James Robinson sat down with Jonah Weiland in the CBR TV Tiki Room at New York Comic Con 2014 to talk about his work on “All-New Invaders,” and his fascination with re-invigorating forgotten characters of the Golden Age. He goes on to discuss his “Fantastic Four” series and bringing that book to a close. Robinson reflects on being a year sober and what that has meant for his personal life, and how that has affected his writing.
On Robinson’s work with “All New Invaders” and the books surprise success: I made a choice when I was first approached to do the book to not do what I think everyone thought I would do which would be a very reverential book dealing with them fighting Nazis, and Strucker, and Hydra, and all those things we’ve seen them do over and over. I think we’ve seen every great story that could be told. I guess I’m damning some great writers that comes along, but I think I had personally read enough of those stories. So I wanted to do a series that really got into the fact that the Marvel Universes is constantly being invaded and just make it current and fun, and reference stuff that’s going on now. The one thing I did set myself, a personal goal, I love Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, I think he has sort of not always been treated with the most respect, he’s been relegated because obviously there’s Johnny Storm. I really wanted to make him into a character that had a life and it was this little gem, kind of like Jack Knight in a way, this little gem that’s been there in plain sight that I kind of wanted to make my own. So I have enjoyed writing him and writing the book and obviously working with Steve Pugh, who’s done fantastic work. When we first talked about getting an artist, I knew we wanted somebody that wasn’t the kind of artist you’d expect on the book. And so when his name came up I was like “Wow that’d be kind of a departure.” Thinking that he would bring something to the table along the lines on his work on “Animal Man” which you could see was influenced, or had the feeling of Steve Bissette and those Alan Moore “Swamp Thing,” and he still has a little bit of that style, but he brought the Jack Kirby with him. So there’s this epic big quality he brings to the fight scenes, or this sort of big, stellar action, which I find very exciting, and it makes me want to do stuff, make things bigger and more bombastic too.
On whether or not “Fantastic Four” is coming to an end: Yes. This is what I will say, is that when I started this book there were some people that were open to it, but there was a lot of negativity. Because I heard “Oh god James Robinson is going to do this dark depressing Fantastic Four book. Who cares, that’s not what we want. And I think I surprised everybody in that the book is still, I think, a pretty good Fantastic Four book. It has all those elements we like about the book.
There’s definitely been a ground swell of people that have gone “Oh you know, this is actually a good book.” Leonard Kirk’s artwork is wonderful. A the end of the day, nobody that likes the Fantastic Four will have a bad taste in their mouth. That’s all I can say. I’m not going to let anybody down. I’m not going to leave this book on a bad note. I love these characters.
On fair-weather fans, and the way they come out of the wood-works when status quos change: That’s the thing. Everyone’s upset now because the book is going away, but where are those? Are they buying the book? I don’t know if they are. A lot of it is people just like to get online and moan and complain. I guarantee you, if you kill off any character-the most obscure character, there will be one angry person that claims that was their favorite character. Jack Frost, golden age character, “Oh my god they’ve done something to him. Where’s the razor blades I’m slashing my wrists.” People like to do that on the Internet, so you have to obviously sometimes take that with a grain of salt.
On taking ownership for ones faults, finding inner strengths to deal with personal issues: Positivity. Strength of mind. Strength of body. I go to the gym again much more than I did. I lost 30 pounds. The weight-you don’t even have to try, the weight just falls off when you quit booze. And just the focus. I personally don’t see anything wrong with smoking pot. I think it’s a natural product. I don’t think it’s any more harmful than too much coffee or taking Valium. Personally the lack of clarity that I feel-I’m not tempted to try anything else as a surrogate for alcohol. I enjoy having focus and direction and feeling good about life. The only thing-I was told by another comic professional who is also not drinking, that when you quit you will develop a new addiction, whether it be trainspotting, or martial arts, bird watching, or going to Nascar. For me, I’ve had some vinyl before, you know this from Facebook too, I had some vinyl before, but now I’m a vinyl maniac. You know what, I play all day. It isn’t like when you collect books. If you go to the bookstore and buy ten books, you’ll end up reading three of them. And you always intend to read the others, but then you’ll go to the bookstore again and buy another ten books. It’s a lot of books that don’t get read. Vinyl you play it all, you listen to it all. It enriches you while you’re working. So it’s been a very positive thing for me.
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