A Noble Titan: Jay Faerber talks 'Titans,' 'Noble Causes'

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For writer Jay Faerber, it's interesting times.

The current writer of DC Comics' "The Titans" leaves the title in a few months with issue #42 as writer Tom Peyer moves in. But don't shed any tears for Jay just yet. While he may be moving on from "Titans," he's got another series to be excited about. His creator-owned "Noble Causes" published through Image Comics launched just last week.

More on "Noble Causes" in a bit. We caught up with Faerber earlier this week and asked him to reflect on his tenure writing "Titans."

"Overall, 'Titans' was a creatively frustrating experience for me," Faerber told CBR News. "The first five issues (#s 21-25) were great fun, and through the wonders of Hypertime, I got to play around with some cool characters from 'Titans' continuity. In #26, we introduced five super-powered kids who had escaped from a DEO Orphanage facility, and sought refuge with the Titans. Unfortunately, their presence only served to compete with the Titans for page-space. I was against the idea of introducing the kids in the first place, because I'm a longtime Titans fan -- I wanted to write about the Titans, and didn't think we needed any additional elements to make the book interesting. However, I think that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Another writer may have been able to make the kids into the biggest comic book sensation of the year, but since I wasn't thrilled with the idea, it makes sense that I didn't execute it to its full potential.

"We did accomplish some cool stuff in the book that ran concurrent with the DEO kids subplot, however. I liked getting Dolphin into Titans Tower -- it was just by coincidence that she was there before Atlantis went missing in 'Our Worlds at War.' That saved us from having to deal with Tempest's grief over his wife and kid going MIA. I also liked the recent two-parter where we revealed Jesse Quick had been sleeping with her mom's fiancé. I'll admit that wasn't my idea, either, but I wish it was. I LOVED that revelation, and only wish we had more time to deal with its ramifications. I'm glad my editor suggested that one, because I don't think I'd ever have come up with it on my own. I was 'too close' to the characters. But it was a neat twist."

Looking back at his run on "Titans," Faerber says the only thing he wishes he could have done differently, had it been in his power, was to not introduce the DEO kids, but there are changes he made to the title that he hopes upcoming contributors don't alter.

"The only changes I made that I'd like to see kept in place are Rose Wilson as Lian's nanny, and the inclusion of DEO Agent Dakota Jamison as a supporting character," said Faerber. "I never got to develop her as much as I'd like, and I hope she isn't cast aside. But if she is, I don't begrudge Tom Peyer. It's his book now, and I look forward to seeing what he does with it."

During his time on "Titans" Faerber got to work with artist Barry Kitson, someone Jay will miss collaborating with.

"Barry and I dealt with one another directly, through daily emails and frequent phone calls. As much as I love the characters in this book, I'll miss working with Barry even more. We really clicked. We have a similar appreciation of 'Titans' history, and a love for these characters, and we really fed off each other in that regard. I very much hope to work with him again one day."

Working on 'Titans' presented Faerber with challenges that he embraced and others he couldn't avoid.

"The most appealing thing was to work on these characters that I spent a great deal of time reading about as a kid and a teenager," says Faerber, "and having all these ideas for them, and finally being in a position to maybe enact some of those ideas. The greatest challenge was dealing with DC continuity, probably. So many of the Titans have such close ties to other DC books that it was a real balancing act to determine how much we want to acknowledge the stuff that's going on around us."

[Noble Causes #1]Last week saw the debut of Faerber's creator-owned book "Noble Causes," a book which is part "Dynasty," part super-hero team-up that follows the story of the illustrious Noble family. Think British Monarchy, plus WWF, minus the massive amounts of testosterone, with the Fantastic Four thrown in for flavor. It's a fun book with engaging characters that throws a few unexpected curve balls during and at the end of the first issue. Faerber has been very pleased with the feedback he's received on the book.

"The critical response has been fantastic -- much better than I'd ever considered," said Faerber. "It's very validating to work on something so personal, and have it be so well-received. I remember being in discussions with fans who were under the impression that it was my job to write what they wanted to see, and as any writer will tell you, that's completely wrong. A writer has to write for himself (or herself) first, and usually, that passion will translate onto the printed page. With 'Noble Causes,' I've pretty much proven that to be true. No one was begging to see this book -- except me. I created it for myself, and fortunately, people are enjoying it.

"The most important thing people should know about 'Noble Causes' is that it's a book about a family of famous super-heroes, and that nothing can be taken for granted. There's a pretty huge shocker at the end of #1, and unlike Marvel and DC, in this book, when people die, they stay dead. Oh yeah, and there's sex, too."

Working on a creator-owned title is very different than the work for hire Faerber's done for the big two in the past. As anyone who's self-employed will understand, it's got both it's advantages and serious challenges.

"It's both more liberating and more challenging. It's more liberating because of the vast amounts of creative freedom. My imagination is my only limit, as far as this book is concerned. But it's more challenging because I'm also acting as the book's editor. I coordinate everything between the other members of the creative team, which is VERY time-consuming. I wrote the stories for the first four issues of 'Noble Causes' many months ago, so as far back as I can remember, I've really only been acting as an editor -- overseeing pencils, inks, letters, and colors, and keeping everyone on schedule, as well as lining up variant cover artists. We've got Randy ('Witchblade,' 'The Dollz') Green on #2 and ChrisCross ('Captain Marvel') on #3. So it takes up a good portion of my time, and has given me LOTS more respect for editors!"

And of course we couldn't let Faerber get away without the word on the next issue of "Noble Causes."

"#1 featured the family gathering for a wedding, and #2 features a gathering of a completely different sort. Plus, the devious Celeste continues her affair with Frost, the icy black sheep of the family, while Doc and Gaia have a very public falling out, and Rusty, the estranged Noble son, finally returns. Plus, we've got a back-up story illustrated by Jamal ('New Warriors') Igle!"

Look for "Noble Causes #2" in comic stores March 6th.

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