A scribe for all seasons: Jeph Loeb Interview

[Interview with Jeph Loeb]A writer and producer of films by day, Jeph Loeb turned his life long love of the comics medium into an ongoing side job in the early nineties. He quickly found success as part of the creative team that turned the entire line of X-MEN books, and the Marvel universe in general, inside out with their Age of Apocalypse storyline. Having left an indelible mark on Marvel's mutants, he joined forces with one of the founding members of Image, becoming the Publisher and scripting numerous titles for Rob Liefeld's new company, Awesome Entertainment.

As if that wasn't enough to secure him a permanent place in the hearts of comics fans world wide, he continued to apply his gifts for creating involving plots, incisive characterization and telling dialogue to a series of Halloween-themed Batman specials that first teamed him with Tim Sale in the early nineties. It's a collaboration that has not only endured, but flourished, resulting in three enormously successful and critically acclaimed mini-series - THE LONG HALLOWEEN, SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS and the still-unfolding DARK VICTORY - which deal with the formative years of two of DC Comics' enduring icons: Batman and Superman.

Recently, when the Superman books went through a creative shake up, his work with the Man of Steel lead to his being offered the scripting chores on that line's flagship title, SUPERMAN ... and yet more acclaim. And let's not forget there's the phenomenal mini-series THE WITCHING HOUR - a completely original look at magic, rather than a revamping or updating of the long dead, but highly revered, anthology series - which he and Chris Bachalo published under the Vertigo late last year ... To put it simply, Jeph Loeb is not one to sit on his laurels.

Jeph was kind enough to take some time from a very cramped schedule to discuss his current and past work, covering everything from his take on the relationship between Superman and Lois Lane, Batman and Harvey Dent, and him and the various artists he's worked with. In between, we cover his love of the comics medium, his thoughts on the current state of the industry and what we can do to improve it, and how to break into Hollywood as a scriptwriter. Join me for a chat with Jeph Loeb, a scribe for all seasons ...

Bill Baker: I've gotten the impression that getting to write SUPERMAN is the fulfillment of one of your life-long dreams; taking that into consideration, how easy was it to decide to take on the monthly title?

Jeph Loeb: It was difficult for a number of reasons. First off, I wanted to give it my all and I think a lot of people know that I don't work exclusively in comics. I work primarily in movies and television and do comics out of love. So, if I'm working for love, it had better be good. I also understood what came with the dinner. The limitations of the time, paper, what I could ask for and what I couldn't because I wasn't the publisher (as I was at Awesome) or doing a special project where you get more time to work on the finished product. It's a little like working in TV as opposed to the movies -- both can be satisfying, but it is all about quality. I am REALLY pleasantly surprised by how much fun I have each month and that really starts with Eddie Berganza (Superman Group Editor) who makes it that way. We have a great team, [Ed] McGuinness, Cam Smith, Richard Starkings, Tanya and Richard Horie, Maureen McTigue -- we just have fun. And hopefully, it shows.

- Jeph Loeb

BB: Do you feel like you've really settled in and begun to hit your stride, or are you still in a bit of a 'shake down' mode still?

JL: I hope I always feel like I'm shaking down. It keeps me on my toes. But, am I looking forward to what's coming -- Yeah, Baby, Yeah...

BB: What's the main thrust, the primary direction you plan on taking the series, and how does that synch up with, and complement, the direction of the other books?

JL: Without going into specifics, I tend to be drawn to stories of great emotion. We all think the books should focus on the core characters, Clark/Lois/Superman, Lana, Pa, Ma, Perry, Jimmy and Lex. Actually, we each see the CHARACTER the same way -- noble, human, extraordinary, funny, odd, all those things -- but tell very different stories. Joe Kelly pushes the envelope and tells things that are just OUT THERE; J.M. [DeMatteis]is interested in the inner workings of people's actions; [Mark] Schultz is a SCI-FI guy and I prefer the classic approach with a twist. But, these aren't exclusive. Joe just finished a story with Superman and Batman that I think is one of the best things he's ever done and there isn't a joke in it. Gotta watch that boy!

BB: What's your take on the main characters - the Superman/Clark Kent duality, Lois as wife and professional woman, the place of the Kents in the greater scheme of things, etc. - and, their relationships?

JL: Mostly, that you can be married and have fun. That these two people care ENORMOUSLY about each other. In the words of Dr. Evil "You complete me". Lois is great fun. She's witty, bitchy, funny, sexy and incredibly honest.

Clark just can't imagine a world without her. The marriage makes the greatest Superhero part of family and gives the stories a different kind of emotion than before. There was only so much "I wish Superman would notice me" that I could handle!

BB: What about the villains - Lex, the new Brainiac 13, Mongul, etc - how do they fit into your vision of Superman's world?

JL: I try and find new motivations beyond "I'm going to kill Superman" for the villains.

Mongul uses Superman to defeat Imperiex -- and we haven't begun to see what Imperiex is going to do. Brainiac 13 gave us a chance to rebuild Metropolis, but he's hardly started with his REAL reason for coming to this timeline. Luthor has a plan for next year that will blow people's minds. So hang on, gang, the best is yet to come!

BB: How do you work with Ed McGuinness? Are you supplying him with spare, Marvel style plots and then dialoguing the results, or are you writing full scripts?

JL: The days of spare plots and rough layouts are long gone. I actually had forgotten I worked that way in the first few years with Tim. I didn't work that way with anyone else. I guess [it was] when I went to Marvel and they insisted that I WRITE IT DOWN (imagine that!) that I realized I could convey the story more efficiently by writing it as I would a screenplay. I write somewhat detailed scripts with specific panels and a smattering of dialogue so the artist knows what expression to use. I do this, however, with the promise that if they want to change something, they can. The truth is that at this point, I really only work with folks who want to work with me.

So, we have a ball!

BB: Care to let us in on some of the things you've got planned for the book for the rest of 2000, and what events might be coming up that will have a big impact on Supes?

JL: Actually, I don't mean to be a jerk, but one of the things that I miss in comics is that you can't really keep anything a secret between the net, the rumor mill and Previews coming out three months in advance. It is April 2000 when I am writing this and people already have seen what we're doing in July. It takes some of the wind out of it because people start judging it before they know anything. Good or bad. All I can say is that each month, I'll work my hardest to tell the best stories I can. That and, this summer "It am bad. Superman am bad. Me no like summer story."


- Jeph Loeb

BB: "Oh, no! Me am unhappy now!"

Have you and Tim given any thought to a sequel to SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS?

JL: No plans. I'm sure we'll come back to it someday, but not right now. Right now, we're still knee deep in Dark Victory!

[Batman: Dark Victory]BB: Speaking of BATMAN: DARK VICTORY, how's the reception to the series been, and how does it feel to be 'back in the dark' with the Dark Knight Detective again?

JL: I guess you can tell me better than I could! But, I read the mail and go to a few sites and folks seem to be really caught up in it. It's the number one Batman title, and while I don't think that means it is good or bad, it think it says something about whether or not people are enjoying it. In this market, if it ain't workin' -- you sink like a rock. Right now, we're flying and that makes me happy since I think Tim Sale is doing the work of his career.

BB: What's your take on the Batman, his alter ego, and his character in this series, and how does it differ from his mindset in BATMAN: LONG HALLOWEEN?

JL: The biggest difference in TLH and BDV is the impact of losing Harvey Dent's friendship on Batman. Bruce actually entertained the idea of revealing his secret to Harvey, but the acid and the Two-Face problem kept that from happening. Now, Bruce is left with the desire to connect, but is lost when he thinks about what could happen to the person he trusts. It all goes back to his character. He's made a promise to his parents that he will rid Gotham City of the evil that took their lives. He WILL NEVER DO THAT. But, he has to struggle on. We root for that and feel his pain.

BB: What's your take on the various weird and deformed criminals that show up in this series, and how is this insight being used to inform the plot and interaction between the characters?

JL: As with Superman, I try and find out why the character is involved in the story outside of the plot. What brings them into this situation beyond "Let's kill Batman".

And now, we're dealing with someone no one knows about in Two-Face. And Batman's hardest problem is that he can't see that he is NOT Harvey Dent any longer.

It is a fascinating problem for a man who draws a line between being Batman and Bruce Wayne...

BB: Have any of the characters, or even the story itself, surprised you? If so, how? Also, has your initial plot or story line changed or been altered by fan reaction or editorial input, as happened with LONG HALLOWEEN? If so, in what ways?

JL: I don't know if the characters surprise me as much as the reader reaction. What happened on TLH was that the Holiday story really took off and that continued to push back the coming of Two-Face, and in hindsight, made for a stronger story. This time, having told a story of this scope before, I think we are little more confident about where the story is headed. Tim and I knew that Porter would be revealed in Issue #5 and so we just built it and built it and hoped the readers would react as they did. We gained their trust. Which is good, since we won't be doing that again!

BB: You and Tim seem to have developed a truly special relationship over the years. What are some of the things that Tim does with his work that really fires your imagination, and takes your scripts to where you want them to go?

JL: I talk with Tim (he lives in Seattle, I live in Los Angeles) by phone every day. Every day. We talk comics, movies, women, life -- all of it. So, we have an enormous impact on the way each of us thinks. It gets tied up in a bundle when we do comics. We talk out the stories in my head and then I write Tim a very detailed script. He then interprets it in his own unique way. I try and write to his strengths, but he always surprises me. The best, hands down.

BB: Has there been any discussion about a sequel to this series?

JL: A sequel? We haven't even finished this one yet!

BB: The late, truly great Archie Goodwin seemed to exert a strong and positive influence on LONG HALLOWEEN; would you like to talk a little more about some of the ways he helped shape that work? Also, did you learn anything from him that's served you well on this, or any other, projects?

JL: More than anything Archie gave me a sense of confidence about my work. He didn't TELL you what to do as much as he kept you in between the lanes of highway. It was a very gentle, subtle thing. He gave little notes -- things like changing a word here or there -- but it was always the right word. And he was very complimentary about what he liked and that inspired you to do more. I try and do that with everyone I work with since I know what it means to me. Now, Mark Chiarello has that role, and while he can't replace Archie, he has different ways to inspire us which work us in different directions. I think he's had an enormous impact on Tim's artwork and that's been worth the price of admission alone. Mark also can be surprised -- which is delightful since if we can fool the Prince, we have a shot at fooling the Kings (the readers).

- Jeph Loeb

[The Witching Hour]BB: THE WITCHING HOUR is a dynamite looking book, and a great read. How did it come about as a Vertigo project, and how did you and Chris develop it?

JL: It was a huge effort on everyone's part. I've never worked as hard to get something which was so new and special. I had wanted to work with Chris for a long, long time. He was leaving the X-MEN when I pitched him this idea. It was called "White Magic" then, since we didn't know if we wanted to do it at DC or publish it ourselves. But, Karen Berger was very persuasive, and in the end, brought it to Vertigo. That enabled us to use THE WITCHING HOUR name, and still keep the copyright on the characters. Then, the work began.

Since I had more experience with icons (Batman and Superman) both Karen and Chris pushed to see "more" about the characters on the page and less in my head. I resisted a lot, but in the end, I think it all made for a better book. Chris was amazing.

BB: What kind of scripts did you supply Chris with - the plot outline style or ...?

JL: No, Chris worked from very, very detailed plots and descriptions and bits of dialogue. He also contributed to the dialogue when he wanted to. Karen had us do whole backstories for everyone to draw from. We researched a lot about Wiccans and Wiccan rituals, but in the end, it was a work of fiction, so we did what we wanted. Chris is the first and only artist who ever would read the script and then ask me to write MORE. To put in more panels and more detail. He was very much like working with a film director -- he saw it in his head and he wanted it on paper to make it come to life. Every page he did just lit up the work. Then, Richard Starkings came in and lettered and did the designs based on Chris' own handwriting.

It was this incredible collaboration.

BB: Would you like to talk about your conception of magic and the supernatural, within the context of the series?

JL: Sorry to disappoint, but magic, to me, is like flying with Superman. You don't explain it. You don't even discuss it. You just have fun with it.

BB: Is there a possibility of seeing more of these characters, and, if you and Chris have talked about doing a sequel, do you think it'll be another mini-series, or ...? Also, has there been an official decision concerning a WITCHING HOUR collection?

JL: There will be a collection. A hardback is in the works. As to further stories, that will depend on Chris' schedule. Chris was my first, last, and only choice to do the series with and unless HE were to find someone who HE thought was amazing, it will be up to his schedule. The only thing he and I have talked about is doing a Christmas story where Red and White meet a serial killer on Christmas Eve. It's called "What's Black and White and Red All Over?" -- so hopefully we'll do that sometime soon.

BB: Do you have any other upcoming work with DC or Vertigo that you'd like to talk about? Also, have you been offered a Batman B & W back up slot?

JL: Nothing is certain right now. I'm pretty comfortable doing two monthly books --working with Tim and MC2. Great guys. Great gigs.

And, yeah, Mark Chiarello has asked me to do a Bats B & W -- but we haven't found the right artist yet. That's one thing that I always stand by. Whatever I think of for stories or whenever someone asks me to do another project, my first question is, "Who is going to draw it?"Comics are a visual form and the artist is the star. The artist gets you into the theater, but the writer has to keep your butt parked in the seat. It's a good combo when it works!

BB: Do you have any official connection with the company, other than as a writer and friend of Rob and the rest of the gang, at this time? Do you think that you might end up back in the Awesome fold, in a more active capacity, anytime in the near future?

BB: I keep the title as Publisher and I talk to Rob almost daily about the day-to-day [business] at the company, but the reality is that, right now, it is a very small, very cool place to work with one or two titles a month. Rob is very hands on and drives the company, so my role is more of consigliori, an advisor. If the company changes and gears up again to what it was, Rob knows he can always call on me. We had a blast and could and will happen again.

BB: What can you tell us about EXTREME FORCES? How did that particular project get started, and what's your role in it been in it's creation?

JL: Again, I'm not big on giving things away. Rob is plotting, I'll be scripting and we're putting together the best art teams for the various chapters. But, as with all things Awesome, not until the time is right.

So... stay tuned!

[Kaboom]BB: Will we be seeing the return of COVEN, or KABOOM, with you scripting it anytime soon? Again, what was your basic role in the inception, development and creation of these books?

JL: They were different on both and I'd love to return to either. Ian [Churchill] came to me with the idea of COVEN. He had been thinking about it for about ten years. He had character sketches, complete descriptions and about 20 storylines. It was all there, he just needed someone to focus it for him and to give the characters a voice. We changed the stories to make them somewhat more containable, but it still is pretty much what Ian brought me that first day.

Jeff (Matsuda) and KABOOM was an entirely different matter. Jeff and I had wanted to work together. He had some sketches for a character which he originally called "Gauntlet" about this kid with these power gloves. This was before anyone had seen anything of BATTLE CHASERS. Just great demented minds thinking alike. We talked about it and came up with more characters, the Zang, the girlfriends, the world this kid lived it and then we called him Geof to keep it even more inside. Kaboom! was Jeff's old studio and so I suggested we call it that. The Kaboom Cycle and how the gloves worked and then Scarlett -- it all just started falling into place. Jeff's ability to sketch as we went helped enormously. He could just come up with the people we talked about -- right on the spot. The unfortunate thing was, that despite all the great talk and REALLY loyal fans, the book lost money from the first issue.

We just never took hold. And it was incredibly difficult to pull the plug, but there was no other choice. A few months later, Awesome went on hiatus, so it didn't seem so unusual that the book never continued. Then, about a year later, Rob wanted to revisit the material with an older boy (or Geof being older) and a girl. Matsuda had other commitments, but he gave us his blessing and wanted to do covers. Rob had found Keron Grant who is a terrific young talent and the second series came to be. It sold exactly the same numbers as the first. Weird. It was like the same people, and ONLY those people came back. Someday, when it is right, Jeff and I will come back and do the final chapter of this arc. Someday...

BB: Are there any other projects you've got in the works with Awesome, Rob, or Ian?

[Coven]JL: Ian and Rob are cooking up some very cool stuff which includes another launch of COVEN which I've always thought would work real well as a "Sin City" format. We pick a story, 4 or 5 issues, and tell that story and then come back to it another time, or another year. Like I said, Ian has DOZENS of ideas for COVEN and LIONHEART stories.

BB: Anything going on with Marvel at this time, or in development?

JL: Nope. Not right now. We talk from time to time, but the timing isn't right.

BB: What do you think of your work on the X books from the perspective of today? Which are your favorite 'children' of this period, and which are the ones that didn't quite live up to your original plans?

JL: I was learning. Scott Lobdell taught me an enormous, enormous amount about comics and story telling in the medium. We had so much fun -- it was a shame that it had to end, but it did. We were rocking along on CABLE and X-FORCE and then the worst thing that could happen happened and that's we doubled our sales and were in the top ten. I started CABLE with issue #15 and it was #40 out of 100 [and was] about to be canceled.

I left the book at #8 out of 100. Ian was just coming into his own; Adam Pollina was cookin' on X-FORCE.But, there were stories that we wanted to do which didn't fit with Editorial and so it just became unpleasant. It was a long time ago. I wish all those people well.

People ask me if I was disappointed about the direction that X-MAN went into after I left and to a certain extent, sure. This was the first major character that I created in the Marvel Universe. Those first four issues still rock. When he came to OUR universe, Editorial and I just didn't see it the same way. I wanted Nate to be a rebel without a cause, the most powerful mutant in the Marvel Universe -- who didn't have anything to live for. He would find out he was going to be dead at 21 and so, he would take risks no one else would take. So, the idea was that at Issue #21, he would die. We had these outrageous stories -- he was going to beat the living daylights out of Magneto, toss Juggernaut into outer space -- really go wild since he knew it wouldn't matter. Then, as his days (and issues) were numbered, he would have learned what it was like to live again. I wanted people to understand that the world Nate grew up in was like Nazi Germany prison camps. He had never seen a flower. He knew no real joy. And now, here in our world, it would be too late when he could finally see that life IS worth living. Since he came from another universe, he was the perfect solution to the Legacy Virus. That something in his gene code could save mutantkind, but he would have to sacrifice himself to save the world.

End of story.

That, obviously, never happened. But, it started with Issue #5. I wanted Nate to "come through" in Seattle where "Age of Apocalypse" opened and then he would learn that this was a different reality since Seattle in AOA was just filled with death and corpses. Editorial wanted it to open in Switzerland(!) and he would travel around in Europe for a year before coming to see the X-Men. It was insane, but it is what happened. I left after Issue #8. I'm proud that the book is still around five years later -- I think it is the only title launched in that period that has stayed around (Can you imagine? Every other title (that wasn't a relaunch) from Marvel has failed -- I guess except Thunderbolts). I'm sure people will read this and come up with a dozen monthlies that have been created since then -- but I don't think so... And I got a toy. That was pretty cool, too.

BB: Are there any characters, or titles, that you'd like to write?

JL: It is always, always, always about WHO is going to draw it. I have some ideas for things, but it'll take the right artist. And if they came to me tomorrow to write the FANTASTIC FOUR, I'd do it for a dollar. A dollar. It would just be too much fun.

BB: Are there any artists [and this would include inkers and colorists] that you'd like to work with?

JL: Oh, the list is the same as everyone else's. Arthur Adams, Mike Turner, Alex Ross, Adam Kubert, Adam Hughes, Jeff Scott Campbell, Jim Lee -- Paul Dini and Bruce Timm -- oh, don't get me started. There is such great talent out there now. Carlos Pacheco.

But, look at who I've gotten to work with! Tim, Ian, Ed MC2, Pollina, Bachalo, Joe Mad, Skroce, Jeff Matsuda, Liefeld -- I'd have to be an idiot to have blown any of those opportunities. So, pretty much my artist friends have carried me for years... :)

BB: What comics - and other types of books - do you read regularly, and why?

JL: I generally follow the people I like to read, as opposed to titles. SAVAGE DRAGON, ASTRO CITY, SIN CITY because of their creators. I'm digging THE PUNISHER -- which is a surprise since I don't "get" PREACHER and I never really enjoyed the character of the Punisher-- but Garth [Ennis] and Steve Dillon are really onto something. DAREDEVIL is cool. [Joe] Quesada sees comics the way I like 'em. IRON MAN when Joe writes it. [Jose] Ladronn's new INHUMANS -- wow. Joe Casey's CHILDREN OF THE ATOM and WILDCATS. [Greg] Rucka -- huge. DETECTIVE. HUNTRESS. WHITEOUT. I buy more of his crap than anybody! Art Adams can get me to buy anything. Comics to me, are a hobby and great fun. If a book makes me smile, I'm there.

BB: Who are your favorite writers, in any genre or medium? How about artists?

JL: See above.

BB: Are there any writers, or other artists, who have influenced you work? What about their work do you appreciate?

JL: I tend to look more at film and books. I mean, if I hadn't seen the GODFATHER about 100 times, what would I do for stories? :) But, in comics, I try and capture more of the "feeling" than the influence. Neal Adams' ability to make the world look real and yet, also heightened. Kirby's amazing energy. Frank's texture of the cities. A lot of that also comes from film. I saw CITIZEN KANE again in a theater last night. It was like watching a Tim Sale movie -- and Tim has never seen the film...

BB: Do you have any suggestions for people trying to break in as writers?

JL: Just keep at it. Don't give up. Write for ANYONE. There are no bad jobs, just bad stories. Write to editors and tell them what you LIKE about the book and characters. Keep at it. Go to conventions. Learn who the editors are. Artists and writers can't really get anyone work -- so, asking them for advice is a little off base (says the man giving advice). The more you get published, the more you get published. Look at Brian [Michael] Bendis. He's out there riding the independent range and now he's everyone's favorite mainstream guy. And he's just one in a hundred examples...

- Jeph Loeb, on breaking into the industry.

BB: What do you think of the current state of comics, and what can be done to improve it?

JL: Mostly for people to STOP bashing the industry we love. It's like making fun of someone's family who has cancer. There is so much to be excited about -- even if it is only three books a week (which, as a kid, was ALL I could afford or read) and this stuff is great! If you don't like something, DON'T BUY IT. Vote with your wallet.

Seriously, nobody wants to spend their day with a hobby where people who partake in the hobby do nothing but make fun of it! I just don't get it. I love comics. That's my opinion. Sorry. That's me.

BB: Where did you grow up, and did you read comics as a kid? Is there any particular memory or moment that strikes you as important, or telling?

JL: I grew up in the East, outside New York and Boston. Comics were always part of my life, but really came to be a hobby during the summer my parents got divorced. I was 12 years old. I think I was looking for a little hope in a "world gone mad". I got what I was looking for and never looked back.

BB: I've read elsewhere that you worked as a screenwriter and producer for about 17 years before doing any comics; what lead you to pursue a career in films, where did you get your training, and what are some of your best memories/moments from this period? [Also, did you help produce DETROIT ROCK CITY, or am I misinformed?]

JL: You've got some of it right and some of it wrong. I've been working as a screenwriter and producer for 17 years up to date. So, started in comics really in 1991, but it wasn't until 1994-5 that I took on a monthly at Marvel, so that's really what I use as a bench mark. I got into film because I love movies. I went to film school at Columbia University in New York City and then moved to Los Angeles to make films.

I think the most fun has been working with people BEFORE they exploded. Michael J. Fox. Whoop Goldberg. Arnold. Bruce Willis. That's the fun. Looking for the next star. Don't get me wrong. Tom Cruise calls tomorrow and I'm there. But, "helping" a star become a star. That's very cool.

No, I didn't have anything to do with DETROIT ROCK CITY. Gene Simmons is a pal, and we are partners on a few movies -- one of which is being written and will be directed by Adam Rifkin who directed DETROIT ROCK CITY. That's the connection.

BB: Looking at some of the results, good and bad, of adapting comics to the big screen, do you have desire to work on such a project ...say, SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS: THE MOVIE?

JL: Sure. You don't happen to have a hundred million dollars, do you?

Seriously, I'm still young. I'll write a comic book movie someday that at least I think is the way it could be done. They've happened. Look at SUPERMAN I and II, it can happen again.

BB: How similar, and different, are the mediums of comics and films, in your opinion?

JL: Actually, I've always seen them as cousins. Comics are films as storyboards.

You can tell a good comic book story visually, you are half way there as the filmmaker. It is about storytelling. Beginning. Middle. End.

BB: Any suggestions for those hoping to break in as a screenwriter?

JL: Go to Los Angeles. Get a job at an Agency in the mail room. Get to learn EVERYONE'S name. Write scripts at night and as hard as you can. Show only your best work.

Never give up. Never surrender.:)

BB: What's a typical day like for you when you're working, and how long does it take you to create a comic script [from conception to mailing out the finished plot script]? How about a screenplay?

JL: It depends on the project. Superman takes less time than Batman, I don't know why.

Some movie scripts come together in month. Some take months. It just depends on the work load and the level of difficulty. And more often than not, the difficulty can be EXTERNAL -- which is even harder, IMO, to get through.

But, I write, every day. Sometimes, its just a few hours. Sometimes it is 18 straight hours. My chair knows my butt very well... (I'm sure your readers needed that lovely image..)

BB: What do you do for fun?

JL: I have kids, so that's what is fun. Anything with them is the best.

BB: Do you collect anything?

JL: I collect comics. I collect some of those stupid Franklin Mint plates -- but they have to be really special ones -- Little Rascals, Three Stooges. Some first edition books. But, mostly, it's comics. I go to the store every Wednesday. Can't wait. I even buy stuff I get for free on my comp list. I just want the stuff on that day. Pretty goofy, huh?

BB: Is there a particular question you've always wanted to answer, but no one has posed it to you yet?

JL: Great question. Wish I had a great answer.

BB: Any final thoughts

JL: Just thanks. Thanks for the support. If one person reads this and buys a comic book tomorrow that they wouldn't have yesterday, that's a smile. And that's what it is all about, right? A smile...

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