From his creator-owned projects to acclaimed runs at DC Comics, Valiant and now Marvel Comics, Jeff Lemire is one of the busiest creators in comics. The writer/artist visited the world famous CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego to speak with Kiel Phegley about his many projects, ranging from the freedom given to him on Valiant's "Bloodshot Reborn" to the awesome power and responsibility that comes with launching a new flagship X-Men title this October for "All-New, All-Different Marvel." Never one to rest on his laurels, Lemire also tees up two projects he's drawing, an OGN out next year and Image Comics' "AD: After Death" which he will draw for "Batman" writer Scott Snyder.
Kicking off his conversation with CBR TV from Comic-Con, Lemire discusses his work for Valiant Entertainment, focusing primarily on the unique story he's telling in "Bloodshot Reborn." He speaks to what drew him to the character, and why for the first time he's also contributing spot illustrations to a story he's writing for another artist. After touching on the many Top Shelf veterans who are now working at Valiant, the writer/artist talks about what factors have to be present for him to take on a project and whether or not, as a polite Canadian, he actually possesses the ability to say no to job offers.
On why he decided to do spot illustrations for "Bloodshot Reborn," something he hasn't done at Marvel or DC on the books he writes:
Jeff Lemire: I think some of the freedom we have at Valiant to experiment and do crazy things like that [is where that came from]. I had this idea of this demonic, miniature version of Bloodshot who's tormenting him and may or may not be real, and may be a figment of his drug-addled mind or his madness, or some combination of it, and I would draw the character. It's not an idea that would probably get approved at other places. [Laughs] Warren [Simons, Valiant's Editor-in-Chief] likes to take chances, too. It's real fun to come in and really it just shows the commitment I have to the book I usually don't draw anything that isn't creator-owned. The book almost feels creator-owned to me. I'm just really making it my own, and they're allowing me to really put my voice into it and try some stuff, and I think it shows on the page.
On how he decides which projects to take on at bigger publishers:
I've said before, you say no to a lot of things because it doesn't feel right to you, it's not a good fit for you, or you can see roadblocks before you even start, or warning signs. But, you know, for the most part I've worked with really good people at Marvel, and at DC, too. I try to put my all into everything I do and some projects turn out better than others for all kinds of reasons. But yeah, Valiant is a smaller company. Smaller universe, smaller company, it just makes things easier. In general it's just easier to keep focus and for all us to work together and make the universe really cohesive.
Lemire made his Marvel debut earlier this year with "All-New Hawkeye," but come October he'll be adding two new books to his Marvel resume: "Extraordinary X-Men," the new flagship X-Men series, as well as an "Old Man Logan" ongoing. Lemire tells CBR about the both the pressure he feels steering the X-ship as well as how amazing it was to pick his own team of mutants. He also explains what runs got him into the characters in the first place and tries to convince Kiel Phegley about how cool Magik is on the team, as well as commenting on the dynamic she and her brother Colossus will have in his series. And while many see Cyclops as the leader of the X-Men, Lemire explains how Storm will be filling that role in the post-"Secret Wars" Marvel U.
On what his X-Men touchstones are:
A lot of the times when you get these gigs for characters that you've read as a kid, you kind of go back to the thing you loved and kind of -- not replicate or just imitate what you've read -- but you try to capture the same thing a little bit. For me, when I think of X-Men the stuff I was really into was the '80s. A lot of people were into the '90s X-Men, but for me it was the Chris Claremont years, and including the "New Mutants," especially the stuff he did with John Byrne, and then later with John Romita, Jr. That stuff, to me, is just legendary and I got to pick a team that echoes that a bit. You have the kind of classic combination of Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, but you kind of -- we're not really interested in telling the same old stories again, so you kind of get a new version of that because Old Man Logan is the Wolverine now, and that completely changes the dynamic and the relationships that you're used to. And then, of course, I love Magik. I think she's one of the richest characters at Marvel.
On Storm as a leader, especially when compared to Cyclops:
I think a part of that is Cyclops is such a dominant character for so long in the X-Men. Scott Summers, he's always sort of the alpha X-Men, you know. He has been for years, and he's a great character. But, without spoiling anything, after "Secret Wars" there's an eight-month gap and certain things have happened in that time. There's been a big conflict between mutantkind and the Inhumans and Scott Summers was very much involved in that. As we start our series Scott's off the page for a while. There's a bit of a mystery about what happened that we'll be, obviously, revealing.
I think for the first time someone like Storm could step up and really be the leader of the X-Men and really carry the torch of Xavier's dream. Usually that's Scott that's doing that, but he's not around so it's her time to shine and her time to make the X-Men her own. I think she's a terrific character.
Wrapping up his chat with CBR TV, Lemire explains the delay of his creator-owned Dark Horse superhero saga "The Black Hammer" with Dean Ormston, explaining how health issues have taken the book off the schedule. He also teases his next original graphic novel, due out in 2016, and "A.D.", which he will draw for superstar writer Scott Snyder.
On why "Black Hammer" was delayed at Dark Horse: (health problems)
It's a book at Dark Horse, a creator-owned book that I'm doing with an artist named Dean Ormston. He's a British artist, he's probably best known for some work on "Lucifer" at Vertigo, and other things. He's terrific. I had written eight scripts and Dean finished the first issue, and it's beautiful, but unfortunately Dean had some health issues. He had a stroke, actually, unexpectedly. He's recovering, but it's a slow recovery. We just kind of decided to kind of take the book off the schedule and wait to give Dean the time he needs to heal and get back to where he was. There's no news on when it will come back. The truth is, at the end of the day it's just a comic book and Dean's health is much more important than that. That comes first and we'll figure out the comic later.