In the world of
AN INTERVIEW WITH KURT BUSIEK
ORIGNALLY FEATURED IN 1997- by Erich Schoeneweiss
Few people could get away with the work load that Kurt Busiek carries. He not only writes four comic books, but he does them so well that fans are becoming spoiled, making other books pale in comparison. We had an opportunity to interview Kurt about not only his work, but his feelings about the industry today.
ES: People seem to regard Untold Tales of Spider-Man as the best
Spider-Man book in the line, if not the best book Marvel is publishing.
Did you expect this kind of positive reaction?
ES: What does the reaction tell you about the fans?
KB: That theyíre highly perceptive people with a fine taste for quality comics, of course! Well, except for those fans who donít think that Untold Tales is the bestÖ.Seriously, while Iím flattered by those fans, the fact remains that the other Spider-Man books, which cost more, sell better than Untold Tales by a substantial margin. So Iím glad the folks who like my book best are so vocal, but theyíre not the majority, sadly enough.
ES: What do you think about the turns that Peter Parker has taken over
the last few years?
ES: What about the Spider-Baby?
KB: Donít look at me. I didnít take her!
ES: What goes into your plotting of Untold Tales? How do you decide what will fit into where in the Spider-Man continuity?
KB: I read through the run of Amazing Spider-Man, looking for gaps and opportunities, or character or plot points that make a good springboard for an Ďuntold taleí. It depends on what fits where, and what the characters are doing, and itís a great excuse to re-read and study some terrific comics.
ES: Whatís Thunderbolts about?
ES: Are these all new characters or have they been hiding in the Marvel Universe?
KB: There are back stories there, some mysteries to be solved. The secrets will be revealed in the book itself.
ES: Is there pressure involved in writing the book thatís supposed to fill the void left by Avengers and Fantastic Four?
KB: So far, only by me. But the characters are under tremendous pressure.
ES: What does writing Thunderbolts allow you to do that maybe an Astro City doesnít?
KB: Astro City is a book where I explore the super-hero genre, where I do the kind of stories that donít get done in most comics. With Thunderbolts, I can do the kind of straightforward, roller-coaster adventure/character drama that I avoid in Astro City, and do it the best I possibly can. Iíve always wanted to write a book as exciting and involving as Steve Englehartís run on Avengers and Thunderbolts gives me a shot at doing that.
ES: Did Marvels plant the seed to do Astro City, or was Astro City a concept that you tested out with Marvels?
KB: Itís a mixture of both. Iíve always liked thinking about what itís like for other people in super-hero stories, the people we donít get to see much of. And before Marvels, I did a couple of stories along those lines- a story about a mechanic at the Stark Enterprises motor pool who keeps applying for the Iron Man job. I was already pursuing that kind of idea before Marvels came along, but it gave me the chance to do some of those stories on a big, splashy canvas, and its success gave me the chance to do more of them on a regular basis.
ES: What is your vision and view of Astro City?
KB: I think the world is the main character. Iím exploring the genre and so I need a genre context. Weíre not following any one set of characters linear through time; weíre wandering around in the world and Iím looking at whatever interesting stories it affords. As for my Ďvisioní, well, Iím finding out as I go along. I think that the superhero genre is as rich in possibility as any other, so I intentionally created Astro City as a vehicle for exploration. If I knew exactly what was coming, Iíd have to do something else. The sense of discover with the book is a big part of itís appeal.
ES: Who would you consider the quintessential comic book character and why?
KB: I donít really think there is a quintessential character. I think comics are capable of so many different and various things that to pick one would be like picking a quintessential prose fiction character. Is Dracula more quintessential than Billy Budd? Itís a question that only works if there is an ideal out there that can be approached, but in any art form, there are so many ideals that no one example can be better than the others.
That said, though, I think Mickey Mouse makes a good candidate. Instantly recognizable, highly sympathetic- he can serve as a reader-identification character in all kinds of stories: from mystery to adventure to romance. My favorites are Iron Man, Hawkeye and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), but I donít know that theyíre terribly quintessential.
ES: What do you think about the state of the comics industry now?
ES: Do you think writers and artists are on an equal plain?
ES: Your voice is heard on-line in message boards and forumsÖwhy? Is it curiosity on your part, or something that you do for fun?
KB: The main reason is that I enjoy it. But I think itís a good idea to stay aware of what readers are talking about, and to stay in communication with retailers, other pros, fans and all sorts of people connected to comics.
Copyright©2000 Erich Schoeneweiss