Justice Editor of America: Peter Tomasi talks DC and… Hal Jordan?

If you were at Comic-Con International in San Diego this year, you know Peter Tomasi, an editor at DC Comics. He was the one at the DC booth with the smile on his face and taking photos for people, keeping everybody merry and just having a good time. If you went to the DC panels, you saw another side of the eloquent Tomasi:

He's doing a lot of big stuff at DC Comics.

With the addition of "Green Lantern" to his editorial load, CBR News thought it would be a perfect time to catch up with the editor and learn more about what he does, though in Tomasi's words, "My job is simple. It's to get the best out of the people I work with and know when to get in the way and when to get out of the way.

"I'm not sure what the readers know and don't know about an editors job. These days, with the Internet and all the material published about the industry, they probably know more than I did when I broke in many moons ago. Editors really do have their own distinct style. Some get in the mix more, others don't. I enjoy the day to day machinations. I love talking with the writers, like Geoff Johns, Will Pfeifer, Alan Davis, John Arcudi, Dan Jolley, etc., about the upcoming year of stories and helping shape what will be in the titles I edit. I still get a great deal of excitement seeing art boards from a penciller come in, making suggestions about where to help the visuals along -- over the years I've given many a new penciller their first shots at regular work, and it's great to watch them evolve page by page.

"I have to say, editing comics is great, more amazing than I ever thought it could be. A cart comes by the door and a box gets thrown on your desk several times a month. In it are the books you've worked on. Nothing beats that. Holding something tangible that you and a bunch of other people helped bring into being from a simple phone conversation...it's extremely rewarding. Not many jobs have that ability to show you end results that you can hold in your hand on a regular basis."

Being an editor is something that some readers might think would be the job for them, but as Tomasi explains, it's hard to get in just like it is as a creator. "Comics, movies, and baseball. Those were/are my passions. I screwed up my arm playing college ball, so...

"I wanted to break in as a writer at first. I submitted dozens of scripts to guys like Archie Goodwin, Dick Giordano, Joe Orlando, Denny O' Neil, editors I felt my material was better suited for. I then came to the realization I wanted to work in the industry in any shape or form, so I then started submitting resumes every month to all the editors whose books I enjoyed. I even wrote and directed some Off-Off Broadway plays in a theater near the DC offices, sending free tickets to the editors I wanted to work for, but no dice. So I was all set to move out to Los Angeles for a change of scenery when the call comes in from Stuart Moore and Tom Peyer, who are looking for an assistant editor. Well, it was down to me and Julie Rottenberg. She got it. So off to LA I go, but wait, another call, this one from Dan Raspler. He heard good things about me from Stuart and Tom. 'Can I come in for an interview?' And the rest is history.

"In regards to where I want to be at DC...well I'm hoping to be a Group Editor and move on to Ruler of the Free World."

Tomasi's expertise in editing comes from the fact that he himself is a creator and has experience with DC's finest, as he explains. "I've written a bunch of stuff over the years. I did a well-received 'Flash' Annual (Dead Earths) with JH Williams a few years back, and several issues of 'Steel' (this fanboy went gaga after seeing the credits on a cover read: Tomasi, Aparo, Giordano) along with some 'Martian Manhunter'stories drawn by Eduardo Barreto. But my passion project that will be out in February is a creator-owned four issue prestige series I wrote called 'The Light Brigade.'Peter Snejbjerg is the artist and Bjarne Hansen is the color artist. Their work is simply beautiful. I drool every time pages come in. I think Snejbjerg is gonna find a lot of new fans with his work on this thing."

His vision for the comics he edits is clear and says that he aims to have his creators producing superhero material that really impacts a reader. "Entertaining, emotional, and exciting stories. That's my mandate. It's finding new voices, finding new artists, being able to allow established pros their chance to hit home runs. I mean check out the work that Rags and Bair do on a monthly basis in 'Hawkman.' It's the best looking monthly out there. Show me another title that looks as good and comes out every 30 days.

"I just try and put the right people in the right spots and let 'em do their thing. It also boils down to knowing what I like and wanting to see it out there for other people to check out. I remember seeing 'Marvels' and thinking damn this Alex Ross is great, I want to work on something with him. I called him to do a 'Spectre' cover, and after he turned it in, I asked him what he was doing next. He said he had no plans as of yet, but he did have a proposal in with another editor for almost a year. I checked with the editor, asked if I could pull it from his mile high stack, he said yes, I read it, loved it, and showed it to my boss. And of course that project was 'Kingdom Come.' A book I'm very proud to be associated with. Also, I feel to succeed you need to not be afraid to hear the word 'no' and think outtta the box. After I read 'Kavalier and Clay' (the first week it was out), I was luckily able to contact Michael Chabon to write a story for the 'JSA All Stars' book."

When Tomasi is looking to edit a new book or bring an existing book into his group, he has one expectation: "It's all about the material striking a chord," he explains. "You have to ask yourself if this is material you want to work on day in and day out. There are only so many hours in a day, and why not immerse yourself in the projects you really wanna do. Of course you don't always initiate a project, like for example, 'HERO' was a book that Mike McAvennie was going to edit, but when he left DC I felt it was a natural fit in terms of story and feel for me, so I asked to edit it. 'Aquaman' was another book like that. I always loved the character and felt he was never given his due. The work that Will Pfeifer and Patrick Gleason are producing...I hope that word of mouth and new readers pick it up, because they will not be disappointed."

You might know Tomasi from the recent decision to change the direction of "Firestorm," which was originally being written by writer Mike Carey, of "Lucifer" fame, and while it had people on the Internet talking, Tomasi says it was simply a matter of wanting to take the series in a new direction. "Jeez, I didn't think it was controversial. It boiled down to once I took over the book, it was decided that we go in a different direction than originally conceived. The plans as of right now, is Dan Jolley writing, Criss Cross pencilling, and John Dell inking. There's gonna be some real surprises on this title."

The aforementioned addition of "Green Lantern" to his editing duties has been called brave- Green Lantern fans are known for being vocally, let's say, devoted. "Nothing brave about it," says Tomasi, flexing his editor biceps of steel. "We've got some huge kick-ass plans with some great talent coming on board. It's a year away, so there's some time yet, but the stuff that Raab, Bosch, Ramos and Moose are doing is great. Wish I could tell you more about future GL plans, but it's too far off to drop any hints as of yet."

Tomasi also mentioned at summer conventions that fans of Hal Jordan, the Silver age Green Lantern, would be happy next year and when asked to expand on that comment he says, "Did I? I can't recall..."

Similarly, one can conclude the power of the Spectre is keeping Tomasi from revealing too much, since he's unable to reveal more about the plans for two new "Green Lantern" series next year. Might it be the return of Hal Jordan? "Brain hurting...can't...answer...question...for some reason...unseen force...preventing me..."

It should be noted that Tomasi edits the highly successful "JSA" series, a comic about the original superhero team, and while there have only been two spin offs this year in the form of the mini-series "Dr. Fate" and "JSA: All Stars," that doesn't mean more aren't coming. "We've got 'JSA: Lord Dynamo,' a cool 6 part mini written by the novelist Kevin Anderson and drawn by Barry Kitson coming down the pike, along with special back up stories in the regular JSA book after the 'Black Reign' story arc is over. Geoff and I have also been talking about some other mini's featuring some JSA characters, but nothing solid yet. I have no intention of 'limiting' JSA stuff, it really boils down to making sure whatever books we put out there with the JSA logo are good books. 'JSA' is one of DC's best selling books and I don't want to dilute that scenario by rushing stuff out there to capitalize on that fact."

Dan DiDio, Vice President of DC Editorial (and recently interviewed at CBR), has been having a big impact of the company of late and Tomasi has nothing but praise for his boss' efforts. "Dan's great to work for. He's got boundless enthusiasm and energy and he's put himself on a real mission. This guy is dedicated to making sure DC puts out great stuff. Plain and simple."

So how is Peter Tomasi going to surprise comic fans? "Well, I think all the current books, along with the upcoming ones, will all have their share of surprises," he contends. "The GL stuff, the sequel to 'The Nail' by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer, 'Aquaman,' 'Firestorm,' 'JSA,' 'Hawkman,' 'Legion,' etc. I really feel readers will enjoy the stuff that will be coming out from the offices of Peter Tomasi and Stephen Wacker. Or at least I hope so."

In closing, Tomasi has some words for fans that he feels will contribute to their money being better spent on comics. "Stop buying books that you don't like and try new ones. Sample. Too many good books are being missed because people are plunking down their hard-earned cash for material they don't like or respect. Try stuff on your own and through the word of mouth from people you trust. Let your enjoyment dictate your purchases."

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