DC Comics is trying something a little different for its next "weekly." Along with the Brightest Day bi-weekly that starts up in April, a second bi-weekly series will alternate with that series: Justice League: Generation Lost, as announced Tuesday morning at DC blog The Source.
This one features Keith Giffen and Judd Winick as co-writers, but it won't be just any Justice League members in the comic. Giffen and Winick will be writing about Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red...
That's right, DC fans. Keith Giffen is bringing back the JLI.
The Justice League International was the team launched by Giffen in 1987 with frequent co-collaborators J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. The comic, which mixed humor with the usual Justice League heroics, has now become a nostalgic fan-favorite.
Giffen isn't the only one returning to his roots with Justice League: Generation Lost. Winick started in the comic business 11 years ago as cartoonist on The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius. The critically acclaimed title highlighted Winick's skill at writing humor, something he's rarely done since but will likely utilize in abundance while writing the JLI with Giffen.
While DC hasn't announced the penciler for the 26-issue Justice League: Generation Lost, the cover artists will be Tony Harris and J.D. Mettler.
And before anyone wonders why DeMatteis isn't involved in the JLI revisit, Giffen's former co-writer hasn't been completely left out of DC's plans. Read on to learn more...
Newsarama: Keith, how did you and Judd get involved in this project, and what made you want to take on the job? And how did you end up getting paired together?
Giffen: [DC Executive Editor] Dan [DiDio] and [editor] Mike Siglain shanghaied me onto this project about six months or so ago, well before it had the Justice League heading. Back then it was just plain Generation Lost and I was the only firmly committed writer on board. Six nerve racking months, and more than a few co-writer misfires, later I found out Judd had drawn the short straw and drawn it just days before the writers summit that was to kick off the project.
Keep in mind that Justice League was not on the table at this point so it's not like Judd signed on for the project's (alleged) cache'. Oh, and if there's anything funnier than a jet-lagged Judd Winick, I've yet to find it.
Winick: Yes, I took a red-eye for the summit, so I was a bit punchy. It was good hour before I realized I wasn't wearing any pants (not that any one mentioned anything). And regardless of the topic, I kept challenging people to "wrassle" for it. Which was fun until an elderly woman from the maintenance staff came at me with a bottle.
But I digress. Dan called me, said I could write a bi-weekly with Keith, and I said "yes." Then I bothered to ask what it was about. Honest. He had me at Giffen.
Nrama: When does the first issue come out, and how often will the series be released? And how long is it planned to last?
Giffen: Twenty-six issues, two issues per month, starting... whenever. May, I think.
Winick: Yeah, we're not really big on "dates," "times," "comic length." We plan on keeping it pretty fast and loose and let the editors clean up the mess. Our first issue's coming in at 84 pages, and so far that's just the flashbacks.
Nrama: What is the time commitment like? Is that the reason for you teaming up to write it? And have you gotten a head start on it?
Giffen: The time commitment's going to be what it is. Whatever it takes to get the job done will get done. I'm figuring that a twice monthly with two writers breaks down to one book's worth of work per writer. That's manageable. As for a head start... hell yes!
Winick: Good God, that IS a great idea. "A head start." This could catch on. But seriously, we're already finishing the first issue.
Nrama: How are you splitting up the writing duties? Will the issues feature different scenes by different writers, or are you working on scenes together?
Giffen: I'm going to try to get Judd to write the complicated stuff.
Winick: Yeah, I lost the coin toss on that one. But Keith's agreed to wrassle for it at the halfway mark.
Giffen: I don't know how to answer this right about now because projects like this tend to creatively mutate as they go along. Right now the plan is for us to co-write each issue. Down the road? Who knows? Why do it this way? Why not?
Winick: Yeah. At the moment, one issue in, we come up with the story together and with Michael Siglain, each goes and writes some scenes, looks over the other guy's work, and slaps it together. No formulas; just writin'.
Nrama: What's the experience been like of writing with each other? Any snafus or adjustments so far?
Giffen: Since we're just getting started, there's not a lot to report.
Winick: Yes. It's a love affair we hope will continue.
Giffen: If the writing goes as smoothly as the brainstorming, and I see no reason why it wouldn't, then, aside from the problems inherent in a project like this, I don't foresee any conflict down the road. Then again, I thought the Jets would make the playoffs last year.
Winick: That's gonna be the third act of this story. Go Jets.
Nrama: So you mentioned that it wasn't originally a Justice League title. How did the original concept for the series evolve as the two of you came on board and started working on it?
Giffen: In all of my years in comics, I have never experienced anything like the complete 180 this project took once the brainstorming kicked off. Like I said, when we started the writer's summit, the Justice League... hell, why mince words... Justice League International was not on the table. Then someone, and I really wish I remembered exactly who, stirred the JLI into the mix.
Winick: As I recall I said something small, you said something small, Geoff Johns said something along the lines of "Y'know what you guys should really do..." and Dan was nodding his head in agreement seeing where it was going, as a bunch of us began muttering "...Justice League International...".
It was like that scene from Big with Tom Hanks when he says "bugs" in the meeting and everyone goes to town. I would also like to add that this was entirely born out of story. The folks who hate my guts, hate Dan's guts, hate a great deal of the guts at DC, and often run us over those tiny blog-o-sphere coals, will hear me defend myself and others with, "We went where the story took us." That, could never be more evident than with this. We entered the room with very little, and as it bore out, the story dragged us here. Happily so.
Nrama: Wait a second, this comic will be about the Justice League International?
Giffen: Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Fire, Ice, Rocket Red. It's like the family reunion from hell and I, for one, couldn't be happier.
Winick: Me either. I get to write JLI with Keith Giffen. It's one of the greatest assignments I've ever had. Swear to God.
Nrama: What's the story you're telling?
Giffen: Ahhh. That'd be telling.
Winick: It would but just to tease... it'll involve wrasslin' elderly women, bugs and the triumph of the Jets. I can say no more.
Nrama: Who are the main characters?
Giffen: I think I already answered this so I'll just let Judd run on for a while.
Winick: Well, we're really trying to kill G'nort. We're just the guys to do it.
Nrama: OK, so we have the list of existing characters. Will there be new characters introduced?
Giffen: One new. One kinda new. Lots of new stuff surrounding them.
Winick: What he said. But even more evasive.
Nrama: Why the title "generation lost" – who's lost? And what generation is it? And what does that title imply about who's involved?
Giffen: I think that applies to me 'n' Judd.
Winick: Too true.
Giffen: I know it applies to [DC Senior Story Editor] Ian Sattler. No. Really. The man doesn't have a clue.
Winick: Seriously. It wasn't until lunch at the first meeting that Ian realized that this wasn't the Batman summit. I only remember this because that's when I finally put on pants. (This was a great meeting.)
Joking aside, Generation Lost is the story. All will made clear.
Nrama: Can you at least describe the conflict that lies ahead for these characters? Is there a big, bad villain at the heart of it?
Giffen: There's always a big, bad villain, mostly because small, kind villains just don't cut it. When it comes to the JLI... Have we got villains for you!
Winick: Dark G'nort. We as SO gonna kill him.
Nrama: How will this tie into other things happening in the DC Universe? Does it bump up against other stories as it continues, or set something up for later?
Giffen: Since we're going to be dead center DCU, there are bound to be bump moments. I guess we'll burn those bridges when we come to them. As for setting up for later, that's up to the fans. If there's enough interest and sales warrant...
Winick: Yes. "We'll see" is the answer on both counts.
Nrama: You both have experience with comics that are humorous and projects that are dead serious. Which way does this series lean?
Giffen: I'm thinking kinda, sorta half and half. I'm using the Despero / Gray Man stories as templates. That said, it is the JLI...
Winick: For me, the JLI is a greatest example in comics of how to inject humor into the mix. Reading it during its original run was "subtle" revelation. Comics could be fun and dramatic. A touch silly, and still deliver a punch. Literally and figuratively. I'm hoping we can do just that. And just so psyched that get to do it.
Nrama: Keith, you worked for quite awhile on Justice League with J.M. DeMatteis. What made you want to return to the Justice League International after all this time, and how will this run differ from your stint with Marc?
Giffen: I wouldn't say I wanted to return to JLI so much as the opportunity presented itself and I leapt at the chance. I'd honestly thought my involvement with these characters was over and done with. Shows how much I know. As for differences... Judd ain't Marc.
Winick: Aw geez, and about 25 bloggers just punched the air and said, "F***ing-A right!"
Giffen: Screw 'em. You know what I mean.
Winick: I do. But I think to say it simply, this run was born by accident. A few guys in a room were trying to make a story work, and had a "Eureka" moment, and there it was.
Nrama: And to put it bluntly, Keith – because fans will wonder – the news about you co-writing Justice League begs the question... why isn't Marc involved?
Giffen: Because Marc and I – along with artist Chris Batista – are taking over Booster Gold, that's why. And yes, it's exactly what you think it is.
Winick: Which, I suppose, makes me feel a lot less like Yoko Ono breaking up The Beatles. They're still playing. Not The Beatles, but Keith and Marc. And by the way, Yoko didn't break up The Beatles. But I'm getting off topic.
Giffen: You noticed that?
Winick: I did. I think we're supposed to be talking about some comic we're doing. What was it again?
Winick: Jesus, did Dan get us drunk and we agreed to that again?
Nrama: Judd, it's been a long time since you tackled a comic with the title Justice League. What does working on Justice League with Keith mean to you? And how are you approaching the experience?
Winick: To answer the second part first, I could not be more shocked and thrilled to be writing JLI with Keith Giffen. I don't need to create an analogy to underline it-- it's self evident, as in, "Geez man, it'd be like co-writing JLI with Keith Giffen!" When I first read it as a fan boy, I loved this book, it spoke to me, if you look at my work you can see the influences, so--MAN-- it's exciting. Truly. I consider myself lucky and honored.
And as far as a JL title, to be honest I'm not really sure that I've ever worked on a book with "Justice League" in the title. I think you'd have to go waaaay back to nearly when I started in superhero comics. I did a one-shot for an event; I think the event was The World Without the Justice League, and I did one called Justice League of Aliens. That was, like, 10 years ago, I think.
Giffen: Ten years ago is a long time to you? You're a fetus.
Winick: Do you mean that I have an undeveloped brain stem and webbed feet?
Giffen: That's exactly what I mean.
Winick: Well, I come from Carny folk.
Giffen: That explains your Outsiders run.
[Keith and Judd now laugh hysterically for nearly a minute, then go off on a tangent whose subjects range from, yes, Carny folk, to the "anti-Semitism of cats," and over to how drawing feet really well is a lost art form. All of which was off topic, and oddly enough the language took on a more "colorful" tone, making it all basically unprintable. But back to business, and hoping to wrap up...]
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about Justice League: Generation Lost?
Giffen: Um... Buy it?
Winick: Yes. Actually you'll probably need to buy two copies each.
Giffen: Yeah. Judd's got an aunt who's a bearded lady but she's caught Alopecia. She's gonna be out of work real soon.