WYZE: You've been chronicling the Turtles' adventures for about twenty- or-so issues now. Has it gotten easier? What is your approach to their characterizations?
Gary: I think it's a little harder, now that I've changed the situation a bit. Leo is still the leader, but sometimes he works too hard at it and gets too bossy. He doesn't like change at all. Raph is still violent, but is in a leadership role of his own now that he's running the Foot Clan, which places more pressure on him to mature some, and not be such a wild-card. Mike is the most domesticated of the guys, carving out something of a life away from the Turtles. And I'll be the first to admit I haven't done enough with the characterization of Donatello. He's been through a lot, and yet he's taken it all in stride - - probably too much in stride, so I want to get into his head more.
Erik Larsen has stated that he has given you complete freedom to do whatever you want on the title. Do you consider that a good thing, or are you hesitant to pull mind-blowing changes on characters you didn't create?
I still run everything past Mirage and Peter Laird, and I greatly appreciate their feedback. I am also aware that I'm playing with someone else's toys and do my best not to break them in any way.
Which Turtle is your favorite and why? Who's your favorite supporting character?
That's like asking which is your favorite child. I guess I relate to them all in a different way, but I suppose I like Raphael. He's such a bad boy, and a bad-ass. I also like Casey Jones. He matured quite a bit in the later issues of the Mirage series, but he still lets loose once in a while.
And what about "Big Bang Comics"? What's that about, for the uninitiated?
It's all about recreating the comics of the past: 1030's through the 1980's. It gives me (and the other creators involved) a chance to write and draw the comics we grew up loving, and which no longer exist (although DC keeps getting more retro-oriented).
Hypothetical time: if some accident occurs tomorrow and renders you unable to write either title, who would you pick as your successor to the titles?
My partner on Big Bang, Chris Ecker would keep that ball rolling, ably assisted by regular BB writers like Terrance Griep, Ed DeGeorge and Bud Hanzel. A new fellow who has written some good scripts is Jeff Pedigo. Alan Moore is supposed to do something for us, and would do a sensational job. On TMNT, I don't know. I'd love to see Frank Miller do it.
Who are your favorite creators (writers, artists, etc.) right now, and who are you influenced by?
I love Kurt Busiek"s AstroCity. Frank Miller, Erik Larsen, Alan Moore are all favorites of mine, and all were big influences on me, as were Jim Shooter and Roy Thomas in earlier times. I still love the work of Jim Steranko, Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo. My favorite creator today is ALex Ross. Everything he does is wonderful.
What do you do if and when the dreaded Writer's Block sets in?
Take a walk and try to get away from it to rethink whatever it is. Throw out what I've done and start over, going at it from a different direction. Just sit there and work through it.
What book (besides the ones you're working on) would you most like to write if given the chance?
Legion of Super-Heroe and the original Teen Titans have always been my favorites. DC's Captain Marvel. NightWing.
Do you study Martial Arts? That would come in handy when writing stories about martial artists like the Turtles.
Nope. I have done some studying on it, and the whole ninja thing.
And finally, What are the best and worst things to happen to the comics industry in the past five years?
I think the worst was Marvel buying Heroes World. They hurt themselves and the entire industry when the other publishers aligned with Diamond and we lost Capital City and the other distributors. The best: maybe the loss of the speculators, even though it contributed to the nose-dive sales have taken. Or possibly the fact that the major publishers realize that there's a need to get young kids interested in comics again.
Thanks for your time, Gary.