With the release of Wolverine #1, Isotope Comics Lounge in San Francisco hosted a party for comic book writer Jason Aaron. Having enjoyed his work on books like Scalped, Ghost Rider, and Punisher, I was interested to meet the man, so at around 9pm I headed down the hill to the party to ask him some questions about his work.
In addition to his impressive writing talents, Jason Aaron also sports the most impressive beard I’ve seen on a comic book writer since I met Kieron Gillen, (and his is wilder, so I think he wins.) He also wore a rather dashing hat, which gave him that summery look and offset the wintery beard.
The party was hosted by the inimitable James Sime, and organized by Kirsten Baldock who also created four new cocktails for Jason Aaron’s appearance: Weapon X (Jack Daniels, vermouth, orange juice, orange bitters), Bad Horse (Sauza tequila, Triple Sec, orange & lime grenadine), Ghost Rider (Dewar’s scotch, serrano pepper, apricot brandy, orange juice), and the Kingpin (Bombay Saphire gin, Stolichnaya vodka, Triple Sec, lemon, and a dash of absinthe.) Everyone agreed that they were delicious, but I gather that the Kingpin was a crowd favorite.
Friendly, approachable and easy-going, Aaron spoke to everyone at the party. He spent time with them, signed whatever they offered him, and even let Storm give him one of his unique Heroic Tarot readings with his X-Men tarot deck. Of interest was the fact that all three cards that he picked were diamonds. A good omen perhaps, or maybe a sign that the man’s brain is doing a lot of creative overtime lately?
Just out of curiosity, I asked Aaron where was joining us from. He told me that he’d come out from Kansas, to which I (thoughtlessly) replied “Where Dorothy is from, right!” He looked at me in a slightly pained way for a beat, then said “No… well yeah, sure… Dorothy and Superman. But it’s not that Kansas. I live in a city, so it’s pretty different from that.” I had to apologize for my ignorance and explain that, coming from London, I was pretty ignorant of the geography of America. If you’re reading this in America, I can only tell you that Londoners can be a little oblivious to the rest of the world (a bit like New Yorkers are.) The rest of the world exists, we know that, but since the city has everything we need so we’re sort of vague on what is out there. Obviously moving to America has helped me with this, but my default is still to go to the classics when trying to imagine other places. Anyway… despite my city-focused brain, Aaron was friendly and talkative.
Aaron was full of praise for the artists he works with, particularly Steve Dillon’s recent work on Punisher, and Dave Johnson’s marvelous covers. He mentioned Dillon’s ability to get so much across with facial expressions, and his respect for him as a storyteller. I asked him about how he and Dave Johnson have approached the covers, and whether he directs him on them. “Oh no, he’s Dave Johnson, I just get out the way and let him do his thing.” Aaron explained that Johnson always asks if he has any requests, and while Aaron is happy to tell him what is going on in the issue (which, if it isn’t yet written, he’ll give him some basic ideas about) and then Johnson takes that and makes his incredible artwork.
After hearing Gail Simone talk about her need to become intimately involved with the books that she’s writing, I wanted to know if Jason Aaron goes through a similar process with the books that he works on for Marvel. On the contrary though, he was very clear about his desire to remain very clear about the boundaries of his feelings for characters like Wolverine and Ghost Rider, because unlike Scalped which is his “baby”, they were invented by other people, and will be continued by other people. Apparently, the writer who created Ghost Rider lives in the same part of Kansas that Aaron does, so he bumps into him fairly regularly. Aaron said that he is always deeply aware that he’s working on this man’s creation, and tries to always respect what he created. He said that having Scalped is part of what makes this possible, because he has a book which he can be emotionally involved with, and that in fact, he enjoys the variety of having characters to write who aren’t his. It is in fact, the variety of these projects which he said he prefers, and he wouldn’t want to only work on his own creations.
We talked a little about the fact that Scalped is very much not a superhero comic book, whereas the other comic books he works on are all superheroes. I like the idea that there is some kind of work that he does which can appeal to all sorts of comic book readers, and asked how he felt about the people who only read non-superhero comic books. Aaron was pretty clear that for him, they’re all comic books, and in fact he doesn’t like it when people will only read one type of comic book, to the exclusion of all others. “They’re all comic books, you have to appreciate them all.” It is probably this egalitarian appreciation of the medium which gives so much depth and resonance to his stories, so that even as a man known for his action writing ability, Aaron’s characters are always relatable and interesting.