The following is an interview with writer Robert Jeffrey, one of the few writers chosen for this year’s DC Comics Workshop. I get him to discuss an assortment of topics including the things you see in the title of this article and a bit more. It was a pleasure and I give him my thanks for the discussion. You can find his Green Lantern short in the already released anthology New Talent Showcase.
TheGreenLanternCorps.com: When were you told you would be working on the New Talent Showcase? Does the workshop build towards this issue or is it a career centric class?
Robert Jeffrey: Going into the workshop I’d known that previous writers and artists who’d gone through the DC Talent Development Workshop had contributed to previous New Talent Showcase anthologies. Once our 2017 workshop began, I realized that I’d have a chance to pitch a short story for the anthology. The workshop overall, I feel is more career centric, helping to build your writing talents as a comic book writer/ creator.
Were you given John Stewart as a character or did you choose him? I would think he’s right in your wheelhouse of interesting characters you’d want to tackle in the DC Universe.
I chose John Stewart when the time came to pitch for an anthology story. I’m a huge fan of science fiction and space opera’s, and the Green Lantern Corp fits firmly within this wheelhouse. Having a chance to focus on one of the greatest Green Lantern’s on a deep space mission was something that I’d wanted to tackle.
TheGreenLanternCorps.com: Did you have any familiarity with the Green Lantern mythos before writing this short?
Robert Jeffrey: Yes, I did. As a fan/ reader, I’d come back and forth to the Green Lantern mythos whether it was through comics or animation. I’m a huge fan of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and on the more recent side, I love Venditti’s and Humphries Lantern work post Rebirth. One of the sample scripts that I wrote for the workshop focused on Jessica Cruz, a character that I chose. As a result, I did a deep dive into her mythos before building my story.
TheGreenLanternCorps.com: How was the collaborative process of working with fellow workshop entrant, artist Max Raynor?
Robert Jeffrey: I really enjoyed it. Though Max is based out of the UK, we spoke a bit through emails during the creation process. Max draws super heroic action on an epic scale, so my hope was that the story that I’d written would allow him a chance to flex those creative muscles. I’m glad to say it appears that we were both successful.
TheGreenLanternCorps.com: You’ve written plenty of sci-fi and African American characters, and this story touches on the fight we (and many others) deal with at home. Do you find it difficult to combine that real world experience of being Black in America and the usually outrageous nature of a science fiction story? How hard is it to balance “preachy” and fun, while still sending a message?
Robert Jeffrey: To be honest I didn’t really feel any difficulty with tying in real world experiences within the context of telling a sci-fi story. Science fiction has always been used to shine a light on our world, using the backdrop of fantastical situations to focus on the trials and tribulations of humanity. Look at the examples of franchises such as Star Trek and The Twilight Zone to find solid examples of this.
I can only write what I know. We live in a world where things are a bit messed up. I’m not embellishing. Just turn on the news.
My goal is never to be “preachy” when I bring these types of issues into the stories that I’m telling. What I attempt to do (and what other creators before me have successfully done and will continue to do) is incorporate such themes in the overall framework of the story in such a way that those consuming the media will get the message, while enjoying the story. Its not difficult at all to do. It just requires effort.
TheGreenLanternCorps.com: Currently, Green Lantern fans are being treated to Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern series, but that launch came with the loss of two other lantern titles. Are you involved in any expansion of the lantern corner of the DCU? Any work of yours should fans of this short be looking forward to in the near future?
Robert Jeffrey: As far as any involvement with the expansion of the Lantern corner, I’m unfortunately not a part of that. I’d love to be, but at the current moment I’m not. My hope is to continue to pitch to DC Comics, so we’ll see where that leads. If for some reason this John Stewart story is the only one that I get to tell with the publisher, I’m supremely happy with how things have turned out.
I couldn’t be prouder of the finished product that we all had a hand in creating, so yeah, I’m a happy as heck on that front. John Stewart is a strong character which I feel deserves his own series, or even mini-series. There’s so much story to mine with him and when it does happen, it should be done on an epic/ cosmic scale.
In terms of other projects, the first issue of a time traveling series I’m writing for publisher 133Art called RET: CON will launch its Kickstarter in February. In addition to this, I’m working on the second issue of my cyberpunk/ horror creator owned series, Mine To Avenge: The Book of Layla for Evoluzione Publishing, and the first issue will be available for sale within the next couple of weeks. There’s a prequel to my other creator owned series Route 3 which will be released in the first quarter of next year also. I always tell people to keep up with me at www.robertkjeffrey.com.