In the world of
AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN BYRNE
ORIGINALLY FEATURED IN 1996-
by Andrew Goletz
Byrne is one of the few creators out there who we can truly call a legend.
His work on such books as Superman, Fantastic Four and X-Men are all
considered to hold some of the finest tales ever told in those particular
titles. He has lent his creative energies to all of the big guns in the
comics industry: Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Captain America, The
had an immensely popular creator owned title, John Byrne’s Next Men,
through Dark Horse comics which began as a series and then a series of
mini-series. He is an accomplished writer, artist, creator and is always
good for an opinion.
AG: How did you break into the business?
JB: It was a
process of dumb luck, and being in the right place at the right time.
Let’s see, if I remember the sequence correctly, I was attending the
Alberta College of Art, and had demonstrated my interest in comics
sufficiently enough that the director of the gallery there, a guy named
Doug Moppet, brought in a touring show of comic art. Then he asked me to
do a comic to be given away as the brochure for the show. I did, and a guy
who lived in Calgary (which is where I was at this point), John Mansfield,
saw it and used his connections to get me into Marvel and DC to show my
stuff around. I wasn’t a
big hit, but I did start to get some work through fanzines: George Breos
effort in Chicago and Bob Layton and Roger Stern’s CPL. It was in CPL
that I created this little robot character that Layton decided to name
ROG-2000, and Nick Cuti, who was an editor and writer at Charlton saw this
and asked me if I would be interested in doing ROG as a backup feature in
E-MAN. I did, and from there I got more work at Charlton.
AG: Who do you admire most in life?
AG: What about John Byrne, the human being. What are your hobbies and interests?
one of those sad, pitiful cases, really. My life is my job and my job is
my life. This is the main downside, I guess, of what happens when your
hobby becomes your job. My musical interests are kind of pedestrian. I
like modern jazz, and I like some show tunes. I guess Enya would be my
secret vice. Mostly, though, when I’m not parked at the drawing board,
I’m parked in front of the TV, watching movies on tape or laser disk.
And I don’t have a TV in my studio, by the way. I can’t understand
people who do!
AG: John Byrne’s Next Men. Will we ever see it or the characters again?
JB: I hope
so. I have about twenty more issues of Next Men in my head, including a
cohesive ending for the book. They’re not stories I could transplant,
not stories I could turn into Wonder Woman of New Gods tales, so I must
get to them sooner or later.
AG: Why did you take on Wonder Woman? WW, She-Hulk, Babe…Do you have an affinity to strong female characters or is it just coincidence?
JB: I like
drawing hot babes! I also like taking the characters with the least
developed personalities and putting my stamp on them. For the most part,
that had tended to be the female characters, and so I developed something
for writing female characters.
AG: How do you feel about Jim Lee reinventing the
Fantastic Four, a book you got raves for. I think this is the first time
people have been excited about the book since your run.
reserve judgment until I see the work. I don’t understand why Lee is
doing it—or why Liefeld is doing Captain America, for that matter—if
Image is still as successful as they claim. Seems like selling out to me.
AG: Would you ever work for Marvel again?
JB: DC is
certainly a friendlier place, these days. But I would work for Marvel
again at the drop of a hat, if they offered me the right project. They
AG: What do you think needs to be changed about the
AG: You’ve been a big proponent of creator’s rights. Why do you work for hire when you could do your own creator owned or self published works?
JB: I do
what I think or hope will be fun. The speculator boom pretty much burned
and pillaged the marketplace and I was looking for safe harbor. I was on
the verge of forcing myself into the frame of mind in which I would just
do whatever crap happened to come along, for a couple of years, just to
make a living. Then Paul Kupperberg asked me if I would do Wonder Woman,
and I was afforded a chance to make a living AND continue having fun. When
the market place settles back into something like an even keel, I’ll go
back to my creator owned stuff—assuming I’ve finished my commitment to
New Gods and Wonder Woman by then.
AG: What do you think of the entire Spider-Clone
saga in the Spider-Man books?
Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz