CCI: Brian Azzarello Q&A

Brian Azzarello is DC and Vertigo's one-man crime wave. With a graphic novel starring the Joker due out this autumn and the long-awaited conclusion of his epic crime/conspiracy series "100 Bullets" headed for stores next spring, the writer also made news here at Comic-Con International in San Diego with the announcement of his involvement in Vertigo's extralegal new imprint, Vertigo Crime. Azz took the time to speak with Comic Book Resources about his full clip of projects, his approach to collaborating with artists, and why when it comes to working, he's a solitary man.

The big news for you here is your involvement with the new Vertigo Crime imprint.

My book's called "Filthy Rich." I'm doing it with a Spanish artist, Victor Santos - somebody I met years ago. We've tried to get together on a project, and this one worked out. I came up with the idea for it when I was in Barcelona, because I saw Victor and he was like, "When are we gonna work together? When are we gonna work together?" The Vertigo Crime thing was sort of floating around. I really didn't have anything concrete, but Karen [Berger, Senior VP - Executive Editor, Vertigo] became part of it, and I came up with this idea, and it worked. It clicked, and it plays to Victor's strengths.

When I heard about the imprint I instantly thought of you, because I feel as though "100 Bullets" made many of the other crime books out there possible.

Well, some people do consider "100 Bullets" even being published to be a crime, so... [Laughs]

The series itself is in the home stretch now -

Yeah. [Sigh of relief]

How does it feel to have come that far?

You mean to get to the end? It doesn't feel good! It's ending, because it's supposed to, but I'm not happy it's ending.

Do you find that it's a struggle to wrap everything up?

No, everything's going according to plan. That's why it's ending - it's supposed to end! I'm not gonna "X-Files" the damn thing. No, it's gonna end. [Laughs]

You and your "Lex Luthor: Man of Steel" partner Lee Bermejo are reuniting for " Joker: The Dark Knight" in October. When you do material that involves superheroes, do you prefer working on the villains, as you've done with these projects?

I relate to them. [Laughs] I don't relate to the heroes. The Man, tryin' to keep you down! In the case of Luthor, you're trying to make his motivations understandable. He's not some maniacal mad scientist - that's dull, you know? The fact is that everyone's a hero in their own story, including the bad guys. They don't look at themselves as being evil.

In a more straightforward crime story, there has to be a reason for the crime, whether it's money or passion - some understandable motive other than "I'm a supervillain and this is what I do." Given your crime background, that must be something you try to bring to the table.

[Scoffing] Supervillains. Why the hell do they want to take over the world? What do you do when you take over the world? What's the point? What happens next? "Okay, I've taken over the world - now what?" I think you should aim a little lower first.

You seem to have a very fruitful relationship with your artists. How do you choose your collaborators? Sometimes it looks like as long as they're from abroad, you're good to go...

Yeah, as long as we don't speak the same language, it seems to work out very, very well. [Laughs] Basically, I let any artist I work with have a lot of autonomy. They're a collaborator. They're not my pair of hands. I don't treat 'em that way.

Some writers are more possessive about what they're working on.

Well, let 'em draw it, then. If you wanna be possessive, then be possessive, but I think you don't wanna hamstring anybody you're working with because you're not gonna get the best out of them. You've gotta leave people room so that they can bring their A-game to it. That's what I try to do. When I'm writing a script, the dialogue's gotta work. The dialogue should be telling the story. If I'm doing my job, then an artist can pick up the cues by the way the characters are talking, and we get a story that people want to look at.

Shifting gears to Comic-Con itself, do you enjoy this convention, or conventions in general?

[Deadpan] More than anything.

Do I detect sarcasm?

You can detect whatever you want! [Laughs] San Diego keeps getting bigger and more hectic every year. It's not a comic book show anymore.

Are there still things you're looking forward to seeing this year - books, other creators, a panel?

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I look forward to meeting friends, but that's not at the show, that's after show closes - the Hyatt bar, usually.

Do you enjoy getting to meet fans at signings?

Sure. It's nice to have them!

I've spoken with some creators who enjoy having that feedback, since their work is such a solitary act.

Um...no, I like working alone. [Laughs]

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