The second part of our Dragon*Con coverage is an interview I had with Jim Starlin this past weekend. I spoke with Starlin, who couldn’t have been any nicer, about his work with Thanos, his relationship with Marvel, Marvel’s Phase Two movies, and some more of his current work in both comics and novels. I was excited to be able to talk to Mr. Starlin because so much of Marvel’s galactic aspects are because of him. His relationship with Marvel prior to and just after The Avengers was a pretty touchy subject. The little scene at the end with Thanos and Starlin’s lack of knowledge about it started some speculation and highlighted the lack of a relationship. It seems that things have changed in the months after The Avengers. Read on for details.
I was wanting to just talk a little about your work with Marvel and Thanos. Nowadays you have prequels to everything. You have the Watchmen prequels, it was announced that Neil Gaiman would be doing a Sandman prequel, prequels are just the thing now. It came out that Marvel would be doing a Thanos story telling his early years. It was scrapped, Marvel is saying it was delayed right now, but I wondered what your thoughts were on that. What do you think of them trying to touch on that again?
Like I said, I’m not working with Marvel now so I don’t know the reasons they did that for. Like everyone else, I saw it on the internet. I did talk to the author of it and he told me that they were going to go through and pretty much stick with what I had put down and he was going to do some time things with his mother that I didn’t quite understand what he was talking about. It sounded like he had a good recap, which I’m not quite sure why you would need that these days because you have all the books in print.
That was one of the things many people were worried about as fans when that was announced, that they would be touching that.
That may have had something to do with why they decided to do it. I know they got a really good job right afterwards, you know, a replacement job so they’re not unhappy about it. I know the author was very hot to do it and I was really sorry to see it fall apart like that.
At Comic-Con Marvel announced that they were going to do Guardians of the Galaxy and kind open up the galactic aspects of the Marvel Universe. That is what you are known for. What are your thoughts on that making its way to film?
This past week the head of the Marvel studios said that Thanos was going to be, I guess, the centerpiece of the Guardians movie and going into Avengers 2. I don’t read as many comic books as I used to, as I recall the Guardians are in the future but they have all these characters in it now that are in the present like Drax and Gamora and all that. Are they still in the future?
Ok, so they are in this time zone alright. I think it’s pretty cool actually. I will be curious to see more of Thanos. We only saw that head and shoulder shot. The little filigree they added to the armor was kind of nice. I can’t wait to see the whole guy and hear him speak.
If you had your choice, who would you want to voice Thanos and bring him to life?
I had thought about Idris Elba, who is an English actor I always thought about. He is already appearing as Heimdall. There were rumors going around that Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be tapped for it, which at first I thought was a bad idea but then I caught him in the news since his post-cancer treatment and he has Thanos’ voice. He has this real gravelly voice and he would probably work well. Couldn’t think of anybody else I’d throw out off the top of my head.
I know you’ve talked about your relationship, or lack thereof, with Marvel when you see these characters and things you’ve helped bring to life is that kind of a mixed feeling as you’re watching?
I didn’t know Thanos was going to be in the movie until a couple weeks before and so there were some mixed feelings on that. Marvel and I are now talking. I can’t say anything more than that at this point about it. As far as the books go, I stopped reading Thanos when I stopped writing it, so I have no feelings about anything anyone’s done with it because I don’t know what they are.
I know you can’t say much, but talks between you and Marvel have thawed a little bit recently?
I promised David Bogart I would say he was the best thing since sliced bread in my next interview. Things are doing much better, but you know we’re not done yet and will be eventually.
That’s all the past. Let’s talk a little about what you’re doing now. You talked a little about something you were working on called Mindgames. Is there anything you can tell us about that and how’s it coming along?
Mindgames is completed. I’m working on a follow-up book to it actually. Mindgames is kind of interesting because I went to a funeral in Cape Town South Africa. I was one of the pallbearers and the guy across from me when we reached the grave tripped and I ended up holding the entire casket over the grave with one hand and in the process blew out the pads between three of the vertebra in my back. My next three weeks in Cape Town were spent on a bedroom floor with ice packs and nothing much else I could do so I sat down with my ipad and started writing Mindgames. I wrote the first half when I was laid up there and the second half when I got back and decided it would make a good illustrated novel. I always liked the old turn of the last century illustrated novels with their little spot drawings. I decided I wanted to do it in a more modern vein so I’ve done it in color and there’s practically an illustration in each fold of some kind or another. I have a sequel to that. Both of these stories are set in Hardcore Station which was a location I did in the series for DC Comics at one point. I own the rights to it, so I kept that. Mindgames is about a telepath who is also a psychiatrist and his family background which is kind of murky and not all that savory. He has to go back to Hardcore and deal with his family.
I’ve done a cover; I may do a backup story it’s going to depend on my scheduling. Timing is everything and your interview comes at a point where I can’t talk about a lot of things, I’m not sure about a lot of things. Two weeks from now, if I ran into you in Montreal I could tell you everything but right now Judge Dredd is a possibility. The cover is definitely done. They’ve had that on the internet colored up.
Do you have anything in the works right now that you can talk about?
I have the collected version of Breed coming out September 12th. Image is finally getting that one out and so the three Breed books will all be collected and available. I’m working on the novels, the second one is Lazgood’s Boys. I’m holding onto these two because I want to wait until I get the right time and piggyback on somebody else’s publicity to get the best sells results possible quite frankly (laughs).
A couple of secret projects you can’t talk about right now?
Yeah, well there are speculations of things that might happen. Over the next month or so there might be something coming out.
If somebody were wanting to get into comics today, what would you tell them with your experience and seeing the industry kind of evolve over the years?
At this point I think the only entry is comic book conventions. The comic book conventions have editors there. Show them your art; get plots and scripts to somebody. There really is no other entry anymore. It’s just they have no time to be going through a slush pile so sending it up to the companies themselves is a waste of time. You have to make connections especially on the writing level. So much of it now is the writers are people that know each other. That is another story that carries itself.
There’s been a big push for creator-owned projects. You have a lot of the big writers leaving the big companies and starting their own projects. I just wanted to get your thoughts on this since it has become a trend even more recently.
I think it’s the only smart thing creators can do, to go off and try and create things they at least have some equity in it. Yeah, I do work for the big major companies, but at the same time the majority of my work is still creator-owned. I’ve got my own projects. I have people working to make films of them, nothing to announce, nothing really. Until the check actually arrives and you cash it movies don’t exist so I’m not going to go there. I think it’s the only sane way of doing it, because we do pop culture. It is going to disappear, it is going to lose its value after a while and you should have as a creator some way of benefiting from it and doing creator-owned is the best way to do it.
It was nice to hear that things have thawed between Marvel and Starlin. Hopefully that relationship can be mended and some future work can be done. I’d keep my eye out on Starlin news in the next couple of months. The comment about Bogart was particularly interesting. You also have the possibilities of some of Starlin’s other work making its way to the big screen. He seemed very enthusiastic about things he has worked on as well as the things he teased to come. I think we’re about to hear a lot more about Jim Starlin.