An DCU:NG Email Interview with Tom Lyle
Sean: How did you get interested in comics, both as a pro and a fan?
Tom: In Junior High I started doing drawings of Batman and other stuff (they were horrible) and then in 8th grade, I became a Marvel freak and started to copy some of the art on their covers. I was a big Jack Kirby and Werner Roth (he was drawing the X-Men back then) fan. I just liked the medium and it offered me a way to express myself. I was probably working out my hostility towards my two older brothers.
I have to confess that being a pro has taken away a lot of the luster from the fan attitude I used to have, but it's the best job I ever had and I still enjoy drawing. Being able to WRITE and DRAW has helped to garner even more enthusiasm from me.
Sean: What was your first pro work in comics?
Tom: Well, you have two choices: The WOMEN's OUTER SPACE PATROL in Starmasters #1 from AC Comics or a Constrictor pinup for the Deluxe handook of the Marvel Universe. Both came out in 1984.
Sean: Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the creation of the newest Robin.
Tom: I hate to disappoint you, but the project was already in motion when I was asked if I'd be interested (when I called the Bat office to see if I might be able to do a fill-in on Batman since I had just left Starman and was waiting for the wheels to get rolling on the Comet). That lead to me suggesting Chuck as the writer and things just went from there. The right place at the right time and the wheels of the cosmos let it all fall into place so effortlessly.
Sean: Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the creation of the Spoiler. Did you ever think she'd be a popular as she is now?
Tom: Well, Chuck writes full script, so the first I saw of Stephanie was in the Detective storyline that introduced her (Tec #647 was her first appearance). I did sketches based on the story and sent them to DC. They liked the costume. I liked her from the beginning since I (and I think Chuck does as well) see her as the female counterpart to Robin. I never thought that she'd be as popular as she is, but I'm very pleased. I wish that DC would give her her own book since Chuck and I own a piece of her. I wish they'd at least make a action figure out of her.
Sean: Tell us a little about the inspiration behind the creation of Lynx. Was she designed to be Robin's antithesis?
Tom: Now, I can say that Chuck and I talked on the train back from NYC about Sir Edmund (Kingsnake) and Lynx. She is definitely the anti-Robin. She and Sir Edmund are mostly Chuck's creation in terms of personality and character. I was involved mostly in just the visual look and that part of their creation. I tried to make them both very distinct characters and not the normal comic book fare.
Sean: What goes through your mind when you're given a blank slate to create the look and feel for a new character?
No. Seriously, I find it intimidating and stifling to create a wholly new character on my own as I think that most new characters are just regurgitations and remixing of old characters. I like better to take an established character and put my spin on him. I did like creating the new villain for the Warlock mini-series: SYPHONN. He's completely new. However, I find villains easier to create than heroes.
Sean: Since this site focuses on the teen heroes of the DCU, let's find out your feelings on some of DC's teen heroes. Young Justice? Damage? The new Wonder Girl? Jurgen's Titans? Captain Marvel Jr.?
Tom: I have to confess that I have not read the Young Justice or Damage series. Of the other three, I like Junior the best and I would love to do a series with him. I enjoyed Dan's run on the Titans, but it felt as if he were having to push DC for what he got out of that book (by the way it read.)
Sean: Why do you think teen heroes (especially sidekicks) are becoming popular again?
Tom: The thing which I think helped make ROBIN popular is that Chuck and I never thought of him as a "sidekick". He was a viable character in and of his own. He was just enhanced by being around Batman. I think that this paved the way for a lot fo the newer characters to be more acceptable to readers. I like that we (Chuck and I) have had an influence on the market of that kind. It's neat.
Sean: Which comics or characters would you most like to have a chance to do?
Tom: I would love to write and draw whatever future projects I do. I would like to do Daredevil, Huntress, Spoiler, Captain America, Iron Man and many others. Warlock is still at the top of my list right now since I have already invested a lot of time and emotion in him.
Sean: Any future plans or projects we should be looking for?
Tom: I have absolutely nothing lined up yet for the post-Warlock phase. I am going into NYC at the beginning of November and we'll see what comes of that.
Wish me luck.