An DCU:NG Email Interview
Sean: Perhaps the biggest question on everyone's mind is this: After writing the definitive run on Catwoman, why leave the book? Will you revisit the two cat-fans who Selina left in jail to "keep her family" where she can know where they are?
Devin: First of all, thank you for the compliment -- though as I've said before, I couldn't have even attempted the internal work I tried to do with Selina if the creators who came before me hadn't worked so hard to establish who she was externally. I'm very attached to the character and hope to do more work with her in the near future, but the return wasn't equaling the investment, and a natural stopping point emerged which, when coupled with other commitments - actual and pending -- made this seem like a judicious time to let go of the monthly. I'm afraid I won't have time to revisit Sel's jailed fans, but they're there for the next writer to play with if they so desire.
Sean: I guess this means no chance of a Cat-girl like I've seen mentioned as a wish in several places on the web.
Devin: It may increase the chances, actually. I've never been a fan of the idea. Maybe the next writer will be.
Sean: On to the Titans, now that you've got a few issues under you belt, what's you take on the different characters? What do they dream about? What's their favorite flavor of ice cream? What kind of music do they listen to? What is it that attracted you to the each character and made you choose him or her for the team? Nightwing?
Devin: DREAMS: Dick has nightmares about falling, and dreams about finding ways to make the people he cares about safe and happy.
ICE CREAM: Alfred's homemade passionfruit sorbet (though he secretly prefers cotton candy to any ice cream flavor).
MUSIC: Dick loves music - he was born a performer, after all - but rarely has time to keep up with the latest scene. Alfred and Bruce have made sure he's well versed in classical and opera, and he's actually quite fond of Electronica, even though he doesn't quite know what it's called. He also likes Phil Collins, Fluke, Lloyd Cole, Moby, Inxs, and Soul Asylum, and his favorite song just might be Soft Cell's "Tainted Love."
WHY I CHOSE HIM: Dick is the brain of the Titans - their conscience. I just don't see how there could be an active Titans group without Dick taking interest in it. Unlike Batman, Nightwing is a phenomenal team player - he thinks inclusively and intuitively, and is a brilliant tactician. Also, as much as he needs and values his freedom, autonomy, and privacy, he never feels happier than when he's surrounded by people he cares about. Like Wally said - he needs his family around him. And they need him.
From a structural point of view, he's a natural hero - at it's root, to paraphrase Vogler (who's probably paraphrasing Campbell) the concept of a "hero" is connected to themes of self-sacrifice.
Devin: DREAMS: Linda Fiorentino, Catherine Zeta Jones, Lucy Liu, that chick at the LaundromatÉ.
ICE CREAM: Roy actually isn't all that much into ice cream, but he does like licking things.
MUSIC: Roy was a drummer for an eighties rock band, so he likes some of those almost cheesy but oh-so-sing-alongables like J Geils, Loverboy, White Snake, Huey Lewis and Rod Stewart. He's also a huge B.B. King fan (thanks to Ollie), digs on Primal Scream, Aerosmith, and Bush ("everything zen, everything zen - I don't think so!"), and understands all the nuances of Native American ceremonial music.
WHY I CHOSE HIM: Another comic creator recently said something about Roy feeling insecure because he wasn't super-powered, and I couldn't disagree more. He's hardly aware of that at all - he just is who he is, and he knows who accepts him for it and who doesn't. He's also the ultimate adapter. When I first discovered him I was just amazed at how rich his history was - what a background story! And as much as I adore Dick for his total inability to hide his pain, I adore Roy for tucking his quietly away so that it doesn't keep him from being open. Harper's a straight shooter and a very human voice to have on the team - he lets things be what they are, and is therefore always just as intrigued as he is grounded.
From a structural point of view, he provides some Trickster energy for the team.
Devin: DREAMS: These days, Donna's dreams are disorienting, fragmented memories of varied lives.
ICE CREAM: Donna likes Rocky-Road, and has sentimental attachments to Strawberry (Bobby's favorite).
MUSIC: Donna, who doesn't dance much these days, used to love rock n' roll. Like Dick, she's also well-versed in classical and opera, and also quite enjoys soft jazz.
WHY I CHOSE HER: If Dick is the head of the Titans, then Donna is its heart. I honestly don't know of anyone - pro or fan - who doesn't like Donna Troy. She's kind-hearted, level-headed, powerful, competent, and genuinely sweet. I suspect that earlier inclusions in the Titans had as much to do, for her, with being there to help her friends as with any personal gain, but now she really does need to be with people who know and care about her, and it feels great to be able to do that for her with this new Titans team.
These days, from a structural point of view, she's a bit of a Shape-Shifter, and has also brought some Shadow energy to the group, but she's also always had some den-mother/mentor capacity.
Devin: DREAMS: Tempest dreams of fish eating Roy Harper. ;-)
ICE CREAM: Ben and Jerry's Phish Food.
MUSIC: Garth has slightly compromised hearing on land (sounds carries much better under water) so he likes music with a loud, driving, vibrating beat. He's also partial to silence.
WHY I CHOSE HIM: Garth is as integral to the Titans as Dick and Donna. Though traditionally somewhat softer-spoken than some of the others Titans, Garth is a passionate, trustworthy and loyal person, as well as a valuable fighter and a powerful political presence. As financier and treasurer of the Titans, these days he has more responsibilities - and therefore more of a voice - in the group than ever before. In addition, having felt like an outsider for much of his life makes Garth exceptionally compassionate and sensitive to the needs of the new, younger team members.
Structurally, Tempest is a Threshold Guardian, literal and figurative ambassador to the watery realm of Atlantis.
Devin: DREAMS: Flash sometimes dreams of surrendering to the Speed Force the way you or I might dream of Nirvana or Heaven.
ICE CREAM: Chocolate chip.
WHY I CHOSE HIM: As Dick's best friend and the resurrector of Donna's past, it's clear that Wally's importance to and influence with the Titans can't be underestimated. In his own way, he's more than partially responsible for the fact that the current team's together. As a member of the JLA, too, Wal has fulfilled the "promise of the sidekick" and stands as a reminder of what can be accomplished if one is willing - or forced - to pay the price; which is, of course, the death of the mentor.
Structurally, Flash currently serves as a Herald, ushering the current team into a new era of adventure.
I'm running out of time, so I'll have to do the other five some other time! Sorry!
Sean: What about some of the characters who didn't make the cut, but still got airtime in the Secret Files: Flamebird, Harlequin, Changeling? Were those bits setting up future storylines?
Devin: What those bits will probably end up setting up are miniseries. I know there's already a Changeling mini in the works (by Ben Raab and Geoff Johns), as well as a Raven mini by Marv Wolfman (Raven appears in TITANS #9, by the way), and that a few proposals about Flamebird have already turned up. Harlequin I do have plans for, but there are so many great Titans characters, it's nice to be able to share them a little bit.
Sean: People are asking if your run on Titans will answer some of the many unanswered questions from the previous runs. Any comments?
Devin: Some of them, sure. But I can't let the entire focus of the book become "continuity cleanup." Some of the Titan "mysteries" seem in more immediate need of answering than others - like I did feel it was important to clarify Donna's status quo as quickly as possible - but I want to be able to tell some of my own stories, too. If I invest too much time and energy into answering hanging questions, then I'll be perpetually moving around in other writer's storylines. I'd like to gradually help create a comprehensible history for these characters, while still actively developing an engaging present and future.
Sean: Onto the Weinbergs. Anything new you can say about it now that it's inching closer to its publishing date?
Devin: Um, yeahÉit isn't. ;-)
The release date for The Weinbergs (which is still just a working title, by the way - the book will almost certainly be called something else when it comes out) has been pushed back to December. It's hard on me because I'm so excited about this series, and I can't wait for people to see it, but on the other hand, it was pushed back for a really nice reason; our artist, Yvel Guichet, got the opportunity to work on a terrific assignment - Paul Dini's introduction of Harley Quinn into the DCU in No Man's Land. I'm very excited for Yvel, and pleased that more people will be familiar with his work when the Weinys does at last come out.
Also, DC has been very supportive of the story, and the delay gives them a chance to really think through marketing and such. So I'm honored that it's being taken so seriously.
Sean: Tell us a little bit about your writing style. How do you approach a story or a character? How do you get your plot ideas?
Devin: Well, my answers above reveal that I'm very influenced by the "Hero's Journey" story structure archetype wheel, taught by Jung, Campbell, and Vogler, among others. This is a method of using universal archetypes and archetypal energies to motivated and break down classically-structured heroic journeys for individual characters (every time I talk about this I always think of a great Wilia Cather quote from O Pioneers: "There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before,").
I also approach the characters as real people - that is, as nonsensical as the physical world they move through can be, I try to hold them accountable to modern theories of psychological and sociological theories. Because I'm interested in exploring facets of their personalities, much of my plotting starts with a question about a character - say, "what would convince Dick to rejoin the Titans?" - from which I create a cycle of events that will force that character to enter into a situation that will eventually elicit an unexpected and revealing action or response from them.
Also, with the Titans, since part of what they're about is representing the twenty-somethings of the DCU, I try to think a little bit about what sorts of issues and problems concern real people in that age group. Sometimes I'll be able to craft a whole villain, like Goth, out of relevant issues, and other times they'll end up addressed through sub-plots.
That's the high-brow craft level of it, anyway. Once I've got the ball rolling, a lot of it is, honestly, just playing - subconsciously following threads, listening to the character's voices take on a life of their own, brain-storming through plot holes, playing music really loudly and drinking too much coffee and dancing in my chairÉyou can't write without dancing in your chair, you know. ;-)
Sean: Anything else coming up we should know about and be looking for?
Devin: Let's see, in addition to The Titans, Catwoman (until issue 71!), and Black Widow, which should be out in a few weeks, I'm starting work on another No Man's Land story - a one-shot Shadow of the Bat, focusing on the second NML Gotham meeting between Batman and Superman. And there's an already finished -- on my end, at least -- Leslie Thompkins/ medical zone NML story which I'm quite looking forward to, scheduled for an upcoming Batman Chronicles (with art by Dale Eaglesham). In addition, there's JLA 32, addressing the JLA's response to No Man's Land, which I co-wrote with Mark Waid, and a ten-page "Forming of Tartarus" story in an upcoming Villain 80-pager. Much further down the line, there's a Legends of the DCU prestige project -- hopefully with the incomparable Scott McDaniel - re-(inventing and!)telling the Kryptonian Myth of Nightwing, an,d of course, the December debut of The Weinbergs and my Vertigo project, User.
And in case anyone's wondering, this summer I'll be attending: Wondercon (Oakland, April), Heroes Con (Charlotte, June), Wizard World (Chicago, July), and San Diego Comic Con (San Diego, August). And if that's not enough for you, build me a duplicate robot! ;-)