the script, I may make minor dialogue changes, but it’s pretty much done, at that point. Once the book is pencilled, inked, and lettered, I’m sent a b&w copy, where I can ask for dialogue tweaks (or catch typos).
7. OK: Five favorite favorite Titans?
Jay: Five favorite (in no specific order):
8. OK: Five least favorite Titans?
Jay: Five least favorite (in no specific order)
– Danny Chase
9. If there was a market to do another Titans spin-off title, what would you like to do?
Jay: I’m gonna keep that to myself, since I’m hoping we can raise the book’s sales enough to warrant a spin-off title!
10. OK: All Titan past and present go to Zandia and play Survivor: who wins?
Jay: Nightwing! If there’s one thing “The Judas Contract” and “Titans Hunt” taught us, it’s that Nightwing is the ultimate “survivor.”