For many months now the rumors that current "Planetary" artist, John Cassaday, would be making the move to the new Marvel Knights "Captain America" title have been flying across the Internet like wildfire.
Finally, the news was made official today at the WizardWorld Convention in Chicago at the Marvel Press Conference. Now the truth can be told.
Earlier, CBR's Keith Giles spoke with Cassaday and arranged to have an exclusive interview conducted prior to this official announcement so that fans could hear from John himself about the announcement and how this will affect his "Planetary" and Wildstorm commitments.
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JOHN CASSADAY: It's a dream of mine that has come true.
KG: Was this decision a difficult one, or did you know you wanted to do this from the beginning? How did this opportunity come about?
JC: Captain America has always been a goal for me, but I wanted the timing to be right. Joe approached me several times about Captain America this past year or so. I think he read somewhere that Cap was my favorite character, and thus, my soft spot. There was a great deal of talk about making Cap a Marvel Knights book and doing something fresh and different with the character. I explained that under no circumstance would I not continue with Planetary. They worked it out for me. I explained how I'd like to see Cap. They worked it out for me. For every question, they had an easy answer: they worked it out. I held off initially, but my schedule and their plans to re-launch coincided perfectly and I just couldn't say no. The time seemed right.
KG: How will your involvement with Captain America affect your work with Planetary or other Wildstorm/DC projects?
JC: It won't. Planetary moves at such an irregular pace, working on Cap won't pose a problem. I'll be taking time off of Cap from time to time to work on Planetary until we've wrapped it up.
KG: Does this move to Marvel create any bad blood between yourself and others at DC or Wildstorm?
JC: Far from it. I was absolutely honest from the start with all parties concerned. DC and Wildstorm have been nothing short of wonderful about it. If anything I'd say they're happy for me that I'm getting to be a part of something I care so much about. Besides, it's not like it's a divorce. I'm not leaving Planetary. I'll continue working with them in the future and have told them as much.
KG: What new projects do you have on the fire right now? Where can the Cassaday-Addict expect to get a fix?
JC: "Planetary" continues on. I'll be illustrating "Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating Crisis" (the final installment of the series) and the "Captain America" re-launch. I also sell lemonade on my street corner when it's warm.
KG: Would you like to do a Marvel Mature (MAX) title in the future?
JC: I imagine that would depend on whether a story I wanted to tell needed to be under that banner. I wouldn't set out to do something specifically adult just for the sake of an "adult line."
KG: Are there any other titles or characters you'd love to take a crack at in the future?
JC: I love DAREDEVIL, but he's a little overexposed these days.
KG: I notice that your Web site (www.johncassaday.com) contains several references to musical artists like Richard Ashcroft and Matthew Sweet. How much of an influence does music have on your art?
JC: Quite a bit, I suppose. I listen to a lot of music while at the drawing board; Brit-pop, soundtracks and whatever. Certain music and moods fit certain books for me. I can look back at specific issues, hell, even exact pages, and remember what music I was playing.
KG: You're working on a short story about Jeff Buckley, what did his music mean to you?
JC: I can't tell you much about the short story right now, but I can tell you that Jeff's music has been a strange force in my life at some tough times. Since his death, he's become a cult figure of sorts to many and it's not hard to see why. His melodies are hypnotic and completely emotional. Much of it's difficult for me to listen to now.
KG: Do you ever feel that you've "made it" as an artist, or is there more you're still hungry to accomplish?
JC: I suppose some would say I've "made it", but when it comes to the actual work, I still have much to learn. I hope I never quit. It's the lifeblood of what I do.
KG: You've worked on a wide range of comic titles so far, from Ghost to the X:Men to Planetary. Do you have a preference for a specific genre?
JC: All of them. That's why "PLANETARY" is such a pleasure for me.
KG: How challenging is it to draw some of the fantastic things that Warren Ellis writes for Planetary? Do you find you work really well with his writing, or is it a struggle sometimes to get his ideas to the drawing board?
JC: Never a struggle, but when there are challenges, I tend to jump into it and find myself consistently excited. Warren's a phenomenal comic writer because he understands the graphic side of storytelling so well. Makes my job that much easier.
KG: Which of your published works are you especially proud of?
JC: "Desperadoes", "Union Jack" and "Planetary."
KG: Are there any artists whose work you especially appreciate?
JC: N.C. Wyeth means a great deal to me. Not just his art, but the world and life he made for himself.
KG: You've been credited with some co-writing on past work. Would you ever like to move more into the writing side, or write and illustrate your own original concepts in the future?
JC: Before the Captain America project came up, I was going to write and illustrate a creator-owned book for Wildstorm. It'll have to wait a bit.
KG: Will you be doing any art chores on the upcoming Planetary Television project?
JC: Who the Hell knows? Would be nice. But "nice" and Hollywood don't always go together.
KG: Can you talk about the upcoming Batman/Planetary book?
JC: It's done when it's done. Out of my hands, really.
KG: Some critics recently have commented that the current wave of ultra-violence in mainstream comics will soon be followed by an increase in sexual content. Any thoughts on this?
JC: Violence and comics tend to go hand in hand. Sex can appear a bit silly in most comics. It can work, but like a movie, there's a fine line between appropriate and "Gumball Grannies of the 69th Dimension."
KG: In your opinion, what needs to change in the Comic Book Industry?
JC: Where and how comics are distributed. If I were 10 years old now, growing up in rural Texas, I wouldn't know what a comic looked like because I wouldn't be able to find any! You can't find it, you can't buy it.
KG: What were some of your favorite comics as a kid?
JC: Batman, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and the occasional Captain America.
KG: What are some of your favorite comics now?
JC: RIGHT NOW? Hellboy, New X-Men, X-Force, Daredevil: Yellow.
KG: What is the best thing about working as a Comic Book Artist?
JC: Being my own boss.
KG: What is the worst thing?
JC: Being my own boss. And the occasional aroma of uncooked Spam at comic cons.