Announced today at Wizard World Chicago during the Marvel: House of M panel (check out our convention partners Newsarama later today for a full report from the panel_, artist Michael Turner (“Superman/Batman,” “Fathom,” “Identity Crisis” covers) will be playing in the Marvel Universe in a new deal that’s similar to the one Turner signed with DC Comics a couple of years back. While Turner can’t talk about the deal in too much detail right now, he sat down with CBR News earlier this week to talk about working with Marvel and, following the recurrence of his cancer, to get an update on his current state of health.
OK, Michael, tell us what you’ve got cooked up with Marvel.
I can’t really tell you all of it because we’re still working on the specifics, but so far we’ve worked out a six-issue deal to do interiors and covers, as well as a handful of covers on top of that.
Exactly what kind of deal is this? Are you exclusive to Marvel now?
It’s not strictly exclusive, as we’ll still be doing our own stuff and covers and such for other people, but as far as me doing interiors, I’ll only be doing that for them and that’s all I’m going to be working on. We’re currently working on the clarification, but it’s not considered an exclusive.
Will this prevent you from doing anything more for DC Comics?
I still have a handful of things I’m already working on with DC that I will fulfill. This [the Marvel deal] goes into effect in the beginning of 2007 with covers towards the middle of next year. So, I’ll still have a handful of things for DC that I’ll be doing on top of that.
Why do this deal? Why is it important for you to be working with Marvel at this point?
Several reasons. Number one, it’s reaching a new audience. We reached a lot from DC and it’s really helped to have that with our own company and also to reach an audience that I’d never really drawn for before. Working with Marvel is the same reason. There are a lot of Marvel fans who don’t read DC and there are a lot of DC fans that don’t read Marvel. The more people we can do this for, the better. And it’s lots of fun! I’ve drawn some of these characters before and I’m interested in doing it again. I’m basically switching gears. I’ll go back and forth from doing creator owned stuff, then some mainstream stuff. It’s just a lot of fun.
As a comic fan have you been more of a DC guy or a Marvel guy?
Well, growing up I never read comics. I lived in a small town that didn’t have them, so I didn’t really know about them until later. And then I just kind of read a little bit of everything and stuff by my friends, so I never really was a Marvel or DC guy. When I got the DC stint, I read everything I could to get caught up on the characters and I became a big fan of a lot of those characters, so I know I’m going to do the exact same thing with Marvel.
Marvel has a great number of iconic heroes. As an artist, which ones do you find the most interesting or challenging to draw?
Oh, man! There’s lots of different ones. Obviously, the X-Men characters are fun because I’ve really enjoyed the movies and see them in a lot of forms, all the way back to the cartoons. Some of the people around here, their favorite characters have become some of my favorites to draw because I’ve drawn them for them. The Hulk’s always fun. I like the Avengers. I like a lot of the main characters.
This year has been an interesting one for you filled with some great highs and tremendous challenges. On the plus side you’ve signed this contract with Marvel. Contrast that with what happened earlier this year when you had a relapse of your cancer. You’ve had surgery and went through treatment already. Is everything clear now?
Yup. I did the surgery, which had a really hard recovery due to the fact that there were nerves that were cut and that was probably the worst pain I’ve ever been in in my life and it lasted about 3 months. On top of that, I had radiation and I lost about 20 pounds. But now that’s all behind me, I’m dancing again, working out, getting back in shape and I’m eating well. I’m really happy. Everything at work is going well. I’m just trying to get back into the swing of things. I came back to five months worth of work that I’m trying to pull together in one month. Some of the things are getting done, some of them I’m trying to get done. It’s been a challenge, but it’s a challenge that I really enjoy.
When did you have the surgery?
The end of February. Then five weeks later I started up treatment which lasted another five months.
Were you able to work at all during that period?
Very little. I couldn’t really sit. They did the surgery right on the base of my spine, right on the L5, and there was a tumor wrapped round the nerve roots. So, they had to completely cut out the nerve root, cut some bone, put some pins in my spine, all that crap. So, I had a hard time walking and I couldn’t really sit and the nerve that they cut was just screaming at me the whole time. They had me on some pretty hard core medicine. I chose not to take some of it because it would mess me up too much and I really wanted to be as alert as I could. So, I was drawing little bits of things here and there, but it was really, really tough.
Did going through all that influence your decision to play within the Marvel Universe?
Not really. The only thing that kind of stuff does is give me more perspective. Every single second that I’m not in pain is a good moment, so that added a whole level of perspective I didn’t really need, but I’ll take it.
No, the thing with Marvel was something I even thought about way back when I did the DC thing. I’m still friends with both companies and that’s the way I want it. We’re totally fine with DC and after this I might go back and do something else with DC. It’s kind of fun to jump in some other waters and play with some of those really cool characters that have been around for a long time.
When you look at your career after coming on the scene pretty fast with “Fathom” and you look at your career goals, are the DC & Marvel jobs part of an overall plan? And what do you do after you’ve played in both universes?
There’s definitely a career plan and goal. I’ve also got a lot of other things I’m involved in such as video games and movies. In fact, I’ll get the final “Fathom” movie script next week, so if that gets greenlit then there’s a whole new set of things opening up. We’re definitely pushing things through other media.
As far as comics go, it’s an interesting time we live in right now compared to say eight years ago. Independent stuff was on top of the world, but now we’re in a different time where the known entities are the ones selling. That’s why they’re doing all these remakes. I think that you have to take advantage of doing both. Just to stay and do my own books is great and fun and I’ll continue to do that, but to jump in some of these other waters, whether it be for monetary reasons or be it just fun to do something that people are paying attention to, I’m really about doing something that’s fun and doing some things with some characters that had never been done before.
You said earlier that when you were producing work for DC, it helped Aspen increase sales. Can you give us an idea how much it helped your company?
It’s a slow build, we’re a new company and we have a lot of things to prove. I’m very patient and I can deal with that. I’ve met tons of people at shows who’ve come up to us after seeing the Supergirl thing, then they pick up “Fathom” and think it’s cool. Those are the intangibles that I think are really cool and that’s definitely a big reason why I go swimming in these waters.
And it seems to me like the Marvel Universe could be more suited towards Aspen fans than the DC Universe.
I think you make a good point. I definitely think that with the universes we’re talking about, you’re right. I think it’s a bit more realistic compared to DC, but I tried to take that universe and make it as realistic as I could and just play around in it.