A couple of interviews out now clarify controversial comics news stories of the past and more recent past; both are a reminder that what you read on CBR or Newsarama is rarely the whole truth — and that’s it’s not always our business to know the whole truth.
§ Back when FINAL CRISIS was all the rage, there was much fan outcry over the piecemeal nature of the art in the book as it progressed — penciller JG Jones started out strong, but by the final issue, Carlos Pacheco and Doug Mahnke had been brought in. Now, in an interview at Newsarama, Jones reveals that some of his deadline problems on the book were due to an undiagnosed blood disorder.
I definitely had to slow down. I was undiagnosed when I was working on Final Crisis, but was really not feeling well, was chronically tired, and couldn’t focus or concentrate. I finally went to the doctor, and, after a bunch of tests, got a diagnosis of polycythemia vera, a blood disease where the bone marrow makes too many red cells and platelets, which, in turn, can cause many other complications.
I’ve been getting treatment for that, and now I’m feeling much better. Now I’m pacing myself and slowly adding more and more work.
So yeah, I had a few things going on the last couple years. I moved to Philadelphia, set up a new studio, and I’m getting married to a wonderful woman that I met there.
While not exactly a secret, Jones’ illness has been a private matter, but it does cast some of of the fan rage over FINAL CRISIS into a decidedly different light. The rest of the interview covers his new career writing things like Doc Savage (a perfect fit, above) and a graphic novel called DUST TO DUST. JG is one of the most awesome people in comics and it’s good to know his health problems are under control.
§ JMS’s talk with Alex Zalben doesn’t have quite the same kind of revelation, but Straczynski does expand upon any topic broached, including his turn to writing GNs over periodicals, and the reason he has slowed down on so many books: He felt he just wasn’t able to give it his all:
The flip side of this is that comics cost a lot of money to buy for the average reader. Whether that’s $2.99 or $3.99, that’s a good chunk of change when you’re buying five or ten comics a week, especially in this economy. So when people buy my stuff, they need to know that they can expect a certain level of quality in the storytelling, that I’m never phoning it in or giving anything less than my very best. They deserve no less than that for their investment of time, effort and money.
If I feel that I’m not able to do my best work – whether that’s my own fault or as a result of an editorial situation – then I need to stop doing it. I would rather not do something than do it badly or ineffectively. It’s the only way I can live with myself and do right by the fans in the long haul.
That process takes time. So ultimately, I decided to take a three-to-five-year sabbatical from monthly comics. Graphic novels, where there’s the time and space to get as detailed as I like in the writing, are more suited to the way I work. Yeah, in the long run, it means taking a huge pay cut, but again, it ain’t about the money. It’s about telling good stories.
In a few years, if I feel I’ve learned enough to improve my storytelling in monthly comics, I’ll give it another shot. If not, then the sabbatical may become permanent. So we’ll see.
There’s much else in the chat, including JMS’s explanation of all his supposedly abandoned series, and an update on SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE #2, and THE TWELVE (which will be finished as a GN, he says) and the news he’ll be writing a Samaritan X graphic novel for DC. Also a great anecdote about George Miller and Joseph Campbell. And his insistence on reading reviews:
When I was at a Marvel retreat one year, one of the editors passed me at the table during lunch break and saw I was on one of the more toxic websites, where they were just trashing my latest issue of Spider-Man. “You really ought to stay away from those things,” he said…but again, that’s how you learn. As I write this, I listened the other day to a half-hour podcast of guys just dumping all over S:EO, and while I didn’t agree with all their points, there were a number of areas where I thought, they’re right, I can do better in these areas, and by the end I was taking notes.
Yeah, it got pretty brutal at times, but I’m a big boy. If you can’t handle the heat, stay away from the bitchin.
It’s safe to say JMS is a big boy.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.