An Interview With Aspen Comics Writer J.T. Krul by David Goodman
If you are a regular reader of comic books, than J.T. Krul is a name you probably know pretty well. He has written not one, but two of Aspen Comics signature titles, Fathom and Soulfire, as well as writing for Marvel and DC. Most recently J.T. Krul took part in DC Comics massive New 52 relaunch.
With two new projects on the horizon, the creator owned Jirni and his first prose novel The Lost Spark, Mr. Krul was nice enough to answer a few questions via email about both projects and what it’s like working for the company founded by the late Michael Turner.
For those who might not be familiar (shame on them), why don’t you tell the readers of Front Towards Gamer about yourself?
Well, let’s see – Born and raised in Michigan, I moved to L.A. after college (Go Spartans!) and lucked into a once-in-a-lifetime experience working production on the SEINFELD show. I got my first break in comics writing a couple of stories for Marvel’s Unlimited anthologies. Then, my big break came shortly thereafter when I met Mike, Frank, and Peter at Aspen. They brought on board to write FATHOM and SOULFIRE. I’ve done work with DC Comics, writing stuff like Teen Titans, Green Arrow, Captain Atom, and most recently Superman Beyond. I’ve worked with IDW and Dynamite, and premiered a creator book called MINDFIELD with Aspen in 2010.
I think most comic book readers identify you from your work with Aspen Comics. What’s it like to work in the House than Michael Turner built?
It’s awesome. Mike was a true visionary in the industry – super talented, super popular, and at the same time, super down-to-earth. Talking stories and ideas with him was like being a kid again. We’d get all jazzed and stoked for stuff and just feed of each other. It has always been a very close-knit community. Everyone works together tirelessly to make the books the best they can be. This year marks Aspen’s 10th anniversary, which is a feat unto itself in this business. And, this will be the company’s biggest year ever. We’ve been through a lot together, and it’s only made us all closer and stronger.
You have two big projects on the way, the first being Jirni, a creator owned series which is part of Aspen’s “10 for 10” program. What’s it about?
Jirni is an epic fantasy adventure in the vein of Conan the Barbarian, Flash Gordon, Clash of the Titans, and all things Frazetta. The story centers on a warrior princess named Ara who is trekking through her world, searching for her mother. The queen was stolen away by a sorcerer named Torinthal with the aid of his enslaved d’jinn. Its big and bold and violent and a ton of fun. Ara’s journey is as much about finding herself as it is about finding her mother.
What made Aspen the company to publish it, instead of, say, Image?
Frank, Peter, Vince, and Mark are like family to me. And Jirni was specifically developed to be part of their 10-for-10 campaign, where every first issue premiering from February to November is only $1. With every book, including and perhaps especially Jirni, we are trying to hold true to everything Mike would have wanted. Exotic characters, fantastic locales, and wild creatures – this book has it all.
Also, Aspen has a great eye for talent in terms of finding amazing artists. And, I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of them. For Jirni, we’ve got Paolo Pantalena who is simply killing on the art. He’s really capturing the fantasy vibe of the story.
You also have your first prose novel coming out, The Lost Spark, also with Aspen. What’s that story about?
The Lost Spark is about a teenage girl named Angie who is thrust into a hidden world of magical talismans in order to save her grandfather. The basic premise is that when we are children, there is one special item, one unique toy or stuffed animal, or tool, or something that use in imaginative play to do all kinds of things. As we get older we forget about that magic. We move on with our loves, and often we lose that spark – it breaks or gets thrown away or sold in a garage sale. If we can keep that reconnect with that item, we can recreate the magic within it.
It’s a young adult fantasy in the vein of Harry Potter and perhaps The Golden Compass that will appeal to readers both old and young.
Is writing a prose novel very different from writing a comic book?
Absolutely. Lots more words on the page. Plus, nobody besides the artists and editors ever read my full comic scripts. What the reader gets is only the narration and dialogue and such. With prose, it’s all the words on there in the world.
It’s exciting though to paint a different kind of picture for a reader directly. Let them be the artists to build and visualize the story in their heads.
Everyone has heard both positive and negative things from creators about DC Comics and working on the New 52. As someone who was there, writing both Captain Atom and Green Arrow, what was your experience like?
It was a very exciting time to be working at DC. There was an energy and buzz going through everything, and it was great to see our love for comics spilling over into the mainstream. Given the stakes, it was only natural for them to have a larger role in the stories and development of the new books – these are their iconic characters.
I think my favorite part was Captain Atom as a whole. Freddie Williams had known each other a little bit from conventions and such, and this was our first time working together. The experience was amazing. He’s a super talented guy and extremely fun to collaborate with. We put everything we had into that book. I only wish it would have found its footing and stuck around longer.
Green Arrow was a little different in that I was transitioning from everything I was doing with The Fall of Green Arrow and Brightest Day to the New 52, which was way different – both in terms of character and tone. It was just a big change for me and at the end of the day I couldn’t adjust enough to make it really work for me. So, when the opportunity to write Superman Beyond came, I decided to let Ollie go and write the Man of Steel.
Given the reaction to the story, looking back, would you have done anything on The Rise and Fall of Arsenal differently?
Not really. I know that story has drummed up a lot of reaction, but I think it’s because it was so different from what people were expecting. I almost wish it could have been a Vertigo story or something in the vein of the Marvel MAX line. It was in no way a superhero story. It was a bleak and horrifying tale of a father who cannot come to grips with the loss of his daughter. Roy Harper becomes totally unhinged and can’t find his way back.
Thank you to J.T. Krul for joining us for our interview.