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Fans of “Seinfeld” will remember the episode entitled “The Opposite,” in which Jerry earned the nickname “Even Steven” from Kramer for habitually breaking even in all aspects of life.
Matthew Sturges is DC Comics’ “Even Steven.”
While the writer’s “Blue Beetle” title has been cancelled and will end with issue #36 in February, the rising star from the Lone Star State has landed a new gig, the six-issue miniseries “Run!” Expected in 2009, all we know about the book is that it will be illustrated by Freddie Williams II, features villains, and will deal with the aftermath of Final Crisis.
Sturges is also busy with two Vertigo books, “Jack of Fables” and “House of Mystery,” so CBR News checked in with the writer — who scripted the final five issues of “Salvation Run” after long-time collaborator Bill Willingham left due to medical reasons — about juggling four titles and a “Fables”/”Jack of Fables” crossover called “The Literals.”
CBR: You are probably sad to see your time on “Blue Beetle” come to an end, but with “Run!” gearing up in 2009, we guess that made the cancellation a bit easier to swallow?
Matthew Sturges: Well, I certainly wouldn’t have minded doing both at the same time. “Blue Beetle” is a special book with a very dedicated core of fans that really care about it and the characters in it. So it’s incredibly rewarding to write for that audience.
“Run!” is a very different book. It’s not like anything I’ve written before and I have no idea how people will react to it. It’s a lot of fun to work on, but it’s definitely not like the homey sensation of writing “Blue Beetle.” I’ll miss that quite a lot.
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Why do think “Blue Beetle” was unable to find a healthy readership? As you say, it was certainly loved by its fanbase.
That’s one of those questions that you can puzzle over endlessly. Obviously, if we knew how to make books sell, then every book would sell like gangbusters. I don’t think it had anything to do with people not wanting to read the title because it wasn’t [the previous Blue Beetle] Ted Kord, and I don’t think it was because Jaime’s a Latino or anything like that. I think it’s just that comic buyers can only afford so many comics, and there are lots of really good comics out there. “Blue Beetle” just got overlooked.
Will you miss writing Jaime Reyes?
Absolutely, although I have to admit that I’ll miss writing Brenda and Paco more. Those two just leap off the page. They’re easy to write because all you have to do is wind them up and set them loose in the story. They’re dream characters in that regard. Jaime’s a bit more difficult because he’s the hero and so he has to carry the weight of the story; he has to be played a lot more straight. I do like playing up his science-nerdism, though.
Can you tease anything about how the story will end? Of course, Jaime doesn’t die because he is being featured in “Teen Titans” and his popularity is on the rise as co-star of the first episode of the new animated series, “The Brave and The Bold.”
Jaime doesn’t die at the end of the book, no. I don’t think that’s a spoiler for anyone. I will say that the repercussions of something that happened at the end of [previous writer] John Rogers’ run will come back to bite Jaime in the ass, and that he’ll have to confront it alone, and that it won’t be pleasant.
Moving to “Run!,” what can you share about that series? Is it a sequel to “Salvation Run?”
No, it’s not connected to “Salvation Run” in any way. A friend of mine half-jokingly suggested the tagline, “This time there’s no salvation,” which actually works well on a couple of levels. It’s also not connected to The Flash, which is something that people might have guessed, given the title. What I can say is that it’s part of the Final Crisis aftermath. It shows what happens to one of the characters from Final Crisis after the dust settles, and his rise from being a complete nobody to being one of the most powerful supervillains on Earth.
|“Jack of Fables” #29 on sale December 31|
It’s very different in tone from a lot of things I’ve written before. It’s very fast-paced, very action-oriented. It’s ruthless, both in terms of pacing and subject matter. Our protagonist is not a nice guy, and the narrative definitely makes the most of that. What you’ll find in this book is a lot of the wicked kind of stuff that I would have done more of in “Salvation Run,” if I’d had more room to play around. I sharpened a lot of metaphorical knives writing “Salvation Run” that I never got a chance to stab anybody with.
Who are the primary players in “Run!,” both heroes and villains?
Well, there’s that villain I mentioned. And some other villains, including some you’ve never met before and some that you have. And there are some good guys, too. You can’t go around doing what this guy does without attracting the attention of the good guys. But the story’s not about them. Does that answer your question?
With a focus on the villains of the DC Universe, do you like writing bad guys? Do their voices come from a different part of your brain as opposed to a good guy like Blue Beetle?
It’s like night and day coming from “Blue Beetle” to “Run!” I’m a fairly paradoxical person; part hopeless romantic and part die-hard cynic. When I’m writing “Blue Beetle,” I have to fight to keep things from getting too ugly and too negative, and when I’m writing “Run!,” I have to fight to keep things from getting too nice. One great thing about bad guys is that, like the jester in the king’s court, they get to say the things that the good guys aren’t allowed to say. They get to make the tasteless jokes, mock people, and revel in absurdity; all of which lends itself to snappy dialog and funny moments. That’s one of the things that makes writing “Jack of Fables” so much fun, by the way – he’s a villain who, in his own mind, is the romantic lead. He’s the perfect character for me to write.
Tell us about your “Run!” collaborator Freddie Williams II.
Our artist is the fantastic Freddie Williams II, who I’ve been dying to work with since I first saw his work on “Robin” a couple of years ago. He’s just the right guy for the job.
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And you will be writing a new ongoing series placed smack dab in the center of DCU. Can you share any details on that series or at least drop a hint?
Let’s worry about “Run!,” “Jack of Fables,” and “House of Mystery” for now. 2009 is going to be a plenty busy year for me regardless of whatever else might be coming down the pipe.
What’s coming up in “Jack of Fables” and “House of Mystery?”
Let’s see. We’ve got some really nice short stories to look forward to in “House of Mystery,” including one written by Bill Willingham and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, and another one that I wrote that Kyle Baker drew. I’ve been a huge fan of Kyle’s for years and years, so it was a real fanboy moment when I saw that artwork for the first time. And in the main story, answers to all these mysteries are going to start coming fast and furious as someone from Fig’s past shows up in a most unexpected location. I hate to give the main plot such short shift, but it’s hard to talk about without giving anything away.
With “Jack of Fables,” we’ve got the big Siege of the Golden Boughs storyline about to start, which is the culmination of events that have been going on in that book for at least a year. And directly following that is what is officially known as the “Great Fables Crossover,” in which “Fables” and “Jack of Fables” converge for three issues, in addition to a three-issue miniseries called “The Literals.” It’s going to be a big to-do, and will have permanent, far-reaching consequences for characters in both books. If it comes off as planned, it will be well-worth the extra couple bucks for those “Fables” fans that have yet to make the leap to “Jack of Fables.”
And if you can believe it, this all takes place at a perfect jumping on point for “Jack of Fables.” What an amazing and fortunate coincidence.
“House of Mystery” #8 is on sale now. “Blue Beetle” #34 is on sale December 31. “Jack of Fables” #29 is on sale December 31.