J.T. Krul: Walking Through a Mindfield of Blackest Nights

A comics interview article by: Josh Green
J.T. Krul took time out of his busy schedule to sit down with Josh Green to chat everything Blackest Night, Titans, Fathom, Soulfire, and Mindfield.


WARNING: This interview may contain spoilers!

Josh Green: Tempest starred in your Titans #15 prelude to Blackest Night: Titans mini-series. But does his transformation into a Black Lantern from Blackest Night #2 mean that he will be the central villain of the mini-series? Is there anything else about Blackest Night: Titans that you can say without spoiling the series?

J.T. Krul: I'm rather tight-lipped about the goings on in Blackest Night: Titans, partially because I don't want to incur the wrath of Geoff Johns or my editors, but also because I want the story to just unfold. It's an exciting story and allows me an opportunity to completely tear down these characters to their raw emotional cores. Since Tempest was a Titan and now he's a Black Lantern, I guess you could say it wouldn't be out of the realm for him to appear in the pages of Blacket Night: Titans, but the relationships we've already revealed in the story are the driving forces behind it -- Gar and Terra, Hawk and Dove, Donna and her family. That's the primary focus of the story.

JG: What is like to be working with one of DC’s premiere artists in Ed Benes on Blackest Night: Titans?

J.T.: Amazing. Having Geoff Johns go to bat for me with getting the writing assignment for the series was incredible enough, but having Ed Benes on art really pushed it over the top. He is one the powerhouses in the industry and we've got the pages to prove it. The response has been nothing short of stellar regarding his work so far -- and it only gets better and creepier from here on out.

JG: You are also writing other Blackest Night tie-ins with Teen Titans #77-78 as well as Titans #19. Tell us a bit about these stories.

J.T.: Teen Titans #77-78 is a two-part story that centers on the deadliest father/daughter combo in the DCU -- Deathstroke and Ravager. Again, not going to spill too much on the story, but let's just say it'll be a family affair. Plus, both issues are oversized issues!

Titans #19 is a spotlight issue on Red Arrow. I've been a big fan of Roy Harper for a long time and jumped at the chance to write this issue. It required less heavy lifting, if you will, than my Tempest story in Titans #15 because Garth had been M.I.A. for awhile so he needed a bit more catching up. With these spotlight issues, it's all about getting to the core the Titans characters and identifying what makes them special, and that's what I am trying to do here with Roy's story.

Roy is interesting because he tries to come off as reckless, running into danger out in the world and jumping from girl to girl in the bedroom. He's kind of a player. But the truth is he already has a girl who owns his heart -- his daughter Lian. For this story, I wanted to explore his role as a father and how it helps and hinders his ability as a hero, and vice versa. I mean, it's one thing to be a superhero with no family -- leaping into the fray, but it's quite another when you know you are responsible for taking care of a child.

Plus, we also get to see what Lian's life is like having Red Arrow for a dad. In some respects it’s the coolest thing ever, but at times it can be a real bummer. Essentially, it comes down to the question -- Can Roy be Red Arrow but also be there for his daughter when she needs him? And, how can he have the biggest impact on his daughter as a father, but also as a superhero?

JG: Will your various Titans comics lesson your Aspen output?

J.T.: The DC work has been great. I've been talking with them for years and am excited to be working on some really high-profile projects with them. Playing in the Titans world has been the absolute best. It won't lessen my output at Aspen, but it will lessen my output of sleep.

JG: What’s coming up with Aspen Comics’ Fathom and Soulfire?

J.T.: Both Fathom and Soulfire are firing on all cylinders right now. Fathom is just getting ready to finish up Volume Three, which has seen an epic war break out between the Humans and the Blue against a mythic force from the depths off the ocean called The Black. That will lead into a new Fathom mini-series that David Schwartz (who created Meltdown) will be writing. Plus, I'll be getting started on Fathom Volume Four later this year.

As for Soulfire, Volume One has just finished up a few months ago with Joe Benitez coming onboard to finish up Mike's vision. It was a long road for that story, and at times a very sad one, but it's a great feeling to see it finished just how Mike wanted it to be. The New World Order mini-series is wrapping up. The final issue -- issue #5 -- will come out soon. And, we just premiered Soulfire Volume Two in early September with Marcus To, Saleem Crawford, and Beth Sotelo handling the art.

So, that a lot of Fathom and Soulfire, and I didn't even mention the movies. Fathom is set up with Megan Fox signed to star as Aspen Matthews. And, Soulfire has been picked up by Valhalla Pictures.

JG: Has it been difficult to continue writing Fathom and Soulfire since the passing of Michael Turner?

J.T.: Everything is difficult since Mike's death, but you do what you need to do to get through the days. In a way, it's the hardest part of my job because every script, every piece of art, every book is a reminder that he's not with us anymore. But on the other hand, everything is a reminder that he IS with us, you know? It's bittersweet at times, but other times it's nice to just sit down and revisit the stuff we worked on, the talks we had, and the times we spent together. He was more than a colleague, he was a true friend -- and that is what made the work we did together even more special.

JG: Are you excited about the Fathom movie? Does it look like the film will go into production any time soon?

J.T.: Of course. It's a great time for Fathom and fans of Fathom. Going back to the last question, the only sad part about it is that Mike didn't get to see his vision come to life on the big screen. I don't know when it goes into production. They are still working on the script right now.

JG: Let’s talk about your new creator-owned book at Aspen, Mindfield. What is the premise behind Mindfield? Also, what were the influences behind the conception of the comic book?

J.T.: Mindfield is a dark tale about a team of telepathic CIA agents, who serve as the ultimate form of thought police to combat domestic terrorism. On one end, it's an action-espionage story in the realm of The Bourne Identity or 24, but there is also a strong character-driven aspect to the story as these agents struggle with how their abilities uncover the darkest secrets of the human condition. The story itself comes from actual history. Like many others in the 1950's and 1960's, the CIA experimented with hallucinogenic drugs like LSD. For their MK-ULTRA program, the goal was to use the drugs as a kind of truth serum in order to extract information from foreign spies. So, I took that concept and stretched it to the next level in terms of what the CIA would be after given today's current climate.

With regard to the tone of the story, I have been heavily influenced by dystopian fiction since I was a kid. It's no coincidence that I refer to "thought police" when describing the project as George Orwell's 1984 is one of my favorite books of all time. There are a host of other works in this arena that have an impact of Minfield (Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, the film Children of Men, etc.) as well as the scene during the 1960's and the various personalities and events that spilled out from the rise of the counter-culture.

JG: Who is the artist of Mindfield and when can we expect the series to be released?

J.T.: The artist for the series is Alex Konat. He's a major find that we've actually known at Aspen for years. He was a big fan of Michael Turner and we'd see him at all the conventions over the years. He's really developed as an artist, went to the Joe Kubert School, and even worked on Gotham Gazette over at DC Comics. He has a very realistic style that meshes perfectly with the look and feel that we’re trying to achieve with this book. As of now, the schedule for the book is an April release of the #0 issue, with the first issue coming to stores in June of 2010.

JG: Despite this being a six-issue mini-series, is it your hope that it will continue as an ongoing saga? Also, is it a finite tale or is it open-ended?

J.T.: It's not just my hope, it's my plan. This first volume really scratches the surface of the characters and the world I want to explore. I actually have stories mapped out for 4 volumes. There is a definite overlying arc to Mindfield and as the volumes continue, readers will see the story and the focus grow and evolve over time. I don't think people will expect where we are going, which I think is half the fun of reading something new.

JG: Would you say that Mindfield is your most ambitious project to date?

J.T.: It's my first creator-owned series, how could it not be? I'm putting everything I can into this project because the story demands it, but also because I want to make sure if a reader is going to give my story a chance, they'll be satisfied with the results.

JG: Do you have any other projects lined up with DC Comics or Aspen that haven’t been announced yet? How about with other companies?

J.T.: There is more Fathom stuff coming up that we aren't announcing yet, and I have more DC work coming right at the first of the year, but again -- nothing I can talk about.

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