This past weekend was the 50th San Diego Comic Con. I got to kick things off by interviewing a comic book legend, Jim Starlin the morning of Day 1. Jim Starlin is a very prominent comic book artist and writer who’s done a lot of awesome and notable work with Marvel and Detective Comics (DC). Jim also had a hand in creating many of the characters we love, including the infamous Mad Titan, Thanos.
Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet Saga was a major inspiration for Thanos and the Infinity War storyline in the MCU. Now that Avengers: End Game is due to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray this August, I got to have a QUICK one-on-one with Jim about his work. Despite it being pretty early (9AM) on Thursday, everyone was in good spirits. Jim, with coffee in hand, was ready to talk to the press before his first panel of the day.
Jazzmin: Hi, Jim! My name is Jazzmin. I’m here with confreaksandgeeks.com… My friend David, who’s a huge fan of yours, wanted me to ask you this question… So! Like you’ve had Thanos interact with Death… If you were to write an insightful and meaningful meeting between a hero and a major cosmic entity right now, which one would you pick?
STARLIN: Yeah… Are you talking in the Marvel Universe, or…?
Jazzmin: In general. It can be Marvel Universe.
STARLIN: I would probably pull out God. The ultimate… Just the logical or not mythological supreme being.
Jazzmin: If you pick God, who would you have him have a conversation with?
STARLIN: Oh… This is for a story I would do?
STARLIN: I would pick some of the ones I wanted to characters who, uh, would have the most complex relationship with that character. It would either be Dread Star or Pip the Troll. Because Dread Star, there’s nothing but contradictions and trouble and Pip the Troll, there’s nothing reverence and irrelevance.
Jazzmin: What would you have them talk about?
STARLIN: Dreadstar would be the soul, his own, and whether he’d actually done any good in the universe. Pip the Troll, would probably be different brands of beer… Trying to find a perfect one.
Jazzmin: (Laughs)That’s funny… Do you have a favorite or a “perfect” brand?
STARLIN: Actually, I’m not a beer drinker. I tend to go for Cognac or Absinthe…. I go for a kick real fast and switch over to club soda.
Jazzmin: Oh! Thats nice! I am a rum person. I do spiced and non-spiced.
Jazzmin: (Continues)In your work there is a recurring theme of death, and in Infinity War, we lost two major heroes. How do you feel about heroes being brought back in stories and do you think more character deaths should remain permanent?
STARLIN: Norman Mailer once said that “All true stories end in death.” When I started doing comics, that stuck in my head. So, when they asked me to kill off Captain Marvel, I thought I’d try and do it in such a way that would have some permanence as far as remembrance of the story. I didn’t think that it would actually be a point where they would never actually bring the character back. That was kind of flattering. But, yes, I think death is sort of been relegated to a temporary condition in most comics these days. I was working over a DC at one point and we had the story of Hawkman in it. One week, I couldn’t use Hawkman in his story because he was getting killed in another series. By the end of the series, he had been resurrected and they asked me if I wanted to use them in the next one. So yeah, it’s kind of cheapened the effect.
Jazzmin: So, do you think more deaths should remain permanent to increase their significance?
STARLIN: Yes, and I don’t think that’s going to happen because all these characters are corporate properties. And the reason that there’s a new captain marvel after our Captain Marvel is because they own the rights to that name and they want to exploit it. It’s a tricky business because it is a business, and the art in the business don’t always go hand in hand.
Jazzmin: Storywise if you were writing it… Is there a character who you’d like to see the psychological impact of their resurrection explored since characters are constantly being brought back?
STARLIN: I would like to have done the stories after they killed off Superman. When you’re that close to omnipotence to begin with, and then coming back and having to deal with these living people again, I think that might’ve been a concept really interesting to explore. I’ve done the thing of killing off a hero a number of times, so I have no real rush to do that. But, that would have been one that would have been fun to do.
Jazzmin: Was Thanos the first character of yours that you saw on the big screen?
STARLIN: Thanos was first character I ever created professionally. He was part of my portfolio when I first came in there, and I kid around that my career has been going steadily downhill right from the start! I don’t think anyone’s ever going to top Thanos…. Maybe Dreadstar.
Jazzmin: Can you describe your first reaction when you saw him on the big screen? Whether it was in full or that little head tease in the end credits.
STARLIN: It was annoyance. It was because these two guys were talking behind me throughout the film. One guy was a comic book fan and the other one was a cartoons fan. Finally when Thanos shows up at the end credits, the comic book fan goes “Thanos!” and the cartoon fan goes “Who’s Thanos?”. So I knew at that point it was going to be kind of strange for the next couple of years.
I wish I could have interviewed Jim longer… He’s a very down-to-earth, funny, and creative mind. In the mean time, I’d like to give Jim Starlin and his Team a big Thank You! from Con Freaks & Geeks. It was a great getting to sit down with him and I hope I get the opportunity to do it again in the future.