Talking with Robert Venditti
Zona Negativa: How did you arrive in Green Lantern? How was your reaction when they offered you a series as important as this one? Did you know that Geoff Johns was leaving GL before you optioned to write it?
Robert Venditti: I was kind of stunned. It certainly wasn’t the type of phone call I was expecting to get that day. They told me Geoff had decided to move on, and I realized immediately this was going to be a very high-profile job. In June, there will be a new writer on Green Lantern for the first time in upwards of 100 issues. I switch between being excited and being terrified, which is pretty much my temperament with every project I take on. And I guess that’s what it all comes down to. In the end, I can’t let writing Green Lantern be different from writing any other story.
Zona Negativa: The editorial story of Hal Jordan has gone through many phases, but we could resume them in two. The “earthly” Hal Jordan, worried about the problems of our world and not very concern with what happens in the universe (its high point was Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams wonderful run) and the “space” Hal Jordan, which forgets completely what happens in Earth (the version we have seen later). With which version do you identify yourselves more? With which version are we going to see in your run? Any similarities with your work in X-O Manowar?
Robert Venditti: Given the events that will transpire by the end “Wrath of the First Lantern,” it makes sense to start our run with Hal still primarily in space. Our first story arc will be very cosmic, and it’ll show readers things they haven’t seen in Green Lantern before. If we execute the story the way we want, it’ll connect every Lantern of every Corps that has ever appeared in any comic book. Ever. We’re swinging for the fences.
As far as similarities with X-O Manowar, I really don’t see that many. Hal Jordan and Aric of Dacia are completely opposing characters, not just in terms of their personal histories, but also in terms of their goals and their approaches to conflict. If they were to meet each other, I think they’d notice the myriad of things that are different about them, rather than the one or two things they share.
Zona Negativa: At the beginning of the current volume, Geoff tried to restore the mentioned “earthly” ties of Hal Jordan… until Sinestro arrived and everything screwed up. Will you try to recover those scenarios? Actually, we are very interested in the romantic relationships of Jordan. We will see him hang up again with Carol? Cowgirl, maybe (we are fans of Cowgirl)?
Robert Venditti: Hal is going to have a new role to play in the Green Lantern Corps, and it’s going to increase the amount of time he has to spend at the office, so to speak. That’s going to affect a lot of his relationships, and what happens between him and Carol will be a key element of the entire Green Lantern line.
Zona Negativa: Historically, the Green Lantern Corps had never been interested at all in Earth until Abin Sur’s death but, given your current work in Demon Knights and their inter-centuries threats, is there any possibility that we can get to see some Green Lanterns in action in the XI century? Maybe a human GL previous to Hal Jordan…
Robert Venditti: It funny you mention that. It’s an idea we actually thought about for a bit—having a Green Lantern show up on Earth back in the era of Demon Knights—but we weren’t able to see a way to fit it in. As for whether that Green Lantern would be human, it’s already been established that Hal was the first Green Lantern from Earth. I wouldn’t want to change that.
Zona Negativa: Apart from Hal Jordan, will we see frequently other Green Lanterns in your series? We know that Simon Baz, the current protagonist, will be in the Justice League? Any chance of seeing more of him in GL?
Robert Venditti: We have one of the other Sector 2814 Green Lanterns in our first issue, and Hal is sure to cross paths with the others as well. When that will happen and how, it’s too early to say.
Zona Negativa: Your first arc in Demon Knights showed us the vampiric menace of Cain. In future solicits we have read that your history will rotate around the Holy Grail. Is that a short saga previous to the next arc? What can we expect from this story?
Robert Venditti: It’ll be another four-issue arc, and it’ll focus much more on Ystin’s quest to reclaim the Holy Grail, which was set up back in issue four of the series. We have some big twists in store, though, and all the characters will have a key role to play in the arc. These are things I’ve been setting up since my first issue, and I’m looking forward to letting it play out. It’s going to be big.
Zona Negativa:We would like to talk a little bit about your beginnings in Top Shelf Productions. What was your part in Owly? We have read that you edited the series along Chris Staros, so you have also contributed in the success of this comic. Did your job as editor helped you learn and understand the editorial world or was that a very minor part?
Robert Venditti: I co-edited the Owly series with Top Shelf editor Chris Staros. It was an invaluable experience that allowed me to understand story from a perspective other than the creator’s. I spent ten years as a Top Shelf employee, and every day I find myself using things I learned during my time there. To be a professional, it’s important to understand publishing as more than a purely creative endeavor. It’s a business as well.
Zona Negativa: Nowadays, more than never, many authors and companies write their stories with a potential adaptation to the big screen in mind. It is clear that this is not your case, but your first miniseries, The Surrogates, was adapted as a film starring Bruce Willis. What did you feel when your work was projected in cinemas all along the world? Did that changed your view of the comic industry? Did you ever thought, when writing it, that this was going to happen?
Robert Venditti: I never imagined it would happen. I didn’t even know if anyone would want to publish it! All I was hoping for was to get my work out there. To have it adapted into a feature film was never part of the plan. Of course, when it did happen, I was very happy. It brought a lot of visibility to my writing, which I might not have had otherwise. In many ways, the Surrogates film helped put me on the map. When I found myself talking to an editor, they might not know me, but they’d at least heard of my work. That made it easier to get my foot in the door.
Zona Negativa:With X-O Manowar you have become a fan-favourite author among fans and you have brought a lot of attention to Valiant Entertainment. ¿Have you ever thought about leaving this series to write some others or are you planning to stay on it for a long time?
Robert Venditti: I plan to stay with X-O Manowar until I run out of ideas or I get fired, whichever comes first. I love the character, and the opportunity to build something from the beginning doesn’t come along very often. Valiant is a great place to work, too, and Warren Simons is a terrific editor. Really, I can’t think of a single reason for me to want to leave.
Zona Negativa: You have promoted Planet Death (we all already want to read it) but we want to try to learn your ideas after this saga. Are you going to bring back some other classical characters as Ninjak? Do you have some other crossover in mind? We have read that maybe Archer & Armstrong y X-O Manowar will cross their roads soon… Any details?
Robert Venditti: I can’t go into too many details, but after Planet Death, Aric will cross paths with another popular Valiant character. It’s a scene we’ve been setting up since the opening pages of issue 1, so it’s been a long time coming. After that, we have some huge plans in store, but all of them won’t become clear until the series’ second major long-form arc comes to a close.
Zona Negativa: Thanks a lot for your time, Robert. Keep the awesome work.