Jim Starlin interview

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(OCT 06 WoW)

Warlock. Captain Marvel. Dreadstar. Batman. These are just a few of the many characters that Jim Starlin has worked on during his career in comics. This month, he returns with Mystery in Space from DC. Westfield's Roger Ash recently spoke with Starlin about this book.

Westfield: What can you tell us about Mystery in Space?

Jim Starlin: As the title implies, it involves a mystery which centers around the death of a certain hero that I can't disclose at this point. The Weird and Comet, who used to be Captain Comet, get involved in this because of their association with a group called the Eternal Light Corporation which is basically a business-oriented religion. [laughs] That's the easiest way to describe it. They each have their own adventures inside Mystery in Space. The Weird is the backup feature which I'm writing and drawing, and Comet is the lead feature which I'm writing and a fellow named Shane Davis is drawing. The stories are connected even though the characters don't meet until the very last issue, which I'm actually sitting here drawing part of as we talk. It all comes together. It's having a story unravel for eight issues in which the reader, for a change, is ahead of the characters on figuring out what's going on because they're each getting a part of the story as the reader is getting the whole story from each of the different characters. I've never quite written anything quite like this.

Westfield: This is a new Comet?

Starlin: Yeah. We've made quite a few changes in him. DC asked me to rev him up a bit because quite frankly he's been a 1950s character since the 1950s and could use a little juicing up. We've done that and introduced new supporting characters into his cast which he hasn't had since the 1950s with Professor Zackro. Now he's got a talking dog named Tyrone and some friends from the old Hardcore Station series including Eye and Chief Justice Max.

Westfield: What was it like going back to The Weird since you haven't worked on that for quite a while?

Starlin: It was fun. I had half a hope of getting Bernie Wrightson to come back on it, but he's tied up in California working on Motorcycle Mice From Mars or something like that. [laughter] Some cartoon series. Very un-Bernie Wrightson like, but it's a job. So I couldn't get him to come back on it, so I ended up drawing it myself. It's been a lot of fun. I actually designed the character's outfit originally and see now all the trouble Bernie had with that damn mask. [laughter] He was always complaining about it and now I understand completely why. He was never the most solid mental character and I had fun playing with his half-hearted grasp on reality. It's been interesting.

Westfield: You're both a writer and artist on this between the two stories. Do you prefer to do one over the other or enjoy one more than the other?

Starlin: They're completely different animals. It depends on the job. This is not a job that I would have had time to completely pencil myself. This whole thing's 38 pages a month. I suppose if I started 6 months earlier I could have done it, but that was never in the cards. It was always going to be somebody else drawing Comet. Y'know, the difference is it depends on who you're working with. If you've got somebody who you're compatible with, like Bernie and I did a number of jobs together and Ron Lim and I. That was always fun because I knew basically what I would get from them. With Ron, I would get exactly as I imagined, and with Bernie it would never look like what I had pictured. [laughter] He always had this unique eye. It always worked for what the story was, but it was like 90% of the time I'd go "Gee, I never would have thought of drawing that angle."

Westfield: From what you've seen so far, what do you think of your collaboration with Shane Davis?

Starlin: Shane's doing a beautiful job on it. It's a definite step up from his work on the Batman series. He got quite a few raves on that, and this is better. It's more of what he wants to do. He's doing a bang up job.

Westfield: Since most people associate Adam Strange with Mystery in Space, why go with Comet?

Starlin: Originally it was supposed to be Adam Strange. I had given them a revised version of Strange and we were all set to go with it until we suddenly realized that, because of events happening in 52, we couldn't use Adam Strange. Comet and the Weird were substituted literally almost at the last moment. I had to very quickly revise the Adam Strange plot and give it a Comet feel. It went from there.

Westfield: You're known for doing more cosmic characters. What is the attraction there?

Starlin: My pat answer to that is I don't have to draw horses or cars. Usually it's the story itself that's more the center of what we're doing. If it ends up in the space environment, I enjoy that. I've also done stories that haven't had anything to do with space such as the Batman series. All my novels, except one, have been set very solidly on Earth.

Westfield: Are there other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

Starlin: There's Kid Kosmos also coming out, the second book, in September. It's a 144-page original graphic novel. It's a follow up to the Cosmic Guard. I'm also starting to work on another project for DC after Mystery in Space. I'll be busy for a while.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Starlin: With all this coming out in September, it's like a back to school special! Then you won't see anything from me for quite a while. [laughter] The next job is a nice long one with a long deadline.