Jerry Ordway - Traveling Back to DC's Earth 2
Ordway: Back to Earth-2
When Power Girl visits the place she calls home in next month's Justice Society of America Annual #1, it will be artist Jerry Ordway taking her back.
Already known for his work on the Earth-Two characters in All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc., the artist will return to those characters for the 40-page Annual written by JSA series writer Geoff Johns.
The Annual, which features a cover by Alex Ross, promises to tell the story of Power Girl traveling to see her friends on Earth-2 -- the "pre-Crisis" characters that disappeared when their earth was destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Fans of those characters reacted with enthusiasm to the first release of the cover, excited that the multiverse created at the end of 52 might include Earth-Two characters that haven't been seen in decades.
Newsarama talked to Ordway about the Annual, what it's like to draw the Earth-Two characters again, and what the Crisis on Infinite Earths inker thinks of the return of the multiverse.
Cycle through exclusive looks at pages 4, 6, and 7 at the upper right.
Newsarama: First off Jerry, how were you approached to do this comic, and what did you think when you were offered the opportunity?
Jerry Ordway: I got an email from Geoff asking if I was available, and I was just finishing a three-issue run on Brave and the Bold. I'm always happy to work with Geoff because his scripts are really good, and I certainly know these characters.
NRAMA: Why do you think you were chosen as the ideal artist for this comic?
JO: Well, this annual takes place in a world I contributed to many times over the years, a place familiar to folks who read All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc., back in the 1980's.
NRAMA: Some readers have noticed that the costumes on the teaser image for this story that we saw in the back of JSA were different from costumes that were shown for Earth-2 in 52. Was there a reason for the costume difference?
JO: I don't know the reason why these heroes were different than those shown on Earth 2 in 52, but obviously it is part of the bigger "Gog" storyline in the monthly JSA book. I was given the opportunity to draw the world to my own comfort level, based on my older work.
NRAMA: How were the costumes decided upon?
JO: Our jumping off point was to depict the Earth 2 characters as they were in the DCU at the time of the Wolfman-Perez Crisis. I decided to revise a few costumes myself-- the Silver Scarab, and Northwind, from my era of Infinity Inc. Scarab had been redesigned after Mike Machlan and I left the title in the 1980's, and I combined a few elements of both designed. With Northwind, I tried to correct some troublesome details that I never liked drawing in the old days, but unfortunately I still had trouble. I suppose sometimes we fiddle with stuff to no great effect. [laughs]
NRAMA: Did you do a lot of research on these characters? Or was it all second-nature to you?
JO: I did do some research, and pulled some old comics out to refresh my memory. I hadn't drawn the pre-Crisis Huntress in many years, and she had been a favorite of mine. Also I studied what Wally Wood did on the All-Star Super Squad Justice Society in the '70s, because he was always a hero of mine.
NRAMA: Now that you've drawn these characters, has it been enjoyable for you to see some of them again? What's it been like to re-discover them?
JO: Drawing Power Girl and Huntress and the Earth 2 Robin was so much fun. The years kind of melted away, and it didn't seem like 24 years since I drew them in Infinity Inc. My only regret was that Geoff didn't give Jade and Obsidian more to do.
NRAMA: Is there an overall visual tone you were trying to achieve in this comic? The cover makes everything seem very innocent and kind of... scrubbed clean. Is that what this Earth-2 is all about? And was there anything in particular you did to achieve the look you were going for?
JO: Geoff wanted a 1980's vibe to the backgrounds but it's not done as a period piece, so I didn't have to research anything really. Gotham City appears here, and basically this was before the influence of the 1989 Batman film on the design of Gotham. It's more New York City with Gargoyles on the buildings. Nostalgia being what it is, New York City is a lot cleaner and shiny now than it was in the early 80's, plus that era really initiated the darkening of the heroic concept. The only thing clean is my rending style, I guess.
NRAMA: The main character in the comic is Power Girl. How would you describe your Power Girl?
JO: Well, I liked the look of the Wally Wood rendered Power Girl from the 70's, and Amanda Conner did a terrific contemporary version. I like her to be big and sexy, but not Dolly Parton, or a man in drag either. My artistic ideal for her is based on Janet Leigh from the movie Psycho. I reference that look from a few pictures I have in a book on Hitchcock.
NRAMA: Geoff has shared that Helena Wayne/Huntress is a key player in the comic, and he's mentioned a few other characters who show up. And the Alex Ross cover has also revealed who many of those characters will be. What characters have been your favorite to draw in this comic? And why them?
JO: As mentioned, the Huntress and Power Girl are the core of the story, and most fun to draw. Grown up Robin is another. There are several chapters in the story and each has a specific focus, and importance to the tale. PG and Huntress were like the second generation World's Finest, and great friends, so it was fun drawing the emotional sequences. From the Earth 2 perspective, Power Girl has been missing and suddenly returns. We show the void left behind, and also how she's welcomed home. Very touching and emotional. In a different chapter I had loads of fun drawing the Joker.
NRAMA: What characters were the biggest challenge and why?
JO: Honestly the biggest challenge drawing the JSA isn't in drawing the characters individually, but in large groups. I don't enjoy drawing tiny little figures, so I often have a hard time squeezing 17 heroes into a panel, giving each a little something to act out.
NRAMA: What's the overall feel of the comic? Very serious, dramatic story? Or a big, fun brawl?
NRAMA: This works as a dramatic story, no question. The theme seems to be that you can't go home again. Power Girl has this history in Geoff's JSA stuff as being a sad figure, someone with a fractured past, and no real close friends like she had in that 1970's-80's era, where she was pals with the Huntress, and Star Spangled Kid, who she was kind of sweet on back in the Roy Thomas written stuff. Geoff brings her back to that moment in time, but things still aren't "right" for her.
NRAMA: What's your favorite moment you got to draw in the Annual?
JO: My favorite moment is drawing the sequence with the Huntress and the Joker, but you'll have to buy the book to find out.
NRAMA: What do you think of the return of the multiverse?
JO: I think it's great, but right now it's like the Wild West in the DCU continuity, until they officially settle on some ground rules. Between 52 and Infinite Crisis, and Countdown and now Final Crisis, I have no idea what's going on, what's real and what's not. I need some structure, as a reader. Which "Legion" is the real "Legion," you know?
NRAMA: Do you think the multiverse can last? What will make this time around less confusing than it was last time the multiverse had to be streamlined?
JO: I see no reason why stories can't be told of duplicate Earths, and heroes, as it's a great science fiction staple. But as I said, they need to map out some stuff and make everyone conform to it. The pre-Crisis multiverse had multiple Earths, but the writers in those days tried their best to make everything clear and easy to follow. It's much more convoluted now, because each new comic seems to contradict the one that came out last month. There have been so many re-boots that my head starts spinning when I try to reference a character for a story.
NRAMA: If someone had never heard of Earth-2 before, is this comic too confusing for them? Or is it something that acts as a primer to this alternate world?
JO: There are going to be elements here that will throw the reader for a loop, but the concepts are pretty straightforward.
NRAMA: Are you a reader of the new Justice Society of America that Geoff writes? Do you think this Annual fits with it?
JO: I do like the new JSA book an awful lot. Sure, the Annual fits in-- Geoff has clearly drawn inspiration from the 1980's work that Roy Thomas did, and I was a part of that as well.
NRAMA: How was it working with Geoff on this project? Did you two collaborate closely?
JO: Geoff writes what he writes. He and I chatted before he scripted the Annual, and I threw a ton of ideas his way, but none made it into the annual. I have hopes that we can do more stories in this pocket of the DCU so that we eventually get to some of what he and I batted around.
NRAMA: Did you collaborate with Alex Ross on the project at all?
JO: I didn't do more than send a few redesigned costumes to Alex for inclusion on the cover. I assume he and Geoff chat about story stuff though. Alex's contributions are a big part of the new JSA book's success, no doubt.
NRAMA: Finally Jerry, where will we see your art next?
JO: Don't have much lined up right now. I am drawing a few pages in each of the next three monthly issues of JSA, but don't know beyond that.
The Justice Society of America Annual is due in stores on July 30th.