Q&A with Action Comics' Dan Jurgens
Writer/artist Dan Jurgens is one of the best-known creators in comics. One of the things he's most known for is the famous "Death of Superman" issue from the 1990s. This year, as part of DC's "Rebirth" initiative, he's back with Superman, writing "Action Comics," which returned to its legacy numbering. Dan Jurgens recently answered some questions for Nerdage and The Oklahoman about "Action Comics" and the current storyline "Path to Doom." Check out his full Q&A below, and check out Friday's The Oklahoman for more about "Action Comics." "Action Comics" #959 goes on sale Wednesday. "Action Comics" #957 and #958 have been released as part of the "Path to Doom" storyline thus far.
Nerdage: Returning to the original Action Comics numbering, and bringing back the married Superman, seem to be a nod to the legacy of the character. What do you think these moves signify about the character today?
Dan Jurgens: I think it verifies the type of character that Superman really is.
As much as anything, it verifies the importance of Lois Lane in Superman’s world. Everyone knows that Superman made his debut in ACTION COMICS #1 back in 1938. But it’s also important to note that Lois Lane made her debut as well.
I have always believed those two characters are intertwined in ways that go beyond what we generally see on the surface. Superman might be from another world, but Lois helps to humanize him. Just as importantly, the fact Lois has no powers yet is tremendously accomplished in her own right, gives us a great deal of insight to Superman.
Nerdage: Your run so far has certainly lived up to the title of “Action.” Tell me about the decision to bring in Doomsday.
Jurgens: I have always felt that the title of “Action Comics” implies a certain type of story. I knew, right from the start, that we’d want to hit the ground running with a high octane story that would have a great deal of action between the covers.
What better vehicle for that than a villain like Doomsday?
But the idea here is to do something a little different with it… to say something different with regards to Superman. That will be coming in the next couple of issues.
Nerdage: What do you think the meaning of Superman is to today’s fans, and has that changed significantly since the 1990s?
Jurgens: I actually think fans are a bit more enthused about Superman and his legacy today than they were in the 1990’s. Back then, I think there was more of a desire for dark characters, stories and comics. To a certain extent, I think people were looking for a Superman that really drifted into that territory.
But we’ve had 25 years of those stories now, not necessarily with Superman, but certainly with a lot of other characters.
We’ve worked away from some of that and now appreciate the best that Superman has to offer.
Nerdage: Superman as father was sometimes explored in the Silver Age, but for the most part it hasn’t been part of the character’s modern trappings until your recent work. What has Superman learned as a father and how has it changed him?
Jurgens: A lot of that will be told in stories to come.
But it really all starts with Clark’s own upbringing.
He was raised on a farm by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who went out of their way to teach him the value of life and instill in him a sound moral base. Superman would approach his own son with the same sensibility, reinforced by Lois.
Nerdage: Tell me about your artistic collaborators on “Action Comics” and what they bring to the table.
Jurgens: Patrick Zircher is our first artist and he’s a tremendous story teller. He really gets into a core approach to Superman’s characteristics that reinforces exactly who he is. Superman’s best artists always find the nobility and majesty of the character.
Tyler Kirkham emphasizes big action—especially in a down and dirty fight like we have with Doomsday.
Stephen Segovia brings an approach to Superman that is more lyrical in nature. His Superman and Lois have a wonderful sense of humanity that captures the emotional essence of the book.
Nerdage: What appeals to you about Lois Lane, and what might readers expect from her going forward?
Jurgens: I think my earlier statements pretty much convey my sense of appreciation for Lois. She’ll be taking a more prominent role as we move past our first arc. She’s as important to Superman as is his red cape.
Nerdage: What supporting cast do you anticipate playing important roles going forward in “Action Comics”?
Jurgens: Obviously, we have Lois and Jon. On top of that, we will have Lex Luthor as a core component of the book, along with the Daily Planet crew of Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and, amazingly, Clark Kent. And this is a Clark Kent that is quite different than what people might expect.
Nerdage: Do you miss drawing the Man of Steel? Any chance you may do so again?
Jurgens: I miss drawing Superman a great deal. Unfortunately, with a twice monthly shipping schedule, I simply can’t find the time to draw. However, once we really get settled into a production schedule that is working atomic clock-like precision (!), I’d certainly like to pick up the pencil again.
Nerdage: Twenty-four years later, people are still very moved by the “Death and Return of Superman” storyline that set sales records in the 1990s. I worked in a comic shop at the time, and the lines to buy the books, and the excitement of the fans, were off the charts. It’s still a storyline that’s mentioned frequently, and the new editions of the books seem to be doing very well, and in some cases bringing new fans to that tale. What would you say about the cultural impact of that story, and your part in bringing it to life?
Jurgens: “The Death of Superman” is still something that resonates to this day. BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE really emphasized that when it not only brought Doomsday on screen, but dealt with Superman’s death as well.
It’s an era that is still remembered quite fondly by fans. Almost any time I make a personal appearance I am told by one person, usually more, that it’s what got them into reading comics.
Nerdage: Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about?
Jurgens: Only that we have a lot of fun, great stuff coming up!
Nerdage: Thanks very much for your time!
Jurgens: My pleasure.