You have to love many of the comic creators out there today. The internet has opened them up for fans to contact them and bug them for interviews and most of them are always kind enough to respond. I have only had one artist who never answered me back and I never pressed him, so who knows. Anyway that is my long preamble to saying THANKS to Jay for taking time to do this. I have fallen in love with Jay’s work over the last few years with Dynamo 5 sealing the deal. Noble Causes, Gemini and Urban Myths have been other great books coming from this writer as well as some online Marvel Comics coming out soon, but enough of this rambling onto the interview.
Jim: I always like to start off with people's "Secret Origins", but you have been around the comic book universe for awhile and I'm sure your origin is not as much as an unknown. So instead let's start with how did you end up doing so much creator owned work?
Jay: I just really prefer the amount of creative freedom creator-owned work provides. Plus, I get along really well with the folks at Image. Working on established characters still holds an appeal, but nothing can compare with creating something from scratch and seeing it through to publication.
Jim: Dynamo 5 right now feels like your best work from my limited perspective (as I have not read everything you have written). What was the genesis for this project?
Jay: Dynamo 5 was really just an elaborate hook for a traditional super-hero team. I've never been shy about my love of super-hero comics (and super-hero teams, in particular) but to do one as a creator-owned venture it really needs to stand out. It needs to offer something you can't get anywhere else. And doing a book about the illegitimate offspring of a deceased super-hero is something you can't really do at Marvel or DC. It's an idea I carried around for years until I found the right collaborator.
Gwen: I'm curious as to how you came up with the idea for Dynamo 5? I mean it sounds like a superhero Jerry Springer and yet it's worked into this really great team book.
Jay: First off, thanks! I don't know exactly how I came up with the idea. It just popped into my head one day, and I held onto it for years until I was ready to pursue it. When you're doing super-hero stuff at a company other than Marvel or DC, you really need a premise or a hook that instantly sets it apart. Otherwise, you just can't compete. I think Dynamo 5 has that hook, simply by comprising the team of the illegitimate kids of a super-hero. And I agree, it DOES sound like some trashy Jerry Springer thing. And I think some people were expecting the book to be some cynical, crass story with lots of incest jokes or something. But the hook is really just an excuse for me to do my own super-hero team, with all the cool super-hero trappings that I love.
Jim: Mahmud A. Asrar and Yildiray Cinar are not exactly household names but they soon should be). How did you find these guys? I believe both are based in Turkey, so it could not have been easy.
Jay: I found Mahmud first, and through him, I found Yildiray. I had seen Mahmud's stuff posted on various art forums, and was really impressed. He was so good, in fact, that I thought for sure he was some kind of flake, or difficult to work with, or really slow. Because he was certainly good enough to be getting work. But then Ryan Ottley recommended him (when I told Ryan I was looking for a collaborator for Dynamo 5) and so based on Ryan's endorsement I rolled the dice on Mahmud and all of my fears were unfounded. He's fast, reliable, and incredibly easy to work with. A short while later, when I was looking for someone to take over Noble Causes, Mahmud recommended Yildiray. And Yildiray's every bit as much a pleasure to work with as Mahmud.
Jim: I have felt like there has been a death of the "marvel style" in doing comics, especially at Marvel and DC as multiple artists are almost the norm. What is your style of doing books and does it change with each project and artist?
Jay: I'm not quite sure what you mean by "Marvel style" in this instance. "Marvel style" usually means that the artist is given a rough plot to work from, rather than a detailed script. (Jim: That is what I meant)
But as for how I work with Mahmud and Yildiray, it varies. I started out doing full, detailed scripts for both of them. As we became more comfortable working together, I started getting less detailed, and then I started letting them completely choreograph the fight scenes. Lately I've been only roughly plotting out entire issues, letting them set the pacing and staging. Then I go in after the art has been completed and dialogue it. It really gives them more control over the look and flow of each page. And both of them are such gifted storytellers that it really plays to their strengths.
Jim: You have recently started work for Marvel again. Is this based on pure opportunity or have you wanted a crack to get back to the big two?
Jay: I haven't spent much time chasing Marvel or DC work lately. I've been focusing almost entirely on creator-owned work the past few years. But this fall, I knew that Noble Causes would be ending and I had some time in my schedule so I started putting some feelers out. Ben Morse, an assistant editor at Marvel, is a big Noble Causes fan, and we started up a dialogue and soon enough he was offering me work.
Jim: I feel like both Noble Casues and Dynamo 5 are heavily influenced by the early FF work of Lee and Kirby. Do you agree or disagree and why?
Jay: I'd have to disagree. I'm much more influenced by 1980s-era comics such as New Teen Titans, Uncanny X-Men, Alpha Flight, stuff like that. Of course, those books owe a lot to the early Lee/Kirby stuff, so perhaps I'm just influenced one step removed.
Jim: Your under the influence columns are great fun and I have a new appreciation for the Avengers run you referenced recently. You mention in that column a pet peeve of mine, that you can only have the appearance of change in characters at Marvel or DC and no real change.
I think that the market has changed and the first company to allow real change can win. In fact Marvel has recognized that since they can't change the characters, they are changing the world they live in (real change not to the character). Two part question. Do you have any thoughts on my premise? Will you allow real change with you characters in Dynamo 5 (aging, marriage, kids, death)?
Jay: Well, as a fan I'm all for real change. Because as a fan, I'm only concerned with myself, and my own personal experience with the subject matter. But if you look at the bigger picture, I think it's kind of selfish to expect real change from iconic characters like Spider-Man or Superman or Batman. They've been around for decades relatively unchanged. Why should they suddenly start aging and dying and being "changed?" Shouldn't future generations get to experience the characters too? Because if those characters had been allowed to experience real change from the beginning, none of them would even still exist for you to read about. We'd be reading about their children or even grandchildren.
As for my own characters, I may allow them to change. I have no hard and fast rule. It depends on the needs of the story. I don't fancy myself a Walt Disney or anything -- I'm not really looking to create a dynasty of characters that will outlast me. So I don't mind if they grow and change.
Jim: Noble Causes is coming to an end for now. The five year jump brought me onto the book and now it is over (bummer). Was it a sales decision or are you just done with the characters for now?
Jay: It's mainly just me being done with the characters for now. The book has never been a big seller, and the 5 Year Jump didn't increase our numbers at all (yet I hear from a lot of people who started reading at the 5 Year Jump, so that means a lot of people must've stopped, too). So for the past year or so, writing the book has been more and more of a chore. It felt like ... work. I wasn't enjoying it like I used to. Because of our less-than-stellar sales, I don't take any profit from the book. All of the profit goes to the artist, colorist, and letterer. So since I'm not making any money, I should at least be enjoying myself, right? It should be fun. And it was getting less and less fun each issue. That told me it was probably time to wrap things up. Reviews were still very positive, so I wanted to end the book before it took a nosedive in quality.
Thomm: You stated that the end of Noble Causes was due to an end of fresh ideas for the characters on your part. Any chance that if you get some fresh ideas you'll revive the series, or at least bring the characters in to D5 or Gemini? Seems to me there's still a lot of story to tell with those characters.
Jay: I've learned never to say "never," so I'm not closing the door permanently on the Nobles. And yes, they'll still be available for guest appearances and such. But this is the end of their own series for the foreseeable future, and guest appearances will be kept to minimum. After all, Dynamo 5 and Gemini are about Dynamo 5 and Gemini, not the Nobles.
Jim: Kirkman's manifesto last year caused quite a stir and now you are working for Marvel. Does Image frown on that at this point?
Jay: Not in the least. Image is all about freedom -- both creative freedom, and professional freedom.
Jim: If I understand correctly Image is a situation where you don't make anything unless the book sells enough copies. How do you go about trying to market your books?
Jay: It's not easy, I'm not going to lie to you. And we don't have much of an advertising budget, so a lot of it is grass roots-style marketing. Trying to build worth-of-mouth through podcast and online interviews, that sort of thing.
Plus, Image's marketing director, Joe Keatinge, is a really talented and dedicated guy. He's always trying to push the Image line -- and individual titles -- in various places. He was crucial in figuring out our big ramp-up to Dynamo 5 #25, and I'm confident we'll be getting some good attention as we get closer to that issue coming out.
Jim: The direct market is almost a barrier to many books as the distribution system has many inherit limitations. Any thoughts on releasing Noble Causes or something else online ( sort of Freak Angels in reverse are the collections are already out there)?
Jay: I've considered releasing Noble Causes online, but I've never actually pulled the trigger on it. I've found that our recent b&w Archive edition is a real nice way for fans to experience NC for very little money. It's 600 pages of story for $20. It's hard to beat that price.
Jim: What characters at Marvel or DC have you been dying to get your hands on and what makes them attractive to you?
Jay: The only characters I really still have an itch for are Marvel's Alpha Flight characters. There's just something about that original line-up. Such a great mix of personalities, powers, costumes, and histories. I just see so much potential in those characters and would love a crack at them.
Jim: Do you have any new projects coming out from Image?
Jay: Nothing I can announce yet. But I do have a few projects in the works.
Jim: When you are not sitting in front of a keyboard what do you do for fun?
Jay: Well, I enjoy reading (crime novels and comics) and watching DVDs, and I'm a runner. I run a few miles a day. That helps balance out all the time spent sitting in front of the keyboard. I also like to explore -- go on road trips to various parts of the Pacific Northwest that I haven't been to before. There's so many great places in this corner of the country. I've lived here for about ten years and I still haven't seen it all.
Jim: What do you feel is your best work to date? (I know the best is coming, but so far what is best).
Jay: That's too tough to answer. I like different stories of mine for different reasons, and sometimes that changes with my mood. Other times I think it's all crap. Singling out a single work in a 10-year career ... I just can't do it.
See I love doing these interviews as I feel I know the creator a little better and can enjoy their work even more. I loved Jay’s point about that the characters not changing so our kids etc. could enjoy them. I still disagree as those characters can stay forever young in other mediums (movies, cartoons, video games), but can change for the comic. It would be a fun point to debate with Jay.
Place to see and visit
See the Faberverse
Visit Mahmud A. Asrar Artist Extraordinaire
Spend Your Money
See Yildray Cinar’s Fantastic Art
Naked Pictures of Bar Refaeli