INTERVIEW WITH VAN JENSEN
Van reveals abit more about his past and future projects, plus, of course, a peak behind the un-yet released Bionic title!
For people not familiar with your work, could you give us a brief resume of your work/background in comics?
I’m a former journalist who broke into comics in 2009 with the graphic novel Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, which was a pretty surprising success. Two more volumes followed, and that got me on the radar of DC Comics, which led to me tackling Green Lantern Corps and then The Flash. I’m now expanding into a bunch of new titles.
I see that Cryptocracy and Two Dead share similar themes of conspiracy and I read in an interview that you said what appealed to you about that was ‘It’s all about knowledge as power. Information is incredibly valuable, but it must be wielded with great care. When that power is abused, it’s extremely damaging.’ How much will conspiracy themes play a part in the new SMDM storyline?
Information is a key element of our SMDM storyline. The lasting impacts of hiding the truth, even when it is well intentioned. Steve learns early on that there are things that have been kept from him, and those revelations will lead to serious impacts.
What was your first introduction to the Bionic shows?
I honestly am not sure. I’m a bit too young to have watched them as a kid. But I remember them clearly as a key piece of pop culture. Even in the 1980s, they remained pretty major icons.
What research did you do for writing the new Bionic series?
Going back and watching as many episodes as I could track down, as well as reading a lot on the technology of that era (1979, specifically). Our story delves into the onset of the Internet age, so that was key to building the world.
How long did the scripting process take from start to finish?
It usually takes me about two days per issue. Some take longer, like #3, which is a really complex, kind of weird issue. I had to draw it out roughly first, then write a script. It’s…unique.
Did any of the old stories help to inspire the story, or was it more inspired by the times the show was set in, the 70’s and the cold war, such a conspiracy and intrigue?
All of the above, really. I tried to capture the aesthetic and ambiance of the show, but some key elements (like Barney, the fellow cyborg) will come back into our story.
What would you say the biggest challenge/hurdle was for you, writing the new series?
I guess it’s probably not deviating too much from the source material while also changing it enough to be resonant with younger comics readers.
Cover art for issue #1 of SMDM: The Fall of Man, with variant covers.
I know a lot of writers prefer creator-owned properties, such as the titles you have at Dark Horse. How did you get involved with the Bionic series over at Dynamite?
Senior editor Matt Idelson and I worked together at DC. That guy is the best. So when he joined Dynamite, I was thrilled to have the chance to work with him again.
Did you have to work within any of the continuity constraints of the Dynamite’s previous SMDM comics serious? Is there any sort of continuity on the SMDM books?
We are trying to keep them consistent, yes. Though we’ve had to deviate a little here and there to make the story work.
If you had the chance to work with one character/team at Marvel/DC who would it be and why?
Beta Ray Bill. Because he’s a space horse, and that’s just rad.
Did you have free rein to use any of the characters from the SMDM and BW series?
Yeah. Except for the sasquatch.
If you could choose one artist to work with, living or deceased, who would it be?
Wow. I guess it’d have to be Moebius. Though that feels blasphemous just to say.
Which comics did you read as a child, that inspired you to get into the industry?
I didn’t have access to a lot out in rural Nebraska. Spider-Man. G.I. Joe. X-Men. Batman. That’s about it.
What could you tease fans with about the new series?
This is a big, weird, fun story that spans the globe and sees Steve confronted with the possibility to fully regain his humanity–though at a terrible cost.
You’ve mentioned issue 3 is going to be ‘weird’… we love it. Any more hints why?
It’s a chase across a train. And the entire comic is just one long panel. It’s insane.
Things are really kicking off for you right now, with being the first-ever United States Comic Book Ambassador, can you tell us how that came about and what you have been doing?
Pretty crazy, right? They just reached out to me and invited me to do it. I was touring schools, colleges and refugee camps, teaching people how to make comic books. Pretty incredible experience. Hopefully I am able to do some more trips.
To read more on Van Jensen as his career and projects, follow these links:
Van Jensen talks Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man #2, on sale in August
NYCC 2015: VAN JENSEN BRINGS ALL-NEW PROJECTS TO DARK HORSE
Van Jensen at DC comics
DC Comics Rebirth: Van Jensen Leaves The Flash – And DC Comics
Van Jensen Is The First-Ever Comic Book Ambassador Of The United States
Van Jensen named first ever Comic Book Ambassador of the United State