Jeff Lemire spent some time on the CBR Yacht during Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss a variety of topics, covering his creator-owned projects, what it is he finds so rewarding about working in DC Comics’ New 52, the Canada Reads controversy over “Essex County” and the current status of its Hollywood option.
The award-winning creator also recounted the origins of his and Scott Snyder’s friendship and collaborative relationship, explains why for him working for a publisher like DC at the same time he does his own creator-owned gigs is the way to go and the level of personal satisfaction he gets from writing “Animal Man”. Lemire and Jonah Weiland capped their conversation by ripping open Lemire’s never-to-heal scabs suffered from the Toronto Maple Leafs’ elimination during the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs at the hands of Wayne Gretzky and the LA Kings.
On the “Essex County”/Canada Reads controversy: “It was the tenth anniversary [of the Canada Reads contest], so they were doing the five Best Books of the Decade, and somehow “Essex County” became not only the first graphic novel in, but it made it to the top five… It was really good for the medium, I think, that something finally got recognized on that level, but then it got shut down so quickly for being a comic that it was also frustrating. The good thing about it was, so many people were supporting the book, so many people were excited about it, that when I got knocked off first of the five books, the backlash was so huge that my book ended up selling more than most of the others.”
On being a creator who can both write and draw and which he prefers: “I was always a writer/artist, a cartoonist. For me, the writing and drawing aspects of that are not separate. I’m writing as I’m drawing — it’s part of the writing process. It’s all very organic… I feel pretty confident doing both things, to be honest. I feel like I’ve found a way to keep my voice in both ways of working.”
On his and frequent collaborator and fellow New 52 architect Scott Snyder coming up at DC together: “I was doing ‘Sweet Tooth’ for Vertigo, and I come from indy comics, and Scott had come from the literary world and had a Vertigo book, so we didn’t really know each other. Probably almost the same day, Geoff Johns called each of us, asking if we were interested in doing DCU stuff. We didn’t really know each other, but we knew enough that we were in kind of a similar situation, so we just started talking about that, just comparing notes… That initial thing we had in common just grew and grew and grew into this great friendship.”
On the ongoing debate over doing creator-owned work versus work for a publisher like DC Comics: “I love doing both, so as long as I can do both, why would I choose one? I’m doing, I think, really good work in DC, in that shared universe, some stuff that I love doing. And I love my creator-owned work and I’ll always want to do that, so as long as I can juggle both, why not enjoy both? I don’t see a point in pigeon-holing yourself as one thing or the other.”