WonderCon: Spotlight On Jeph Loeb

Sun, March 4th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Sam Arroyo, Contributing Writer

As one of the most popular comic book writers today, it's no surprise that a lot of fans turned out to see Jeph's Loeb at his WonderCon panel. CBR News was on hand and we've got a full report.

Loeb said that for once he seemed to be at a loss for words. "I've never done a spotlight panel and I've certainly never done a spotlight panel were there wasn't somebody over there going this is Jeph Loeb and this is what he does." He added, "I don't know what to do, I'm happy to talk and I'll talk endlessly." After humbly thanking the audience for attending his panel Loeb opened up the floor for questions.

The first fan wanted to know why he decided to go exclusive with Marvel. "Don't you have enough security in your life?" said the reader. Loeb explained that its not the security as much as that the landscape in comics these days demands exclusivity. He said he told a lot of great stories at DC and "Superman/Batman" #26 was the last story he wanted to write there for awhile, similar to starting over and leaving the TV show "Smallville." The loss of his son was the major factor in that decision, taking into consideration that "Superman/Batman" 26 was written with his son.

"What a lot of people don't remember is that I've been doing this back and forth thing for longer than anyone wants to admit." said Loeb.

It felt right for him to go on to something new. The fun of writing "Wolverine," "The Ultimates" and the upcoming "Fallen Son" have really invigorated Loeb. Marvel's Joe Quesada and Dan Buckley have allowed him freedom he felt he has not had with past publishers. "I kind of go my own way."

The next fan thanked Loeb for his current "Wolverine" run. Loeb spoke about "Wolverine" artist Simone Bianchi and how amazing he is to work with. He joked about the Italian's way of speaking and his enthusiasm to work together and really connect. "It's impossible to not enjoy working with him!" He said the artist's speed and level of immediate professionalism have also vastly impressed Loeb.

One of the things Loeb likes about Marvel is how EIC Joe Quesda understands the creative aspects of putting out a book, the coloring and the lettering and how that shapes the final product.

A fan asked about Loeb's desire to work on any particular Marvel character and reclaim him as his own. He said he is doing what he wants at Marvel. He is touching on almost every character in the Marvel universe in the upcoming "Fallen Son." "The short answer is I'm kinda working on everyone I like," he said.

Loeb mentioned the upcoming Hulk tentatively titled "The Strongest There Is" with Ed McGuiness and how it would make World War Hulk seem like "A picnic with your Grandmother." One concept McGuiness shared with Loeb was a scene where Hulk is fighting with somebody and then he looks over and sees the Watcher. Hulk asks the Watcher what he is doing. The Watcher responds that he is the Watcher and he is watching him. The Hulk then punches him out and says, "I don't want anybody watching me!" The crowd roared with laughter.

"Wolverine" #50 cover

Fans asked about his writing style for film and comics, specifically which medium used the base style he would adjust when writing in other mediums. Loeb said that he is driven by deadline and fear. He realizes how lucky he is that he gets to write comics. Loeb came into comics sideways by writing a Flash film. When that did not pan out he was asked to write a comic book for DC. As someone who grew up with boxes of comics he jumped at the offer. He owned up to his naive idea that comic book writing was similar to TV and film writing. He asked DC about what characters he could write and it seemed like he was not allowed anything he wanted. He randomly picked Challengers of the Unknown and DC gave it to him. He found it difficult to deal with having to make stories shorter and condense arcs. Loeb did become good friends with Challengers artist Tim Sale. Sale was one of the first artists to be asked back to do a "Legends of the Dark Night" arc. Archie Goodwin, editor at the time, was asked by Sale if Loeb could work on a Batman story and that become the now legendary Halloween special. Loeb said he felt a lot of his work influenced Batman Begins and he understands a lot of things from "A Long Halloween" will be showing up in the next Batman film. After the Batman story, Loeb was ready to go back to screenwriting and soon he got a call from Marvel. Impressed with his Batman work they wanted him for X-Men. The scribe loved his run on X-Men, and joked, "It was challenging to work with Bob Harras's editing style...but the checks were big!"

By the time he went back to DC and began work on "Superman," he was working on comics as much as he was working on film and TV. He mentioned how he works as hard as he can on either medium until he can't. "I find it hard to switch," he commented.

Asked about hit TV show "Heroes" he said, "The storytelling and the writing process is so collaborative and I'm enjoying how I can be on set and on location." Two of the other prominent shows he's worked on, "Lost," and "Smallville," are all filmed on location abroad and Loeb said that disconnects him from the energy of each shows creation. Loeb explained, "In comics you can talk to the artist and tweak things and on TV being on set is the same thing."

Henry, a fan who teaches a Batman class at UC Berkeley, was about to ask a question and in turn Loeb explained to the audience about how Henry was friends with Anya, the first recipient of the The Sam Loeb College Scholarship Fund Of North Hollywood High School. He told the audience that the Scholarship was set up to reward special students that embodied the personality and creative traits of his late son. He also mentioned he owes Henry a visit to his Batman class and in turn Henry told Loeb that most of the Batman books used are written by Loeb. Henry's finally asked his burning question about the film Loeb penned back in 1985-"Commando." He wanted to know which lines were actually the product of Loeb's writing. Loeb said that he claims most of the script as his even though at the time another older writer took his script and changed it and took the credit. "Every line you loved was mine and the stuff that was over the top and horrible he wrote!"

Loeb's work on "Lost" was the subject of the next question. He said he could not be specific as it is part of an agreement he made to work there but he spoke highly about the show and how much he loved working on it. He was very tight lipped about "Lost." Loeb said it was hard to leave but after seeing the "Heroes" pilot he jumped onto to that immediately.

"Superman/Batman" #26 Pages 2-3 by Jim Lee

When asked about working with Christopher Reeve on "Smallville," Loeb said it was an amazing experience. Reeves worked harder than most people in his condition. "He would put in no less than 8 hours a day and was always ready to work longer." Loeb said.

"Heroes" was brought up again when a fan asked if writers on the show had pet characters. Loeb told the fan that writers work on various characters and some writers work on one character more than others. Hiro's stories tend to be more comedic and a Suresh story is more cerebral and there are writers that have strength for those stories. Loeb said he has worked on every character. He asked the fan if he had a favorite character and the fan answered "Hiro."

A fan marveled at how Loeb can work on so many things and still put out quality work. The fan was frustrated at other television and film writers who've chosen to write comics and have then been late, with some not finishing the stories they started. Loeb discussed how many of these writers are tortured y not being able to put things out, stressing that they do care.

Finally, "Ultimates" was brought up and Loeb said how a lot of the run is ready to go as soon as issue 13 of Volume 2 arrives in stores. "There will be a shift in tone and changes that will provide a good story for new readers to jump on and satisfy current readers." He said he loves the book and wants to be there for a long time.

Loeb then thanked the audience for their time and then headed off to the autograph area to meet and greet more adoring fans.

 
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