Published on February 12th, 2015 | by admin
Paul Levitz Interview … Converging on the history of comics and paving a new Dr Fate
INTRO: Paul Levitz is a true living legend who has worked in the comic industry for over 40 years, including a large amount of that time at DC Comics from writer to President. Although Paul is no longer the President of DC Comics (2002 – 2009), he is still actively involved in writing for this company and recently joined the board of directors at BOOM! Studios in 2014.
Paul was also responsible for helping in the relaunch of the Huntress and Power Girl in Worlds’ Finest for DC Comics’ 2011 reboot with the New-52. Other notable works from Paul include the Legion of Superheroes, Who’s Who and All-Star Comics which was a continuation of the legendary Justice Society of America.
INTERVIEW: Welcome to Impulse Gamer Paul, it’s a huge honor of interviewing you as quite a few of us here are huge fans of your work. As a fan of this medium, I have very fond memories of not just your older work (Justice League of America and All-Star Comics) but also your newer work such as the JSA, Worlds’ Finest and the Legion of Super Heroes, so thanks for all the amazing memories.
So growing up Paul, what were some of the comics that influenced you as a writer?
My first comfort food in comics were Mort Weisinger and Julie Schwartz’s titles at DC, especially the Legion and later the JLA… always a weakness for group books. Later on I discovered the Marvel line, and was a particular fan of The Avengers, and to a lesser degree the early run of The X-Men.
How did you become involved in the medium as a writer?
I started at DC doing letters pages for Joe Orlando, then came on staff as his assistant editor. After a while of doing rewrites and learning from Joe, I started out doing mystery stories for him and Tex Blaisdell.
To date Paul, what’s your favourite comic you’ve written and why?
My personal favorite is still the origin of the JSA, though it’s Legion: The Great Darkness Saga which has stood the test of time with the readers better. I loved the first because it was a chance to fill in a key bit of DC history.
As a writer, what inspires you?
Almost anything: history, fiction that I’m reading, places that I’ve been, people that I’ve met.
If you could pick any era of DC Comics and write a sequel to your stories, what would it be?
I don’t think I would–you can’t go home again. I’m not the same person who wrote those stories, and the audience isn’t the same.
As you are part of the DC family and now Boom! Studios, is it difficult to keep these two universes separate?
My roles are so different it’s no problem. For DC I’m simply a writer, and a consultant to their parent company on certain matters. For Boom I’m working on the corporate side of the business, helping establish systems, and helping them find a path to what the studio can become. I may write something there eventually, but nothing’s planned right now.
Can you tell us what drew you to Boom! Studios?
A chance to use my business ‘muscles’ which have been fallow for the past couple of years, and to work with a very committed group of young people.
Given your diverse career in comics that has seen the medium change in a number of ways, do you think that the digital format will eventually surpass and end print based comics?
I suspect that more young people will want their entertainment delivered on screen as time goes on, but I hope paper will outlast me by a long time.
As a fan and writer, what drew you to DC Comics?
I love the imagination of comics, and the classic DC universe had so many elements of fantastic storytelling that I loved reading it and playing in it later on.
Besides Convergence, what has been your favourite DC epic (or Crisis) and why?
I came in with the original–Crisis On Earth-One was the first DC i bought on the newsstand, and is still a joy to me.
Although the New-52 Huntress and Power Girl are quite different than their original Earth Two counterparts but they also share many similarities… what challenges did you face in giving these two characters a fresh and unique twist?
Well, the complex “master continuity” that was going on at DC with the new Earth-2 provided many challenges–I had to keep adjusting my plotting to match what was going on in EARTH-2 title, for example. It’s all a part of how comics have evolved.
Can you tell us what drew you to the Huntress and Power Girl?
I liked the relationship between two strong, but very different women. Their verbal byplay and friendship made it a very different title for DC.
Power Girl has always been a character of controversy and in a recent issue of Worlds’ Finest, Kara finally received the Superman shield… given the popularity of a certain window on her uniform, what do you think of fandoms comments about this? Some even outraged?
The original ‘boob window’ was certainly a sexist (and sexy) choice by Joe Orlando when he designed the costume, and he and Woody had great fun making her more and more visually sexy. I don’t think I ever could find a way to add logic to the design, but many fans enjoyed it (and some, understandably, despised it). We tried to eliminate it in the beginning of the WORLDS’ FINEST series, but it seems to keep finding a way back…
Apart from Power Girl and Huntress, what’s it like writing the new Earth-2 incarnations of Superman and Batman?
I enjoyed the recent WF ‘Secret History’ storyline, not so much for the big guys, but for getting to write a Lois-narrated tale with her having a central role. She’s a much underutilized character, and I hope readers enjoyed it as much as I did.
What can we expect in the final issues of Worlds’ Finest?
Although the New-52 has been a huge hit, it did split the DC fanbase, especially to those fans who loved legacies such as Wally West as The Flash and the original Justice Society of America. What are your thoughts on this divide?
When I want my comfort food, I can go back and re-read my old comics. The new ones have to change and develop in search of new audiences, new generations.
Over the last couple of days, the internet has been abuzz with the massive changes at DC Comics come June with DC Entertainment Co-Publisher Dan DiDio stating that “In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry”, are you at liberty to discuss this new road for DC?
I remember an article from Amazing Heroes that stated Doctor Fate was one of your favourite characters… so is Doctor Fate still on of your favourite heroes list and if so, what draws you to him or her?
I enjoyed the original Dr Fate, and hope I can bring the new one to life for new readers.
Sonny Liew (The Shadow Hero and My Faith in Frankie) has a very unique drawing style that lends itself well to the supernatural. So as a writer, will you be capitalizing on this style for the story?
I’m excited to be working with Sonny–he has a very personal style, and I’m trying to design the series to take full advantage of it.
Besides Doctor Fate, which other DC character or team would you love to write and why?
I’ve gotten to write almost all the DC heroes over the years… I’m a very lucky man. I’d be happy to go back to many of them if I had the chance.
Hypothetical speaking and if Marvel approached you to write any of their comics, which character or team would it be and why?
I wish I’d had the chance to do the classic Avengers, but I’m not current on how any of the Marvel titles have evolved, so I can’t lust after them.
Lastly, Warner Bros and DC Entertainment are really vamping up their movies in the upcoming years… what DC film are you looking forward to the most and why?
All of them… and the joy of going to see DC movies whose scripts I haven’t read in advance. It’s fun to be a fan!
Thanks again Paul and all the best for the new Dr. Fate series!