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New Issue Club Express #117: The Titans Speak!

The Titans Speak!
Wolfman and Pérez Interviewed

New Issue Club Express #117 [1982]


New Issue Club Express #117 [1982]: Lone Star Comics newsletter published an 11-page interview with George Pérez and Marv Wolfman; with original Pérez art seen only in this newsletter.

Pérez: I was born in the South Bronx and lived in New York all my life. Born June 9th, l954. I have been drawing now for about 8 years. And can still live to tell about it.

Wolfman: I was born in Brooklyn, May 3rd, 1946. I’ve been writing since 1968. No, 1967. 15 years. A Blackhawk story.

Pérez: It’s interesting, today both of us got to sign our very first comic work [Marv and George signed autographs at the Arlington Lane Star earlier that day]. In Marv’s case, it was Blackhawk, In mine, it was Astonishing Tales, which introduced a character called Deathiok. It was a piece showing Doug Moench and Rich Buckler showing their backs and Deathlok rising Out of an ashcan of discarded ideas. And someone actually came and haunted me with it. I thought that the Teen Titans was your first sale, Marv.

Wolfman: Oh, no I did tons of stuff before the Titans. Mostly with no credits… I did millions of horror stories, love stories, I worked on JERRY LEWIS.

Pérez: I wanted to draw a romance story. Never got a chance to. I’d like to do a straight – forward romance story. I want to do a straight western, too. I want to do a Jonah Hex story. These days, there aren’t the humor magazines, there aren’t the westerns… With the history of the DC Universe book, I’ll at least get to do Jonah Hex….

Wolfman: And Tomahawk….

Pérez: Oh Boy! I’ll get to do all that stuff.

Lone Star: Does that include Sugar and Spike?

Pérez: Is that in the DC timeline?

Wolfman: No….

Pérez: Fudge! Are they going to appear in the text section explaining why we’re not using them?

Wolfman: Yes.

Pérez: With this series, I’ll get to draw every character DC has ever owned, created, or bought. It’s going to be a 12 – issue maxi-series. Those who do not appear will be explained in the text section and they’ll have an illustration apiece. So I will get to draw them. In each issue there will be a tipped-in poster. They will all connect into a giant single poster. Twelve posters will form a time – line.

Wolfman: It’s an open-ended maxi-series. if we need 13 issues, then we’ll do 13. It will be chronological.

Pérez: Everything you always wanted to know about DC from Anthro, the first boy to Kamandi, the last boy. The completed poster will be a foot high and 13 feet long. Or it might be three tiers of four. It will be more rectangular as opposed to very long.

Lone Star: You’re doing something that’s never been done before.

Pérez: Marv and I thought of it at exactly the same time.

Wolfman: It’s funny, but I was at the house and George called and said, “I have this great idea,” and I wanted to do some sort of poster and it was exactly the same idea. We always do this.., constantly.

Pérez: We will be talking about a character in the Titans and I’ll suggest something about a character and Marv will say that he Just Jotted down that very same idea a few days previously.

Wolfman: In the latest issue, we got together to go over the rough draft of the next Titans and I made the comment about Wonder Girl’s lasso not being magical like Wonder Woman’s and George said that he hadn’t been drawing it that way – –

Pérez: I got rid of the glow.

Wolfman: He didn’t like it that way and I never liked it that way. We’re constantly thinking the same line about the characters. We’ve got a real good working relationship.

Lone Star: Can you give us a rundown on what’s going to be happening in subsequent issues?

Wolfman: Issues 26 and 27 are the Runaway stories which I’ve been working on for little over a year now. I had the interviews last summer. They’re going to get a lot of national publicity I understand they may be on the Donahue show in September. There will be articles in several of the newsmagazines. I’m being sent to a Congressional press conference in Washington about runaways.

Lone Star: Are you going to be on Donahue?

Pérez: No, the book itself. The show will deal with runaways and the media attention that the problem has acquired.

Wolfman: I will be very surprised if either issue gets the code symbol. There’s too many things in there that the code may squawk about.

Pérez: Not only does it deal with drugs, but it deals with prostitution, which has never been seen in a comic book. It’s not exploitative about it. We played it down a good deal.

Wolfman: This is a story that doesn’t hit you on the head. It’s a straight story that happens to deal with a hot subject matter. In no place in the book do we say, “Don’t run away.” Which is something I very strongly intended. Kids are going to run away, you can’t tell them not to. The message is, watch what happens if you do. There are runaway centers available that are there to help you… and what not to get involved in. But it’s not a preachy story. It will be a straight issue of the TEEN TITANS that happens to deal with this subject matter.

Pérez: It shows in some cases how runaways are inevitable. Anything can lead to it: fear, misunderstanding. It’s impossible to tell someone what to do when you’re not personally involved in their problems. It Just points out what can happen. If you’re going to do it, there are places that can help, that there are alternatives.

Wolfman: I’ve put the concepts in a fictional setting, but they are factual. For instance, there’s a major problem with runaways that has never been dealt with and that is starvation. They run out of money very quickly… they don’t think about eating. It’s the last thing kids think about when they run sway. That’s not normally thought of. Another main problem is male and female prostitution. And not only drug use but the sale of drugs. It’s very hard to convince a kid that is selling drugs who is making over a thousand a week to leave that and work for 100 dollars a week. You really can’t convince somebody of that. That’s another thing that’s dealt with in the book. We don’t give any answers, there are no easy answers.

Pérez: Also, this isn’t a story that Just came out of the blue. It does work well in the Titans. Victor Stone was a runaway and it’s not as if they have never encountered it before, one character had been through it. It wasn’t out of character for the Titans to be involved in a story like that.

Lone Star: Do you think the comics of today are going to try and be relevant like the ones of the early ‘7Os were?

Pérez: The Spider-Man story was incredibly preachy, which will turn anyone off. They’ve heard all the preaching before. The main thrust of a story is to entertain, but to enlighten, it’s got to be a valid storyline. The Spider – Man story preached every panel and it got very tiring and very annoying. You can’t soapbox to that extreme. I give credit to Marv, he didn’t preach in the story. I’ve enjoyed working on it immensely. I usually take a lot of freedom with the plots, but because of the nature of Marv’s research and everything, on this one, I took no freedom at all. I followed his plot almost t~ the letter. And that is very unusual for me because it was a very entertaining story and he didn’t preach at all. The message is put in as part of the storyline.

Wolfman: I remembered the Speedy story and it absolutely revolted me that Speedy’s reason for taking drugs was that Oliver Queen didn’t have the time to talk with him. When you come right down to it, that’s what Speedy says. That’s nonsense! That may be one tiny reason, but that’s not going to drive him to take drugs. In the long run, there’s got to be thousands of little things that build up. Runaways is a different problem entirely. There’s one girl who runs away because she’s pregnant and doesn’t want to get married and her father throws her out of the house. Realistic situation. Another kid – and no one’s going to believe it, but we got this a lot – the kid got bad marks on his report card and couldn’t face his parents. One kid wanted total control over himself, in other words, “I do want I want, I come and go when I want,” and the parents are saying, “Please stay,” trying to be good parents, and the kid is running away because he’s not a good kid.

Pérez: When he gave me that one, I knew that one as my brother, trying to grow up too fast. My brother did not run away, but he became very independent very fast. He was a street kid and got into a lot of fights. I did base it on him. Even the illustrations of those particular characters, the woman is my mother, the man (I changed his face because he looked too much like me) is my father. Without knowing it, he had Just hit home with me. And I hope that it has the same effect on other people. Marv did not realize it because he has never met my brother or my parents.

Wolfman: Issue 26 also introduces a new Titan. The first appearance of a girl named Terra. She returns in issue 28 and is cover featured and becomes a member in issue 30. –

Pérez: The cover for issue 30 will be a pinup. It will be distributed among the stores as posters.

Wolfman: The idea behind this was that the Titans have had no publicity whatever. They figured that it’s about time they did something. Speedy is in issue 27, and is the only Titan on issue 29’s cover, which brings back the Brotherhood of Evil. It starts the subplot of the Brotherhood of Evil and Brother Blood – – we’ve got all these brothers running around – – and we go into Wonder Girl’s background. After that, more into Brother Blood and eventually the Terminator. There will be another Titan by issue 36. As yet, no name has been worked out.

Lone Star: if you’re adding two new characters, are you going to keep all the old Ones?

Pérez: Let’s Just say that with two new, either one or two will go.

Lone Star: You won’t say who?

Pérez: We’re not gonna tell you.

Lone Star: What gave you the ideas for Cyborg and Raven?

Pérez: When I came to DC I came in strictly to do the Justice league. At the time Dick Dillin was still alive, so I Just wanted to do one issue of it. Marv had asked me to do something for DC and suggested the Teen Titans. You know how hard it was to tell the people at Marvel what I was going to do at DC? “Oh, they finally got you doing work there, what are you going to be doing?” “Well, I’m doing the TEEN TITANS… (very low, embarrassed voice)” (laughter.) I did not think that book was gonna go. I loved the original, I hated the second version… and I thought it was going to die. Marv had already decided on Cyborg. Basically, he had all the things worked out on him. Same thing with Starfire. Raven… while Marv conceived the character, it was Len’s idea to put a mystical character in there. Marv didn’t want Raven in.

Wolfman: Len didn’t specify Raven, he wanted a female mystical character. I Just didn’t want to do that because my first thought was Dr. Strange and my second thought was the Phantom Stranger. I didn’t want to do anything like that. Len said, “Come up with something different.” This was before Zatanna became a member of the JLA. And there were no mystical type characters in any group book. I had to figure Out a character that would be completely different. from Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate or Zatanna. The name Raven came from the comic strip that I had done with Ross Andru. There was a girl in there named Raven Winters. And the last name went on to become the Baron’s last name in NIGHT FORCE. Raven sort of appeared that way.

The characters held no interest for me until a George did a visual. We talked about it and I was still very reluctant. While I knew about her background, I still didn’t care about her because I don’t like writing about mystics. He did the visual and I Just went… “Wow.” I knew what the face looked like, but at that point we had no intention or showing what her face looked like.

Pérez: We thought we’d wait at least a year before Raven’s face was revealed, but initial reaction was negative. It was the fans. They thought she was too mysterious, and couldn’t identify with her.

Wolfman: This is an example of when fan comments actually affect the book. It was so overwhelming that fans thought she was A) The Phantom Stranger’s daughter – – which we knew all along she wasn’t – – or. B) that they didn’t like that kind of character. We decided by issue four to reveal her face.

Pérez: Which has been totally changed since issue four. In number eight, her face was totally redrawn.

Lone Star: Did you get any feedback on that?

Pérez: No. everyone accepted it. Her face was pretty well covered up, her whole gimmick was that her costume covers up her face no matter what. No lighting effect will change those shadows. When I changed that face in issue eight, it was deliberate. At the time, Romeo Tanghal was doing finishing and I was doing breakdowns. And we were still trying to blend our styles at that point. He thought that I goofed and redraw the face back again. I made a xerox and repasted it in over what he had done. The face was drawn three times.

Wolfman: George’s style is still evolving and Raven’s features have changed the most. Physically, she is completely different than what George envisioned. George designed individual physiques for every one of the characters, including individual faces for all the women, which is totally uncomic book – like because most people draw women to look alike. They may draw men looking differently but usually all the women look exactly alike. It’s the Betty and Veronica syndrome: the hair is different, but everything else looks alike. Right now all the girls in the Titans not only have individual faces, but have completely individual bodies and the men are like that, too.

Pérez: Before, if you shaved the heads of Robin and Kid Flash, they’d look exactly alike. Now, they do look different. Basically, I took the molars off Kid Flash, and now he has a very drawn Jaw. He became angular and now they have very distinctive faces. Those two are the hardest to draw because they both are All-American boys.

Lose Star: Doesn’t this go hand in hand with your trying to give each character a distinctive personality?

Pérez: Thanks to my wife, now the characters dress differently. They each have their own taste in clothing. My wife and I work out most of the clothing schemes. In fact, at one point, in issue 26, where Robin and Starfire go to the theater, the dress that she’s wearing is my wife’s dress. I took a Polaroid of her and used the dress for Starfire because it worked. She gave me advice on Wonder Girl’s wardrobe, advice on what Raven would wear, and one time Marv said, “wear a sari.” I didn’t know what a sari was. Carol told me. In fact, she took some cloth and made a sari in front of me so I would know how to drape it.

She helped me with the male fashion, too. Particularly in doing modern colors and modern wardrobe. Wally West is going to look preppy, because it is right for his character. Robin is very conservative in his clothing. Cyborg is going to dress like the friends I had in the South Bronx. Marv is giving me a freer rein on Cyborg because I know the character a lot better. I’ve met many people like him. He can dress a little outlandishly. He is more for color.

I’ve actually got his apartment down now, a checkerboard pattern in his kitchen, he’s got a wall phone, an old Westinghouse refrigerator, a round table, he’s got sports trophies laying all around because he was an athlete. And, to add the final touch, his hat is on the table because he’s not the kind who picks up after himself. One other thing I added on is those little baseball guys whose heads rock.

Wolfman: The only two that I have trouble separating are Wonder Girl and Robin. The only way to make them sound different is what they say, as opposed to how they say it. I see them as very similar people. Very much Donny and Marie. All the others I hear in my head what their speech patterns are. I don’t know how it comes across on paper since I’m so intimate with the characters, but the only two I feel are hard to separate are Robin and Wonder Girl. Fortunately, the type of dialogue they are given, for the most part, is clear enough apart. Wonder Girl will talk in much more romantic terms when she has to. She’s not as uptight as Robin is. Robin, having been raised by the Batman, would be very uptight about everything. He’s Just learning to break free from that. Wonder Girl’s never had any of those problems whatsoever. When they’re dealing with superior stuff, I haven’t figured out how to tell them apart.

Pérez: Robin’s relationship with Starfire is becoming more open. He’s finally getting through his feelings, his inhibitions. One person actually asked me about the sexual life of Robin and Starfire. Chances are they haven’t had any because Robin isn’t quite ready for that. Not that he’s a virgin, he’s not ready for her. (Laughter.) He may not survive.

Wolfman: One of the comments made in issue 25 by Robin is that while the Batman was created by a very emotional event, the Batman today has taught Robin to think with his head and not his heart. Yet, the Batman’s whole reason for being was because of his heart, not his head. We’re hoping to get more control over the characters as we learn to use them. Issue eight was the first issue where we thought we understood them.

Pérez: By that time, we knew that the book was doing really well. If this issue didn’t do well, okay, then we know that we’re Just going to be another comic book. If it does well, then we know we’ve broken the barrier. The fans love the book enough that they can stand a book with a lot of characterization.

Lone Star: Now that you’ve clearly broken a lot of barriers, what special project do you have coming up?

Pérez: Together we’ve got the History of the DC Universe, which I alluded to earlier. In which we’re trying to develop a timeline and a continuity for the entire DC universe. And admitting that a lot of things that were out of continuity were Just plain wrong. Starting fresh, basically.

Wolfman: In other words, anything that doesn’t fit anymore is gone. Anything that was stupid – – and there’s tons of it – – is gone. All the mistakes of bad continuity can vanish instantly, we don’t have to worry about it. We’re still trying to decide how far to go with the maxi – series. Some people want to destroy Earth – 2, get rid of that whole thing. Say from this point on there is only one Earth.

Other people want to leave it, but get rid of all the other Earths, so it’s only Earth – l and Earth – 2. We have so many ways we can go.

We want to establish for the company anything that we do for the maxi – series is what’s factual for DC. If it’s not brought back, it didn’t happen. If you want to bring something back, then fine. We can officially ignore all the dumb things. When you have a company that’s 48 years old, I believe, Superman’s 45th anniversary is coming next June, there’s a lot of dumb things that have happened. Nobody expected Superman to last 45 years. When Stan and Jack created the Fantastic Four, nobody expected that it would last 23 years. Back then it didn’t seem like a problem for Reed Richards to be in World War II. That would now make him 65, 70 years old. So you always have these things that you have to update or change. I got around the Reed Retards problem by de – aging them. But you can’t do that with every character. So this is a convenient starting point, acknowledging that the stuff is comics, pure fiction, but at this point this is what is real. Anything that isn’t brought back is wrong.

Lone Star: Who will make the decisions on this?

Wolfman: All the major writers and editors will get their say so, and then Dick Giordano, myself, Len Wein and, I guess, Jenette Khan.

Lone Star: Will you be editing this book?

Wolfman: No, Dick Giordano is line editor. I’m writing, along with Len Wein. George is the artist.

Pérez: All the work that has been shovelled on me… next year I’ll be averaging 100 pages a month – –

Wolfman: Which is more than I can write.

Pérez: I volunteered for every assignment. I have not been pushed into anything.

Lone Star: George, we know You well enough to know that.

Pérez: When Marv first approached me, he asked if I’d do one or two chapters. Initially, the idea was to have between six and twelve artists on the book. I volunteered to do all 12 chap – tars as penciller and 12 different inkers If it’s a barbarian type, have Alcala do it. The westerns, have Tony Deluniga do it. The 20th century chapters will probably take out 5 books themselves.

Wolfman: If not more… There’s 20th century Earth – l and 2.

Pérez: If not more. My one dream is that I’d love to draw everyone in the DC universe. I was determined to do it. It’s a challenge. And I’ve never backed away from a challenge. And if anyone likes to draw group books more than me, it’s pretty hard to find one.

In addition to History of the DC Universe not counting the next 12 issues of the Titans, onot counting next year’s Titans Annual – I’m also doing the next DC – Marvel crossover, the JLA and the Avengers. And I’m going to fight to get as many Avengers in that story as possible. Gerry Conway is scheduled to write it, he’s written both books so he’s got the experience. I’m going to try and get Dick Giordano to ink it. If not, then maybe Jerry Ordway or Mike DeCarlo. I’m going to fight for a good inker.

And then I’m doing two more Swordquest assignments for Atari. Swordquest is a new game, the first one is to come out this Christ-mas. And the comic is packed in. In this case, the comic and the game were designed at the same time. Atari Force was Just for existing games.

Lone Star: What kind of format will they be?

Pérez: It’s 48 pages, they’re the size of the tapes, almost digest size. Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo inked me on those. At first, I was a little reluctant. doing the first issue, but I loved the second issue. And the Atari people have said that they are the best of the Atari stuff and I’m very flattered. Atari had me draw two t-shirts based on those games.

Lone Star: How can fans get the t-shirt?

Pérez: They’re being given away an promotion, I think, you’ll have to check.

Lone Star: Why was so much better about the second issue?

Pérez: The first one had a lot of buildup, which I found rather boring. The first one is called Earthworld, Swordquest One. But it dealt with building up the characters in a small medieval – like town. That got rather boring after a while. And then they go into a chamber. The villains are all based on Zodiac signs. So I did wild visuals on Virgo, Taurus… Gemini was the weirdest. Roy gave me a visual for it and I totally ignored it. Gemini is basically hundreds and hundreds of mirrors.

Lone Star: You’re talking about Roy Thomas?

Pérez: Roy Thomas did the plot, Gerry Conway did the script. It worked out much better than I thought. I looked at it and thought, my God, it’s pretty good stuff, because I was pretty down on myself. The Atari people loved it, the DC people loved it. There’s as much detail as in my regular stuff. And the second one deals with Fireworld. So I get the chance to do a gigantic flaming bird (not a phoenix), a flying unicorn that leaves fire as its trail, gigantic formations of lava. I had at least three different. fancy suits of armor. It was an incredibly visual story.

Lone Star: Are you the exclusive Atari artist?

Pérez: I am the co – creator of Swordquest. If they had decided not to use the t – shirt. as giveaways, and sell them, then I get ten percent.

Lone Star: Why not do that?

Pérez: Because I’m not in charge of promotion. They don’t know how well Swordquest is going to go. If it picks up at all, then Jenette and flick both would like to do it because they are both all for a lot of merchandising. They talked about a Swordquest comic. I have creator’s rights, and since it’s CO – owned by Atari, they would have to negotiate with me. As well as Gerry and Roy.

Lone Star: It’s our feeling that the crossover between games and comics are a natural.

Pérez: This one in particular, since it was designed by comic book people. We don’t have to adapt it, we created it. In addition to all of this, there will also be another Titans/X – Men crossover. I’m also drawing that one; that one I intend to ink. That’s due Christmas ‘83. Marv and I are going to fight for full process color on that one.

I want to get started on that one in a couple of months. I want to set a record on those blasted crossover books to have them out on time. That’s why I want to get started on those books, I’ll be damned if I’m going to slow myself down. I want to ink that and to be given a good eight month leeway, so that when they say it is coming out for Christmas, it will be out for Christmas. I’ve done the mini – series, the annual, the Atari stuff; I’m not going to miss any issues of the Titans. I know exactly what I’m going to be doing for the next three years. Because if plans go, in 1984 we will have a Teen Titans graphic novel. IF it goes through, at the moment, it’s all speculation.

Wolfman: We’d like to do a graphic novel. Nothing is set yet, however. It all depends on certain things that come through.

Lone Star: George, how much input do you have in the plot? On the Runaways story, you mentioned how you didn’t change a thing.

Pérez: Marv gives me carte blanche. He trusts me. Marv knows I will never change the essence of his plot. I may restructure it and repaste it, I may change fight scenes, since that is what I’m better at. I may add scenes or character bits, but I’ll never change the plot. I’ll phone him if I have to leave something out because of lick of room. But I will never take anything on without consulting him.

Wolfman: On the average plot, I’ll sit down and type five pages as opposed to the Starfire quadrilogy, or whatever that was called, which we verbally discussed instead of written. The ones that I write are fairly complex. They’re broken down page by page, five pages single space, so it’s a lot of material. My view is that’s the guidelines, that’s the roadmap. Now there are a lot of different ways to get to the end of that story. You can follow the fight scene that I’ve outlined or George can come up with a better fight scene because he’s more visually oriented than I am, though I have an art background. We’ll take bits and Juggle them for the best visual continuity and I think that’s great because it gets us both involved in the book. I know that if I do a very tight thing, George can follow it if he wants to. And there won’t be any problems in it. It gets him interested and he says I can make this better if I do this. Then we’ll come up with character bits, end it’s good because two minds are thinking at it. Each one amplifies the other. I get it back and I write the dialogue and it fits both of them.

Pérez: I have as much faith in him. One thing that I can do with Marv that I can’t do with other writers is leave notes for Marv: “If you’re confused on a certain point, call me.” His recollection sometimes is not as great as mine. He won’t remember the plot. An example of how much fun it can be: I have no worries about what he’s going to write. His interpretation is Something I have full faith in. His faith in my interpreting his plot is the same as my faith in his interpreting my art.

In one particular scene, in issue 9 of the TEEN TITANS, they were being controlled by the Puppeteer. There was a sequence where Robin is battling Cyborg. Cyborg has Robin by the neck against a wall at arms length and the next scene, as written in the plot – – and I did follow this – – is a very closeup shot of Cyborg reacting in pain, because Starfire had Just blasted him off – panel. So you never see anything except the reaction of Cyborg. I received a phone call before I had seen the script, asking how Robin could do that to Cyborg? Because of where Robin’s feet were hanging, he kicked Cyborg in the area where he knew he wasn’t metal. And I didn’t remember drawing that. I thought the art was changed. And the word balloon following that panel, Changeling is saying, “When he wakes up he’s not really going to forgive you.” That was not what I had drawn, but the glow was not of a starburst but a glow of pain. You know how hard a man has to be kicked to be knocked out? I was surprised he was still talking~ Things like that, it was a minor bit, but it was so entertaining. Marv Just totally surprised me.

Wolfman: There was the one with the gods, I gave George a list of all the gods that could be in this double – page fight scene and throughout the whole book. George gave me the artwork and went on vacation or someplace. I couldn’t get in touch with him to find out who the guys were. He didn’t make any notes and there’s tons of these Greek gods running around. I think on every single one, I picked the right one.

Pérez: There was one in particular, Apollo, there was nothing spectacular about his costume, nothing suggestive of the Apollo character And he got the damn guy right. How did he do that?

Wolfman: George had also changed a lot of that particular fight scene.

Pérez: I was trying to go for a Ray Harry – hausen look. He went low on copy because he didn’t want to chance being wrong.

Wolfman: That’s the way you get around stuff like that.

Lone Star: How did you come up with the Titans Tower?

Pérez: There is a building in New York that is similar to the Titans Tower. It may not look it, but it is architecturally sound. It can stand.

I want to show somebody doing maintenance work on the thing. Have somebody gardening. I wat’it to show a little Japanese gardener, “My god, this tree has fallen down three times. Tell Changeling to clean up after himself when he becomes a Tyrannasaurus.” (To Marv) I’m going to redesign the gym.

Wolfman: Okay.

Pérez: Make it show holographic images of the outside so that they can look like they’re really enjoying themselves. Let’s do something for creature comforts. I designed it a little too antiseptic.

Lone Star: It’s obvious that you two are friends as well as having a smooth business relationship.

Wolfman: Unlike most teams who have had problems in recent time, George and I have had hits before the Titans. I was on Dracula for eight years, and that got a lot of attention from the fans. It doesn’t matter how well the book did, it got a lot of critical recognition. Also I had a movie made from the stuff, so I know the stuff was good.

George got an incredible amount of applause both on his Avengers and Fantastic Pour. So we’ve come from hits, we’ve had our chance in the spotlight, to get whatever ego massage that we needed. We approach the Titans very professionally. There isn’t a lot of ego involved with the book. And even more importantly – antly, there’s a lot of respect.

Pérez: Also, the whole is much more important than any individual part.

Wolfman: If, on the way back, the plane crashes, the book will still be there. The people who feel that the book is them, they’re wrong. Yes, it wouldn’t be the same; it could be better, it could be worse. The book is probably going to be around long after we’re finished with it. Hopefully, George intends to stay on for 120 issues and I intend to write every single one of those.

Pérez: Mine is an ego stroke actually. I want to be listed in the world’s record of comics as the one with the longest consecutive run On any book.

Dick Dillin has the record on the JLA, and if he didn’t die he would definitely would still be on it. I hope that I don’t end my run that way, but I intend to stay on it until issue 120. Dillin was on it from 63 ‘til 183, having missed only one issue that George Tuska did. If I stick ‘til issue 120, since I missed issue 5, I will have broken the record because of the mini – series and the annuals.

Wolfman: That’s not to say that something won’t happen.

Pérez: I hope to. Anything can happen, as Marv says. But my intention is to stay on that long, because I love this book. I want to keep on doing it. It has opened up a lot of channels: extra assignments, being well paid, royalties, things that would never have happened if I hadn’t said yes to a dumb thing like the Teen Titans.

Lone Star: Now do TEEN TITANS series compare with other books?

Pérez: We can’t give official numbers.

Wolfman: All the sources that I’ve heard – – I’m sure Marvel will contradict this – – is that we passed X – MEN. We haven’t passed DAREDEVIL, but we have passed X – MEN. Technically, we’re number two in terms of sales. Which isn’t bad for a book that’s been around for only two years.

Lone Star: If DAREDEVIL sales drop, then the competition will be between TEEN TITANS, X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR.

Wolfman: That’s fine for the fans, that’s fine for the stores to worry about. I really don’t look at anything’s position. I don’t sit there saying, “Well, we have to beat I – MEN this month, we have to beat DAREDEVIL next month.” We’re Just trying to write the book.

Pérez: When we took over the Titans, I didn’t think the Titans had a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. But we were both going to give it our best damn try to make it the beat book. If it didn’t sell, at least we would have done something that we wouldn’t be embarrassed about.

Wolfman: A lot of professionals make Jokes about the royalties on the TEEN TITANS. An~ my standard comment is, “Yeah, we were doing all this work when there were no royalties.” We were getting paid the strict page rate and we didn’t expect to get another penney on it. Now they’re suddenly going to work hard because they can make royalties on it.

Pérez: By issue 18, we were getting royalties and we were getting major attention. The Runaway story was planned. At that point I bad a major altercation about .the way the book has been reproducing, maybe the inking was getting a little slack. Mostly because I cared about the book. I wasn’t getting any royalties. Nor did I expect any royalties. I did expect the book to be the best I could do.

Lone Star: You wouldn’t mind having the best-selling comic, though.

Pérez: No, I wouldn’t mind at all.

Wolfman: I’m not going to allow myself to do what other people have recently done. And that is going around constantly saying we’re the number one sales book. Simply because then you are working only to maintain that goal rather than going further with the book. You freeze.

Lone Star: Marvel has had that position of “we’re the best because all of our books out-sell all of the DC books.”

Pérez: I think the competition would be great.

Wolfman: I think the competition will be between the creative talent as far as who produces the best work. The royalties have been fantastic. I’ve been able to fix my house. I think the royalties are the best -thing that could ever happen and it’s way overdue, because creators have deserved this for years. But we can’t let that dictate what the book is. The royalties are there to award us and reward us for good work, but not because we’re aiming to get those royalties. I could sit down tomorrow and, in fact, I had the choice to design a book that wouldn’t have sold as well as the Titans, but which would have been big royalties. Instead I created NIGHT FORCE. Which everyone said would not sell, which everyone said it was not what the fans wanted, but I Just wanted to do a book that I liked. That’s more of what I’m interested in seeing. What the creators want to do rather than Just go after the royalties. It would have been real simple to do another superior team book. I could have made a fortune on that.

Pérez: Josef Rubinstein has called my art style one of the most mastubatory art styles he has ever seen. A person who is in it Just for the sheer enjoyment of it. And he’s damn right.

I enjoy doing it. I’m glad the fans do, too. I know the royalties are going to be immense now, that’s great. There are going to be artists who go for the royalties. Some people are more mercenary and that is no crime. As long as they know they have to produce their best work to get it.

Lone Star: What do you think of guest – stars?

Pérez: I’ve always objected to an artificial increase strictly because of an exploitation. Marv has actively fought against it.

Lone Star: The last time we talked you said that you didn’t want the Titans to appear just anywhere.

Wolfman: If you’ll notice when they appeared in ACTION, we didn’t have them on the cover. The readers knew, but only the ones who cared. We didn’t put them on the cover and we didn’t blurb them.

Pérez: At Marvel, where they use a major character to help sell a book, that cheapens the company. The company is saying that we have no other book that will sell this well so we’re admitting that if these characters are added, the sales will go up.

Wolfman: We all know that it’s done. FANTASTIC FOUR 250 has the X-Men and Byrne has said that he would never draw the X-Men. Until royalties came in, I guess, because now they’re on the cover to FF 250.

Lone Star: That’s a tricky thing, because they are there but they’re not there.

Wolfman: When you put them on the cover, sales will go up.

Lone Star: I think that’s a good example. If they weren’t there, sales wouldn’t go up.

Pérez: Precisely.

Wolfman: The ACTION could have been blurbed because the story connected with the TEEN TITANS book, but even there we did not want – yes, we mentioned it in the fan press – but we also Just mentioned it as an appearance. It was the Omega Men story that got the top billing. I don’t know if it was your store that called up, but I was in the office when the call came that asked if the story was going to include the Titans because it would sell 20,000 more copies. It wasn’t even plotted yet, but I said no. I still said that it was three panels that they appear in.

There’s no doubt that the Titans will be in other books. They are part of the DC universe. We’re going to keep it down. We’re not letting everyone do it. So far, everyone has come to me and asked about it. As in Roy’s case with the WONDER WOMAN story. I couldn’t argue about it. Simply because it was every female character that DC had. I couldn’t say no.

Pérez: Then they would be more conspicuous by their absence.

Wolfman: Roy had the courtesy of not only calling me up about it, but asking me to go over the copy to see if the characters were in character. Now that’s someone who cares about the books. On top of that he gave me credit which I didn’t even ask for.

Pérez: You were a consultant.

Wolfman: If that’s the type of appearance the Teen Titans will have. I’ll be willing to do it, but not in every case.

Lone Star: Row do you feel about all the inserts in the TEEN TITANS?

Pérez: Marv knows I’m a man of statistics; I keep tabs on everything. I know exactly how many stories I’ve done in my career, that sort of thing. They told me that an insert would be in issue 27 and that’s the fourth one in one year. Granted, two of them have been line [that is, in lots of other titles as well]. I’m Just getting really tired of it being in the Titans. I don’t think the inserts are a bad idea, that’s how the Titans started. For four issues out of twelve the story has bean interrupted by another story. It Just gets a little aggravating after a while.

Wolfman: The CAPTAIN CARROT insert didn’t bother me. What bothered me was the issue they picked to do it in. Very grim story.

Pérez: Like Gone With the Wind interrupted in the middle by Bugs Bunny.

Wolfman: Issue 20 would have been perfect. We had a funny story ourselves. I almost demanded that the fourth insert be NIGHT FORCE, since they are both my books. It was an idea that was so risky…

Pérez: It needed it.

Wolfman: It needed the publicity. Being the writer of both books, it made sense.

Pérez: The mood of the story was perfect with Brother Blood.

Wolfman: The Masters of the Universe didn’t fit, but then it appeared in 15 other books. The next one will be done in four books.

Pérez: I Just question why the Titans always has to be on that list.

Lone Star: Because it is a top seller.

Pérez: There again, don’t exploit the top seller.

Wolfman: I don’t think it hurts, but I don’t think it hurts the reader because they’re Just getting something extra. I think it hurts the look of the book. The reader does get 16 extra pages free. I think that breaking up the book is a bad idea.

Lone Star: Haven’t the ones with the inserts sold a little better?

Wolfman: Oh yeah, they’ve all gone up.

Pérez: It’s interesting. After Captain Carrot, we thought that the sales would go up and back down again. It stayed at that level after Captain Carrot.

Wolfman: So all I’ve done since then is mention Captain Carrot. (laughs)

Lone Star: Have you seen CAPTAIN CARROT #8?

Pérez: No, I haven’t read CAPTAIN CARROT #1. The Zoo Tower? I love it.

Wolfman: They’re going to be doing an X-Men takeoff pretty soon. Not so much the X-Men. but Chris’ writing style.

Lone Star: Your black people always look so real…

Pérez: I try very hard to make them look realistic. I know a lot of black people.

Lone Star: Did you see the last issue of POWERMAN that Denys Cowan drew?

Pérez: Did he look black? I hope so, because Denys Cowan is black. I drew one issue of POWERMAN. Unfortunately, it was inked by Al McWilliams, who makes everyone look like white bread and mayonnaise. I gave him a gritty look and by the time McWilliams was through, he looked like a white guy dipped in caramel. I couldn’t believe it. He had kinky hair, though. I was surprised that – McWilliams didn’t straighten it.

Lone Star: Marv, what are you doing for the next three years?

Wolfman: I’m writing, of course, TEEN TITANS, NIGHT FORCE, and ACTION COMICS, which now is up to 23 total pages and we’re making changes in Superman. Jenette came in and she is someone who is vitally interested in the books. She wanted to find out why SUPERMAN is not the best – selling book published anywhere. By all rights, it should be. We talked a lot. I’ve a few ideas of my own about Superman. I’ve written Superman in the style it is now, only putting an element of what I’d like to see in it. I’m a big fan of Superman, he’s my favorite character. A lot of my ideas are similar to what Jenette would like to see. Julie and Cary Bates and I have been talking and decided to start doing some things to make Superman really interesting. Bringing him into the ‘80s.

The whole supporting cast is being ruptured. Superman and Lois are going to be breaking up. The romance has gone on. essentially, as far as it can go. That doesn’t mean we’re getting rid of Lois – we’re not killing her off. There are other ways. Little things that might seem unimportant like Perry White getting a divorce. That’s minor. His wife hasn’t been seen in 25 years. But that’s not important in a sense. What is important is how it affects him personally and how Perry White as editor of the Daily Planet will react to the other writers.

So we’re going to get more concerned with that. We’re bringing in several new cast members. The only one not changing himself is Superman. Superman is Superman. You can’t do anything there. You can do more interesting stories, which we’re trying. One of the ways we’re trying to do that is totally revising Luthor and Brainiac. Brainiac won’t even look anything like he is now. He may not be green and he may not be humanoid. He’s a robot, after all. We can do anything we want with him. We’re going to turn him into a far more interesting character. I had started to make. changes in my last Brainiac story. I destroyed his spaceship. Now that sounds silly, too, but he’s been going around in this 1956 flying saucer right out of Forbidden Planet. It’s ridiculous in the age of Star Wars to be going around with this frisbee. I destroyed it purposefully to create a new one. At the end of that particular storyline Brainiac was tied into the computers of his own ship and is swallowed by this planet that he was building. So that works very well for the type of bio – organism that we’re going to create for Brainiac.

Luthor is going to have a much more interesting motivation than the fact that Superman blew off his hair. That’s really dumb. We’re now giving him a real motivation. I’m handling the Brainiac and Cary Bates is handling Luthor. Both of those stories will be appearing in the June issue of ACTION COMICS next year. That’s the 45th anniversary of Superman. The book will be 72 pages long, two 30-page stories. Both characters will be changed in that book. The 12 pages will be whatever we come up with.

Cary and I have worked out a flow chart for SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS. We know what can be introduced into each book, all the new characters, the thing that is happening to lois, the amazing thing that will be happening to Lana, everything will start in one book and move to the next. It won’t be like DETECTIVE and Batman because we’re not one writer. For instance, we’re introducing a new character in one issue of ACTION COMICS. He gets hired and he won’t be seen. In the next issue of SUPERMAN, on sale two weeks later, you’ll see the character. We’ll build up the characters and lots between the two books. Cary gets my plots and he can take it to the next step. I can get his plots and. I can take it to the next step. We’ll cooperate and give real continuity to the books.

I’ll be doing the History of the DC Universe with George and Len. I’ll be writing another new book coming out June of next year.

A brand new version of the Vigilante. His secret identity is already in the Titans. Essentially what happens in the April on sale date of the Titans is a major development with that character and the May issue – that’s the Titans annual 2 – the character is introduced. Then a month later he gets his own book. He’s a super-hero in a sense, he’s a lot more violent than any super-hero around now. It’s non-code, good paper, direct sale only.

Pérez: Dick Giordano described it as Deathwish in tights.

Wolfman: There’s an interesting supporting cast and it’s one of the many elements of my personality that will come out. Anyway, by next year I’ll be writing five books a month.

I’m also an editor at DC for 2 1/2 days a week. One of the books I’ll be editing is the OMEGA MEN. That will be DC’s first direct sale, high quality printed book, sold regularly. Drawn by Keith Giffen, Mike DeCarlo and written by Roger Slifer, based on characters that I created with Joe Staton. The universe is the one that Starfire comes from. It’s the multi-dimensional thing with all these villains and heroes and races and everything that I’ve created. I have pages and pages of notes when I designed all this stuff, intending it to go into Superman.

My idea when I first came here was to organize DC. In my naiveté, I actually thought that I could do it. Little did I know I could. That was the amazing thing. I decided DC had too many alien races. Everybody introduces alien races. From now on, I’m introducing two alien races, one of which existed before in a story I did 14 years ago – the Psions – with WITCHING HOUR 13, drawn by Gray Morrow. The Gordanians are only part of this other race called the Citadel. They have all these other subsidiary races working for them. It’s like the Kree and the Skrull, in a sense.

Pérez: We based the Citadel leader on Idi Amin. He was a big black alien with Biiiig teeth. Teeth that were down to here. We even had a letter that was in the way he talked: “Why you not give me book? Me need book. You give me book or I eat you,” that type of thing.

Wolfman: I wrote it as if the syphillia had totally taken affect.

Pérez: Ah yes, guacamole brains.

Wolfman: Two races, period. Of course, Marvel has 400 races. All I was going to do was these races forever. Everytime I wanted aliens, that’s where they were going to come from. The Vegan solar system was my territory. And what’s happened is, other writers are picking up on it. Obviously, you can’t use only the Vegans. I set up 22 planets, originally 25 – 3 of them were destroyed by X’Hal, the goddess Starfire always calls upon. Roger Slifer read the manu – script and was going to tell me I was wrong by having 25 planets and I had always said 22. “You goofed again, your memory went again.” I keep notes on all this, I can’t remember it all.

Anyway, the OMEGA MEN will be on sale in December of this year. The first issue is already pencilled. It’s beautiful. We’ve even hired an air brusher for special effects on the covers.

An even bigger book that I’m editing is the new talent book, as far as the future of comics. Where I get to play God. I go through new writers and Ernie Colon goes through new artists. Every script I’ve bought has had to go through re – working. When they get bought, the writers have understood that I go over the stuff a lot more carefully than I do with my regular writers. Right now the working title is the TYRO book. Tyro meaning beginner. That may not be the final title. The idea is not to use amateurs. No, this is not a fan book, this is another book. When I started at DC and everybody else I know started, we were put to work on HOUSE OP MYSTERY and HOUSE OF SECRETS, learning our craft. The quality must be to professional standards. What we will do is take people who are ready to be professional and with no place to develop and get better and grow. I had three years of it. With the mystery books cancelled, they won’t have those three years. Now they will. We’re announcing it for new writers and artists, but essentially it’s the same service as HOUSE OF MYSTERY and HOUSE OP SECRETS.

Lone Star: Where’e the biggest need right now, artists of writers?

Wolfman: Writers. We’ve gotten tons of great artists showing up. DC is going to explode with artwork soon, It’s so good. I don’t believe it. The writers, though, take forever. I’ve only found, even though I’ve been buying a lot of scripts, two that really Jump out. I have to do extensive work on the other ones to make them as good. It’s real difficult to find good writers, because everyone thinks they can write. Very quickly people can learn that they don’t draw. It’s very hard to tell a person that, “No, it’s not good. Your ideas are all wrong.”

Pérez: “Stop,” I yelled under my breath.

Lone Star: For the benefit of our potential writers and artists, does it matter if you live in say, Kalamasoo, Michigan?

Wolfman: Anywhere as long as it’s not Kalamazoo. I don’t pay for DC phone costs, so what do I care…

Lone Star: How do you work with them?

Wolfman: Since I’ve been going around the country I’ve actually been seeing a lot of people’s plots. The ones that come in the mail, I have to admit, it’s hard, because it takes awhile for me to get to it, what with all the books I edit. As I get to them, what will happen is – I will probably not have time to write letters unless I get a full-time assistant, and I’m working on that – I will probably make phone calls. And spend a half hour on the phone describing all the problems with the story. Then I’ll get it back and go through it again. It’ll be rewritten as many times as it has to be rewritten. Ernie Colon handles the art, so I’m not going to talk about the art. Except to send the material to him.

All of this stuff, by the way, should be sent in stat or Xerox form, with self – addressed, stamped envelopes. On artwork, please don’t send original artwork. If you have to, you have to, but you know that the Post Office is going to destroy it. And if they don’t destroy it, the Warner Mailroom will. And if they don’t, we’ll sit on it on purpose. So send Xeroxes. You get the standard DC contract with the royalty agreement and reprint agreement and all that stuff. You get paid, too. It’s not CHARLTON BULLSEYE. We give beginning writer’s rates. It’s not the greatest, but it’s 2 1/2 times what I made when I started.

Pérez: Artistically, a lot of people are turning out better stuff than what I was doing in those days. I didn’t know perspective, I didn’t know anatomy. As Marv will be quick to attest. If a person can go through the hell – let’s face it, if a person can go through the reworking – you’ve got to really want to do it…

Wolfman: It sounds dumb, but you really do. The money is not that good and you’re not going to be able to live on it.

Pérez: Not initially. Both Marv and I improved to spite somebody. I hated Marv when I first met him. He was my biggest critic. He wasn’t a schmuck or anything, it’s Just the fact that I could not take criticism. Most young professionals – ionals cannot take professional criticism. He pointed out a lot of things that I did wrong. In hindsight, he was right. But, boy! did I hate him and I was going to improve to spite him. I’m going to prove him wrong!

Wolfman: I had the same situation in which another- writer was telling me that I’d never learn to write characterization, never put together a story. And I was determined to spend everything I could Just to prove I could. I didn’t work well if things are going well. I have to work to challenges. Which disturbs my wife because she can’t work to a challenge.

Pérez: It’s amazing. We had both worked at Marvel and we only worked once on a story together. Since we’ve been at DC the majority of my work has been with Marv.

Gerry Conway comes second. I’ve worked with Marv on more books than any other writer. Gerry Conway comes a close second but now even he is seven books away. Because I’m continuously on the Titans, I keep widening that margin.

Wolfman: We are looking for the next generation of artists and writers, because not enough good people are coming into the business. We have to use a lot of the bad talent because of the number of books printed every month. We would prefer using all the good talent. We know they’re Out there.

Lone Star: We’re about ready to wrap this up. Most everybody is getting tired.

Pérez: You’re all a bunch of wimps.

Lone Star: In summation, what do you think the future of comics will be?

Wolfman: I think we’re going to see more of everything. We’re going to see the same stuff we see now. Maybe on slightly better paper. I think there are going to be cheap comics and there will be expensive comics. I think that we’re going to get a wider variety of things. Books obviously aimed for adults. There are some already. Gen of Hiroshima is obviously meant for adults to read. Other comics have come out that are more experimental. We’ll get more involved with better stories and more varied subjects as we go to more expensive things, The lesser expensive books are going to be the superior, the more traditional type comics, which are as much fun to write as the other stuff. I grew up on this stuff and I really love writing it.

Pérez: What he said.

Lone Star: One last question. If you could be any kind of animal in the world, what kind of animal would you be? (No interview is complete without one of these questions.)

Pérez: I’d be an octopus.

Wolfman: What is this, Tattletales?!


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author