Jeff Lemire discusses his new Animal Man and Frankenstein books...as well as why Buddy Baker's marriage will last longer than Superman's!
Jeff Lemire is the award-winning writer best known for his work on indy hits Sweet Tooth and Essex County. Recently, Lemire made the plunge into the world of superheroes in last year's Eisner Award-nominated Superboy. With the DC Relaunch looming in September, Lemire will be moving on to two horror based titles: Animal Man and Frankenstein. The Outhouse sat down with Lemire to find out as much as possible about the two new books.
Outhouse: Jeff, you posted a picture yesterday of sketches of Frankenstein and Animal Man that have been hanging above your desk for a few years. Needless to say, you're pretty excited to be writing these books, aren't you?
Jeff Lemire: I love both characters. Animal Man was a formative book fo me back in the 90's as were all the early DC/Vertigo line of books. They really kept me interested in comics when the regular superhero stuff lost my interest, and really contributed in me wanting to become a storyteller.
And I thought Grant Morrision' Frankenstein was one of the funnest and most underappreciated books of the last 5 or ten years. Tonnes of potential there I was dying to get my hands on.
OH: Both Animal Man and Frankenstein have been largely defined by Grant Morrison and his stories featuring the characters. Are you planning to be using any plot points or themes from Grant's time with the characters?
JL: Well, to be honest I am taking as much from Jamie Delano's Animal Man run as Grant's. Don't get me worng, I love Grant's stuff, but I really don't want to go down the same meta-fiction route he did. That was really the kind of story you could only do once with a character, and he did it masterfully. I think the absolute worse thing I could do is try to write like Grant Morrision. I need to be myself, and find my pwn voice with these characters just like he did.
OH: So, let's start with Frankenstein. Frankenstein's a newer character with not a lot of history in the DCU. What do you feel are the main draws to writing Frankenstein and what do you feel are his defining characteristics?
JL: Frankenstein is an unstoppable, unkillable engine of destruction. But buried under this is the sad and noble heart of a poet. He also has absolutley no sense of humor, so when you surround a character like that with total, over-the-top absurd sci-fi mayehm the results are fun, hilarious and unexpected.
The book is the most insane sci-fi and horror concepts I could come up with, one layered on top of another with Frank at the center of the storm, an unchanging, unwavering and unnatural force.
OH: Frankenstein will be working as an agent of SHADE in you new series. What is SHADE's role in the NuDCU and how does Frankenstein fit into the organization?
JL: You'll have to wait to read issue 1 for that one! SHADE is unlike anything that's ever been in the DCU before. It's the anti-SHIELD. Mad-Science gone horribly wrong, yet somehow still sanctioned by the government.
OH: What sort of themes will you be exploring in Frankenstein? Will we be seeing any ties to his role as one of the Seven Soldiers?
JL: Again, you'll have to wait and see about the 7 Soldiers connection, but the main themes of the book are science vs. nature, and the lonliness of a man who can never die, and never be with the woman he loves.
OH: Moving onto Animal Man, you've stated that you'll be exploring the "family man" aspect of Animal Man in his new series. Does that mean that we won't be seeing any of the bizarre storylines that we've gotten used to seeing with Buddy?
JL: Oh, it's plenty bizarre. The fun is taking that family unit and putting them in the middle of the darkest, weirdest things you can imagine, and seeing how far you can push them before they tear apart. Ellen Baker is the rock. Buddy may wear the costume, but as long as Ellen's there, the family will never break.
OH: With rumors of Superman's marriage disappearing and the past dissolution of other DC heroes' marriages, why do you think that Animal Man's family has proved to be so stable throughout the years?
JL: Because unlike Superman or other characters that were married, the core of Buddy's character is his family and his marriage. At it's core, the concept of Animal Man is a father and husband who is also a superhero.
While the core of Superman is an alien who longs to be like us, and Spide-Man is a normal teen trying to do the right thing. The marriage was secondary.
OH: It looks as if your new series will be returning to Buddy's daughter Maxine developing her own powers. Will Maxine and Buddy's powers differ at all and how will it change that family dynamic?
JL: That would be telling. But yes they will differ and she may in fact be one of the most dangerous living things in existence.
OH: Scott Snyder said that many of the new DC horror books will be featuring similar themes between the books. Can you elaborate at all about what sort of themes will be tying the books together and if there will be any other ways the various books tie together?
JL: No I can't. Not without spoiling...but pay close attention to details in both Scott's Swamp Thing and Animal Man...there are foundations being laid down that will effect both books down the road.
OH: Final question: How new reader friendly will Frankenstein and Animal Man be? Why should readers be picking up your books come September?
JL: Both can be picked up and understood if you've never read another A-Man or Frank story before. At the same time, long time fans will be rewarded as well.
You should pick these books up because they are about as far from your average superhero stuff as you can get. And i'm pouring my heart into both books. That and they both look fantastic. Alberto Ponyicelli and Travel Foreman are both incredible artists.
Be sure to check out Animal Man and Frankenstein come September!
Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer