Green Lantern Spotlight: Let us start with your previous works. After being with Marvel Comics for so long, what was it like to come over to DC Comics and work on such icons like Superman and the JLA?
Kurt Busiek: Well, I’d sold my first script to DC, back in 1982, and I’d written for them off and on — I’d even written four issues of JLA, back in the 1980s. So it wasn’t a complete shock. But it was energizing, coming over to a different universe and getting to play with their characters, their history, their little obscure back-corners and forgotten wonders. That’s always fun.
GLS: You recently finished up Trinity with your old Thunderbolts partner, Mark Bagley. What was it like working together again?
Kurt: I had a great time. He may have quit cursing my name by now.
By the end of TRINITY, there was so much going on, with so many characters, and Mark had to bear the brunt of that weekly deadline, so it was rough on him. But he’s a complete professional, and made the pages look great, even under huge pressure. There’d be times I’d tell him, “Look, I’m telling you all this stuff that’s going on so you don’t contradict it, but you don’t have to show it all. As long as we see a piece of it in this panel, we can then just do three more panels showing this, that, and this.” And then he’d draw the page and it’d have eight panels with 42 characters total in it, and it’d look wonderful.
I’m sure it was exhausting. But one of the great things about working with Mark on THUNDERBOLTS was the way he could take anything in stride and make it look great, and with TRINITY, it was just like coming home to that. But with bigger characters, and more of them. It was great.
GLS: We found it a bit amusing and interesting that you still had more Trinity in you after 52 weeks. Trinity was a fantastic comic, any chance of a sequel or connected series later on down the road, another entry in the Krona saga, perhaps?
Kurt: Glad you liked it. I think I’m probably done with Krona at this point, and happy to leave him to whoever wants to pick him up next. More with the Trinity themselves would be a blast, but I’d rather it be a new story than a follow-up to this one. I kind of view JLA/AVENGERS, JLA: SYNDICATE RULES and TRINITY as a massive trilogy, but I don’t think it needs a fourth part.
GLS: Moving onto your work in Wednesday comics. What liberties do you have to take when writing for it? Does the format strain you when plotting at all?
Kurt: The format’s very tight — you can’t waste any space at all — but I knew that going in, so I plotted the story with that in mind. Whenever I’d be working on the scripts, I’d have a pile of early 1960s Leonard Starr ON STAGE Sunday strips scattered around me on the floor, as examples of how to make a single-page chapter work well, and I’d use them as reference for pacing and scene changes and such.
So sure, it was a strain, but that was part of the fun.
GLS: Wednesday Comics seems to be pretty successful both critically and commercially. Would you be interested in coming back to the format if DC wants to continue after the initial 12 weeks?
Kurt: Yeah, I’d be glad to.
GLS: Joe Quinoes art has stunned the masses. His art is consistently the first thing readers will mention after reading. Do you tailor your writing to fit his style or just leave it to him to capture your script?
Kurt: Definitely tailored the script to his work. That’s why we decided to do an early 1960s “Atomic Age” Green Lantern series, because he’s so good with setting, with very charming human characters, that I wanted to give him a very specific setting and time period he could go to town on.
And while he started out strongest on the “real world” stuff, he got better and better at the superhero action as he went along. In the first two strips, Mark Chiarello and I had a ton of suggestions for how to adjust his layouts, make the action more dynamic. By the time we hit the big action finalé, we just got he layout in and went, “Whoa. Fantastic.” So I wrote to his strengths, but at the same time, his strengths grew and blossomed as we were working on the book.
I can’t wait to see what he does on his next project.
GLS: Do you find it easier to write a monthly series or a weekly series?
Kurt: Oh, a monthly’s easier just because there’s more time to think, more breathing space. But we don’t do this to do the easy stuff. Being challenged, trying new things, that’s half the fun of it.
GLS: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on?
Kurt: I’m looking forward to everything! I’m going to be doing more ASTRO CITY, and a new creator-owned book called AMERICAN GOTHIC, that’s all about magic all around us in the real world, and I’m having a great time with both. I’m working on an ARROWSMITH novel, and a very strange Batman-related story as well, and enjoying all of it. That’s the great part about having reached the point I have in my career — I don’t have to do projects just because I need the work. I only take on work I really want to do. It’s always fun to spend the day writing, but having it all be stuff I love doing makes it that much more so.
GLS: Thanks again for taking the time!
Kurt: My pleasure!