REFLECTIONS: Talking with Dan Jurgens

Sun, April 30th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Robert Taylor, Staff Writer

Reflections, Volume 2, Number 12

"Dan Jurgens is talking to me on the phone! I'm actually hearing the man who changed my life by helping me get into comics through 'Superman' speaking to me!"

I've interviewed Jurgens twice, and every time those same thoughts always race through my mind over and over again throughout the interview. Jurgens not only changed my life by writing a comic that got me into comics, but one hell of a lot of other current comic fans as well.

His signing of an exclusive contract with DC and work on the upcoming "52" and the recent "Infinite Crisis: Secret Files and Origins" has put him back on the creative mainstream map, and he took a few minutes out of his very busy day to talk up his current projects and what's coming next as both a writer and an artist.

Dan Jurgens
Robert Taylor: How's life?

Dan Jurgens: Life is good. I can't complain.

RT: So tell me how your exclusivity with DC came about.

DJ: I was working on the "Infinite Crisis: Secret Files and Origins" book around the end of 2005 and Dan DiDio called me up and told me they wanted me to do more. They threw some ideas at me and we went from there.

RT: Is the exclusivity just for your art or for your writing as well?

DJ: For both.

RT: What do you have coming up on the writing plate?

DJ: Well, we are just getting started with things. I'm writing and drawing "The History of the DCU," which is going to appear every week in "52," running from issue 2-11. That's the first thing.

RT: Any subtle hints about what else you want to/might be playing with in the DCU?

"52" #1, Page 21 "52" #1, Page 24
DJ: Obviously, I really can't talk about that yet! I had started working on a "Justice League" project with Dan Slott a couple years ago, and it got put to the side, and now I'll be picking that up and finishing it off now that Dan has gone exclusive to Marvel. It's hard to think so far down the road when I've already got so much great stuff on my plate right now.

RT: What's going on with "Battle for Bludhaven?"

DJ: In "Infinite Crisis" we saw Chemo dropped on Bludhaven. The story shows what happened afterward. There are a lot of radiation-based characters coming out of the wall now.

RT: How's working with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray?

DJ: It's a lot of fun. We've never worked together before. I told Jimmy I couldn't believe we never had, because we'd both been around the industry quite a bit….if you know what I mean.

RT: The last time we talked, you spoke about how you'd never really had the chance to work in the Batman universe, and now you are, albeit in a far corner of it. Do you still want to delve deeper into it?

DJ: Maybe someday. There aren't any plans at present, and there are some other characters I'd like to get to first. If you spend any time in this business at all, you get to touch every character in one way or another, so we'll see.

RT: Let's talk about the political overtones of the book.

DJ: You can see some close parallels to reality. Look at how the heroes aren't allowed in the city. Look at the way things are cut off. Look at the way people are trapped in the city ungoverned. You can see New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina there. Fiction works best when there is reality to draw from.

RT: Tell me about your partnership with Palmiotti on the artwork.

DJ: Jimmy and I are developing that cohesive visual language. I've always thought a penciller and inker had to work together for six issues before they get in a rhythm and understand each other's visual shorthand. Jimmy has picked up on that much faster than most, we are already cohesive by issue 2.

RT: Tell us a bit more about your work on "History of the DC Universe."

DJ: Dan DiDio first talked to me about that several months ago. At that time we didn't even know where or how it would appear. We didn't know if we should do it as a one shot special, or backups in a few books, or what. Then it turned into a project within "52," and gives reader perfect chapters.

RT: You've got Art Thibert inking you. How is it working with him?

DJ: Very good. Art and I worked together a number of times, from "Adventures of Superman," to the "Superman/Fantastic Four" crossover I did. We are old comrades in arms.

RT: Does returning to DC feel like coming home again?

DJ: I think there was an aspect of coming home to it. But DC is a very different place. If I go back to when I was there before, the names were all different. The letterhead was the same, the logo was the same (though even that has changed), but the names have changed a lot. I definitely have some longtime friends there, but at the same time there are a lot of new people there that have made the place feel a lot different. It's like going home again, but at the same time you walk in and say "What have you done!? All the furniture is new and the floor is different!"

RT: The last time we talked you had some reservations about what was happening in "Identity Crisis." How are you liking the fallout and "Infinite Crisis?"

DJ: It's done a terrific job on delivering on a couple of aspects. It's a very entertaining story. It leaves a really lasting after effect that gives people a reason to stay tuned. The concept of doing the "One Year Later" thing has been really beneficial for new readers.

RT: DC's got a wide variety of exclusive writers and artists under their employ. Which ones are you be interesting in working with?

DJ: I'd like to work with Geoff Johns sometime on something. I look at what he's doing now and he succeeds in touching on a lot of thematic elements I tried to do when I worked on "Superman" and "Zero Hour." I really haven't given the artist aspect a lot of thought because I haven't begun writing anything major yet.

RT: Dan, what was your first comic book?

DJ: "Superman" #189. I remember the cover distinctly to this day. Superman was wandering through the remains of Krypton with Krypto. It was a great thematic cover that posed a big question. What I remember more than anything is that cover.

RT: Has there ever been a comic that touched or changed your life?

DJ: Not in the overt sense…wait…I take that back. The first time I ever picked up a comic was shortly after the live-action "Batman" TV series started. I was walking home and saw some kids on a porch reading a stack of comics. I had no idea they even existed, and I remember walking over and seeing the "Robin Dies At Dawn" issue of "Batman" and being immediately floored. What do you mean Robin is dead!? I just saw him on TV last night! That image so hooked me that I went out and started buying comics a few days later.

RT: If you could only write/draw one series for the rest of your career, what would it be?

DJ: "Green Lantern," with me writing and drawing. When I was doing "Superman," I enjoyed doing cosmic-level stories. One of the things I observed at DC was that DC didn't have that many cosmic-level characters, and I like doing cosmic. You can tell a story as big as the cosmos or something very personal and intimate for Hal.

RT: You've attended a lot of comics conventions during your career. Got any choice stories from those conventions?

DJ: One time I was in Chicago and there was an individual wandering through the main entrance area. He was sweating profusely and his eyes were as glassy as glassy could get. And people were just passing by him! I saw he was about ready to keel over, and I went up and asked if I could help him out. He was about to go into diabetic shock. It's one of those things you don't expect, when you are a professional, to be able to help, and it was amazing to be able to do that, but at the same time I couldn't believe all those people were passing by him. It was a gratifying and depressing experience all rolled into one.

RT: Wow, usually the stories I hear are about some reaction a fan had to a creator's work or how someone acted at a show. This is an unusual experience, indeed.

Allright, final question-- If you were remembered for only one thing in your career, what would it be?

DJ: Well, I think we all know what it's going to be. But I'd like to be remembered for making a worthwhile contribution to the industry and leaving things better than when I came onboard.

 
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