Dan Jurgens is often remembered as one of the men who killed Superman, but he’s also someone who gave the Man of Steel as much life as any number of legendary creators. Jurgens’ time with Superman spans nearly 30 years, and his work at DC Comics has allowed him to play with nearly every major character and concept over the decades.
Incredibly accomplished as both a writer and artist, Jurgens just finished his latest run with Superman, wrapping up his time as writer on Action Comics, and writing and drawing the lead story for Action Comics #1000. He’s currently writing Green Lanterns, his first time on a proper Green Lantern book, despite having made his mark on that world (albeit indirectly) back in 1993.
And while stuff like Superman and Green Lantern are the marquee names, comic book fans also know Jurgens as the creator of Booster Gold, the beloved time-traveling screw-up whose antics often feel like the inspiration for the Legends of Tomorrow TV series. We sat down with Mr. Jurgens at SDCC to talk about what he’s been up to recently…
Den of Geek: So, you just kicked off an arc on Green Lanterns, let’s talk about that.
Dan Jurgens: I’m doing Green Lanterns now, along with Mike Perkins, who has just come over to DC from Marvel. Mike and I have wanted to work together for a long time, and he’s doing absolutely fabulous stuff on it, and it is so much fun to see his interpretations of the entire Green Lantern Corps. I keep throwing more stuff at him, saying, “Draw this character, draw that character,” and he’s doing a great job with it.
What we have done, is introduce a mystery into the Green Lantern Corps, where by the end of our first issue, which is number 50, one of the Guardians is dead, and it starts to look like a murder mystery, with different Lantern characters being pegged as the murderers. So, it’s very much a story about the Corps, it’s about mistrust, it’s about whether or not you can trust each other, and whether or not you can even touch these cool rings that they wear, which is what makes them the Green Lantern. So, we’re having a lot of different things we’re playing things we’re playing with in this that make it, I think, somewhat different then the typical Green Lantern type of story.
And how long is this arc running for?
We’re running from issue 50 to 57, eight issues, and when you have that many characters as we do there, and I want to touch on the entire Corps, certainly with focus on Simon Baz, and Jessica Cruz, ’cause they were sort of the cornerstone characters. But we’re using Kilowog, and we’re using Guy Gardner, and we’re using Hal, so we have a lot we want to touch on.
Is this the first time you’ve written any of the Green Lanterns outside of guest appearances in other the books?
Well, and that’s what’s really weird, because it is the first time I’ve done it directly, and the funny thing is that if we go back to Death of Superman days, when we destroyed Coast City, that’s kind what drove Hal off the edge, and turned into the Parallax stuff, which I also did in Zero Hour. I’ve had this relationship with Green Lantern for a long time, but never have done it directly. So, yeah, this is the first time.
I can’t stay away from your Superman work, because it’s just such tremendous body of work that I’ve come back to again and again as a fan. What is your proudest moment as a Superman writer, artist, and creator?
I think it’s really hard to beat Superman #75, and the whole Death of Superman thing, because that was so unique for its time, and these days it’s really almost impossible for those who weren’t there, to try and tell them what it was like in terms of the public reaction to it overall. So, that’s a part of it, but I think also, and not to cheat, because this will sound like a bit of a cheat, is just to have had that long of an affiliation with a character, and continue to be able to add things that contribute overall to the old tapestry that is Superman.
And, through that time, you’ve been a writer, you’ve been an artist, you’ve been a writer and artist. Were there any particular collaborations that you felt where you were really firing on all cylinders with people?
Yeah, well, and I think if we go back to what we were during The Death of Superman, there were four Superman books, and we were essentially a weekly comic book. And, it was a group of writers, it was me, along with Jerry Ordway, and Louise Simonson, and Roger Stern, as well as artists like Jerry was drawing his book, and we had Tom Grummett, and John Bogdanove, and all together it was a very special time for what Superman was, so there was that.
I mean, even more recently, I was so fortunate to have really good artists on the book. Patrick Zircher kinda helped us kick it off with Action Comics #957, because we were doing the Rebirth stuff and everything, and from that all the way on up through, I think I was really fortunate to have really nice, solid artists, each of whom brought something special to Superman.
Do you ever see yourself drawing a monthly again?
Yeah, I do. I think, more and more, I keep telling myself that I’m gonna have to do it again, because one of the realities is, even as I draw more sporadically now. For example I just did the story in Action Comics #1000, that I wrote and drew. And when I got done with that I said, “This was fun to get back and do this, I have to draw more,” so at some point I’m gonna have to do it here.
Do you feel now that your Superman story is complete? You wrapped things up at the end of your Rebirth run, but do you feel like you’ve told that story now? Or do you still feel that you have more stories to tell with Superman?
I think the answer to both of those is yes. I think I told that story and brought it to the conclusion I wanted it to have, but I think that there are more stories out there, and whether or not we’ll ever get around to doing it, who knows, we’ll see. But I think there are always more stories out there.
Superman is such a tremendous character, and what I like about him is that he is so elastic a character, and by that I mean you really can tell a story as small as, it’s his son Jon’s birthday, and Lois is out working on a story and he’s fighting Brainiac or somebody, and poor Jon is sitting there home alone. You can tell a story that is as small as a family moment, and at the same time, tell a story as big as Superman fighting the biggest cosmic threat there is, and that’s what I like about the character.
You are also known as the creator of the creator of Booster Gold, and Booster has been absent from the DC Universe the last couple of years until that story that came towards the end of your run on Action Comics. What was it like revisiting Booster yet again, and are we ever going to see him again, or see you working on him again?
Well, it’s always fun to work on Booster Gold, and it’s sort of like he comes up for a while, then he fades and comes back. Working on him in Action was a lot of fun. Watching Tom King use him in Batman was a lot of fun, and obviously Tom is using him in a new series that’s coming up, called Heroes in Crisis. And, after that we’ll see. Booster is, I think, this fun jovial character who is very complicated on one level, and at the same time very direct. In comics we have characters with secret identities, and all sorts of secrets they try and protect. Booster just wears it on his sleeve, and it’s all out there for everybody to see, both the good and the bad, and he has plenty of faults. I think that’s what makes it fun to work on Booster Gold, so yeah, hopefully out there we’ll see something.
And you’ve been involved with DC’s initiative to get comics out into the hands of casual fans again, with their work with Walmart.
We have four titles that are going into Walmart on a monthly basis, Batman, Superman, Justice League, and Teen Titans. I am writing the Teen Titans lead story. Each of those books are a hundred pages, and they have one new story in the front. I’m writing a Teen Titans story with great art by Scot Eaton, and right now the Titans are in this bit of a renaissance, and even that’s hard to say, because it’s not like the Titans ever really went away. But we have the Teen Titans Go! movie, and there’s a Titans live action TV series that is coming here this fall, and so to kind of be out there in that different sort of venue trying to find a new reader, and kind of find those casual readers so that we can later entice them into a comic book store, it’s a lot of fun.
What do you think it would take to really get Superman to work on the big screen again?
I think they’re very close to it. I think they have the right cast, and I think at the end of the Justice League movie, we really started to see the keys of what could make it work. We saw the Superman/Flash race, which is such a quintessential Superman moment, the color was brighter, the sun was out, it was outdoors, it was positive. We saw Superman smile, we saw Superman have sort of that command presence that I think he has to have, which I think Henry Cavill really embodies. So I think it’s very close.
Green Lanterns arrives every other Wednesday from DC Comics.