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Collecting the Legion 013: Covering the Interviews

Today's collectibles: a pair of magazines with Legion covers from the early 80's, with a trio of interviews with Legion creators.

"Amazing Heroes" #15 (cover dated August 1982). New cover by Giffen and Mahlstedt, featuring White Witch, Dream Girl, and Sun Boy protecting a mysterious baby from the Servants of Darkness. Same cover date as LSH v2 #291, smack-dab in the middle of the Great Darkness Saga. In addition to the usual features, there's part 2 of a Captain Mar-Vell history and an interview with Keith Giffen entitled "P. T. Barnum Was Right!"

Giffen was mostly a self-taught artist. He took a 2-year hiatus from comics prior to his work on Dr. Fate "trying to wash Kirby, Nino, Ditko, etc., etc. out of my system.... it was really getting out of hand, all the swipes, the imitations." Then he came back with his early 80's style (before he discovered thick black markers). He does 2-3 fully pencilled pages per day. He declines to name a favorite artist but he says he's been lucky with the ones he's worked with. His favorite inker over his pencils is Larry Mahlstedt, and prefers working for DC over Marvel. He likes helping Levitz plot the Legion book, but he's not sure about solo writing. His favorite team is the Legion, favorite character The Creeper. Given his choice, he'd prefer working on a single character book rather than a team book, though.

(There's another Giffen interview in Amazing Heroes #172 from later 1989, right before the v4 relaunch, that'll come later.)



The second book is "Comics Interview" #16 (cover dated October 1984). New cover by Jurgens and Mahlstedt. Interviews with Arnold Drake (Doom Patrol, X-Men), Paul Levitz, new LSH artist Dan Jurgens, Dave Gibbons, and the proprietors of a Chicago-area comic store. Preview of "Southern Knights".

In the Levitz interview (conducted by later Marvel writer/editor Jim Salicrup), he discusses how he got into comics collecting and into DC and what he does as DC's Vice President (Flexographic Press, licensing, action figures, mature readers titles, etc.). Jack Kirby is coming back to DC, as are some of the old writers and artists. Then onto the Legion.... It was his favorite comic as a kid. He had to give up the book (which he took over from Shooter) because of exhaustion (writer and executive) but then-editor Mike Barr talked him back into it. But now he's back on writing the "hardcover/softcover" series with Mindy Newell. "I can't keep track of where all the characters are, at any given time. So a lot of the plotting is on little charts, along with the sub-plots and how they're evolving and where I last left the characters. Each time I do an issue I get out all my papers and sort it all out. Maybe there's somebody out there who could keep all this in their heads, but I sure can't." He doesn't have any favorite characters, who tend to write themselves. He prefers to work "Marvel style" (plot, pencils, script), and he works less with Lightle (on the hardcover book) and Jurgens (on the softcover book) than he did with Giffen. What's the reason for the Legion's appeal to its fans? "Part of it is the sheer number of characters. There's enough diversity in it that everone can see something in it that they want to see. Part of it is the fantasy of the future. The book has always had a feeling and a style all its own that set it aparrt from the rest of the marketplace." His influences include Roy Thomas, Joe Orlando, and Denny O'Neil. How will the Crisis on Infinite Earths" affect the Legion? "I think it's going to have an effect on everything in our line. I haven't read it yet, but I know a couple of things they're doing to tie together with the Legion." Art clips in the interview include the press kit folder I mentioned a couple weeks ago; a photo of Levitz with Don McGregor, Stan Lee, and Len Wein; Darkseid pencils by Kirby; and a Legion Ladies page by an early George Perez.

Meanwhile, Dan Jurgens (whose favorite Legionnaire is Ultra Boy) told how he got to be on the "Tales of the LSH" book after leaving "Warlord" (following Mike Grell on both series). He likes the Legion because it's fun to draw (races, planets, architecture, etc.). He's agreed to do six issues at least but can't really impose any new designs since Giffen did such a huge job. What he wants to do now is much different than what he wanted to do as a teenage fan since so much has changed since then. What's the appeal of the Legion? "...one of the big pluses for me was that it was a book about young people... Here's a bunch of kids in a clubhouse kind of situation... Beyond that, the fact that it takes place in the 30th century gives it a real flavor of fantasy and make-believe." At the time of the interview, he had only done a few issues, and "right now I'm in the middle of a three-part series which may or may not be spun off into a miniseries. It involves Dawnstar ending up on a planet of exiles."



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