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Friday, May 26, 2023

10 Questions With Comics Writer Joe Casey!

Our great friend Michele Fiffe (of COPRA fame) reached out one day and said "You have to interview Joe Casey, he's a huge DC in the 80's guy!" Well we got super excited and co-editor Mark Belkin reached out to see if we could answer 10 Questions. Turns out in addition to being on of the best comic book writers ever, his taste in DC comics of the 1980's is impeccable. Joe Casey had classic runs on Uncanny X-Men,  Adventures of Superman, Wildcats, Cable, and two of his creations (two of my favorite comics) Godland and Automatic Kafka. Highly recommended. Also, and I didn't know this until recently, Joe was one of the creators on the cartoon series Ben 10! Without further ado, 10 Questions with Joe Casey! 

1.What was the first DC comic you remember buying?

JC: Let’s see… the earliest DC Comics I can remember holding in my hands -- and reading over and over -- were Justice League of America #137, All-Star Comics #63 and Secret Society of Super-Villains #3. I have no doubt that my folks bought all three of them for me, because I was just a grade school scrub. Y’know, when I stop and think about it… those three comics really just sum me right up, in terms of my formative tastes. But the first one I remember actually buying on my own would have to be New Teen Titans #9. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even purchase it when I first saw it. I spotted it on the stands at the first Direct Market retailer I ever knew of (Walt’s Paperback Books in Nashville, TN). That classic George Perez cover, with all of the Titans hanging by marionette strings… after I got home, I couldn’t get it out of my head. It just haunted me. I even tried to redraw that cover from memory. So, clearly, I had no choice but to go back and buy that comic book. Once I read it, I was instantly hooked… and I was no longer exclusively a Marvel kid reader. 

2. What were your favorite DC comics runs in the 1980s?

JC: There was a helluva lot to love during that decade. The Baron/Guice Flash (not to mention their two-issue Hawk story in Teen Titans Spotlight), the first two years of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League, the Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans, Fleming and Von Eeden’s Thriller, the Ostrander/McDonnell Suicide Squad, the Kupperburg/Lightle/Larsen Doom Patrol, the Giffen 5YL Legion, the Helfer/Sienkiewicz/Baker Shadow, Chaykin’s Blackhawk, Miller’s Batman work, Alan Moore on Swamp Thing

3. If you could go back in time and write for DC comics in the 1980s, what comic would you like to do? It can be anything you want, a re-boot, or taking over a book.

JC: Listen, I tried to write for DC Comics in 1987! I had the balls to send the great Dick Giordano a Batman fill-in script that I wrote on spec when I was just a punk teenager. Got a very encouraging, handwritten note back from Dick, which I still cherish. But to answer your question… to this day, I would’ve killed to take over for Mike Baron when he made -- in my humble opinion -- his all-too-early departure from Flash. Other than that, maybe DeMatteis’ gig dialoguing the Justice League books. 

4. Tell me all your thoughts on Jack Kirby, the Fourth World, and what that might mean to you?

JC: I have no doubt that Kirby is an influence on anyone who works in superhero comics. Even if he’s not a direct influence, believe me, he’s in there. He’s always been there for me. But I was actually first introduced to the Fourth World characters in the Secret Society of Super-Villains series and then the JLA/JSA/New Gods crossover in Justice League of America #183-185. From there, I eventually inhaled the pure power of the deluxe Baxter reprints of New Gods and I never looked back. At that point, most of those original back issues were still somewhat getable, so I got as many of them as I could afford. And here’s an exclusive tease… that Fourth World material means a lot more to me now than it ever has, for very practical, career-related reasons.

5. Your first DC work was on Superman and the Flash. How did the 1980's runs on those characters affect your runs on those books?

JC: The first Superman comics I even cared about were written by Alan Moore -- the annual with Dave Gibbons and the two “finale” issues of Superman and Action. After that, I was definitely caught up in the excitement of the Byrne revamp. Some of those Byrne/Wolfman/Ordway issues definitely had an impact on my own work, especially when I spent my three years plus on Adventures of Superman. And I can tell you I was damn proud to be writing what I considered the “legacy” title. As for the Flash… well, from my previous answers, it should be obvious to one and all that I have an unhealthy, unconditional love for Mike Baron’s Flash relaunch. I can’t even tell you exactly why it hit me so hard when it first came out… or why it still sticks with me. I was already a big Baron fan from Nexus and Badger and his other indie work. And while I’d read random issues of the Barry Allen Flash series over the few years previous, it was never a must-buy for me. But the Baron relaunch, for the age that I was at the time, just seemed so modern, so cutting edge. Not that it was particularly groundbreaking comics (it wasn’t)… not that I didn’t bump on the differences between the Wally West I knew from New Teen Titans and Baron’s take (I did)… but it had a certain vibe and a narrative voice that just spoke to me. Props to editor Mike Gold (my absolute favorite DC editor of that period), who encouraged Baron to abandon just about everything that was associated with the previous Flash, including his famous Rogues Gallery, which seems inconceivable now. So it's much more than an influence… it’s literally embedded in my DNA as a writer.    

6. How did your admiration of DC in the 80's inspire your work on some of your most popular books/runs/creations; Wildcats, Automatic Kafka (<3), and Ben 10?

JC: You can draw a direct line from any of my “experimental” work straight back to the DC that published Thriller, Swamp Thing, Ambush Bug, Ronin, The Shadow, Dark Knight Returns, Animal Man, Black Orchid, Watchmen, Chaykin’s Blackhawk, Giffen’s 5YL Legion of Super-Heroes and other comics that definitely pushed the envelope when it came to “mainstream” comics. When I broke in as a full-time professional, I made it a personal mission to try and evoke the vibe of those 80’s comics in the ones that I wrote. 

7. Who were some of your favorite writers from the 1980s?

JC: David Michelinie, Mike Baron, Matt Wagner, Howard Chaykin, John Ostrander, Robert Loren Fleming, Keith Giffen, Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, Alan Moore. 

8. And subsequently, who were some of your favorite artists?

JC: Paul Smith, George Perez, Alan Davis, Trevor Von Eeden, David Mazzuchelli, Jackson Guice, Luke McDonnell, Howard Chaykin, Gene Day, Dave Stevens, John Romita Jr., Kyle Baker, Todd McFarlane, Kevin Maguire, Bart Sears, Paul Chadwick, Bernie Mireault, Frank Miller, Steve Rude, Erik Larsen, Ty Templeton, Dave Gibbons, Walt Simonson, Matt Wagner, Bill Sienkiewicz, Bob Layton, John Byrne, Keith Giffen, John Totleben, Brian Bolland. 

9. If you could pick any DC comic to do a Crisis crossover issue with, from that time, what comic would it have been?

JC: Jeezus… y’know, I’m gonna say Infinity, Inc. Because history has shown us that Roy Thomas wasn’t too crazy about Crisis in the first place. So maybe I’d be doing him a favor, because I would definitely be into it. Plus, there’s a good chance it would’ve been drawn by Todd McFarlane during his wacky page design phase. But, to be honest, as much as I love the original Crisis (and I do), it was Legends that really connected with me. 

9b. How about Legends crossovers?

JC: If I had to choose, I think the BLUE BEETLE series could've been better served using LEGENDS as a way to push that series more into the spotlight. Not that I didn't read and love what Len and Paris were doing... but it was a bit too old school and the character was featured in LEGENDS to such a degree that maybe his series could've taken better advantage of the particular energy that was in the air in late '86/early '87.

10. What character who was big in the 80's, that may be forgotten, deserves some shine today?

JC: A few years ago, I would’ve easily answered, “Wally West”. But DC has taken some steps recently to rehabilitate the character. So that leaves only one answer for me: Thriller. The concept, the characters… it’s all so cool. A seminal book for me. God forbid DC collect the Fleming/Von Eeden issues, at least…!

DC in the 80's wants to thank Joe Casey for such a great interview! When we asked Joe if we could promote anything for him, he said "I think the most fun thing you could mention as "promotion" goes is that I've got some pretty big DC plans over the next few years. And i do mean BIG." WOW! That sounds exciting. Can't wait to find out what it is. Until next time. 


  1. Thanks, this was a great read. Casey's run on ADVENTURES is really interesting stuff.