Phil Jimenez interview (April 2005)

April 27, 2005 | Interviews

Phil Jimenez

He a superstar artist, an accomplished writer and a really nice guy.
Phil Jimenez, whose intricately detailed pencils have graced the pages of Wonder Woman and X-Men comics, is also one of the busiest people in his industry, with three massive projects on the go at DC Comics.
The first is the hotly anticipated Infinite Crisis, the sequel to the successful 1985 miniseries Crisis On Infinite Earths, expected to be the top-selling comic series of the year.
The second is The Return Of Donna Troy miniseries, which Jimenez is working on with two of his comic book idols, George Perez and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and the final project is his long-awaited mature-readers sci-fi/fantasy project, Otherworld.
In advance of his appearance at the Toronto Comicon ( to be held April 29 to May 1, Jimenez spoke with JPK about how he manages such a busy schedule, the frustrations of being a writer and why his lips are sealed when it comes to Infinite Crisis.

JPK: Why does a successful artist like yourself also take on the responsibility of writing?
Phil Jimenez: Mostly because there are certain things I want to draw and/or certain ways I want to see characters handled. When I’m not seeing that or experiencing that, I just often then turn to me. *Laughs*
It’s not like I have a zillion stories to tell — most writers have a million stories for Superman or they’ve always wanted to tell this Batman story — I don’t have many of those. Most of my writing occurs simply like an actor who learns to direct — they’re basically creating their own projects.

JPK: So is this how you came to be the writer/artist on Wonder Woman for two years (from Jan. 2001-Jan. 03)?
PJ: It was exactly that. Wonder Woman had long been run by people who weren’t raising sales or recognition and I wanted to write it because I had long loved the character and I thought it had gotten off track.
My goal was to write it, not so much to leave a stamp on it, so much as to put it back on track the way I thought it was meant to be — meaning the (writer/artist George) Perez version and the (creator William Moulton) Marston version.
What I had originally done is written a proposal for a 12-issue miniseries — it was never meant to be a part of the regular series because they told me (current writer) Greg Rucka was going to be writing the book.
I wasn’t expecting to my story to be approved as the regular ongoing book and I wasn’t expecting to have to be involved in a number of plot-changing crossovers.

JPK: What was the experience of working on that monthly title like?
PJ: I had hoped to use several guest stars to help beef up sales and I didn’t realize what an editorial nightmare that was.
I had a very difficult time using Batman and his world and I had multiple editors on my first few issues, so it was a very odd experience I have to say, and one I look back on as a bittersweet one.

JPK: With Infinite Crisis, Otherworld, which you’ve been trying to get out there for a while, and this wonderful project (The Return Of Donna Troy) coming up with a pair of comic book legends in George Perez and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, is this a dream-come-true year for you?
PJ: When I stand back and look at it objectively, it’s the best ever — I’m doing three really amazing things. But — and it’s going to sound horrible — when you’re in the middle of all of it and going through the hassles and the work of it, I just feel like I could cry at any moment.
I’m working on everything I’ve ever wanted to work on, but in that comes a certain degree of pressure.

JPK: Your new Vertigo project, Otherworld, is obviously a very personal project for you. How satisfying is it to see this miniseries finally coming together?
PJ: This is a story I had long wanted to tell for many reasons, mostly because, the book as I saw it was an homage to all the various things that influenced me over the years, from film, to books, to people in my life. It’s a sort of thank you for all those influences in my life.
One thing about Otherworld, especially it being a (mature readers) Vertigo book, I got to explore issues that I’m interested in and I read about all the time — ranging from religious fundamentalism to unfettered capitalism to the romantic language of war to sexual mores to entertainment, technology and all these things that I think about constantly.
My other goal, quite honestly, is that I want desperately to give readers something that would be worth their $3. Even if takes a long time to read or is occasionally overwhelming, comic readers invest so much time and money and they’ve given me the really good fortune of making a life out of entertaining them — and how great is that? — my goal was to give them a project they could look at over and over again really get their money’s worth.

JPK: Infinite Crisis is one of the most hotly anticipated books of 2005. Do you expect it will live up to all the hype?
PJ: I have an official answer for that, I’m simply supposed to say: ‘I’m looking forward to working with Geoff Johns on this project.’ If I say any more I’ll get in serious trouble!

JPK: Then I guess we’ll move on to The Return Of Donna Troy miniseries you’re writing. Tell me about it.
PJ: The story has changed a lot from the beginning. It started out as its own thing and then became a Teen Titans/Outsiders crossover and then transformed into this miniseries called The Return Of Donna Troy.
We’re not doing the sixth version of (the origin tale) Who Is Donna Troy? — we’re picking up right where Graduation Day left off, explaining where she’s gone and what she’s been doing.
It’s a really great Donna Troy story. I think fans of hers will enjoy it immensely.

JPK: You’ve got three dream projects this year. How are you going to be able to top it?
PJ: I’m starting to teach at my alma mater, The School of Visual Arts (in New York), teaching cartooning and drawing to sophomore cartoonists.
There’s still a couple of projects I’d love to see done at DC and hopefully I’ll have some cache to do it. If these three project aren’t unmitigated disasters maybe I’ll be able to do some stuff. *Laughs*
I won’t be able to top Infinite Crisis in terms of size or sales numbers, but maybe I’ll learn something along the way that I can apply to my next project.

JPK: Since you brought it up — not to get into any plot points — but with Infinite Crisis being a sequel of sorts to the legendary Crisis On Infinite Earths, how much of a factor do you think was the similarity between your style and (Infinite Earths artist) Perez’s in getting this job?
PJ: I think it’s a huge factor, but I think it also has to do with the fact that not many artists can manage the volume of characters (this series will entail).
I think there are lots of artists that could do it incredibly well and probably better than I could, but getting them to do it consistently and enjoying it is a different thing.

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