When you think "Superman," what pops into your head? What are your Superman-specific influences and do those influences impact your work, or have you developed enough of your own style to keep those influences in the rearview mirror?
Ha! First thing? T-shirts. I've had one (not the same one) hanging around in my closet since I was a tween. It's a symbol of the best that we, human bipeds, can be, right? As far as comic art that pops into my head: Neal Adams, George Perez and Jerry Orway are the top three that stand out when I think "Supes." In that order, too. But no, their work isn't influencing the way I draw. Well, no more than it already has in a much more general sense. I'm trying to make my own mark on this character.
How about the Parasite? Is he a character that resonates with you in some way? Or did you find an angle worth exploring as you developed the story?
The thing that I fell in love with about this character is that he reflects the parasite in all of us. So sure, he's this gross monster, but he's also incredibly human. Most of us "use" something in society. Whether that thing is your morning coffee or the amount of time you spend on your phone. Or maybe that's just me. The point being, we all have something. Parasite is the symbol of that need/want in all of us. I haven't been keeping up with the New 52 Superman continuity. Has the Parasite appeared elsewhere yet, or is this the first New 52 Parasite? ?I believe that this is his first appearance. I wrote it without any knowledge of him having appeared anywhere before anyway.
Was the new character name and origin something specifically handed off to you from DC editorial, or did you have some freedom for coming up with that stuff yourself?
I was given extremely loose guidelines. For example, terms like "make him a real jerk" where thrown around -- nothing terribly specific. The basic concept for his origin, that stuff I had worked out when pitching plot ideas. Without giving anything away, it was important to me that origin character, and the identity of who he becomes, were linked in a fundamental way. His disposition toward life must carry through into the purple-people-sucker he becomes.
It seems like this Parasite is pretty closer in visual and conceptual identity to the pink monster we saw in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "All-Star Superman." Is that the major influence on your redesign? What else was bouncing around as inspiration for who this new Parasite is and what drives him to consume?
I really liked the appearance of Parasite in "All-Star Superman." Parasite growing and chasing Clark and Lex, all-the-while Clark trying to keep his identity a secret (spoiler alert for those of you years behind on your reading) -- great scene. Great run. I can see how parallels could be made from that one to this one, but honestly, any direct lines of comparison would be, at best, unintentional if not completely subconscious. I thought about actual parasites in nature. What do they do? What would they say if they could walk and talk? Would they run for political office or just become a lobbyist? That sort of stuff. In the end, I kept coming back to this idea that hunger is a crazy powerful thing. Could you kill to eat, if you had to? If you were hungry enough. It's completely weird to think that in two or three days or weeks or whatever, you could be a completely different person. All because you would become hungry enough to change. That's Parasite's world.
Now that you've taken a shot at revamping a DC icon (and, yes, I consider Parasite iconic with his striking purple skin and energy-leeching power), what other DC heroes or villains would you like a shot at someday? Are there any characters that you've always felt a special connection to and...why?
I think I've revamped all of the DCU in my head about a hundred times over. I mean, that's what we do as fans of this medium. We read the stories and think wouldn't it be cool if... Though, I'd really love to play around with a team book down the road. Something like Teen Titans, or the Outsiders, or Justice Society. I really love the idea of putting the reader behind the eyes of random characters and then seeing how they interact with each other.
In addition to writing reviews and columns for COMIC BOOK RESOURCES, Timothy Callahan is the author of "Grant Morrison: The Early Years" and editor of "Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes" anthology. More of his thoughts on comics can be seen regularly at the Geniusboy Firemelon blog.
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