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With Cap & Gown: Ale Garza Talks Graduation Day

An article by MattBrady
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posted May 14, 2003 09:26 AM

As Newsarama has reported, the three-issue Graduation Day miniseries, the first weekly issue of which, is in stores today, serves many purposes: dismantling the Titans and Young Justice, setting up Outsiders and Teen Titans, and one more – giving artist Alé Garza a turn in the spotlight.

While Garza has been exclusive to DC for some time now, the miniseries is perhaps his highest profile gig to date for the publisher – and one that he didn’t approach lightly. “Basically, I was asking [Wildstorm Group Editor] Scott Dunbier if there was anything in the pipeline from DC, and he suggested this,” Garza said. “It just seemed like a natural fit. I was pretty excited to have a shot at drawing these characters.”

Graduation Day isn’t Garza’s first encounter with the characters of Young Justice, but even though he’d been there before, he had minor reservations after hearing about it. “I must say I was interested to see who wrote it before I completely jumped on, but I was happy to find out it was Judd. Once I learned that, I was just about ready to start, but was still a little leery, especially when I found out characters were dying. But once I read Judd’s script, I felt it was great – I was impressed by the way he handled it all. There’s a great mix of action and drama. I love to draw characters showing emotion, and with this it was a blast. I got to take it from here to there, to be both loud and quiet, it was a great test.”

According to the artist, the script wasn’t a closed book at all. “I had some input on the story – you’ll see in issue #2, I got to play with some characters in my own way. It was really cool.”

Like Winick, Garza is totally mum on the miniseries death(s?), but said that in his opinion, they’ll leave a deep impact on readers, as they did with him – and he was only reading the words. “They were just laid out perfectly,” Garza said. “The death in issue #3 especially. Going into it, I was nervous. I knew that i would be drawing what could become ‘classic’ shots of well-loved characters kicking the bucket. I gave the art a lot of attention, and went for drama, that was key with this series. I killed myself trying to convey the feelings Judd was giving me in the script, and hopefully in the end it will have worked out.”

“That said, I think Judd handled everything in a way that the fans will accept the changes. I got the feeling that everyone working on the mini had a ton of respect for the characters, and that was important, going into this. I knew that both the Titans, and Young Justice had some of the most devoted fans, and if it’s up to me, I want them to be happy.”

Serious issues aside, Garza said he did have a geekout moment or two in the three months it took to draw the miniseries. “I found that I really dug drawing Superman,” Garza said. “I never would’ve thought that I would’ve enjoyed drawing him so much, seeing that I’m not especially known for drawing the buff dudes.

“I also really enjoyed drawing Nightwing – he’s just a great character. Superboy was another favorite, I got to make him look like a cross between Ashton Kutcher, and Lee Bermejo, ‘cause for me, Lee Bermejo is Superboy.”
For Garza, Graduation Day is something of a mini-wave of his work hitting in the next couple of months, as his Ninja Boy trade comes out in June, and he still is the regular artist on Gen13 – the three issue Graduation Day was done in and around his Gen13 schedule.

For those who missed it, and, Garza admitted, there are more of those than did pick it up, the creator gave a quick rundown of the story. “Ninja Boy is my baby – notice I didn’t say ‘was,'” Garza said. “It’s a coming of age story about Nakio, the Ninja Boy, and his foul-mouthed partner, Sake. Ninja Boy is a different take on the genre, we infused themes from hip hop, and took it more of comedy/drama route. Most ninja/samurai stories are all about honor and stuff like that, our goal was to keep the reader as surprised as the lead character about as to what would come next. For those of you who did pick up the series you’ll be happy to see an all-new epilogue at the end. It serves to cap the first story arc.”

And yes, notice he did say first. To paraphrase the final credit of the James Bond films, Ninja Boy will return.

While not committing to an exact number, Garza said that he’s on Gen13 “for a bit” longer. A fan of both Gen13 writer Chris Claremont and the original incarnation of the book itself, jumping on the title was a no-brainer. Since the launch though, often the most that is said about the new Gen13 series in any given comic shop is “they’re still publishing that?” It’s a mild seller, but “hit” status hasn’t been bestowed upon it yet. To answer the question about creators that goes with that, yes, a book’s performance does have an effect.

“I get kind of mixed emotions about Gen13, one day I’m like, ‘why am I doing this? No one cares.’ And then I’m on the other side completely, and figure that I’ve got to make this book kick ass, and make people take notice. It definitely messes with you, but I think if people just gave it a try they might be pleasantly surprised.

“I think the characters themselves are great. They have way more ‘layers’ than the first ones. I’m not bad mouthing the first cast at all though – I love those characters, they were iconic, and classic. But as for the new series, its just about kids, these kids have to really deal with the real crap that kids have to deal with. Also big surprises are around the bend, and…let’s just say that I may get the shot draw some ‘iconic’/ ‘classic’ characters.”

With a move away from Gen13 in the future, Garza acknowledges that he’s earned the reputation of a traveler – a creator who’s yet to land on a project for an extended period. He’s game for doing a long run, it’s just that…well, there has to be something more to it at the end of the day than a paycheck.

“I definitely can handle the rigors of a monthly schedule, it’s just finding a book that’s available and that I can feel. As for my past work and career to date, I have no regrets; I’ve loved every project I’ve worked on. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great people, and for that I’m very grateful.”

All things being equal, Garza said that he can play favorites, and if the opportunity arises, he’s game for a number of different projects. “If I got a shot at Ninja Boy again, I would take it to the house. I’d also love to draw the Justice League – I just love the power of that cast. Also, I wouldn’t mind taking a crack at the Flash, since Geoff Johns, has made me a huge fan of that book. I think there are some cool things that can be done with effects to show how fast he is. And if we’re talking about DC’s competition, I’d love to get a shot at the regular Spider-Man, or maybe the Ultimate version. I grew up on that character, and have some things I would love to do with that character.”

Talk about Marvel is for the future though – Garza is exclusive to DC, and quite happy with his current situation, despite a low-selling book. “I love DC, it’s an exciting place to be. Dan Didio is a great guy, and I can’t wait to see how the DC universe grows with him in charge. Also, I get to work with this guy that I don’t know if many people have heard of – Jim Lee? He’s all right. He’s pretty good at drawing; I think he might go somewhere someday, if he keeps working at it. Seriously, Jim is a great person to work with, he keeps me inline, gives good direction – something I definitely benefit from having.”


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