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Interview with Jay Faerber
by Louise Freeman Davis

Jay Faerber is a relative newcomer to the world of professional comics writing, but he's one whose star is rapidly rising as he scripts the adventures of some of comics' most popular young heroes. His first work for DC was the Wonder Girl origin story in Secret Origins 80-Page Giant, and he has stories with Titans and Young Justice characters slated to appear in the near future. In December, Jay will become the regular writer of Marvel's Generation X. Recently he kindly granted an email interview to FANZING fiction editor Louise Freeman Davis.

LFD:

Starting with some basic "getting-to-know-you" stuff: How old are you, where are you from and where do you currently live? Are you married and do you have children?
JF:

I'm 26 years old, and I live in Seattle, WA. I'm single. And a Taurus.

LFD:

What is your educational background?
JF:

I graduated from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, with a BA in English. Aside from that, I'm a "self-taught" (as if there's any other kind) writer. I did, however, take an exceptional class for screenwriters by Robert McKee. I strongly advise any aspiring writers to look into this class. It's invaluable for any storytelling medium.

LFD:

How long have you been reading comics and what are your favorite, in the past and now?
JF:

I've been reading comics for literally as long as I can remember. My favorite past comics include New Teen Titans, New Warriors, Suicide Squad, Stormwatch,and Mike Grell's Green Arrow run. I don't read many comics anymore, but I do enjoy Joe Kelly's X-Men, I'm looking forward to Warren Ellis' Planetary and The Authority, and Devin Grayson's Titans and The Weinbergs are both gonna kick ass.

LFD:

Titans we're all aware of. What's The Weinbergs? T
JF

The Weinbergs is Grayson's upcoming creator-owned 6-issue mini-series, which redefines the super-team-as-family concept.

LFD:

What stories have you written or are in the works at DC?
JF:

So far all I've done at DC that's out is the 10-pager Wonder Girl origin in the recent Secret Origins 80-Page Giant. Coming up I've got a 5-page story in Titans Secret Files (drawn by Rick Mays), and I wrote some of the character profiles. Currently I'm writing a 10-page story for the Young Justice 80-Page Giant. It's gonna be drawn by Tommy Lee Edwards (who drew Marvel's most recent Moon Knight mini-series), and it's a film noir piece, in black &white and everything.

LFD:

What have you written for other companies and what projects are you currently working on?
JF:

My only other work has been for Marvel. I wrote the last issue of What If (#114), Generation X #45, dialogued X-Force #84, and in December I become the regular writer of Generation X, with #48.

LFD:

From what I've seen on Usenet, anyway, the new Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark, has not been particularly well-received. What motivated you to do a story about her and what particular challenges did this present?
JF:

If I may digress for a moment, I'd like to point out to anyone reading this that usenet is not indicative of the overall readership of DC (or any other) Comics. Considering how many thousands of people buy any given comic, Usenet's "voice" is quite small. Sure, it's a busy, busy place, but when you have a minute, take a look at the names. When you count them all, there's really only a hundred people (or even less), who happen to have opinions on everything. Usenet's actually become something of an industry joke. It's a given that they'll pretty much hate everything you do, yet they'll continue to buy it. You learn pretty quickly in this industry to just chuckle and shake your head over it all.

Anyway, what motivated me to do a story with Cassie? That's easy: the lure of being published! While What If actually hit the stands first, my 10-page Wonder Girl story was the first story I sold. I had no aspirations to write Cassie, but Eddie Berganza offered me the job, and I wasn't in any position to say no. It did, however, present some unusual challenges. As regular readers of Wonder Woman know, Cassie's origin played out over a number of months. That made it kinda hard to condense into a 10-page story. Also, her origin was relatively recent, so I had to try and make the story interesting for those people who already KNEW her origin. To that end, I tried to make the story humorous by playing it through Cassie's eyes, and blowing everything out of proportion.

LFD:

Was the idea of filling in a "lost chapter" in Titans history (telling the story of how Roy Harper's team disbanded) something you proposed to DC yourself, or was it assigned to you?
JF:

I can't really remember, but I think that was my idea. I'm pals with Devin Grayson, and I pretty much wormed my way into that Secret Files gig. Fortunately, editor Eddie Berganza realized my genius and let me do it.

LFD:

You were once involved with APA fanzine TitanTalk; now you're actually writing about Titans characters professionally. What's it like?
JF:

Well, writing for TitanTalk was actually a lot easier! With fanfic, you're only writing for yourself. There's no artist to consider, who may change crucial details to your story; or editors who want to inject their own ideas into the story; or even higher-ups, who veto stories based on nothing more than a personal preference. But, I knew all that going in, and I'm still thrilled and honored to be working on these characters professionally.
LFD:

Actually you're the third TitanTalk alumnus, as far as I know, to make this leap. The other two I'm thinking of are Rob Liefield and his work on Hawk and Dove, and of course Devin K. Grayson's Nightwing, Arsenal and upcoming Titans series. This is in addition to the numerous other ex-TitanTalkers who are working in the comics industry in other capacities. Is TitanTalk unique in its list of distinguished alums, or is APA work a common prerequisite for comics professionals today?
JF:

No, I think it's quite rare. And, in fact, APAs, from what I understand, are almost a thing of the past, what with the advent of the internet. And in fact, most APAs wind up being pretty insular and cliquish, and I don't know any pros who still maintain close contact with any APA they ever belonged to.

LFD:

Looking back on your fan fiction work, would you say it is more a source of pride or embarrassment?
JF:

I'm not embarrassed by it, but it's also not something I'd ever direct anyone towards, nor would I include it on a resume.

LFD:

Has fan fiction changed much with the coming of the internet?
JF:

Yeah, I think a lot more people are getting into it. Unfortunately, people are making the mistake of thinking they can use fanfic as a basis for breaking in, and it doesn't really work that way. No editor is gonna read a 40-page story about Changeling's birthday party as a way to gauge a potential comic book writer's ability.

LFD:

What have been your most and least enjoyable encounters with fans since you became a professional? Either in person or online?
JF:

The most enjoyable, I guess, are the fans who simply enjoy my work. My favorite thing to hear is that people who have never read GenX, or haven't read it in a long time, at least, are gonna start buying it again when my run starts. That's a real compliment. The fans that get on my nerves are the ones that don't realize their "role" in the greater scheme of things. The only "input" a fan really gets is exercised when he or she spends his or her money on any given title. That's pretty much where it ends. I don't like the fans who think I'm obligated to listen to their ideas, or write a character a certain way based on their preferences, etc.

LFD:

If you could pick your dream assignment, what would it be?
JF:

Just one? Hmm…. I'd like to revive Marvel's New Warriors series, and have it be a smashing success (I would pick DC's Titans, but then that would deny me the pleasure of reading Devin's!).

LFD:

What, in your opinion, should the comics industry as a whole do to boost sales in the long term?
JF:

I tend not to give this stuff much thought. My main concern lies in telling the best stories I know how. Other than suggesting others do the same, I guess it'd be a good idea to get comics back onto the newsstands, and in grocery stores, and drug stores, and even arcades and stuff. They just need to be out there more, where people can find them. And from a creator stand-point, they need to be accessible to new audiences. The comics that get the most praise on the internet tend to be the comics made specifically for die-hard fans, full of in-jokes and references to other, old, comics. But those same comics are totally meaningless and inaccessible to new readers. A balance is not only nice, it's necessary.

This column is © 1998 by Louise Freeman Davis.

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