DC WRITERS RELAY: Lemire On Spencer

Two writers enter, one writer leaves...and then interviews another writer!

Welcome back to CBR News' DC WRITERS RELAY! Each day this week, one up-and-coming writing talent from DC Comics will interview one of his peers about their work, life, career and more. Then the next day, the interviewee becomes interviewer before handing off the mic to the next round in the run. Our latest installment sees yesterday's spotlighted creator Jeff Lemire speaking with hot new talent Nick Spencer...for the first time ever!

Breaking onto the scene a year and a half ago with his Image/Shadowline series "Existence 2.0," Spencer has quickly risen to be one of the most sought after writing talents in the industry. After a quick run of twist-heavy genre comics like "Forgetless," "Shuddertown" and the sequel "Existence 3.0," he launched "Morning Glories" - the latest critically lauded Image ongoing series with artist Joe Espin. At the same time, his steady string of release brought Spencer to the attention of DC where in the past six months he's been tapped for a Jimmy Olsen backup story in "Action Comics" with artist R.B. Silva (soon to spin off into a one-shot), the relaunch of cult classic "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" with Cafu and coming soon, a stint on "Supergirl" with Bernard Chang - all of which have kept in line with his inventive style of trope-tweaking and character work.

Below, Lemire digs into Spencer's past and how it affected his jumping into a comics career, uncovers why he started at Image and has stayed the course, looks at what classic comics are impacting his DC work and works out a number of issues in his own career as the pair relate on what it's like to be an up-and-comer at DC today. Read on, and then check back tomorrow to watch Spencer pass the relay baton on!

Jeff Lemire: I think of all the guys doing this thing, you're the only person I haven't met before. So it's kind of cool to get to meet you this way, but I'm sure we'll get a chance to meet each other at a convention soon.

Nick Spencer: Definitely!

Lemire:So I've got to say, I don't know that much about you. [Spencer Laughs] Like, I mostly just know your work. I was going to go online and research you a bit, but then I figured I could just ask you. You're in New York now?

Spencer: Yeah, that's right. I'm in Brooklyn.

Lemire: Did you grow up in New York?

Spencer: No, I was born and raised in Ohio. I moved here about five years ago.

Lemire: And were comics something you were always into as a kid or something you got into later on in life?

Spencer: I grew up with them. My dad was a big reader, so he passed them on to me. I was "reading" comics before I could read.

Lemire: Same with me. I'm guessing it was mostly Marvel and DC superhero stuff at that point.

Spencer: Yeah, my dad was both a big Marvel and a DC guy, so I grew up around a lot of Spider-Man and a lot of Batman as a young kid - then a lot of Jimmy Olsen and Legion of Super-Heroes stuff.

Lemire: Cool. When was your first published comics work?

Spencer: I guess about a year and a half ago now? "Existence 2.0" was like last summer. That was the first one.

Lemire: What kind of day job were you doing before you got into comics? Was it related to writing in some way?

Spencer: No, no. Before writing comics...well, just before, I had owned a bar in Cincinnati and did that for a few years. I worked in politics for a bit, working for a United States Senator.

Lemire: So was Image the first publisher you pitched stuff to?

Spencer: Yeah, Image was the first publisher I pitched to. I pitched to a few others, but Image was always pretty much my focus. That was always where I wanted things to start at. I generally stayed in touch with them and kept pitching them and tried to create a relationship there as opposed to focusing on a lot of different places at once.

Lemire: When I was starting out self-publishing, I was drawing my own stuff, so I only had me to worry about. But I always wonder, because there's a lot of guys who want to write comics, and it's so hard to hook up with an artist at all, but then to find someone who suits what you want to do and who's reliable seems like an insurmountable obstacle. How did you go about finding the artists you worked with on the early Image stuff?

Spencer: Yeah, it obviously does scare a lot of people off, and understandably so. It's exactly like you said - it's so difficult to find artists who are good and committed to the project. I probably spent two years pitching where I would spend hours trolling for artists - going on DeviantART and a bunch of other sites and just cold e-mailing artists and begging them to help you put a pitch together. Most would never respond, and some would get back to you and be interested but then the pages would never actually happen. Or it'd take six months to get five pages and stuff like that. I don't miss those kinds of headaches, I'll say that. I was very jealous of guys like you who could draw and write.

It's funny. I had so many frustrations with that stuff, but when I met up with Ron Salas, who was the first artist I worked with on "Existence 2.0," I had, I think, worked with four different artists on that pitch who had all fallen through in one way or another. In fact, I'd submitted with one artist, and Image/Shadowline came back and said, "We like the pitch but you need a different artist."

Lemire: Oh, really?

Spencer: Yeah. It just kept happening like that. But when I finally hooked up with Ron, he put together the whole pitch in like a week, and we submitted it and got picked up the following week. So it was a really odd project because it took a year to get off the ground, but then in a week, it was off the ground.

Lemire: I've never done anything with Image, but I've always been curious about how the editorial process works. Once you got the project approved and they'd picked it up, are they really involved at all in the day-to-day creative thing, like critiquing art and stuff, or are you on your own?

Spencer: I'm actually on the Shadowline imprint at Image, which is Jim Valantino's line under the Image banner. That was a purposeful decision on my part. They were always the ones that I'd pitched to and had been in touch with just because of what you said. I was new to this. And when you're working in other parts of Image or self-publishiing, you don't necessarily have the editorial oversight that you might need on your first few projects. I really wanted to have that supervision and coaching and that extra filter to make sure I wasn't putting crap out. [Lemire Laughs]

So I got sort of lucky in that regard, and Jim and Chris Simon who was my editor at the time, I pretty much owe them everything because they didn't just pick up one book. They invested in me and in the different ideas that I had. Right after "Existence," I had "Forgetless" and "Shuddertown" right on top of one another. They made a conscious decision to help me develop my career. None of those books sold a lot. They got great reviews, but they didn't really catch on with retailers or with readers in the numbers we would've liked, but for them it was an investment in time in me as a writer and letting me get better. When "Morning Glories" came, it helped pay all that off.

Lemire: I had a really similar thing with Top Shelf where I did the trilogy of ["Essex County"] books, which sounds similar to your approach. I think when you put an indie book out - especially as a relative unknown - you can kind of put the book out, and you might get a bit of buzz, but then it just goes. I had three books where one came out after another, and you did the same kind of thing with three books right on top of each other. If they come so close together, you can build a bit of momentum, but like you say, it's hard to find a publisher or an editor who will support you when the numbers aren't high. It's great when you find someone who will stick with you, and then eventually it pays off for them and for you.

Spencer: Yeah. You did it the same way where, once you get that opening, you try to get as much out as you can right away to build that momentum and roll with it. I do think that a lot of people get that first book, and they tend to think, "I did it! Now this will take care of itself."

Lemire: Exactly!

Spencer: And it really takes a lot more than that. You have to be thinking about what people are going to be talking about in three months or in six months. You have to always be thinking about what that next step is and what that next move will be.

Lemire: I think it's also a pretty similar thing where you and I are both starting to do DC or Marvel stuff now, and I think a lot of guys if they have that opportunity, they thing, "Once you're in the door, that's it." You probably know the same as I do right now that, again, that's just the first step in a process.

Spencer: [Laughs] Yeah. You get that first thing, and you've got to nail that, and then it's right on to the next one. Now I think that in the whole internet age and how much comics media there is, everyone has to be more cognizant of how short people's attention spans are. How do you make that work without sacrificing the quality of the books and without sacrificing your attention or spreading yourself too thin?

Lemire: I was interviewed by Scott Snyder before this, and we talked a bit about our lives before comics and how that influenced our careers. It seems like you obviously had a really interesting life before comics, with politics and your restaurant/bar. I worked in a restaurant for ten years before I got into comics, and it seems that a lot of young cartoonists get out of art school or college, and they never have had a to work a real job. They might get that first gig really early, but they never have that work ethic or that life experience to follow through. I guess I'm asking if you think your life before comics affected the way you're now approaching your career. It seems like you really have a plan for the way you want to build your career.

Spencer: Yeah, I think we're pretty similar in that regard in that I always see things that way. You can always see your life in your work, and you can tell when you're drawing from what you know and from personal experience. I try to do the same thing where, back when I was 19 and 20 in college, I did a bunch of pitches then. Bob Schreck - who was at Oni at the time - I met him at Wizard World Chicago in 1999, and he was very nice and took me aside. I was writing this stuff about getting dumped by your girlfriend in college because it was the only life experience I ever had, and Bob took a look at it and said, "This is good that you're writing what you know, but the problem is that you don't know shit." [Lemire Laughs] He really encouraged me and said, "You should go and live a little life. Do some things and have experiences to draw from, and you'll be a better writer for it." He talked about Matt Wagner and how his life bled through to the page in "Mage." I really took that advice to heart. Something about it stuck with me, and I'm really grateful for it because I think that I would have died a premature death as a writer if I would have come straight out of college and banked everything on that.

But in general, I think a lot of times I write about things that I feel like I've learned in life...maybe not so directly. I don't always use the same settings, and my characters aren't analogues to the situation, but usually I tend to think about the things that I feel like I've figured out or if not that, the questions that I have. Usually those are the big starting points I think about when I sit down to write. I think about what I'm trying to say.

Lemire: That leads into what I was going to ask you next. What's your process like? For me, all my stuff tends to come from a visual place where I'm sketching in a book and a story grows from that. For you, you started to touch on this, but where do things start for you? A line of dialogue? A character? A high concept?

Spencer: Almost every idea that I have tends to - a lot of times I'll get a high concept first. It's a weird thing where I'll be sitting on the subway or I'll be walking through the park, and a general pitch line will float into my head. I have no idea where it comes from, but usually from there, I start thinking about, "Okay, what does this say? What's the theme of this story? What's the moral here? What's the question?" Then I start thinking about characters or who's going to be a part of that story. I usually think of myself as a "scene first" writer, but it usually comes out of some general premise that sprung up. And that process can take months.

So with "Existence" as a really easy example, I think the initial idea was "A guys wakes up in the body of the hitman that just killed him." Then you let that roll around in your head for a bit, and you think, "This is a story about a guy who had a life previously, and then he moved into a new life." Then it becomes a story about how when we make mistakes or even when we're unhappy in our lives, the solution isn't always to just go start a new life. The people in our old lives and our feelings for them reconnect us with what we've left behind. So then you start to flesh out the character. Who is this guy? He becomes this self-absorbed physicist who's been stealing from his partners and cheating on his wife, and he's made a general mess of everything. Now he's got this new life where he's a dangerous hired killer. And it's glamourous, and he's better looking. But then his daughter gets kidnapped, and he has to go figure out what happened to her. He's got to go back into his old life, and the choices he ends up making spin out of that.

So you can see how it starts from this standard line that the Hollywood guys love, but you never leave it there. I feel like a lot of writers go, "Oh, that'll be fun!" [Lemire Laughs] But you've got to put substance in that. You've got to build out layers, and that took months of having the idea roll around in my head.

Lemire: That's interesting. How regimented are you in your writing routine? Do you do the same thing during the same hours, or are you a little more open?

Spencer: No. Right now, it feels like it's just a continuous state of writing. [Laughter] It's all just bled together where there's no more times of "break." There are more times writing than there are not writing. I tend to write a lot at the start of the day and a lot at the end of the day. I'll wake up, and I'll have a few hours. Then the head gets a little tired, and you've got to take a break. Then later at night, I tend to be able to bang out a few more hours. I used to be a strictly late night person where I didn't get much of any writing done before ten or eleven P.M., and it wouldn't at all be weird for me to write until six or seven A.M. It was working fine, but I've sort of adjusted now, and I've broken it up into a couple of big blocks. Even though the time is probably about the same, I feel like it's better because I feel like I'm getting twice as much done because I'm sitting down to write twice. It just really depends. Every book is different in terms of how quickly it comes and how much time I have to spend on it and how many times I need to stop and start on it.

Lemire: Are you still working a day job, or are you full time comics now?

Spencer: I'm full time comics now.

Lemire: Cool. Looking at the DC stuff you've been doing, was "Jimmy Olsen" the first thing they approached you on, or was it "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents?"

Spencer: Wil [Moss, my editor] had come to me a while back. He was reading "Forgetless" and liking that book and asking me to pitch some things. None of those happened, but then he came back to me about a month later, and said, "Hey, would you be interested in pitching 'T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents?'" and so I pitched that, and they liked it. So it came before "Jimmy Olsen," but then Wil, once we were in progress on "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents," he came back and told me about the co-feature on "Action Comics" and had a couple of suggestions for who should be in it. One of them was Jimmy Olsen, which had always been a dream project of mine.

Lemire: Oh, really?

Spencer: Yeah! It's always one I'd had high up on the list in terms of dream projects. I was immediately all over that and way overdid it. They told me, "Just send us a few lines on what you'd want to do" and I think I sent them three pages. [Lemire Laughs] It was just an insane overview for a year's worth of stories, but they were excited about it.

Lemire: Was it the Kirby stuff that got you excited about Jimmy originally?

Spencer: I grew up around a lot of Jimmy back issues. My dad had a massive collection of Jimmy back issues and Legion back issues, so I was always around them as a kid. He was one of the characters I'd had so much fun with growing up, and I'd really enjoyed it. But it had always frustrated me that he wasn't out there more. It seems to me like, ever since the John Byrne revamp, everybody had been struggling with where Jimmy fit in the modern continuity. I just couldn't understand it. It seemed to easy to me and so simple, so it was always one I'd looked forward to. I'm sort of a sucker for the "Normal person in a heroic world" stories in general, and Jimmy's just the person for that. He was the first great example of that. This was one where they didn't have any idea that I was going to be that excited about it.

Lemire: I guess you're in the same position I am where I was doing the Atom in "Adventure," and they ended the co-features before I was done with the story. [Laughter] Are you going to finish "Jimmy" in a one-shot like I am?

Spencer: Yeah. It's going into a one-shot, and there's more that I wanted to do, so we're trying to figure out where I can do it or how that can happen. It's all still in the works, and I think you, of all people, know exactly how it is. It's one of the things where, for me, what matters is that the story gets out there. I can't say that the method of delivery is anything I get terribly worked up about either way. It was really fun to be in "Action Comics" because it was like "Holy shit, I'm writing for 'Action Comics!'" It was my first DC thing, and co-feature or not, it's crazy to pick up the oldest book there is and see your stuff in it. And it was fun sharing pages with Paul. That was cool. We got to cross the characters over at one point, which was a blast. But it's one of those things where you understand the rationale. Like everybody else, I was excited by the news of the books being $2.99.

Lemire: Yeah, me too.

Spencer: You can understand that move, and you just go from there. The story will get out there, and it'll finish. That's the most important thing.

Lemire: For sure. I was impressed with the "Jimmy" stuff you did, but as much as I liked the story, I was really impressed with the artist you guys have on that book as well, R.B. Silver. That guy is fantastic.

Spencer: He's really, really good.

Lemire: Even if "Jimmy" doesn't get to move forward, I'd love to see you two work together again. There seems to be a real chemistry between you.

Spencer: I make that book so hard on him because we've only got the ten pages. [Lemire Laughs] I don't know how it was with you on the Atom stuff, but obviously you're trying to give everybody their money's worth and do a full story in ten pages. It's enormously challenging. It's a fun challenge in a lot of ways, but it's also really difficult. So he's constantly loaded up with these six or seven-panel pages with these 12 to 15 balloons. He never complains, and he knocks it out of the park every time. He puts an enormous amount of detail in every panel.

Lemire: One of your strengths is obviously your dialogue, and the way these guys are acting together on the page from his work is so in tune with the way you write dialogue. It seems like a great fit.

Spencer: Yeah. He'll throw in little jokes of his own and lots of great visual cues. He really gets the humor and adds something to it. That's what's fun - when you get an artist who gets what you're doing and wants to do it too. I think he's having a blast with it.

Lemire: I want to go back to "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" for a minute. It's one of those weird properties from when we were kids - and I'm thinking you must be of similar age to me. I wasn't really aware of the original Wally Wood stuff, but there was an '80s version of "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents." I can't even remember who published it...

Spencer: Was that the Blue Ribbon stuff?

Lemire: Blue Ribbon! That was it. I remember how you'd find those every once in a while on a newsstand, and it'd be this weird alternate superhero universe you'd never seen before. Dynamo was always the coolest costume design, and I really dug it, but you could never get too into it because it was really out there. So I guess you were aware of this stuff in the same way?

Spencer: Exactly. It's funny. As a kid, I was always attracted to these little splinter universes that all popped up in the '60s and then had revivals in the '80s. As a kid, I had a constant love affair with the Red Circle characters. I'd buy up every incarnation of those from the Red Circle stuff to the !mpact stuff. The same goes for a lot of the Kirby stuff like "Captain Victory" and all that. So I was always really attracted to those different universes - the Fighting American! When you're a kid, it's cool because you get so used to Marvel and DC that when you'd see these other ones, it would just be like "Here's this whole other things I didn't know about!"

Lemire: It's so big and mysterious, and you could try to figure it all out. That's cool. I got to read your first two issues of "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" because Wil sent them to me. They're amazing, and I wanted to cover the impetus for the readers. What differentiates your version from the original Wally Wood stuff?

Spencer: You know, for me we took all the original Wally Wood stuff - the Tower Comics run from the '60s - and said that it's in continuity to the story. So all of that did happen. All of that is a part of the story. At the same time, this is a new generation of agents, a new set of recruits. It's many years later, but the original stuff was so good and so smart, and Wood was such a genius that really I take a lot of my cues from that run. I just tried to update it, and more than that, sort of take a look at what were the broader themes. What were he and Len Brown and all those guys trying to say with that book?

I think it's no different than what the Marvel guys do with their characters or the DC guys do with their characters, where they break it down to what would be a central conceit. What is this character at its core? Those characters have had the benefit of having 40 or 50 years of a natural growth process and being able to change over time. So what I tried to do was say, "What could have been happening with these characters? Let's assume that nobody had stopped publishing them and the stories were still being told. Where would we be right now?" So you're trying to take that initial inspiration and stay true to it. Keep that one-sentence description of what that character is and then extrapolate it over a few decades. Where would you be with it now?

Lemire: That's really cool. Is it a similar thing with "Supergirl?" Are you trying to boil her back down to her core, and if so, what is her core?

Spencer: Yeah. With "Supergirl" - and I just read your first issue of "Superboy" this week, and I bet you asked yourself a lot of the same questions.

Lemire: Yes. [Laughter]

Spencer: In both those cases, they're sort of newer characters in comparison to characters that date back to the Silver Age or the Golden Age. For me, I look at these younger characters, and I get excited because we should do - especially at DC where so much is based on generations and legacies and about traditions being carried on, which to me is one of the great strengths of the DC Universe - is that, when I sit down to write Kara, I think, "What is the quantum leap? What is the next step for a character that wears that logo on their chest? That wears that symbol?" Kara is, for me, all about trying to take that inspiration that her cousin gives her - and not just her cousin, but in this continuity where she's been trained by Wonder Woman and has a very strong connection to Batman, the entire trinity has a role in shaping her initially. So Kara's very much about taking the example of those greatest heroes and trying to figure out how to do it in a new way. "How do I do this differently? Do I want to just be the younger, female version of my cousin, or do I want to approach all this differently?"

I don't think Kara has a rebellious streak. I think we use that "rebellious" word around her a lot, but I don't think that's the correct term. I think she has an independent streak. I think one of the funniest things about her that always stands out to me is that, she's technically older than Superman. He was a little baby when he was sent here, and she had already been living on Krypton. So for her, that connection is so much stronger. It's so much more a part of her. I think she has this chance thing where she's not him. One just got here before the other. She's always a little off balance because of that, but she tries to channel it in such a way where she can ask, "What am I going to be in ten years? How can we do this better?" That's the big question that I'm asking in this story.

I never believed that a teenager is going to look at the adults around them and go, "I'm going to do exactly that." [Laughter] Nobody says that! When you're 16 or 17, everybody says, "I can do this way better than them!" Everybody says that I can figure it out in a way where we don't have to constantly keep having these same fights over and over. That to me is key to her character - the belief that at some point she's going to figure out how to do this better.

Lemire: In terms of that book and "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents," how far have you plotted things out? Are they long term projects for you?

Spencer: On "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" I have a little bit longer of a plan, but you know how it is. It's hard until you know how people are going to respond. You try to not let yourself get too carried away.

Lemire: Especially with "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents," because it doesn't have the "S" logo and it's a new series, so you never know how long you'll have with it.

Spencer: Right. So with that, it's one of those things where you try to write in such a way that you're leaving yourself room. Of course, in the back of your head you're going "I could spin this out into that, and then I could do this!" I know that I was looking at your first issue of "Superboy" and getting goosebumps for you when you get to that last page, and there's all this "Coming Soon" stuff. You're seeing the different stories that can play out, and I don't know how long the plans are, but it seems like there's a lot coming. It's just like that. You get very excited about the future stories you could tell, but at the end of the day, I try to just put one foot in front of the other and just worry about the issue I've got in front of me right now and make it the best issue I can.

I also think you can get stuck in that trap where you're going, "Once I get through this first arc, I can do something amazing!" But you're not even going to make it to the second arc because you didn't give people a reason to stick around. It's like what you were talking about before, with attention spans and how tough the competition is at this point - you have to think with every issue, "This has to be better than the last one."

Lemire: I think, just in terms of that, the one thing I've been doing with "Superboy" is that, since the late '90s up until now, the real thing has been writing six-issue arcs so they can be collected into a trade. I'm almost excited, for the same reasons we're talking, to do one or two-issue arcs and give them my all and then move on to the next thing. It adds up to a bigger story, but you don't have to worry so much about thinking long term. With "Supergirl," how are you approaching the structure of your storyline? Is it five or six-issue things, or smaller arcs?

Spencer: What I did with each story is say, "Okay. The intensity has to build with every single issue." So the scale and the scope of each issue gets progressively bigger. And it's a really fun story. I tried to take some of the cues from that early [Jeph] Loeb "Supergirl" stuff that he did with [Michael] Turner and [Ian] Churchill, and one of the things that really struck me about why that was a top ten book was because you really got the sense that something big was going to happen. The major players in the DCU were all there. Things that were happening in that book had ramifications elsewhere, and not in a cheap or forced way. She was just that important to the DC Universe. I wanted to try to reconnect to that.

I think what Sterling [Gates] and Jamal [Igle] did so well was pull her back and give her her own life. She just hadn't had an opportunity to develop that before. Now, she's got friends and a job and a supporting cast. She's got her own rogues gallery and all these things a character has to have to be well-rounded. Sterling did an incredible job of building all that up. What I said was, "Now, with all that developed and she's in a a different place than she was in those early issues, let's push her back into the DCU in a really big way. Now that she's her own person and has figured a lot of things out, let's push her back into the forefront and see how things are different than they were back then."

She was, in those early stories, in a lot of ways a trainwreck. In one of those first stories, the moment that stands out to me was that she was dealing with the Outsiders of the time led by Dick Grayson, and she just flies up and kisses Dick Grayson out of nowhere. She has a crush and goes for it. You see her as a character now and go, "How embarrassed must she be that she did that?" [Laughter] How horrifying must that seem to her in a year's worth of comic book time since that happened? Then again, people change a lot from 16 to 17 and from 17 to 18. She's changing a lot, and so for me a big part of the fun was to go back and say, "This character is going back out there and taking a central role...how will she be careful not to make the same mistakes?"

Lemire: My next question is something I've been struggling with myself, lately, and I thought I'd ask you because it feels like our careers are in a really similar spot. It seems like all of a sudden, we're getting a lot of opportunities to write a lot of different things. [Spencer Laughs] There's creator-owned work and DC stuff and Marvel stuff...

Spencer: I felt like this question must be coming! [Laughter]

Lemire: I just wondered, because for me, I get scared every day that I'm over-committing and worrying about what I can accept. I have to protect whatever reputation I have, but at the same time, it's so hard to say no to things when work is offered. How are you finding that juggling act? And now every person out there who wants to be a comic writer is hating us for complaining about this.

Spencer: Yeah, yeah, yeah! This is the question where half the readers are just going to say, "Fuck you," but it is a real concern. I'm in the same boat, where you struggle with this every day. I think it's almost like, you do something and it opens a new door. And then every opportunity feels like a step up. Then it's just a little bit more exciting. You don't ever want to say no, but I think at the end of the day, I'm always trying to be aware of the fact that none of this is going to last forever. What's important is seizing the moment and making the most out of it - making the biggest impression possible so that you can hopefully have a very long career.

I just view this next year or the next couple of years as ones where I'm just going to be chained to my desk. I would rather have that than have a shorter stay. For me, you keep trying to work to get faster. You keep disciplining yourself more and more, and thankfully in my case - and we work with some of the same people - my editors are good guys who understand the position you're in. They helped put you in it. [Laughter] Most of the time, it's just one of those things where they seem to try and work with you on it.

But I haven't reached the point - and I doubt you have either - where I've turned in a script without having done the best I could do on it. I won't let it go if I don't feel that strongly about it. If I found myself doing that and going "I have to turn this in to get to the next thing," that would be the day I start backing away from things.

Lemire: I hear ya.

Spencer: Thankfully, that hasn't hit yet. I always wanted to be writing a lot, too. I always wanted a big workload because I get excited about telling different kinds of stories. I'm not one of these people that just wants one book to define everything about them. I like going from a darker, more serious book like "T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents" to something funny and light like "Jimmy Olsen." It's great for me to exercise those different writing muscles and get to experiment with different ways of writing. It's hard, but somehow we manage to survive, I guess. [Laugher] And I try to keep in mind that none of us are doing anything for the first time. The publishers know better than us what the trajectory is, and you try to do the best work I can.

Credit where credit is due, CBR would like to note our inspiration from the BBC's excellent Chain Reaction radio show. Check back with CBR tomorrow as Nick Spencer interviews writer Paul Cornell in the next leg of our DC Wrtiers Relay!

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