Arrow's Marc Guggenheim Talks Jonas Quantum, The World's Smartest Man

Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim's comic book slate is pretty busy these days; in addition to work for Marvel and Oni Press, this week he'll launch The Infinite Adventures of Jonas Quantum, a kind of rumination on what it would be like if Reed Richards had Indiana Jones' predisposition to get into trouble and no family ties.

It's a bit more than that, though; Jonas Quantum is a technicolor trip into the mind of somebody who believes that all things are possible -- and most of it should probably be done.

Guggenheim joined over the weekend to discuss the series, which will be in comic book stores and on ComiXology on Wednesday.

Okay, so what's your elevator pitch for the series?

Well, it's funny: I don't know what the solicitation text is. But it's really simple: It's the adventures of the world's smartest man.

Here, you've got a character who's obviously somehow superhuman, since he's already smart at birth. Is it harder to write somebody who's been fully-formed all their lives, as opposed to somebody like Oliver, who's kind of a f--k up at first?

I think every character has their own challenges. With Ollie, the challenge is, he doesn't talk as much. He's not necessarily self-aware as much as other characters. With Jonas, the challenge is writing somebody so much smarter than myself and trying to put myself in the head of someone who obviously has life experiences I don't possess.

But I never really think with any characters I write in terms of harder or easier. Yes, there are certain characters who are easier. It's a lot easier to write Felicity than it is to write Oliver, just because Felicity is closer to my voice as a writer than Oliver is. As you can tell from Jonas, I tend to write very verbose and very fast-talking characters, and that's not Oliver.

This project depends on the character and different projects require different things. Sometimes you have to do a little bit of invention as you go to try and get out of your comfort zone as a writer.

I think it's interesting because you have the Reed Richards problem, where he has the capacity to invent things that maybe shouldn't be invented, and things like that. Is that a weird ethical dilemma to put your character through?

Yeah. I think for Jonas, he feels as if he has a handle on it. I think over the course of the series, he'll realize that he doesn't and that will be interesting.

You're right; there's definitely some moral complexity there and I think that Jonas might be a little naive as to how secure he thinks everything is.

How close did you work with the artists in terms of establishing the look of the world? Freddie has a very broad range, of course, but just as much as that, the coloring really sets the tone for what kind of book we're in for as soon as you open it.

Thanks for noticing that. Chris Sotomayor is amazing; he really is a master. I would say, I really give Chris and Freddie free reign, because they're doing incredible, incredible work. I feel like my job as a writer is to come up with the most outlandish, crazy images I can think of, but I do it very confident that Freddie and Chris will take that to the nth degree and really create some images that are well beyond anything that I can imagine myself.

You don't have a ton of time in your schedule. What is it about this character that you said, "Okay, I have to do this right now?"


For one thing, it's a character I've been thinking about off and on for about fifteen years.

For another, it just kind of seemed like the time was right in my creative life. It was feeling right to me; it's a very hard thing to articulate. It's a very gut-level writer thing. I'm very much someone who, I write and I pick my workload based upon what inspires me at the moment. And that's a very fortunate place to be.