Apparently, DC fans are going to hear a lot more from Ray Fawkes in the future.
On Monday, readers were to surprised to learn that Constantine, the new title launching from DC in March, will be co-written by Fawkes and Jeff Lemire. After all, they weren't originally solicited as writers (for more on that, see Newsarama's story about the creative team switch).
Fawkes has also just started collaborating with Lemire on Justice League Dark. And as Batgirl fans know well, Fawkes is going to be writing two issues of Barbara Gordon's story starting with issue #17, filling in temporarily for regular writer Gail Simone.
Lemire and Fawkes have become what they describe as "really close friends" over the last two or three years. They both live in Toronto, and they both started off as independent cartoonists, writing and drawing their own comics.
Fawkes has a long list of indie titles to his credit, including The Apocalipstix and Mnemovore, and has also done some work at Marvel. But with Constantine and Justice League Dark, he firmly joins a growing list of new DC writers (see: Matt Kindt and James Tynion IV) who were brought in to "co-write" with popular DC writers before getting their own series.
"Ray, like me, is a huge fan of the old classic Vertigo era characters, like Swamp Thing and Hellblazer and all that stuff," Lemire told Newsarama, explaining that his schedule didn't allow him to work solo on Justice League Dark and Constantine. "So it just seemed like a good opportunity for me to ask Ray to come in and co-write with me, and help me schedule this stuff."
In the first of a two-part interview about his work at DC, Newsarama talked with Fawkes about Constantine to find out his vision of the character and how the new title will differ from Justice League Dark.
Newsarama: Ray, how did you find out that you and Jeff had the chance to write Constantine, and was it a pretty easy transition to write him as a solo act, since you already had him on the team for Justice League Dark?
Ray Fawkes: We had been talking with Rob [Venditti] about Constantine when he was originally set to do the book," Fawkes said. "And when he stepped away — when he said he didn't think his schedule would allow it — I think Jeff and I were probably pretty logical for the DC guys to just say, hey guys, what do you think? Do you want to take this on? And there wasn't a lot of hesitation on our part, I'll say that.
It was pretty easy to step toward writing him on his own as well, because we were already thinking and already talking about how John presents himself one way to the team, and what's he like when he's alone? So we'd already been thinking about that.
I think Constantine will show people what the answer to that is.
Nrama: Can't you give us a hint about what he's like when he's alone? Is it darker?
Fawkes: Darker? Hmmm.... when you're hanging out with your friends and you joke around with them and all that, and then you go home from the party and you think about them, I don't know if perhaps what you're thinking when you're all alone is a bit darker.That's kind of what Constantine, when he's not with the Justice League Dark, he's more his own self. And that frees him up to be, perhaps.... darker might be a word for it, but also, I often say the word, "unfiltered." He's more like the guy who's just going to do what he wants to do, not what he needs to do in order to get other people to do things.
Nrama: The supporting cast that he'll have in this solo book. I assume you guys have something completely separate from the cast of Justice League Dark?
Fawkes: Yes, definitely. His supporting cast will be more about his personal relationships. So it's going to be his friends, his rivals, his personal enemies and his romantic entanglements. It will be more a cast built on people that he has a stake with, if that makes sense.
Let's be frank, John Constantine ... [laughs], actually, let's be "frank"... John Constantine has reasons that he might want Frankenstein to be with him on Justice League Dark and to do some work. But he doesn't have much of a personal relationship to Frankenstein. It's not like Frankenstein is going to be disappointed if he finds out John lied to him about something.
The supporting cast in Constantine will be different. They will have personal relationships with John, and they will act more emotionally when John does certain things.
Nrama: You mentioned "romantic entanglements." Does he have a love interest? Obviously, we're aware of what his romantic status was when Hellblazer ended over at Vertigo.
Fawkes: John has several love interests. His love life is extremely complicated. We're going to bring that into play. Obviously, the one people know about is Zatanna, whom he had a former relationship with. His entanglements with her will still be present. And the readers will be presented with several of John's newer interests.
He's not exactly a guy who's easy to pin down, and he's not exactly a guy who commits easily, and that would be because he's constantly in danger. So yeah, people are going to see that aspect of his life.
Nrama: You mentioned that he's constantly in danger. Can you describe what the threat is and how that danger is incorporated into the book as Constantine's role? And what kind of villains he'll go up against?
Fawkes: He's constantly in danger because he's a major player in the world of magic in the DC Universe. One thing you don't get away with in the mystical corner of the DC Universe is being both powerful and safe. It doesn't happen. John may not be a greatly powerful sorcerer, but he is definitely one who has faced off against powerful sorcerers and taught them a lesson.
So he's got rivals, he's got enemies, and he's definitely putting himself in dangerous situations as well.The kind of characters that he faces? Well, most of the ones that he faces also base themselves in the mystical part of the DC Universe. And when readers read the first arc of the story, they will see that there's a very specific reason why John isn't actually just hopping around doing things for the hell of it. He has a very specific goal in mind, and that goal runs contrary to the end means of a number of powerful characters in the DC Universe.
Nrama: I assume that Constantine kind of spins out of Justice League Dark. Will we see some overlap between Constantine #1 and Justice League Dark #18 as originally solicited?
Fawkes: It's more like, "this is the thing that's been happening while John's been involved with the Justice League Dark that the Justice League Dark doesn't know about." So yes, it's spinning out of it, but it's not like it directly comes out of what you see in Justice League Dark. It's more like it runs concurrently with it. The inhabitants of that book have not yet learned about these events.
Nrama: So it's OK to pick up Constantine #1 even if you haven't read Justice League Dark.
Fawkes: Absolutely. Yes.
I think if a reader is a fan of both books and reads them both, they will find that the two books enrich each other. But it is not necessary to read them both to enjoy one of them.
Nrama: Have you seen art on the book? What does the artist bring to the comic?
Fawkes: I have seen art on the first chapter of the book. Renato Guedes is doing it, and it's magnificent. I didn't know what to expect going in. I had seen some of his work previously, but he has worked in a number of different styles, so I wasn't sure what was going to happen.
And he's taking this really detailed, really moody approach that is magnificent. It's unbelievable. I think readers are going to lose their minds over this.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to let people know about Constantine?
Fawkes: John Constantine himself is always a surprise. He's full of surprises. I think I'm going to leave it at that. I think I'm going to let the readers go in with whatever expectations they have just so I can smash their expectations to pieces.
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