Jay Faerber: Making Comics in His Image

A comics interview article by: Chris Murman
This just in, Jay Faerber is a talented writer. Okay, that’s not anything new. The rich yarns centered on super-powered youngsters keep coming, just the publisher that changes. After making a name for himself on Marvel and DC books such as New Warriors and The Titans, Jay has made quite a home for himself at Image. Noble Causes showed that super families don’t always run around stopping crime without their fair share of problems, then came the illegitimate sibling quintet fighting crime in Dynamo 5. In May, a new hero enters the fray with the release of Gemini. I got the opportunity to ask Faerber about each of these titles and what readers have to look forward with each in the coming months.

Chris Murman: Let's start with your freshest creation. What can you tell us about the hero Gemini, other than the fact that he isn't a twin? [laughter]

Jay Faerber: At first blush, Gemini appears to be simply an acrobatic, wisecracking super-hero who always shows up when there's trouble. But as we learn in the first issue, he's actually much more than that. He's secretly a normal, everyday guy who's being brainwashed by some secret organization into being a super-hero. Whenever there's trouble, these people "activate" Dan Johnson and turn him into Gemini. He has no knowledge of civilian identity, and vice versa, thanks to a series of post-hypnotic suggestions. So we're taking the idea of a "double life" and really cranking it up to 11.

CM: I was interested in reading about the team that works in the background to support Gemini in his mission. Could you describe the dynamic between him and his numbered agents? What can we look forward to in regard to their role in the story?

JF: Gemini has three handlers who monitor his every move (thanks to contact lenses that he wears, which have fiber optic technology in them). These three handlers are identified only by numbers. They don't know each other's names, so that they can't ever be interrogated by an enemy of the organization. What they don't know can't hurt the cause. The book starts with one of the handlers being new to the team, which allows us to fill in some exposition as the other two handlers can answer her (and the readers') questions.

Gemini really has no dynamic with the handlers, since he doesn't know they exist. It's kind of a one-sided relationship, since they know
everything about him, and he knows nothing about them.

CM: There's a pretty dramatic ending to the initial issue, which is almost too good to keep to myself. It would seem that you have a penchant for opening series in that manner (I noticed a similar flair with Dynamo 5 #1), why is that? Want to tease our readers a bit with the ending?

JF: I just think it's crucial to end a first issue -- heck, every issue, really, but a first issue most importantly -- on something enticing, that makes the reader want to come back. Some people may think it's cheap to end on a big, outrageous cliffhanger at the end of the first issue. They may think it's a gimmick, or something. And maybe it is. But I think it's a necessary one. You've gotta get people talking, and bring them back next month.

As for the end of Gemini #1...well, all I can say is that I'm confident the ending will get people talking.

CM: Let's move to Noble Causes, which kicks off a new direction in story with issue #32 next month and the "Five Years Later" story. We've seen One Year Later from DC, why move your story ahead five years?

JF: The decision to move my story ahead five years was born out of a desire to create a clean jumping on point for new readers. Short of starting over with a new #1 (which I didn't want to do), jumping ahead five years seemed like a good way to signal a new beginning. This way, everyone's on the same playing field -- readers who've been with the series for years and newcomers alike. Everyone will be equally lost by the new family dynamics seen in issue #32.

CM: Certainly an obvious pun, the "noble" family seems to have seen it's share of turmoil in the past. Is it possible for such a dysfunctional group of super heroes to find peace together?

JF: It sure would be boring if they found peace together, wouldn't it? At its heart, Noble Causes is always going to be about family conflicts: between spouses, between siblings, and now, with the new family members, even between step-siblings.

CM: The Nobles are also quite a large group, which is always the challenge of a team book to juggle so many personalities. Will we see any lineup changes in the near future or is this family here to stay a while?

JF: The family line-up that's introduced in issue #32 will be around for the foreseeable future, although we'll also check in with other members of the family (and extended cast) who aren't so visible these days. Characters like Gaia, Race, Liz, Krennick, Cosmic Rae, the Blackthornes, etc. They'll all show up eventually.

CM: Moving on to Dynamo 5, there's been a bit of a lull in between issue #10 and this week's issue #11. Any particular reason for the delay, and what kind of challenges does a delay present in telling your story?

JF: We just fell behind, simple as that. We're not happy about it, and have taken steps to ensure it doesn't happen again. We're not soliciting a new issue of D5 in June, for instance, so that we can get the book back on track. Issue #11 comes out this week, and we're just about done with #12, so it shouldn't be much more than a month before that comes out.

The delay doesn't really hurt our storytelling, since the stories were written months ago. But I hate having that long of a gap between issues because it just increases the chance that people will forget about the book, or lose interest.

CM: I've been particularly enjoying the constant "coming of age" that is present with this title, as well as other teen super hero books. Obviously you would love all of your books to last forever, but how do you keep the notion of a teen group growing up fresh while still keeping them young?

JF: One of the nice things about doing a book at Image is that I don't have to keep them young forever. These aren't corporate-owned icons, they're my characters. So if I want to age them, I can. But I think it's possible to have the characters evolve while still remaining young over a long period of time. I mean, look at how long Spider-Man has stayed young. Sure, he's aged, but not that much.

CM: There has been a steady tease of the kid's father being alive still for the past few issues. Will they always think "what if," or will everyone learn how to move on eventually?

JF: I think the kids are all pretty confident Captain Dynamo is dead. They don't know F.L.A.G. has his body in their secret lab. And god only knows what they're doing to it! But the kids are unaware of that, so I don't think they've got their hopes up that he's still alive.

CM: Finally, what do you attribute the success you've had at Image? Without sounding too biased, having three interesting stories all currently being published is difficult for even the big league writers...so how do you do it?

JF: I'm not quite sure how to answer that. These books certainly wouldn't be as successful without the amazing artists that help bring them to life. And Image has always been immensely supportive, by both allowing me to do whatever I want, and also being there to offer advice and guidance when I ask for it. It's a great environment to make comics.

Be sure to catch Dynamo 5 #11 on stands this week, as well as Noble Causes #32 later this month, and Gemini #1 on May 14th.

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