Interview With Joe Kelly
(August 1997)

Joe Kelly is the writer of Daredevil and Deadpool. He is going to be the writer of X-Men starting with #70. Mr. Kelly was kind enough to answer these questions by e-mail and I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Kuljit Mithra: You broke in with Marvel by way of the 'Stanhatten Project'. Can you describe what this was, and how it eventually got you a job at Marvel?

Joe Kelly: James Felder and Mark Powers, both editors at Marvel at the time, wanted to find some new writers, as it was often lamented in the office that there were no such people around. So they contacted New York University's Dramatic Writing Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, where I happened to be a Graduate Assistant, to set up a workshop with the intent of finding some warm bodies. I helped organize the program, hoping to weasel my way in to comics, or at least to meet some bona fide professionals in the field. Over the next few months, I got to know Mark and James, and they got to know my writing style. Next thing you know, it's February, and James calls my house asking me to script over Karl Kesel's plot on FF2099#5! The rest is history.

KM: What were some of the first writing assignments you got before Deadpool and/or Daredevil?

JK: FF2099#5, Marvel Fanfare 2-3, Over the edge #10 (A very bad DD story), 2099: World of Tomorrow 1-8, What If? 91-92, a Back-up in the Wolverine Annual

KM: With Karl Kesel's departure from DD, were you offered the comic because of your fill-in issue #358, or have you always wanted to write DD?

JK: James was still editing DD at the time, and he felt that my humor might provide a good follow up to Karl's lighter DD. I guess that the fill in helped, but I think it more had to do with James and being in the right time and place.

KM: Which of your current two titles is harder to write? Deadpool or Daredevil? Deadpool is humourous and Daredevil is serious.

JK: They both have their own problems. It's tough coming up with Deadpool's stream of consciousness yapping all of the time, while on the other hand, constructing tight DD stories is always a challenge. On a good day, either one will sing to me, and on a bad day, I crap out on both titles.

KM: The Flashback issue of DD was excellent. However, can you clear up a continuity 'problem'? In your story, Matt's father is alive when Matt goes to State College. This is following the original #1 by Lee and Everett. However, you have used elements from Frank Miller's DD:MWF series, where Matt's Dad dies when Matt is younger. Furthermore, Matt and Foggy go to Columbia instead of State.

JK: It's tough when you inherit conflicting continuity! My answer was to pick the best of both, melding them into one. The way I see it, one MUST start with Stan's stuff and build upwards. Matt was in college when his dad is killed. Period. Therefore, if you want to keep the MWF stuff, you sprinkle it around. He did meet stick, pre-college, but when he went and kicked the girl out of the window, it was during a pre-DD rampage. It's a little messy, but I can live with it to keep the great Miller elements, while still being true to Stan.

KM: The Daredevil/Deadpool '97 annual was also excellent. Bernard Chang's art complemented your story. How did you come up with the idea of Typhoid Mary being the prostitute that Matt thought he killed in DD:MWF? Was it hard to convince your editor to use this?

JK: Actually, it was something that James and I had talked about ages ago. Plus, Bob Harras never liked the idea that DD had killed someone, so it was a great way to tighten some things up and deliver a one two punch to the fans. A no-brainer, so to speak.

KM: I asked this question to Bernard Chang as well... which scenes were the most fun to do - the DD/DP/Typhoid scenes, or the Foggy/Weasel scenes?

JK: The Foggy/Weasel Scenes are fun, but not half as fun as DD and DP, because they're simply comic relief. With DD and DP you can get comedy, conflict, etc. The dynamic is great.

KM: In preparation for your stories, do you go back and read previous issues to get a feel for the characters?

JK: Sure, although sometimes deadlines prohibit me from doing as much research as I'd like. It's an area I'd like to work on a bit more.

KM: Karl Kesel's version of DD was more a wise-cracking hero (like Spider-Man) than most DD fans were used to seeing. Your stories have done well to mix the humour and seriousness. Which version of DD do you prefer? Are you consciously trying to move away from Kesel's version?

JK: No, I like what Karl did, I just prefer a little less of it. I love it when DD cracks jokes, and even when Miller wrote him, he was still funny. DD is a PASSIONATE guy, which means he can be either hysterical or brooding at the drop of a hat. When appropriate, he'll flip out. When that's not necessary, he'll crack wise. I think both sides can exist without excluding one another.

KM: Will Foggy ever get Deuce back?

JK: Hmm... I don't think it'll happen anytime soon.

KM: Will we be seeing the character who escaped from jail in #367 in the near future?

JK: Yes, we'll be starting that storyline around issue 371-2

KM: The next few issues guest-star the Black Widow and the Soviet Super Soldiers. Isn't Vanguard dead? Or will you explain this later like Vamp in Deadpool?

JK: Sigh... I knew someone would catch this... Sometimes, the merry little elves at Marvel who are supposed to research this sort of thing take a coffee break and things slip through. Luckily, we hadn't scripted all of this arc yet, so I plan to at least acknowledge that he was "seemingly" killed in Quasar, and hope people forgive it. So to answer your questions... Yes and... Sort of...

KM: In September, DD #369 is drawn by Ariel Olivetti. I am not familiar with this artist. What has s/he worked on previously?

JK: Olivetti's been around a while, but I couldn't tell you what he's worked on. Sabertooth and Mystique is one thing I'm sure of. His DD looks amazing, and his Widow cannot be beat. Plus, he redesigned the Super Soldiers, and they kick butt! (Can you tell I really like his stuff?)

KM: Is Gene Colan staying on the comic?

JK: I believe so.

KM: What did you think of Cary Nord's work on the comic? You worked with him on an issue.

JK: Cary's a very enthusiastic guy, and in my opinion, a great artist. I think even he'd admit that some of his stuff was a little stiff, but he was starting to kick into high gear with my issue I think. I regret not having been able to work with him longer, cause I think we would have made a great team.

KM: What is like to work with Gene Colan? Do you write the story and send it off to him, or do you work closely together on it?

JK: Working with Gene is a strange thing. He's a living legend, but sometimes we don't see eye to eye on things. Stylistically we differ a bit too. I write the story and send it off, and occasionally he gives me suggestions, or changes scenes when he gets them. It's been educational to say the least.

KM: According to some comic magazines, you will be writing the X-Men starting with #70. Will this affect Deadpool or Daredevil? Will you drop one of the titles?

JK: I don't expect to drop either title for the X-Men unless things get too rough doing three monthlies. Hopefully, it won't come to that, but if the work started to suffer, I'd have to make a tough decision. Until then, though, I'm very optimistic.

KM: Are you up to the challenge of writing a team book instead of a hero book?

JK: I hope so!!! Seriously, it'll be very different, and I have a lot to learn, but I think that if everyone continues to show the same support and confidence in me that they have up until now, I'll get my stride soon enough.

KM: Which style better suits DD... Gene Colan's dark moody style or a style like Ed McGuiness?

JK: Tough call. Ariel's DD works, because it has elements of both. I prefer a "Realistic style" for DD, like Cary, but that's not the same as "Dark and moody." DD is almost a regular guy, and I like to see him portrayed realistically to give the impression that he's out there in New York when he's not in the comic. it's goofy, but that's how I see him.

KM: Any comic pros that you would love to work with?

JK: All of them! Specifically I love Adams, Sienkewicz, Ross, Bolton, McKean, all of the mixed media/full painting stuff. I can't wait to work with Carlos Pacheco. There's a huuuuge list, but I'm also horrible with names, so I forget them sometimes.

KM: Will we see any of Elektra, Bullseye, or Kingpin in Daredevil soon?

JK: Not in the immediate future, no, but not because I don't like them... I love them! However, I feel that I need to prove myself on the book for a while with my own villains before I bring in these "heavy guns." Maybe in a year or so...

(c) Kuljit Mithra 1997
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear

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