John Romita, Jr. spent most of his career at Marvel Comics, but when he recently came to DC with an exclusive deal, one of the first things he did was to jump onto Action Comics -- a title featuring Superman and written at the time by Geoff Johns, one of the biggest stars in comics and arguably DC's most popular "home-grown" talent in a generation. Since that time, Romita has continued to work for DC, but he seems to keep coming back to Superman -- and every time, he's working with a superstar. This week saw the release of two such projects: first, another bite at the Action Comics apple, this time with writer Brian Michael Bendis (the pair had previously collaborated on, among other things, the Marvel event series Avengers vs. X-Men).
Additionally, Romita joined forces with legendary writer/artist Frank Miller for Superman: Year One, a new look at the Man of Steel's origin for DC's Black Label imprint. This wasn't his first go-'round with Miller, either, since the pair worked together on a one-shot set in the world of The Dark Knight Returns, but this is a lot bigger, and given Miller's long history with Batman, the idea of him having a project dedicated to Superman has generated some buzz.
"The two of us grew into the business around the same," Romita said of working with Miller. "We're very similar in age, and time in the business, but the process that we were indoctrinated on was the Marvel method, where you get a plot from the writer and then you draw it out and the writer fills the dialogue. I guess they should probably name it the Stan Lee method, Stan Lee/Jack Kirby method, Stan Lee, John Romita, John Buscema method. But when we were growing in the industry, that's the way it was done, plot, hand it to the artist, artist draws it out, storytelling sequentially, and then the dialogue is filled in according to the artwork, and you have the infusion of both talents. And that's what Frank and I grew up on and that's why we do that together very well."
Romita, who has worked with a number of acclaimed writers, artists, and writer/artists over the years, suggested that he tends to get along well with people who have both skillsets -- like Miller, or his Thor collaborator Dan Jurgens. He explained his process with Miller.
"Frank has got a great story, and he hands it over to me in various forms," Romita continued. "There is dialogue in there somewhere, smatterings of dialogue, but mostly stream of consciousness, however long it is. He hands it over to me and lets me play with it, and then if there's anything that I veer from, I have to let him know and discuss it with him and the editors. And if there's anything that he wants to change, he'll let me know after he sees the artwork. It's a great combination of all things growing up in the industry, and I honestly enjoy working with Frank so much because of that. There's no pretense. There's no, 'You have to do it my way as the highway.' And I'm not going to tell him what I'm doing is better than what he offered. It's trial and error so to speak."
Superman: Year One is in comic shops and bookstores now.
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