He has the wits, the heart and the know-how to write some damn fine comics. And now, he's got a new Marvel exclusive contract in his pocket as well. Jeph Loeb leaves behind DC's infinite cast of icons (except for Supergirl, that is), only to take on the biggest and baddest at the ultimate House of Ideas.
Jeph Loeb: When at Marvel - Part I
BROKEN FRONTIER: Your Marvel contract went into effect September 1. Will we see anything you wrote with the Marvel logo on it reach stores before your run on Ultimates starts?
JEPH LOEB: Maybe. It all depends on the availability and schedule of the artistic side of the project. As amusing as it might be to see 22 pages of my stick figures, that ain’t gonna happen. True story: I once tried to explain to Tim a layout I had in my head for WOLVERINE/GAMBIT. He asked me to sketch it out and so I did. He looked at it and pointed to this one spot and said: “Is that a gun? Why does Gambit have a gun?” He was pointing at Gambit’s arm. Hey, it looked like an arm to me! Sort of.
BF: Overall, which characters would you like to take a crack at, and, with whom? A project with Michael Turner perhaps, now that he’s on the Marvel locomotive as well?
JL: Unfortunately, I can’t answer a lot of that just yet. I haven’t been there very long! I’ve got my eyeball on a few guys who weren’t at DC, that much I can tell you. Frank Cho impresses the heck out of me. I’d do anything with Jimmy Cheung -- but my pal and partner at The Empath Magic Tree House (the studio Jeph, Geoff and Alan Heinberg share) Alan will chase me down the street with a meat cleaver. [Laughs]
As to Turner... Sh*t. Wouldn’t that be cool?
BF: Speaking of artists, is Tim Sale far behind? I mean, wherever you guys have went over the past decade, the other was sure to follow…
JL: This was the hardest part of leaving DC. Tim’s contract, without going into specifics, is/was different than mine. I knew leaving meant leaving my brother behind. We talked about it endlessly, he mostly arguing that I should go. Hmmm…. Have to think about that! [Laughs]
I’m not retiring. I’m going to tell some stories over at Marvel. During that time I can’t tell stories at DC over and above what I’d committed to prior to September 1st. There’s still some small, but very special stuff that Tim and I have left to do. More on that later. So, I’m sure that at some point -- I can’t say and really don’t know when -- we’ll be back getting into trouble again.
In the meantime, SOLO was a very important book for Tim. It got him to work with Brian Azzarello and Darwyn Cooke. Both of those were good experiences, different experiences and you can see it in the work, in the energy. The stuff he and DC have cooking will be wonderful, I’m sure. I just hope he doesn’t forget me! Sniff!
BF: Even though Tim’s still at DC, has the groundwork already been laid for the Captain America: White project you mentioned earlier during this conversation?
JL: The only groundwork is what Tim and I always do -- we've discussed the story and know the big set pieces and the emotional twists and turns. The exact ‘what happens when’ isn't worked out -- and since this is a project in the far off future, the specifics won't be figured out until then. It is, however, very cool, and the meaning of Cap: White (like the double meanings of Yellow, Blue and Gray) while not immediately apparent will be surprising. And no, it has nothing in any way to do with race.
BF: Will you be in any way involved in Decimation or the aftermath of House of M in general?
JL: Yep. [Laughs]
BF: So much for the candid Jeph we've gotten to know and love during the first part of our interview! [Laughs] Seriously now, there's another Loeb project in the works that people have only heard whispers about -- what can you tell us about ‘26’ at DC?
JL: I’m glad people are calling it that. [Laughs]
Sometimes it feels like it’s going to take twice as long to finish as DC’s ‘52’!
Many comic book fans and readers know that my son Sam died this last June. He was just 17. He fought a tremendously fierce three year battle against cancer with strength and humor. Sam was my magic -- he was my only son (we have a spitfire daughter who is 14) -- and he was my best friend. We found the same things funny and that plays a long time with me in any friendship and in life in general.
What a lot people don’t know is that he was a terrific writer. It was his own voice, his own way. He didn’t want my suggestions! The first thing he did was a short 6-pager for Dark Horse (Tale of The Vampires #5). Joss qualified Sam as -- in Joss speak -- “Sam is not without the funny.” Joss got him the gig. Sam called Tim Sale and Richard Starkings on his own and asked if they’d do it with him. Go. Read it. It’s not just father’s pride -- it’s damn good.
Off of that, Eddie Berganza offered Sam an issue of Superman/Batman. Eddie wanted to do a sequel of sorts to S/B #7 which starred Superboy and Robin. Sam was roughly the age of those characters and Eddie thought Sam would give it the right voice. Sam turned in a full plot -- with smatterings of dialogue -- and working with Eddie, it got approved to go as S/B #26 -- the issue after my last issue. Thus the ‘26’ nickname.
But, Sam died before he could finish it. I want to -- I have to -- see it through completion. It is what my son would want and DC agreed.
Now, with the tremendous support of Paul Levitz and Dan Didio and Jack Mahan, ‘26’ has turned into -- well, it’s turned into, well, WOW.
Sam had friends in the comic book business. He spoke to them on his own. He’d hang with them at conventions on his own. And those people came to me after Sam’s funeral and said they wanted to do something -- anything -- that had to do with Sam.
Now, I have to be careful here because not all of this is finalized, but ‘26’ will be completed by myself and the people who loved him. Even if they draw only a panel or write only a balloon, it would be amazing.
Everyone will be working off of Sam’s plot. This is his story to tell. Helping out with the writing will be myself, Geoff Johns, Alan Heinberg, Brian K. Vaughan, Joss Whedon, Brad Meltzer, Joe Kelly and Mark Verheiden. The artwork -- so far -- will be handled by Mike Turner, Joe Mad, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Arthur Adams, Joyce Chin, Pat Lee, Ed McGuinness, Carlos Pacheco, and Ian Churchill.
It may turn out to be a great big mess -- and Sam would have found that hilarious. In fairness, Sam’s story is told in sections so handing it out to different artists won’t be as difficult as if it were not. I believe in Sam and I believe in Eddie Berganza who is going to have edit the thing! It is 22 pages.
Then, and again, I can’t thank DC enough, there will be a back-up story that I wrote a little after Sam died. It was actually at Paul Levitz’ suggestion that I do it. It’s a new SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS short 6- page tale. Tim has already pencilled and inked it. People who have seen it have said it’s the best thing Tim has done. I’m very, very proud of it and even happier that it will be included in this issue.
‘26’ isn’t a tribute book. It’s a jam issue with everyone who knew Sam coming together to finish his story. As an added bonus, all of the writers and artists are donating their fees and their royalties to THE SAM LOEB COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIP FUND that has been set up to give donations to students at Sam’s High School (The Magnet Program at North Hollywood High) who will be going to college. It’s a way that some lucky kids can take a little bit of Sam with them on their next step in life.
All of the artwork will be donated to the Fund and then auctioned off at a later date. More on that later. ALL of those monies will go into the Fund. DC -- it’s so incredible -- has offered to make a generous donation as well from the sale of the book. Already, just from the few interviews I’ve given, stores have contacted me and said they want to donate something too.
My hope is that everyone will get a chance to see the kinds of things that Sam inspired in everyone who knew him. He is and will always be my hero.
If you’re interested in donating to the Sam Loeb College Scholarship Fund (no matter how small), please send an email to SamLoeb4@aol.com. Someone will contact you with details as they are forthcoming. On behalf of Jeph’s family, Thank you.