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Jeff Lemire Talks Collaboration, Justice League Canada and More…

Jeff Lemire exploded into the consciousness of DC Comics’ fans with his critically acclaimed relaunch of Animal Man. Lemire brought a fresh outlook to the character, introduced Animal Man’s daughter as she begins to display powers of necromancy based animal control, and reinvigorated the series and character for the first time since Jamie Delano’s run from ’93-’95.

"Get this kid to a dermatologist, stat!"
“Get this kid to a dermatologist, stat!”

Animal Man wrapped up back in March, but Lemire said goodbye only to the title, not to the character, and Buddy Baker isn’t the only character Lemire seems to continue to gravitate towards. Green Arrow, another run that Jeff recently wrapped, has found his way into Justice League United (or Justice League Canada) and Frankenstein‘s storyline throughout the  New 52: Futures End allows the creator to revisit a character he deftly handled during a Flashpoint tie-in miniseries.

I talked to Jeff in the busy hub of DC Comics’ massive Comic-Con booth about the process of collaborating with four other writers on Futures End, closing out his Green Arrow run, and his reasoning behind forming the JLC with its current roster.

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NERDIST: Future’s End is a massive undertaking, a weekly series with a lot of moving parts, multiple artists and multiple writers. Can you take us through the process you and the other writers are using to approach such a complex book?

JEFF LEMIRE: Sure thing. We established right away how we wanted it to go and we stuck with it. So the model we found, that worked best with our personalities was to each pick one character and one main story for us to focus on. So for me, for instance, it was Frankenstein/Ray Palmer storyline is mine that I’m writing from week to week. Then (Brian) Azzerello is doing Batman Beyond, (Keith) Giffen is doing the island stuff and Grifter, and Dan (Jurgens) handles the Firestorm/ Tim Drake story. So that’s kind how we split it up, there are certain characters we each wanted to work with and we built the story around them. Each week I have five pages of Frankenstein that I’m responsible for, but still, every week we all get on the phone for a conference call. Even though we’re all focused on our own stories we all have to work towards the same bigger goal.

N: The phone call must be crucial though.

JL: We know where the story is going, the bigger shape of things, and we have to keep it moving in that direction and working with each other.

N: Have you had an difficulty with this type of process? Have you wanted to do something within your part of the story that didn’t work with one of the other writers’ plans?

JL: No. That hasn’t really happened amongst us. We all really respect each other as writers and so we kind of stay out of each others way, especially by segmenting the story into the different characters.  There will be certain points where they’ll intersect. For example, coming up, there’s some Green Arrow stuff I’m doing that will have to kind of clash with what Keith’s doing, but that was fun. We just worked together. We never really stepped on each other toes. It’s been pretty amicable.

N: Is this something you would look forward to trying again?

JL: No. (Laughs) I mean… it’s a lot of work. It’s hard, it’s something I wanted to try, to see how it would go, but it was so much work I don’t know that I’d do it again.

N: Fair enough. Okay, let’s jump over to a couple of your other books, solo projects as it were… Green Arrow is coming to an end, and a lot of us are sad. Was this something you always planned to end around here?

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JL: It was combination of different circumstances. First, I feel like Andrea Sorrentino… our relationship really evolved over the course of the run and toward the end he was really…we became co-storytellers. He did so much art work that would then effect the story it was like we were writing that book together. It was such a specific collaboration that I just didn’t want to do it with any other artist. I know he had done 20 issues of this and never missed an issue. So after  twenty months I think he was just ready to move onto something else.

N: That’s a huge commitment to one project.

JL: Yeah, exactly. Then I started working on Future’s End and so I realized that I had the perfect opportunity (in the September issue) to do like… literally tell the rest of Green Arrow’s story. Because he dies in Future’s End so we can show from the end of my last arc to the end of his life. I can actually finish his story. You never get to do that with these characters, usually you have to pass them off. So that seemed like the perfect time to do it.

N: With that in mind though, do you feel like you’ve said everything you have to say with the character?

JL: Not really. I feel like I ran through all the stories I had with him in a monthly solo book, but now with Justice League United, I have a whole team setting to play with him in. It’s a whole new ballgame. Now you get to see how those same characters react around other characters. Now I get to see Ollie stepping up and being more of a leader to that team.

N: Speaking of the JLC… I’m curious what brought that team together for you? Was it an editorial decision or did you handpick them?

JL: No. No, editorial had nothing to do with it. It was like fantasy football for me, ‘what are my favorite weird characters that I would love to write’.

N: Okay, but why them? Why this specific group?

JL: I’ve always enjoyed the oddball. So, DC, to me, has a richness to their secondary characters. They’re all so amazing; weird cosmic characters, weird magical characters. I love that stuff. For me they’ve always been more interesting and held so much more potential for me, creatively, than say Batman who is so well established there’s not as much I can do with him. I’ve always loved those characters, and throwing them together as this oddball team and watching them interact with one another is always really fun.

Fun is an understatement. If you haven’t already checked out Justice League United, you’re missing out on some fantastic storytelling. It’s fast and funny and clever, all the things I require to be entertained.

Fans of Lemire? Are you into JLC? Future’s End? Is anyone else super depressed about the end of his Green Arrow run? Talk to me, I need friends! Comment below or find me on Twitter.

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