An interview with Dan Jurgens.
I feel that Dan Jurgens is DC Comics royalty. He has helped produce so many epic stories over the years, brought characters to life and was one of the team who killed Superman AND resurrected him.
I was both excited and nervous when Mr. Jurgens accepted my request to an interview as I have been enjoying his work for as long as I can remember. My copy of “The Death Of Superman” has been read so many times that the pages are almost falling out! To get the chance to speak with such an influential creator, and ask some questions, was an honour and I hope you enjoy Dan Jurgen’s answers as much as I enjoyed asking the questions.
- When you were a child, were comics a big part of your life, if so, which titles did you spend your pocket money on and was your vivid imagination as creative then as it is now?
I certainly started as a DC fan.
The first comic I ever bought was Superman #189. I actually went looking for a Batman comic because of the TV show but couldn’t find any, so I “settled” for Superman.
After that, I bought most any DC JL-character related book and then, when I got a bit older, started buying Marvel comics.
But, for the most part, I was a DC guy.
- Who were your heroes growing up and did they influence your work in any way?
My heroes changed as I get older–as they do for most people.
The first actual heroes I was probably aware of were the original and second wave of astronauts that were part of the Mercury and Gemini programs. Of course, that was in no small part to the PR effort and overall fascination with space travel in throughout the 60’s But my perceptions changed as the times changed and I become much more wary of heroes. It can be a tough thing to reconcile.
- How did it feel when you made that realisation that your creativity could become your career one day? Was it an epiphany moment or were your talents noticed or inspired by another?
I think I always knew I’d make my living in a creative field. It’s who I am.
As for whether or not that would be comics, well, that was an entirely different question.
I had many different interests and comics were just one of them, though it was certainly my main interest.
- Now, over the years you have created many heroes, villains, sidekicks and stories. This may be like choosing your favourite child, but do you have a story or a character that you are most proud of? One that always gives you fond memories.
I don’t know that I have a particularly favorite story. I have a set of favorites.
We can’t dismiss “Death of Superman”, of course, but there are many one-shot stories I’m also quite proud of. I think I look back on my 50 issues of Action that lead up to 1,000 and feel quite good about that. It was good stuff and I think I both rehabilitated the character with an approach that had somehow gotten lost and also added new aspects to the tapestry of Superman.
As for pride in a particular character, it’d have to be Booster Gold. He was ahead of his time in the 80’s and, quite honestly, I think is even more relevant to our world today. There are some great things waiting to be done with him.
- You have been making comic book fans happy for a few decades now, how do you feel the audience, and comic book world, has changed since you first stepped into it?
Social media has changed everything.
The desire among some fans to fight with creators astounds me. (As does the desire of some pros to fight with fans.)
The fact now is that fans are much closer to pros and, like all things in life, that has both good and bad aspects to it.
- Are there any comics you have enjoyed so much that you wish you had been a part of the creative team?
I wouldn’t quite put it that way because it would kind of mean I’d have to replace someone.
There are comics I have enjoyed so much that I can’t help but give the creative team a healthy round of applause. And, should I be fortunate enough to work with them one day, that’d be great.
- How do you get into a creative zone? Is there a favourite place you like to be or can you create anywhere? Also, is there a band or a musical style that gets the pens and pencils working a little bit faster.
That changes all the time for me.
My enthusiasm for a story is what gets me into that “zone”, and sometimes it’s amazingly easy. Other times, it just doesn’t happen and you have to muscle through it anyway.
But it varies. I’ve found myself delighted with things I thought might not end up that way. I’ve also had the opposite thing happen.
- Louise Simonson visited England earlier this year and attended a local Comic-Con. I had the pleasure of watching her panel where she talked about TDOS. When you knew that Superman was going to meet his end in the comic, how hard was it to keep that secret? Did the whole writing team have to meet in a secret lair?
It was a bit hard to keep it secret, yes
The tougher secret to keep was The Return of Superman, because by that time, everyone was asking. And I do mean EVERYONE!
- I know it’s a long trip, but would you ever consider travelling across the pond to attend a European Con?
I just returned from ComicCon Paris two weeks ago. Definitely had a wonderful, wonderful time and met same amazing fans.
I’ll be elsewhere in Europe next spring.
One of these days, I’ll have to get back to England. It’s been far too long.
- When you first sat down and began to create Doomsday, what was running through your mind and how did he look before he was finally brought to life?
I always had a mental image of a bestial foe for Superman that was equipped with some kind of exoskeleton formed from his bones. When I finally started to draw it up it was a pretty quick progression from a couple of roughs to the more realized version.
- At the time it was, and still is, a very controversial and hard hitting comic. What was going through your mind when the comic hit the news stand across America and the world? Being one of the creators who killed, and resurrected, Superman is quite the accolade!
It was a great feeling, no doubt about it.
As creators, we always want to be read by the widest audience possible and also make an impression on them.
It’s rare to be able to do that and quite gratifying when it happens.
But it’s also nice to be known for other work I’ve done.
- “The Death Of Superman” was recently turned into a new animated feature and next year “The Reign Of The Supermen” will be released. Have you watched this version of your story and how did you feel about it?
I have watched it and generally enjoy it.
I am however, quite insulted not to have been included in the additional material.
- Another one of your characters who I adore is Booster Gold. One day I would love to see him in his own motion picture When you were creating him was he based on anyone famous or someone you knew? Also, if he was in a movie, who would be your ideal actor to play B.G?
My impressions of who should play Booster change with the times.
He’s really about 23 or 24 years old and the actor would need to be the right age and match the spirit of the film.
He has been optioned for movie development but seems, unfortunately, to be hung up at that stage. Really a shame, because it could have added a fun vibe and sense of adventure to the the slate of DC films.
- Are you allowed to divulge what you are currently working on or what you have planned for 2019?
Currently writing BATMAN BEYOND and TEEN TITANS 100 PAGE GIANT, which is exclusive to the Walmart stores. Hopefully, those stories will be pulled together in some fashion for England.
We also have a couple of things that we aren’t quite prepared to talk about.
- Earlier this year Action Comics released issue #1000, a huge milestone that was celebrated around the world. Many artists created beautiful variants, including yourself. I’d like to take this moment to thank you for including Lois Lane in your art. The dynamic character has been around for as long as Superman and is equally as important. Why do you think that after all these years Superman and Lois Lane are still such a dynamic couple?
I think it’s important to note that Lois also made her debut in ACTION COMICS #1. She preceded Wonder Woman as the first famous character in comics so I think she absolutely had to be in the story, as well as on the cover.
- Finally, If you could sit down at Bibbo Bibbowski’s “Ace O’ Clubs” what would be your go to drink and meal?
Everyone in Metropolis knows that Bibbo makes the best grilled Ruben Sandwich in town, so I’d start with that. And if I happen to enjoy it with a beer or two, so much the better!
Dan Jurgens, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. It was a bucket-list moment for me to dive into your mind. I hope you continue to create stories and artwork for years to come and that someday soon I get to meet you at a Comic-Con.
I have Louise Simonson’s autograph in my dog-eared copy of “The Death Of Superman” book and I need to add yours to it soon!