In 1996, Sergio Aragonés wandered his pencil in Groo-like fashion across the DC Universe in "Sergio Aragonés Destroys DC." Now, more than a decade later, the living legend is back with the publisher for not one but two new projects that are sure to leave his fans drooling like a "mendicant." First, a re-imagining of one of his own creation's origin story in the six-part "Bat Lash" miniseries. Secondly, Aragonés is the new writer for his old friend Will Eisner's "The Spirit" ongoing series.
We spoke in-depth yesterday with Aragonés about the revival of "Bat Lash," and today in Part 2 of a three-part interview, Aragonés spoke with CBR News from his home in Ojai, California about "The Spirit," the ghostly gumshoe created by Will Eisner in the 1940s and re-introduced by DC and writer/artist Darwyn Cooke in 2006.
It was announced at Baltimore Comic Con that Aragonés would take over the Harvey award-wining series with #14 in January, 2008 with Mike Ploog recently confirmed as artist. "It was a totally complete surprise to me," said Aragonés of his latest writing assignment. "I have worked with DC for a long-time. I guess they must like what I do because when I was asked, I was completely surprised. It was like, 'Oh my God, how wonderful.' I was a friend of Will Eisner's and before that I grew up with 'The Spirit.' It was one of the first comics I ever read in Mexico."
Aragonés was born in Castellon, Spain in 1937, but his family soon relocated to Mexico during the Spanish Civil War. In Mexico, Aragonés studied Architecture at the University of Mexico, but his heart was always in cartooning. At 17, he began selling professionally to a wide array of Mexican publications before coming to New York a decade later to make his mark on American comics as not only as an artist but also as a writer.
"Eisner had a great influence on my way of writing, the way he developed stories. Not directly, but very indirectly," explained Aragonés. "I loved the way, he told the stories and I think he was very influential on my work and so when I was asked to write 'The Spirit,' I was like, 'Oh, my Heavens.' How can I have a chance to work on a character who I really love very much?"
Aragonés says he loves what Cooke – who announced he was leaving the title at Comic Con – was doing on "The Spirit" and admits it will be a tough act to follow. "What Darwyn did with the book was terrific," said Aragonés. "I was really surprised. But now I am thinking, how are we going to top this?"
Aragonés draws comparisons to his own creation Bat Lash when describing The Spirit and why the simplicity of Denny Colt's alter ego works today in the world of first-person shooter video games and mature-rated comics. "The character himself is of a genre that people try to confuse sometimes by adding all kinds of gadgets and things to, in this case, the detective mystery series, which is so pure, on in its own," explained Aragonés. "It's different than westerns, even manga, whatever you want. This is a subject we can play with and have a lot of fun without having to resort to any other gimmicks or supernatural powers. And there's obviously some humor. The character has a wonderful sense of humor."
Aragonés confirmed to CBR News his run on "The Spirit" is open-ended and that he would be plotting the stories while having his long-time "Groo" collaborator Mark Evanier assisting with dialogue. And while he wasn't sharing who the artist on the project was going to be, Aragonés did offer up a drawn-out, whispered, "Oh, yes," when asked if he was pleased with the choice, who has since been revealed to be veteran comics illustrator Mike Ploog.
Aragonés will begin his run close to home, featuring The Spirit and the Dolan family along with new villains he has created for the series. But later, he plans to return to some classics baddies like Big Al. "I want to stay very much, in the beginning, with the classic people," said Aragonés, "Nolan, the daughter but eventually I will go to stories with Big Al and everything. To touch a little on the whole family will be a focus but villains, I will start new but eventually, I will bring back the classics.
"I am trying to do a Big Al story, could you imagine? I love that character," he continued. "But these characters are so rich, they write themselves. They direct you, you don't direct them."
Aragonés is also keeping busy creating the marginals for "Mad Magazine" and finishing a four-part miniseries starring arguably his most popular creation, "Groo" for Dark Horse Comics. "I am writing #3 [of 'Groo: Hell on Earth'] and we are having a very good time with that one too, oh, yes," said Aragonés. "And I think people will enjoy it too. I was a little afraid because we haven't done one in so long.
"Well, maybe the reason was because we didn't have any more stories [laughs], but that wasn't true," said Aragonés of the five-plus years that have passed since his last "Groo" project, "Groo: Death & Taxes."
"As soon as I sat down and started writing him, boom, it started pouring out and the jokes and everything. It was a lot of fun," laughed Aragonés. "For me, he is such a comfortable character. I know him so well. And the advantage is that I can draw it. I would draw 'The Spirit' but I don't know how to draw that style. I can't. I have my own style of drawing humor and it would take me a lifetime to learn how to draw how all the other gentlemen draw."
"The Spirit" #14 by Sergio Aragonés and Mike Ploog is scheduled for January, 2008 while "Bat Lash" #1 is in stores on December 12.
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