Paul Jenkins Interview

In his career in comics, Paul Jenkins has written such books as Dark Horse's Revelations, DC's Batman Jekyll & Hyde, and Marvel's Spectacular Spider-Man, Sentry, and Inhumans. This month, he begins Civil War: Front Line for Marvel and Paul Jenkins' Sidekick for Image. Westfield's Roger Ash recently spoke with Paul about these books.

Westfield: What can you tell us about Civil War: Front Line?

Jenkins: We are doing 32-page complete issues. They are full of story, there's no ads in them. I should point out by the way that the price point is $2.99. They didn't raise the price. That's really good from my standpoint. I was really excited because it means we're giving readers 1½ books per book. I thinks it's pretty well documented that Civil War is very much a parallel to some of the stuff that's happening in the world today, which is very typical of Marvel. They're giving me a chance to comment on that stuff using the various Marvel characters and highlighting certain aspects of the War on Terror for example. All that kind of stuff that we'll be bringing into the book. It works off of Mark Millar's Civil War main title.

Westfield: How closely is it tied to Civil War?

Jenkins: We work hand-in-hand to make it all work together, so I'm in constant communication with Mark about what he's done.

Westfield: Who are the lead characters in the series?

Jenkins: It revolves around a couple of characters that now exist in the Marvel Universe, one of them is Sally Floyd, who's the lead character of Generation M, and the other is Ben Urich who's the reporter who works for Jonah Jameson. In a sense, it follows their arc as they report on the war and its ramifications. The lead story of each issue is called Civil War: Embedded, and it's about embedded reports. Embedded really gives me a chance to use all the characters in the Marvel Universe in whichever way I want to and comment on how they approach the conflict. Then we have some back up stories. One of the back up stories is an ongoing story that has 10 chapters. What I can say about that is it's going to be a very pleasant and unpleasant surprise for long time fans of Marvel Comics. (laughs) I can't say much more about it other than that.

Westfield: Was being able to tell this story from the reporters point of view something that appealed to you?

Jenkins: Yeah. I really got into it when I was working with Sally's character in Generation M. They had even come to Ramon Bachs and I asking if we'd like to do The Pulse. We liked working together and we said we'd love to do The Pulse. They changed their mind I think because they liked how Generation M was coming out and they said, "Can you put that newspaper title on hold a little bit and use the same newspaper characters, but can you do something with Civil War?" They didn't want to have loads and loads of spin-off titles, so they basically said "Why don't you do all of the stories?" The main characters in that were characters that Ramon and I were going to be using anyway, we're just doing a slightly different thing with them right now.

Westfield: Who is doing the art on Front Line?

Jenkins: For the two main stories, for one I've got Ramon and for the other one, I've got Steve Lieber who won an Eisner with Whiteout. Then we have a bunch of different artists doing some of the small, short stories that we've got in there. The short stories all pertain to the war and how the characters deal with it. There's one series called Letters which is 3 or 4 pages and it takes an historical moment like the Declaration of Independence or one of Winston Churchill's speeches to the House of Parliament and juxtaposes that against a modern day version with the heroes in it. One of the ones I'm really particularly interested in is called The Few which is about Winston Churchill's speech about the Royal Air Force. "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed to so few by so many." Essentially, on one side you've got Spitfires fighting Messerschmitts in this great dogfight and then juxtaposed against this you have a flying character like Angel or Cannonball doing in a sense the same thing as the Spitfires. The point is, we don't stop making war. We go back to it again and again.

Westfield: You also have a new book coming from Image, Paul Jenkins' Sidekick. What can you say about that?

Jenkins: Sidekick pre-dates my Marvel exclusive agreement, something that I was planning on doing. The guys at Marvel were really cool and they let me finish off a couple of bits and pieces for other people. This is something that I have been wanting to do for a really long time. I really like doing comedy stuff. I write an article every week for Newsarama called Flogging a Dead Horse and it seems to get a pretty good response. People who know that article will see that I like doing humor. Sidekick is the story of this hapless pizza delivery boy called Eddie Edison. He's mild-mannered pizza delivery boy Eddie Edison by day, and by night he moonlights as the sidekick to this incredibly strong but moronic super hero called Mr. Superior. Mr. Superior is dumb enough he wears an "XL" on the front of his costume. He doesn't have an "S" or an "MS" for Mr. Superior. 'XL' stand for extra large, but he doesn't know that. He actually thinks it stands for excellence. [laughter] He's really stupid. Eddie doesn't have any powers at all. As a sidekick he's absolutely useless in that regard, although Mr. Superior doesn't know it because Eddie fudges it. What he does is he organizes the business. He makes sure everything works. He's the long-suffering sidekick. He can't make any money. He's just not making money delivering pizzas. He wants to do good, but he just can't make ends meet. He can't pay his rent. Mr. Superior won't give him any raise and Mr. Superior's making all the money. Eddie decides he's going to be a sidekick for four super heroes at the same time. And chaos ensues. [laughter] It gets worse for Eddie. One of the super heroes is called Brother Commando. He's a somewhat racist black guy. He doesn't really like whitey. Then you've got a staunchly feminist woman called Justice Queen who isn't afraid to sell herself with toys and dolls and Justice Queen merchandise. Finally, you've got this guy called the Night Judge who wanders around in dark alleys with his gavel and punches people and beats them over the head with his gavel, but he doesn't ever actually question them. He just beats them up. [laughter] Eddie goes "I can sort all you people out. I can be your sidekick." But he doesn't tell them all that he's doing it at the same time, so now he has to juggle the jobs.

It's really a lot of fun. It's brilliant. I'm doing with a guy named Chris Moreno who does the art for Monkey vs. Lemur. That stuff's brilliant. It's really funny and it's really cute. He and Ken have done a really amazing job on that. I really liked his art, so I asked him if he'd be interested in Sidekick and he jumped at it.

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

Jenkins: At the moment, honestly it's those two - as far as comics go. I work on all kinds of stuff. I just did some animation voice-overs which is kind of interesting to be voice acting again. I do video games. I've got a couple of those I'm working on. I'm doing film stuff. As far as comics, there's such a lot of material in Civil War that I cannot possibly do any more work right now.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Jenkins: Yeah, my son was born four days ago. And he's beautiful. His name's Jack. I got voted down on Torak the Slayer. [laughter]