KEITH GIFFEN Talks FOREVER PEOPLE, DiDio Reunion, Tries to Break the Internet

DC June 2014 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

In June, DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio will reunite with Keith Giffen for Infinity Man and the Forever People, a new ongoing series based on the characters created by Jack Kirby.

The two creators worked together on the critically hailed but short-lived O.M.A.C. series, which debuted in September 2011 as part of DC's New 52 reboot (but ended after eight issues). DiDio and Giffen will also bring along other O.M.A.C. alums to the Forever People teams, including inker Scott Koblish and colorist Hi-Fi for the project.

According to DC, the new series kicks off when four of the "best students" from New Genesis arrive on Earth to study and aid in the advancement of humanity – but they soon discover a darker purpose to their mission: the mysterious entity known as the Infinity Man.

Giffen, who's already co-writing Justice League 3000 and The New 52: Futures End, is also listed as co-writer on Forever People, although he'll be providing interior art.

Newsarama talked to Giffen to find out more about the new project and what motivated him to work with DiDio again.

Newsarama: Keith, is this somewhat of a follow up to when you guys did O.M.A.C., since you were going for a Kirby vibe with that book?

Keith Giffen: Yeah, well… I drink pretty freely out of the Kirby well, so anything I draw is going to have a Kirby vibe, I think. I don't know if we were going for a Kirby vibe on O.M.A.C. — I think more than that, we were going for a comic book vibe. I mean, you know, we were just trying to get back to the kind of comic books that when we were reading, when we were fans when we were younger, made us go, "Ooo! I want to do that!"

Big, bold, bombastic comic books. You know? These are American comic books. And American comic books are loud and explosive, and sometimes kind of over-the-top.

We were trying to get back to that feel. We wanted to have fun doing comics again.

Nrama: But is Forever People going to have the same approach behind it?

Giffen: I don't see how it could not, because we've got the entire O.M.A.C. team on it.

Dan and I agree on that kind of comics we like to do. And we like to do comics that are kind of like O.M.A.C.

We're not going to take 12 issues to tell a story that Stan and Jack told in half an issue. We're not going to drag these stories out and decompress them to the point that you're paying a few bucks to read about someone walking across the room to open their closet.

This is going to sound corny, but there's just a vibe that we get when we do books together. We're on the same page about what we want to do. And primarily, we just want to have fun. Hopefully the readers will have fun too.

Nrama: I know the premise was announced — that the Forever People are students from New Genesis who are on Earth to study and aid humanity, and then they discover the "mysterious entity" known as Infinity Man. But what I think we're all wondering is how the characters in the Forever People have changed for the New 52. Can you give us any hints about that?

Giffen: I can tell you a few things, but I can't tell you too much without spoiling the story. I can tell you that they've got a motivation for coming to Earth now.

And also we tinkered with them a little bit. Vykin's got more of a reason to be a Forever Person, and we took Serifan, who was the kid in the cowboy suit, and we turned him into Serifina, who is Vykin's younger sister.

So we shifted them around a bit. We shifted the characters around a bit, but tried to keep the core essence of what Kirby was trying to do with Forever People, which is telling interesting stories to add scope.

Nrama: You're also listed as co-writer. Is that co-plotting or writing dialogue or something?

Giffen: That's Dan being generous, like Paul Levitz was generous on Legion of Super-Heroes.

Dan hands me a plot and then I pencil it, and then Dan dialogues it. Maybe, occasionally, I'll call up and go, "Ooo! Can I do this?" And he'll say yes or no. Or if I have room, I'll draw something in and try to surprise. Like in O.M.A.C., Dan had no idea O.M.A.C. was going to fight Superman. I just sort of put it in there because I had the space.

Nrama: That's funny, Keith!

Giffen: Well, I had space!!

And so, this "co-writer"… that's really Dan being generous. He writes this book. He writes this book. I may make little suggestions and goof around with it. But that's pretty much it.

Nrama: That's surprising, because it's one of the publishers of the company, and you're messing with his scripts. It's just surprising that the one guy who's most easy-going about your interpretation of his scripts is the man who could really do something about it.

Giffen: Oh, sure. If Dan wanted to say, "Do it my way," I'd have no choice in the matter. I'd have no choice.

But when he's working on Forever People, he's… well, you can't really say he's not a publisher. He's always going to be a publisher. He carries that luggage around wherever he goes. But in terms of working with him and collaborating with him? He's one of my favorite collaborators.

I love working with the guy on books. He's fun to work with. He's open to new ideas — his own ideas are sometimes totally off the chart. He's just fun to work with.

And the stuff he's doing in Forever People or O.M.A.C. — this is the stuff he's been talking about since Dan was new at DC. Do big. Do comic books, unapologetic comic books. Thrill me. Excite me. Get them moving.

So I think it's great we have a publisher who's putting his money where his mouth is and walk the walk. He doesn't have to do this. Being a publisher is a full-time job. But he enjoys doing it, and I respect the idea that he's willing to get down there and get his hands dirty with the rest of us.

Nrama: Is it a humorous book?

Giffen: It's got humor in it. But the best explanation is, it's a comic book. It's big. It's fun. It's bombastic. It's that simple.

Nrama: With O.M.A.C., you guys were right in the middle of the DC Universe — as you mentioned, he even fought Superman — whereas some of your more recent comics, like Threshold and Justice League 3000 — are off in a corner of the universe, doing their own thing. What about ? Will it be immersed in what's happening in the DCU?

Giffen: Yeah. This comic is very immersed. In fact, this comic plays very closely to events going on in the weekly, Futures End.

The other books, like Larfleeze and Justice League 3000 — that's just me. I figure, if I'm off in space or a thousand years in the future, I don't have to call up the Green Lantern group and say, "Can I have Hal do this, pleeeease?" I feel like the kid from Oliver!, you know? "Please sir, can I have some more?"

So I try to take my own work that I'm doing and stick it way out in a corner somewhere.

With Dan, I don't have that problem. First of all, I'm drawing it. I'm just taking suggestions. I'm not really involved in writing the book.

And that's when I'm glad I'm working with a publisher! If he goes, "this is going to happen," then he knows it's happening. If I was publisher at DC, my books would probably be closer to the DC Universe too, because I'd know what's going on everywhere else, and I'd have the confidence and the leverage to get into it wherever the story fit.

Dan always says that, as a fan, he always liked reading books like O.M.A.C. and Forever People — books that aren't guaranteed best sellers, not Justice League, not Batman. The books that fly a little below the radar. And so do I. There's more freedom in these books to play around. And by the time you've done something they might question, you've already done it.

I'm not saying DC's not paying attention to these books, but DC's not paying attention to these books.

Nrama: Except one of the co-publishers.

Giffen: Yeah! But you know… I'm not trying to blow smoke up his ass of anything like that, because if he was horrible to work with, I'd get real silent real fast. ?

Nrama: Yeah, or you'd just use a cliché, like "he's growing as a writer."

Giffen: Yeah, "he's growing as a writer," or something like, "you know, it's a job."

But no, I really do enjoy working with the guy. Even [J.M.] DeMatteis, when he worked with Dan for awhile on Phantom Stranger, he said the enthusiasm that's there is actually infectious and he's always open to ideas. So it's not just me.

Nrama: OK, just to clarify — you said Forever People has ties to Futures End. But Forever People is set in the present day DCU, right?

Giffen: Right. It takes place in the present day DCU, but certain things that happen in Forever People will have a ripple effect, and will play into some things that are happening in Futures End.

But it's not a "tie-in" book.

Nrama: And you're drawing this book, which… was O.M.A.C. the last series you drew? You did an issue of Legion

Giffen: I was supposed to go on Legion, but that didn't work out. So this is the first time I've picked up the pencil for more than one issue since O.M.A.C.

Nrama: And we can expect the same approach? I mean, people know your art style, although you've varied it from time to time. But Forever People is similar visually to what you were doing on O.M.A.C.?

Giffen: Yeah, very much so. Very much so. I am drawing the way I doodle. Literally. It's a lot looser that way, and more fun. I've got an inker in [Scott] Koblish who understands exactly what I'm trying to get across. And [colorist] Hi-Fi also gets it. When we were on O.M.A.C. and we were talking about how he would color the book, I said to him, "I want old and colorful, so that when the readers are reading it, they actually can hear calliope music in the background."

And I feel that way about Forever People. You know, let's do big stories! People might say, "that doesn't make sense." Of course it doesn't! It's a comic book! When somebody says, "that really doesn't make sense." I go, "really? And the guy wearing his underpants on the outside and flying around does?" It's a comic book!

And having said that, Internet, start your engines!

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