The Jeff Parker Interview

Y'know, Jeff Parker? Does comic THE INTERMAN? And some Marvel All-Ages stuff that people like? And AGENTS OF ATLAS? X-MEN: FIRST CLASS? WALK-IN?

C'mon, JEFF PARKER. You know.

Park Cooper: So what's up?

Jeff Parker: Something neat is, I'm working on what will probably be the last installment of the 1602 world for Marvel.

PC: O rly

JP: Ys.

PC: How did that come to pass?

JP: They asked me. ...I never know how these things work... But it's a chance for me to do something different.

PC: Can you talk about the 1602ness at all yet? Like... title? Or... stuff that happens in it? How do you know this will likely be the last one?

JP: The working title is 1602: The Web Complete. Which probably cues everyone that this focuses largely on Spider-Man.

JP: He'll be leaving the New World and going back to Europe. I'm not sure this will be the last one, but I'm writing it that way!

PC: Who's your editor?

JP: Mark Paniccia.

PC: Mmmm. What's with this X-Men: First Class I hear the kids talking about before and after math class?

PC: (tried to find a hip way to segue and failed)

PC: (so hard to avoid referencing The Kids In The Hall)

JP: That's the funnest X-book ever, is what. We get to treat the o5 like real kids just starting out with their wacky powers. And when they could interface with the rest of the Marvel universe easily.

PC: Was that one your idea?

JP: No, editorial suggested it to me, and it made sense.

PC: For our readers who love continuity: what year does X-Men First Class take place? '64? '07? '87?

JP: Yeah, like I'm going to nail that down! Well it's not 1963, that's for sure. Going with the Marvel slidin' timeline, whereas the FF began roughly about 13 years ago, the X-Men began around 11 or 12 years ago, I believe- from whatever point we're at at the moment.

PC: Who's your favorite X-Person? (And if you need me to be more specific (but only if you do): 'to write?')

JP: Everyone assumes I prefer Iceman, but I'm actually getting more partial to Angel and Marvel Girl as the series goes on. All along I thought I'd be more about Cyclops.

PC: Can you likewise pick a favorite moment from Marvel Adventures?

JP: I still enjoy when the Fantastic Four break into Dr. Doom's castle over Johnny's hotrod and they recount how Reed ended up with Victor Von Doom's car back in college. Mainly because Reed quotes Doom saying "Bah! I have no need for such contrivances" or something like that. And Doom ponders "that does sound like something I'd say."

PC: Okay lightning round. Status update me: Interman: go

JP: There is a screenplay that New Line Cinema likes and they're chatting with directors- if it gets any further than that, I think I'm safe to draw the next volume and expect some sales!

PC: Periscope: is it like this big yellow submarine or what

JP: The walls are yellow, so yes. And it's very roomy and dark in places, just like a real sub. Full of talented crewmen.

PC: Ha ha you said crewmen. Exactly how many hours of research did you do before you wrote Agents of Atlas: go

JP: Days and days. I read a lot of old comics- more to get the feel of approaching the series as if the Atlas imprint existed now. So what you had was a mishmash of genres all working together. The continuity wasn't such a problem because the characters hadn't appeared in much.

PC: I read a collected Steranko SHIELD volume recently-- the hardback one-- and I'm like not only is that Jimmy Woo, that's that Prime Mover Chess Robot of Doom's from 1234!!!!!

JP: I'd like a copy.

PC: Tch-- yeah I found it at the library

JP: I had a neat bit with Jimmy Woo you would have liked that got scratched.

PC: Aw can you tell me about it?

JP: Bob Grayson was searching through Jimmy's brain for any traces of memory they could put together to help the mission, and Jimmy was remembering his SHIELD days. "There's a red haired guy in a derby swearing a lot." Gorilla Man: "That's Dugan." Jimmy: "We're in a big flying ship..." Gorilla Man: "That's a Helicarrier." Jimmy: "And we're chasing after this huge green monster..."

JP: It was a Godzilla reference.

PC: I am relieved by your confirmation, because Fin Fang Foom has popped up elsewhere so often lately...

JP: Man, the FFF always buttin' in.

JP:1:40:07 PM): I love Dugan. I'm putting him in XFC too.

PC: 1:40:16 PM): But I was also stunned by this one sentence from Agents of Atlas' amazon page... "Parker somehow convinced Marvel to allow him to do a six issue mini-series..."

JP: It says that?

PC: Well a PERSON says that... in a review on there... obviously no one involved with the book or the company says that, because it's a funny way to--

JP: Many people see it as me getting away with something.

PC: Exactly. So exactly how does one "get permission" for something like this? And let me say that of those people you just mentioned, in most ways you should take it as a complement-- they wish they'd done it. But the distracting part of the point is "how in the world was it done?" Like it's a magic trick.

JP: I was invited to pitch something with the characters, and came back with mostly what you saw. It was a long process of pitching though.

PC: I can imagine... how long? How many months? How many re-thinks? I'd like to set the world straight on this, because professionally speaking, it's unnerving, the idea that "once you get in, you just say anything that comes to mind and They let you do it" --like anything is ever that simple! For anybody!

JP: Months. The trick is, you can't share all the nuances you know that are going to make the story really work, you have to sell it like a big action picture. If I'd mention we'd have a gorilla trying to go to the bathroom on a flying saucer or a big mental orgy caused by Venus, they probably would have slid that paper back across the table.

JP: And no, it's never that simple.

PC: Okay last two or three questions. If I can remember them all... one was favorite female character that you've written... and if you can't do that then we'll narrow it to which is your favorite to write

JP: Hmmm.... I like writing Scarlet Witch in XFC a lot. Especially when I can sneak in some broken English.

PC: I like CC's art. I read the "Wanda and Jean have a girl's day" story somewhere...

JP: There's a longer Wanda and Jean story in the next issue!

PC: Finally: present or past, did you get that "Oh, you mean like that show 'Parker Lewis Can't Lose'" a lot? Because I used to get that ALL THE DAMN TIME

JP: Yeah, I was pretty happy when that went off the air. Bastards. Because obviously I CAN lose!

PC: Obviously? I don't think it's all that obvious to your Amazon reviewers, amigo.

JP: I gotta check out these Amazon reviewers!

PC: And I'm not even Parker like you are. For you, you probably get a lot of Peter Parker stuff

JP: Oh yeah, as a kid I got the Peter Parker thing all the time. Which I didn't mind so much, since it was Spidey.

PC: Actually Parker Lewis was a pretty good show. But you know, Hangin' With Mr. Cooper. Yeah. Ha ha. And he's a teacher. I get it. Like they're the first person who ever saw that connection...

JP: I wasn't even gonna go there!

PC: Okay so that was only the last question of the show

PC: But now it's like Oprah: After The Show

JP: Ooh!

PC: Who's yer editors on what-cha-hooey-all because I like to see who people's editors are

PC: so

PC: let's see

PC: that's Adventuresverse, AOA...

PC: I asked First Class...

PC: You got any other editors on ya?

PC: I do this for my manga interviews too

PC: You read-a the manga?

JP: At Marvel I almost always work with Mark Paniccia and Nate Cosby, except for Steve Wacker on the Spidey/FF miniseries. Over at Virgin I work with MacKenzie Cadenhead.

JP: I'm sadly deficient in the manga.

PC: Well did we miss anything? Anything else you wanna plug?

PC: Wait

PC: Virgin

JP: It looks like I'll be following up Andy Diggle's arc on GameKeeper with another five issue arc, if you read the Virgin books.

PC: we didn't talk about that

PC: yeah

JP: I wrote a book called "Walk-In" for them.

PC: yeah

PC: and i forgot to bring it up duh

JP: The famous person attached was Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.

PC: And how did that go for ya?

JP: That was a blast- it was much like writing a Vertigo book. Refreshing after having to keep things clean and simple on the All Ages books.

PC: Okay anything else we forgot?

PC: Wait

PC: Wife is saying something

PC: Barb on being told you did storyboards on Rusty and the Big Guy: "Ohhhhh! That was a really good show!"

JP: It was! It was well written.

Barb: And you can tell that-- when I look at Interman that it feels like a movie storyboard and it has the clean, clear art and all

JP: Yeah, I was very much in animation mode then.

Barb: That was the same studio that did the MIB cartoon, right?!?

JP: Yes. Darwyn Cooke directed on MIB then when I was there.

Barb: O RLY because MIB was a good show too! I thought it was criminally underrated! it was like this movie tie-in they really did what they could to expand it that's neat it always made me want to read the Malibu original series but you go find it in a comics shop, and it costs 70 bucks, so...

JP: Yeah good luck finding that original comic!

JP: I have failed to say LOL yet. LOL!

Barb: Well that's neat you were involved in the silver age of the good saturday morning cartoons, they haven't been the same since, that narrow pocket when you could tell that people who loved comics were involved and we could actually watch them...

JP: Now I guess you'd have to be at Cartoon Network.

PC: See this is how Park: After The Show works; I read Wife the best of the show so far and we see if we can't coax her out on stage

JP: Gooo, Barb!

PC: Barb: "Hey I never did tell him how much I liked his Vampirella story he did... I thought that the direction that he went with it should have been the one they went with...!!!!"

PC: That Vampirella story is on his comicspace page now.

Barb: _I_ thought they should have RELAUNCHED with a re-feel like that!!!

JP: Are they even still doing Vampi stuff now?

Barb: It was a magazine for a while... but... I don't know... and... anyway I thought it was really clever... nice art too

JP: I do too. It has to be kind of funny, because hey, look at her.

PC: And there was the manga VAMPI for like 5 seconds... yet another direction that didn't get stuck with...

JP: Yeah, I did a cover for one of those.

JP: Are you two... what are you two doing? Are you guys still in Texas?

PC: Yes but this is about you. You're trying to jump to AFTER After The Show

PC: About that "hide the really fun stuff you're going to do" I'm all about that (gorilla going potty on flying saucer)...

JP: You have no choice but to be!

PC: ...but how then do you sell it if you hide the funnest stuff? Any tips?

JP: I have to keep a running secret file of things I mean to do in my scripts.

JP: Well, your outline still has the skeleton of things that makes it sound fun and exciting, just not nuanced. Which is probably good, it keeps you away from being one of those directors who make a movie just full of neat bits he or she wanted to use and never actually had a story to hold it all together.

PC: I feel like they don't want us to write it first, "just give us the broad ideas..." but then they want the magic, and Barb's magic kicks in best when she actually writes the whole damn thing

PC: Okay but see that's the thing... how do you engage the magic yet save the time of not actually writing the whole damn thing first in case they don't take it after all? Barb accesses the magic easily by writing the whole damn thing, but I'm hoping you have some time/magic-saving tips...

JP: Somehow you have to hint at the magic. Writing pitches is hard all by itself, as you know!

PC: Barb's new question: "Is there a special reason why everyone creative in cartoons suddenly went to comics/went back to comics?"

JP: Did they- the cartoon folks? You're just never or rarely going to get your vision through in cartoons, is probably the main thing. But they've got that steady paycheck and insurance, which is hard to argue with.

PC: She thinks they did... But yeah. Health insurance. *after-school special voice* "That's the REAL magic, Timmy"

PC: Barb's new question: "Ask him what his self-publishing experience was like"

JP: It was educational and gave me a great overview of the industry. That really, lots of creators could benefit from. The second time I did it, publishing the Alex Toth Doodlebook, I just had too many deadlines and couldn't give the book the attention and advertising it deserved. Which makes me want to stay away from publishing for a while.

PC: I think most people who read comics are an average age of 28... But then you're Marvel Adventures Guy. Where would you place that average age? Of people who read non-manga comics?

JP: I'm not sure. I hear of a lot of little kids reading the books and see them at shows. And then a lot of parent-age readers who just like the non-slavery to continuity that lost them years ago. But I'm guessing not as many middle-readers, like 20. But yeah in general I would add 16 to the age of the manga reader to reach the number you're asking about!

PC: You wanna attack continuity some more? Because I think we have time for that... You liberals, always badmouthing continuity...

JP: I know! ...I can't think of anything. I just like to use the Batman Animated Series as a guiding light. They used the best of the continuity that had resonance, and dropped the rest. And it makes the stories more timeless.

PC: See, and there's the cartoons again.

JP: I love cartoons.

Barb: Yeah I wondered how much of a slave you gotta be to continuity to write the all-ages ones because it really seems to make them better... like I liked Paul Dini's Batmanness and liked Mark Millar's Superman Adventures, they seemed a lot more like what I liked about these characters

JP: The MA books actively discourage continuity, even within themselves, to make it easier to jump on board.

Barb: I love that! I used to like continuity but it's almost impossible for a writer to keep it all straight and stuff... and it's starting to get in the way of artistic vision... I'm disappointed with current cartoons because we were doing so much better artistically than anime for a short while, with like THE BIG O, they were copying Batman Adventures! And now everyone seems to have forgotten that college-age and older like us like the cartoons too...

JP: Venture Brothers!

PC: See, Barb doesn't watch Venture Bros. yet...

JP: Yet!

Barb: Well ADULT SWIM's a totally different story!

JP: I agree, Barb.

PC: Yeah she just meant saturday morning cartoons, "the type that she used to come home from class and watch animaniacs and batman and superman and who are these people doing these?!?!?!?"

JP: Hey, I have to write Colleen a two-pager featuring The Angel before the day is up! Do we have any final bits?

PC: We're good -- run go write it.