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Interview: Jeff Lemire on ANIMAL MAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED

Jeff Lemire talks to us about his series coming to a close and what's next for Buddy Baker

While ANIMAL MAN came to a close recently, after a 29 issue run, it's not the last fans will see of Buddy Baker. Writer Jeff Lemire is taking the character and bringing him over to his new series JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED. Lemire chatted with us in a phone interview about his run on this book and the future of the character.


COMIC VINE: How does it feel for ANIMAL MAN to come to a close?

JEFF LEMIRE: Well, it's funny because for me, the book came to a close like half a year ago, when I finished writing those issues, so it's been a while since I've really been actively working on the book. With the last issue coming out yesterday, you kinda look back on the whole run and everything and I'm just really proud of the run. We did 29, I guess 32 if you count the annuals and the 0 issue that I think really stand up, and I'm really proud of them.


CV: Looking back on the whole series, what was your favorite moment during this run?

JL: Oh geez, I don't know. I love the cliffhanger, at the end of the first issue, with Maxine resurrecting the dead pets. I feel like that was great. Actually, the two annuals that we did, the first one where it was sort of set in the past with Timothy Greene did the art. He kinda met an old Swamp Thing from the past. That was a lot fun and Travel Foreman and I did an annual this year sort of a goodbye to Cliff that I think maybe is the strongest issue of the whole series. Those are the ones that come to mind for sure, and just seeing the first arc come in from Rafael Albuquerque and his take on the characters is pretty thrilling. You know, there's a lot of good stuff. Working with Scott Snyder on Rotworld was a lot of fun. There's a lot of highlights for me and it was really a good time.

CV: For this last issue, you split art duties with Travel Foreman, who was the original artist on the series, and your take was very cool in this fairy tale retelling of the series. How did you come to the idea to do that for this final issue?

JL: My art style isn't your traditional super-hero art style, so I knew if I wanted to draw part of it, it needed to work within the context of the story or else it would just stand out and wouldn't fit with the previous issues. That was a good narrative device to have my art style work with the bigger story and the bigger series and I though that was a really sweet and perfect ending, telling Maxine a bedtime story. It seemed to sum everything up. Originally, I was going to watercolor paint the images myself, but my schedule with TRILLIUM and everything, I just couldn't do it, so I got my SWEET TOOTH collaborator Jose Villarrubia to color it, and in a weird way, it felt a lot like some of the things we've done in SWEET TOOTH, so it was kinda cool.

CV: Was it always your plan to turn Socks into a Totem?

JL: Yeah, I think so. He deserves a promotion. He and Shepherd after everything they've done. Yeah, I don't know if that was always the plan for Socks. I can't remember what my original plan was, but it felt like the natural next step for those characters. It makes them a bigger part of the fabric of the DC Universe.

CV: This is less of a super-hero book and much more of a family-centric book. Was that always your plan with this series?

JL: Oh yeah, absolutely. Animal Man, if you really take a look at the character, aside from the family stuff, really, all he is is some guy who can jump as high as a kangaroo. It's not all that compelling. Really what makes him unique is the family. That's the thing that gives that character a distinct story and point of view. That was always the thing that interested me about writing the book, and if I couldn't explored the family stuff, I wouldn't have had any interest in the character at all. That was always my main focus for sure.


CV: Was there anything within his history that you wanted to touch on but didn't get a chance to?

JL: No, I think I got to do everything I wanted to, to be honest. I didn't expect it to last 29 issues, when we first started it. There were 52 books launched at once and the chances of all of them surviving wasn't very good. ANIMAL MAN wasn't exactly a marquee name. I never expected to get to do half the stuff I got to do, to be honest. My original plans were a lot smaller. I was fortunate enough to be able to expand them. It was more of a matter of me getting to do more than I ever expected or wanted to do than less.


CV: You spent a couple years with this character, so how do you feel about Buddy now compared to when you first started out on this book?

JL: I feel very close to him, in a weird way. I feel like he's my surrogate. I'm glad I get to continue writing him. I feel like I told the story of him and his family already and to continue the book, I would have had to taken it in a totally different direction because you can only terrorize a family and bring them back together so many times before it gets repetitive. So I would have had to taken a different approach with the character. I felt going the straight super-hero stuff, with him, really wouldn't work. You need something else. The only option for him, if I wanted to continue writing was to put him in a team setting and have him play off other characters in the DC universe. That's why I moved him over to Justice League. He's changed a lot. He's suffered a lot and lost a lot, but he's a stronger person and a more responsible person, and I think we'll see him kinda bring some of that into Justice League with some of the younger heroes that are on the team with him. He's a father and a husband, so he has a lot to teach and a lot the younger heroes can learn from. He can be a big brother or father figure to some of them, which is kind of cool.

CV: Can we expect other ideas or concepts from ANIMAL MAN bleed over into JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED?

JL: Yeah, a little bit. We did some stuff in an earlier issue with the distant planet, the seed planet and the Bridgewalker and stuff and by nature of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITY being a cosmic orientated book, it will be a chance to go back to that story and explore it again, so that's probably something that will carry over.

Many thanks to Jeff Lemire for taking the time to answer our questions and make sure to check out his run on ANIMAL MAN, as well as JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED, featuring Buddy Baker, which hits stands in April.

Avatar image for clawfist
Edited by ClawFist

So we don't really know what happened to Brother Blood? Cause I mean I know he's defeated in issue 28, but he's kinda just surrounded and he disappears off panel. I read issue 29 of Animal Man and I didn't read anything other than a minor line of dialogue about how Blood tore up the Red. Did I miss something? Cause out of the whole series, if I have a complaint its that we didn't really get a conlusion on Blood. He just vanishes off panel, are we to assume he's been imprisoned in the Red like Anton Arcane was imprisoned in the Rot?

Actually, I take that back. Maybe two mistakes. I felt that Lemire did a great job building Brother Blood up, but he wasn't really expanded upon. He just ends up being the bad guy and he gets beat like a bad guy does. I was so hoping he was gonna get a villain issue, of course I don't think Lemire has the power to do that, but a lot like how Rotworld felt a little too long, I felt like Evolve or Die was a bit too short. I just would of liked to see who Brother Blood is in the New 52 a lot like how we saw who Anton Arcane was. My only real complaints to what was overall a stellar series.

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Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

I'm really glad DC have finally committed to a non-Lantern cosmic book.

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Posted by mak13131313

Excellent interview. I enjoy Lemire's writing and I can't wait to read Justice League United.

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Posted by manwithoutshame

I will miss Animal Man, but he makes a lot of good points about why it was time. I love the entire run but that last arc was unreal.

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Posted by Mucklefluga

Excited for United because of the great cast, great creative team, and the fact that some if it will be set in space.

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Posted by LCazT1996

Excited for United because of the great cast, great creative team, and the fact that some if it will be set in space.


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Edited by longbowhunter

I really liked Animal Man's ending. Looking forward to Justice League United.

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Edited by kennybaese

I had a feeling the whole space detour with Bridgewalker in Animal Man was going to tie into Justice League United, and Lemire pretty much confirms it in this interview. It makes way more sense for a Justice League to deal with that plot thread, with is really the only one left hanging from Animal Man, when it's a cosmic thing instead of a magic thing.

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Posted by Perfect 10

hated the last issue. ruined the possibility of there being an animal girl sigh

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Posted by kilowog52

I just started reading Animal Man the other day due to the current Animal Man sale on Comixology. Something that got me excited was in I think it was issue three, when someone referred to life and "the source" and it got me thinking about how in Venditti's Green Lantern, the emotional reservoir is the Source behind the Source Wall, and how as established by Johns on GL, the emotions make up life. So with how the Red in Animal Man and the Green in Swamp Thing are the life of fauna and flora respectively, it just seems to tie different aspects of the DCU together, which for me was sorta cool.

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Edited by SmashBrawler

I'm really going to miss this series. JLU sounds fantastic though, and I'm especially looking forward to what will happen with the Bridgewalker.

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Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

Does anybody think that Justice League United sounds like an Avengers book? I don't mean that it's copying them or anything stupid like that I just mean the general feeling of the book.

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Edited by scouts1998

are there spoilers in this interview

i have not yet read #29

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Posted by Samuel_Simmons

Animal Man, you will be missed.

Justice League United, I'm really looking forward to

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Posted by DonFelipe

@scouts1998 said:

are there spoilers in this interview

i have not yet read #29

Yes, there's a minor spoiler. To be completely safe read the final issue first or jump over the question "CV: For this last issue, you split art duties..." and Lemire's answer, of course.

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Posted by scouts1998
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Posted by AustinCY

I'm gonna have to read up on the Animal Man series. I've only heard good things about the comic book title with Jeff Lemire's writing.

I really like the Justice League of America team but their run (Pre-Forever Evil) was a bit disappointing. But I have high hopes for Lemire and having Animal Man as an addition to the team!

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Posted by kidchipotle

Great interview. Loved Animal Man from start to finish. Curious to read about JLU.

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Posted by CommanderShiro

I'm going to miss Animal Man. Loved this run. I'll check out Justice League United.

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Posted by Fallschirmjager

Jeff Lemire could write My Little Pony and I would read it.

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Posted by clayscarface

@clawfist: Dude, maybe cover up some of your massive spoilers?

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Edited by Vaeternus

I'll get it cause of MMH, the main reason.