Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 16 - STEVE ORLANDO
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA WRITER - STEVE ORLANDO
“We have our own story which is getting bigger and bigger. At the same time, we are part of this greater story.” - Steve Orlando, comic book writer, Justice League of America, Supergirl, Midnighter
ON EPISODE 16:
Science reveals new information about Tardigrades, or water bears, and their unique 'glass' shielding could unlock new ways to protect materials in space. Then on What Fuels You, Dustin and Jeff discuss the effect of passing down information and seeking out knowledge on the world at large. Finally, a new collaboration between Death Wish Coffee and Poker Central is announced and the finer points of the Nitro Cold Brew canning process is revealed.
ABOUT STEVE ORLANDO:
Steve Orlando has worked hard to break into the comic book industry and now he writes for some of the biggest titles around. On this show Steve talks about how he got his start and some of his first jobs, what comic books mean to him and what it is like writing for characters like Batman in Justice League of America. Plus hear about some exciting upcoming projects Steve will be working on.
Jeff: What's fun about the comic book industry is that everybody has their story of how they broke into it, and I mean I want to hear where your influences come from but I also want to hear how you decided to go down this career path.
Steve: I've been reading comics since I was real young, like three or four. I couldn't even really read back then and I would assume, I don't really remember. I was getting at flea markets and shit old comics so it's always been part of my life. Then in the '90s when I started going to Walden Books or I could actually leave the house unsupervised like so many of the big, in comics, events were happening then that in retrospect should have driven me out of comics, like Clone Saga was happening. The first Spiderman book I bought didn't even have Spiderman in it. It had Scarlet Spider in it. Then even when I went to buying DC books, Superman was made of electricity and Wonder Woman was her mom and the Flash had broken legs and all these things.
Dustin: Sounds like a mess. Geeze.
Jeff: Comics are always a mess.
Steve: So I came in ... I've never been a person that was really worried about change like that because I just, by chance, when I came in everything was totally in flux, and certainly never gonna go back to how it was before.
Dustin: The golden age.
Steve: Ben Riley will be Spiderman forever, it's a good thing I bought that. I've always loved the format, I've always loved the sort of high energy, high drama, high action, and these sort of super expansive, deep worlds. The same reason people love Lord of the Rings, or any type of fantasy or sci-fi as well. I love world building and I find usually that stuff even more interesting than what normal people like. I'm probably the only person that thinks The Silmarillion is more fun than-
Dustin: I've known a couple people.
Steve: ... then The Hobbit. Yeah, they're probably old. So I knew I wanted to get into that. And at the time I was into art and drawing as well and also my father sold sports memorabilia so we would go to shows and I'm quite bad at sports so I would always buy non-sports cards there. That's also how I met a lot of comics characters because comics trading cards were huge in the 1990s. I've got so many collections of DC cards and Marvel Masterpieces, especially the first like Joe Jusko, and actually the whole series done by Greg Hildebrandt as well.
So I met all these characters but I didn't really know what they meant at the time. And then in the late 90s when Superman became electric there was an article in the paper in Syracuse that sort of broke down how it happened and all these things. And that's when I sort of realized, oh people make these things. It was the first time I saw there's a penciler, there's an inker, there's a writer, there's a letterer, there's a colorist, there's an editor and they all sort of come together to make these things.
So I sort of had that idea then and wasn't sure what I wanted to do in it, just that I wanted to do it. But as I sort of progressed through high school and started going to conventions and looking at meeting editors and meeting the creators I soon realized that writing would probably be where my skills lie 'cause my art was not necessarily in a place where people would pay money for it.
And at the same time, you can move ... to me the ideas were ... and not the process was what interested me. 'Cause I did write. I wrote and illustrated a hundred page book in college and it was an interesting experience. It's made it easier to write for artists but at the same time about thirty pages in I was ready to move on to the next idea 'cause in my mind, it was already complete. And putting it on the page was interesting but it wasn't necessarily what was most fulfilling to me 'cause I had already written it. In my mind, it was done. And taking a hundred days ... and that proves what a commitment art is and what the difference is of your economies of time when you're working in comics. But I realized that I needed to be able to have a lot of things going and move through different stories at a greater speed and that's why we sort of stuck with writing.
As to how I got in its sort of alluded to there ... getting into ... first of all, everybody breaks in ... no one breaks in the same way. I followed what I would say a relatively traditional path. I started going to conventions when I was 12 or 13 and, as I said, meeting editors, meeting other creators, and showing them my work and getting critiques from them and using it to get better. And it took a long time to get to a place where something was publishable but I found people who I respect. Guys like Steve Seagle and Joe Kelly from Man of Action who, you might know them, they created Ben 10, also Big Hero 6. And I would see them every year, or every six months at these shows and show them what I had new. And every time they would say what I could get better at. What needed to change to be professional. What needed to change to be publishable. And with the caveat that once I was there they would help get it in front of the right people.
Steve: And so it's networking and it's also improving constantly, and getting better, and not expecting that you're gonna come out of the gate immediately with this amazing, immaculate story.
Dustin: You gotta start somewhere.
Steve: Well yeah and honestly you have to draw a thousand pages before you draw a good one, or whatever they say. And it's the same for us too even though maybe there's a tendency for writers to be precious about this shit, but you shouldn't be, 'cause it took me 17 years. So there's a lot of stuff that I've done that will never see print. Although some ideas always work their way in. Much like John Peters and his giant spider and Superman. Some things just stick in my mind and will get out there.
So through networking, I got my first thing published in Image comics in 2008 which was in Outlaw Territory which was nominated for an Eisner. And again it's from relationships I made. I had self-published a book with my friend Tyler Nickam who was online at the time as the deaf guy, he was the deaf artist. And his work had been seen by the person who was putting together Outlaw Territory, which is an anthology, and he said, "Okay I'll do it but I'd like to work with Steve." And that's how the first opportunity sorta came around.
Dustin: That's cool.
Steve: And of course at the time I was like, "Oh man. Eight pages in an Image comic, I am in." And then four years later I got my next work. So there you go. At Vertigo, and that was another situation of meeting people and then progressing to a spot where when there is an opportunity they can think of you. I met Will Dennis who was an editor at Vertigo again when I was like 14. He's also from upstate New York. So we met him at Ithacon in Ithaca. And we kept in touch and we talked a lot and it wasn't until around 2012 where my ... he was putting together an anthology, 'cause Vertigo was getting back into doing anthologies, and at that point, I had come to a place where my work was maybe something they could pay for and publish.
So I did that and that was a story called Breaching which was about centaurs in space going through puberty. And-
Dustin: How does that work?
Steve: Well they take peyote and when they're tripping they hallucinate their horse body and their human body in gladiatorial combat and that's how they decide what their life is gonna be like depending on what wins.
Dustin: So it's like a hallucinogenic battle of duality, of inner duality.
Steve: Yes, if we were half horse, you know. So that was the ... but the nice thing about that is that story was sufficiently strange that when they offered me another short story in October I barely had to pitch for it. It was for this anthology ... the series in 2014 was called CMYK which is the colors of the printing process for comics. And so each of them was based on a different color. That was the only prompt. Do a story based on cyan, do a story based on magenta, or, in my case, do a story based on yellow. And so the editor emailed me and ... getting Breaching approved was a long process even though it was only eight pages and then when it came around to Yellow I said, "Oh I'm thinking about doing a story that's about the end of the world, an 1800s Indian painting, and also cow's urine." And they were like, "All right, you're good to go." So-
Jeff: You're in.
Steve: Yeah so my brand had already sort of been established, for better or worse, there. And that was around the same time when I was in the office that, thanks to the revamp of Batgirl, the yellow Doc Martens revamp, they were open to revisiting other types of more diverse characters and when asked what I would maybe do is when I mentioned Midnighter so-
Steve: ... I pitched that in October 2014. I had done a book called Undertow which was a six-issue miniseries at Image which helped that pitch get through because it showed that I could complete a book on time, every issue of that shipped on time and they check things like that, and be professional with it. So-
Dustin: I'm curious as to the pitch for Midnighter. How did that go for you?
Steve: Well it was actually ... so you had asked about my influence as in Midnighter was actually very closely related to that because the original ... I've always seen him as sort of ... one of the things that we all agreed was interesting about him originally was him and Apollo did not have real names. Those were their names. This changed in the relaunch, but we went back and fixed that.
But it made him analogous to me always in my mind as some character like Yojimbo or some character like the Man with No Name. 'Cause Yojimbo, for people who don't know how he comes to his name which is Sanjuro, I think, it's literally what he's looking at when he walks into town. It's like his name's when you translate it, it's like a 33-year-old blueberry field or something like that. He just-
Dustin: So Japanese poetic.
Steve: Yeah. Yeah, and it's just 'cause he doesn't give his real name it's literally whatever's in front of him. And so he's like that and then, obviously, the Man with No Name is the Man with No Name so I always saw the sort of aesthetic of Midnighter being that kind of person who could walk into this Kurosawa style town and disrupt things.
Dustin: That's awesome.
Steve: And that was a large part of the pitch. He's someone who doesn't have to play by the rules so he can get dropped in situations and blow em up.
Dustin: Yeah which, for those who haven't looked into Midnighter, it is pretty ultra violent-
Dustin: ... and I love it. It's all just psychotic and bloody.
Dustin: It's a lotta fun.
Jeff: Yeah. It-
Steve: Yeah we do a lotta that. The first issue I wanted to be like people are gonna have suppositions about it because he's a gay character. So we wanted to spend that and really just make it ... obviously, we embraced that very wholeheartedly in the book but it's also, I think, one of the best action books that DC's published hands down. And we did that. We wanted to be this sort of like anything goes 80s and early 90s absurdist type of action that you're talking about before in the late 90s and early 2000s when action movies had to sort of self-deprecate and, "Oh isn't this a little goofy?" Well no it's goofy because you're admitting it's goofy. Yes, Vin Diesel can have his fall broken by a car in Fast and the Furious. It's only ridiculous because you're saying it is.
But anyway so I think we sort of set the stage well in that issue one. He kills someone with a T-bone steak.
Dustin: That was awesome.
Steve: ... was an avocado in the original script actually but this is ... revisions happen. That scene originally took place at a fruit market and it was an avocado pit going through someone's brain.
Dustin: That's awesome.
Steve: But in classic comic situations that didn't make sense but a steak, all good.
Dustin: T-bone steak. We're on for a T-bone steak.
Jeff: So kind of going from being able to work with companies like Image, and Vertigo, and having some sort of guideline like when you did CMYK you're writing a story on yellow and you pitch it and they kinda are like, "Go run with it." But now after pitching Midnighter, and you did a stellar twelve issue run on that, and now working with a company like DC you're kinda playing in someone else's sandbox. Is it a different approach, as a writer, to deal with that now because ... and I'll use this as an example in that original Midnighter run that you did, the twelve issue run, there was a great sequence where you brought in the character of Nightwing, who is the first Robin for those of you who don't know. But he's an iconic character in the DC universe that actually was doing a lot of stuff in the universe at that time. So does that hinder your writing? Do you have to approach it differently because you're kind of playing with these toys now?
Steve: Hinder, no. It's a challenge, certainly, but that's also part of the game. And it's like how do you build something that can fit into this super complex puzzle that is going on, that has continuity and that is the current story not just what's happened before. Which is key, at least for me, 'cause I like to build on what's come before. But also how does it fit into the motions of the forty other books that are coming out right now.
But that is a fun challenge because it is worth it to readers when they realize that everything is connected and everything matters.
Jeff: Yeah. Some of my favorite stuff is when writers really are attentive on that and you know ... you're reading just a random book and you know that it's tying back to issues before in another line and it all makes sense.
Steve: Well and that goes back to like I said when I first picked up JLA all those strange status quos were reflected in Justice League and there were times ... and I liked that. It showed that all the books respected each other and all the books mattered. If Batman was a mech warrior or something in Batman then he was a mech warrior in Justice League for that time. You can see the innovation that when Grant had to deal with when Grant Morrison had to deal with Electric Superman because he actually ended up coming up with some of the best-
Dustin: I need Electric Superman explained to me because I have no idea what Electric Superman is.
Steve: Well okay so-
Jeff: Go for it, Steve.
Steve: Sounds like a sin though.
Jeff: I was gonna say I'll go but you go Steve.
Steve: So it's a great costume. In the late 90s, there was a crossover ... I actually didn't read the lead in as to how he became blue and made of electricity, but so he burned his powers out, something catastrophic happened and he was-
Jeff: And he was powerless for a little bit.
Steve: ... and his Kryptonian powers burnt out and in the place of them, he became an energy being for like two years. And his skin was blue, and he could phase through things, and he got electromagnetic powers.
Steve: And he had a blue and white costume. And it was actually a great design.
Dustin: Yeah it sounds like it looks cool but-
Jeff: Yeah it looked really cool.
Steve: It wasn't classic Superman at all, so there was controversy there but-
Jeff: People were angry.
Dustin: It's probably great for the artist, a pain in the ass for the writer.
Steve: Well people wanted to do something different and the thing is like I was saying, that didn't happen in JLA but it got bounced to JLA because you have to reflect what's going on in the other books. But then the writer there, Grant Morrison, ended up coming up with what a lot of people say are some of the most iconic Electric Superman moments even though ... at one point, without getting too much into story stuff, at one point the earth and the moon are about to crash into each other and Superman uses his powers to give the moon an opposite magnetic charge to the earth. So they start to repel each other.
Dustin: Oh thank God.
Steve: Yeah. And things like that. But I think that that's a nice moment where you see these ... working in a shared universe it is a challenge but often through those things you get some of the best moments when you have to work and find solutions to things.
Jeff: It's like a fun problem to kind of work out when you have to work with those. And speaking on that DC, in this last year, has just gone through another change which they branded as their rebirth. And it's actually the name of all of their titles now. And Steve you're currently writing two of those titles. You're writing the brand new Supergirl and also Justice League of America, JLA. Are you dealing with a lot of, even more of these fun problems, as I'll call them, writing a book like Justice League of America because now not only are you dealing with these same characters, you're dealing with all of their actual lines too? 'Cause Justice League is Batman and all these other characters so is that kind of what you're dealing with? Is this even more of a playground for ideas because you have all of these iconic characters storylines happening at the same time kind of thing?
Steve: Yeah. Yeah. Certainly. And it's nice to have things reflected ... again it's a little bit of both, honestly, in JLA 'cause half of JLA are these characters that are appearing elsewhere, like Batman and Black Canary, and then another part of it is giving a little bit of a spotlight on characters that don't have their own books and maybe need a little more visibility. People like Vixen. People like The Atom.
Dustin: It's kind of like having an opening band with a really big other group.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah.
Dustin: You just gotta get em in the limelight and then they'll shine.
Steve: Yeah, yeah. And so but there is a lotta that and it's exciting because it ... things that you've already seen will pay off not just in JLA but across the DC universe as a whole and we are part of this ... we have our own story, which is going to get bigger and bigger and end somewhere really cool, and then at the same time we're part of this greater story that you've seen in like Detective Comics 950 you see before he's killed Tim Drake sort of calls out Batman that he's building all of these different armies and clearly something is going on. We're all going somewhere and it's nice to be able to have a book that can push towards that, and carry the flag to that, or pick up the baton for a little while.
And at the same time, yeah it is nice to have characters like Lobo and characters, again, like Vixen where you can sort of be the standard bearer to push their stories along because they haven't turned up in a lot of other places, recently at least.
Jeff: I love that Lobo is back. Lobo's one of my favorite auxiliary characters of the DC universe 'cause he's just-
Dustin: 'Cause he's Wolverine in DC?
Steve: Yeah, hold the phone. Wolverine isn't shit compared to Logo ... Lobo, sorry.
Jeff: Yeah there you go.
Steve: So lets not-
Dustin: I was talking-
Jeff: ... don't bring Marvel into this.
Dustin: ... in Jeff's standards. And I know Jeff's highest standard is Wolverine.
Jeff: Well on the Marvel side. But I really do enjoy the character and I just-
Steve: I just wanna point out, okay, Lobo can punch out Superman-
Jeff: Yes he can.
Steve: ... plus Wolverine. So-
Dustin: Yeah but Jeff doesn't have a Lobo tee shirt.
Jeff: That's true. Yet.
Dustin: He certainly has like ten Wolverine shirts.
Jeff: Yet. That's right. I gotta get a Lobo tee shirt. But it's fun to see you be able to deal with those characters. Is it ... I don't know how to word this but is it kind of still this new feeling that now you are working on these iconic characters as well though? You get to write what Batman does, does that-
Steve: Yeah that's ... it's always pretty strange.
Jeff: Right? Like-
Steve: And also it kinda should be. Where you sort of, I think, you lose perspective a little bit. Look it is work, let's just be clear, but at the same time, it is a job that not many people have so you are lucky to have it at the same time. Even if you worked for it a long time in many cases. Just like any type of ... if you're a professional athlete you work for it but it's also a privilege because it's-
Dustin: It's amazing that you're there and you should be grateful that you're there but you definitely worked your ass off to get there.
Dustin: It's a weird dichotomy for sure.
Jeff: Yeah. And just to touch on that, Dustin, like you said you have been working your ass off for years now, Steve, breaking into this business, doing all these books, and like you said earlier on even in the beginning of your career you had a book published and then it was four years before you had another book published.
So obviously, as with any career like this, there are ebbs and flows. What keeps you passionate about it? What fuels you to keep coming and putting pen to paper, and keep going out there and creating these stories?
Steve: All these characters have something to say and what they mean ... the core of a character doesn't change but how it reflects in what's going on in the world and what's going on within these greater storylines is always changing. So there's always something new to say with these characters or your own characters. Hopefully, you never run out of stories but at the same time, again, there's so ... working in DC, or working at Marvel if I was there too, there is such a rich depth ... they have a deep bench even if sometimes we don't think it. It only takes the right person to bring a character back and show them why they're more relevant than ever.
So I suppose at some point in my laundry list of things that I would love to do might end but there's so many things that I think people need to see and be reminded why they're relevant and why they're interesting that we haven't even scratched the surface. JLA is a great book for that. I hope I'll be on that as long as people want me on it cause this is ... that's the showcase. That's the legitimacy of a character when they appear with the Justice League that maybe they need eyes on them again. So there's a lot I would love to do. More than I could even list right now when it comes to DC.
And in relation to my own creator-owned work. I do so little of it right now that it is a great opportunity for me. I have another book coming out this year that'll be creator-owned. So I only do one a year, or maybe less, we'll see. So at that point a year or two has passed in between and there's always, I certainly have an opinion about something. Let's be real, I have an opinion once an hour. So there's always something new to say, and hopefully, a new way to say it as well.
Jeff: That's awesome. You had such a great year this past year too. You also were involved in the highly celebrated Love is Love book, correct?
Steve: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jeff: Do you wanna talk a little bit about how that came together? Because that's just, in my mind, the way that the comic industry can be that much of a higher echelon of something too. Not just telling people in capes running around kind of thing.
Steve: It came together, honestly, Mark had reached out to me, Mark and Draco, that was editing it and putting it together and it was funny because so many of the people in it that were at DC ... this is before ... it was a team-up between IDW and DC. We all sort of like talked amongst ourselves like, "Oh can we sneak this in and have them ..." 'cause we were all exclusive so we were all just like, "How can we be a part of this?" I'm talking to James Tine and like, "What if we just do it and they don't know?" And all these things. But finally, so many of us had asked for a carve-out that they were just like, "Okay. You can all go do it." And then later on, obviously, they co-published so it didn't really matter.
But it was an opportunity for me too, obviously, contribute and hopefully bring whatever small amount of publicity my name puts on that and the cause. But also to show people, again, to put at the front artists and people that haven't been seen before. I worked with my friend Ian from Scotland and who drew it, who has, I think, a really cool style that is totally unlike anything else in comics right now. So he's always looking, I always try to have more people see his work. And then it was colored by Harry Saxon who's a trans creator. And it was just an opportunity to put new people in front of a wide audience as well. And, again, show a diverse group of people supporting this cause.
And I'm honored to be a part of it at the same time. I remember after 9/11 Marvel's heroes book that they rush solicited and I still have that.
Jeff: Yeah, I do too.
Steve: And I still remember things from that. The good looks and the bad, by the way. I still remember ... well anyway.
Dustin: No wait we're-
Jeff: Uh, you know.
Dustin: ... now I'm curious.
Steve: I also remember Dr. Doom and Magneto crying in Spiderman which was something else.
Jeff: Something else.
Dustin: Like together?
Dustin: Or separately?
Jeff: Yeah, yeah.
Dustin: Oh man. Really?
Dustin: Comforting each other and-
Steve: But I didn't do that.
Steve: So that's fine.
Jeff: No but getting back to that though it is great that something like Love is Love could come out and you do what you can to help that cause and everybody that was involved with that. I also wanted to just kind of bookend this by congratulating you too. You're up for a GLAD award this year, I believe, correct?
Steve: For Midnighter and Apollo, yeah.
Jeff: For Midnighter and Apollo. And that's just, again, a way of thanking people in this industry for having a voice and not, again like I said, just making Batman jump off a rooftop. You know what I mean?
Steve: Well people like swinging. The number one advice that I get from other creators is like, "If you don't know how to start the book people fucking love when Batman swings." And it's like, "Oh okay."
Jeff: I love that. I love that. That's-
Steve: That was real advice that I've gotten.
Jeff: That's so good.
Steve: Also crashing through glass windows [crosstalk 00:27:01]
Jeff: Always a good panel right there when-
Steve: Now you know when he does that I clearly had no idea what to do in that panel.
Jeff: Oh look Steve's got Batman swinging through six panels in this book. He didn't have anything to say. That's awesome. You touched upon a little bit about how you get to work on a book like Justice League of America and so you get the chance to highlight characters that might not have that highlight. If you had the keys to the castle, you were running DC, or Marvel, wherever you are, are there characters out there that I'm just saying if you were able to just wake up tomorrow and be like, "I'm a billionaire and I'm gonna publish this character and no one's gonna tell me no."
Dustin: No limits.
Jeff: Yeah no limits. Is there your dream character out there that you wanna just either bring back or you would just love to write? You would-
Steve: I mean there's there are-
Jeff: I'm sure there's a ton.
Steve: ... numerous-
Jeff: Yeah like-
Steve: At DC I've always ... my favorite character is Martian Manhunter. So I would always love to work on him and have him last. Going further down the line, which I can always do, I love Dr. Fate. I love Miss Liberty. I love the Wesley Dodds Sandman. Like Sandman Mystery Theater is one of my favorite books in the late 80s, early 90s.
In general, I've always wanted to bring back and have people notice Miss Fury who you may or may not know. She's-
Dustin: Is she related to-
Jeff: It's not Nick Fury's wife.
Steve: No, no. Miss-
Dustin: I didn't know if we were-
Steve: But not by me this is like if you were talking about books I ever wanna foster, Miss Fury should be a historical character. She's one of, if not the first, female superheroes and created by a female creator who's name was Tarpe Mills in like the 30s and 40s. And she's public domain now so I wouldn't-
Steve: I still want to find a high profile creative team of women that could work on her and bring her back. That's not a book that I think is right for me to do, but I want it to exist and I want it to be great 'cause that character should be on a pedestal. It's one of the first of it's kind.
Dustin: What is it that really drives you towards that character?
Steve: It's the sense of history. I want us to understand our history, you know?
Dustin: That's cool.
Steve: And celebrate things that people too often forget in comics. I would love that. I also have a strange obsession with the Lev Gleason version of Daredevil, who's the guy that has the split red and blue costume.
Jeff: Yeah. Yup, yup.
Steve: I also really love the golden age Red Tornado who I think is a perfect young adult character who you may or may not know. She's a working single mom who's costume is made of sweatpants and then she wears ... her helmet is her actual-
Dustin: Sounds like my mom.
Steve: Yeah her helmet is the actual sauce pot that she uses to cook for her family-
Dustin: Oh my God it's my mom.
Steve: ... that she puts on her head and so she just cleans up her local neighborhood in the 40s. And it is absurd at the same time-
Dustin: What's her superpower?
Steve: Doesn't have a superpower.
Dustin: Oh just-
Steve: She's a tough middle-aged woman.
Dustin: Very motivated.
Steve: But I just like the style on it in the 40s was very different from other books and I just think that that character is such a strong character. And even, yeah I mean I say YA because yeah there is something a little absurd about someone running around in pajama pants and a sauce pot, but there's also something very real about she takes care of her kids, and she does everything, and then also she has time to go out and clean up her neighborhood. It's a small scale thing but it's also, I think, very important.
Dustin: But does she have any time for love?
Steve: When she showed up in JSA at the age of like 80,000 she-
Dustin: Wait, she doesn't age? Is that one of her powers?
Steve: No, no, no. She does age. She does age.
Jeff: Yeah she was-
Dustin: She mega ages.
Steve: She was still single. She was still single. I think she had had a husband in between. But I dunno I-
Dustin: I just wanna give her a hug.
Steve: Imma show you what she looks like too and it's gonna be really exciting [crosstalk 00:31:18] But I think that book should exist. I think-
Dustin: How long did it exist for? when did it exist?
Jeff: In the 40s.
Dustin: It was ... oh it was in the 40s?
Dustin: I thought it just took place in the 40s.
Steve: No she was Red Tornado before The Android was.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah. She was like way, way back, yeah.
Steve: And also it was a very body positive character. You can see here that she was somewhat robust.
Dustin: That's amazing.
Jeff: Where you're at in your career right now is there a way where you can actually take some of these ideas and actually try to pitch them? You had talked about how you had pitched Midnighter to DC and they ran with it. Do you ever think about any of these offshoot characters that you would love to bring back, do you ever think about actually pitching those out?
Steve: Yeah all the time. And some of these are things that I think, again, should happen that I don't necessarily think I should write. And that's the thing like I think there should be a Lois Lane book, for example. And there are plenty of people that are much more qualified to write that than me. But I think that that ... Lois Lane is a character that no other comic company has. You can't manufacture a strong woman character that's been around for 75 plus years. I want that book to exist.
But at the same time yeah, it's all about I hope I get too many of them. I think that the Young Animal line is a great opportunity for things like this 'cause they're ... you can get a little stranger with your reinterpretations and you can be a little less mainstream with your art style. They just announced a Forager book which is right on my wavelength of things that I would like to do by the Allreds. It's called Bug. So yeah, absolutely.
Jeff: That's cool.
Steve: It's all about positioning and having the right amount of time.
Jeff: The time, definitely.
Steve: There was a JLA/JSA crossover in Grant Morrison's JLA, which was awesome to me when I was younger, that centered around Johnny Thunder and things like that so yeah I'd love the opportunity to pull things back and just have these sort of wild stories that enrich DCs past. I hope that ... the goal with me with these things is not ever to make people feel excluded from continuity. I want them to feel like I did when I got in which is to say if you pick up a book everything you need to know to understand that character is there but there's also that extra research that you can do to find out more about them. People are afraid of continuity many times. And this is a real thing, by the way, 'cause I talk to retailers and they say, "We don't like when books go past sixty issues because at that point readers just they will not pick ... " you don't have new readers after that.
But hopefully when you pick up JLA and you pick up these books, which I usually have a fair amount of Easter eggs in my books, it's understandable there and then also there's that thing if you want to put them into Google, if you want to look them up there are all these other things you can find out. There's a secret history to explore. And that's, hopefully, I want people to be rewarded by that.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Steve: 'Cause that's how it should work. Rather than like, "What is going on? I don't understand what's happening."
Jeff: That's awesome. That's exactly what I love about comics too. And just to speak on it then we talked about how this year you are the current writer of Supergirl and of Justice League of America. I know that you are constantly busy and there are many projects, obviously, that we cannot talk about but is there anything that's coming up in the near future that we can talk about that you can make listeners aware of?
Steve: Yeah. So the most exciting thing is Batman and the Shadow.
Jeff: So cool.
Steve: The Shadow is my favorite character in all of comics.
Dustin: That's awesome.
Jeff: That's really ... so you get to write your favorite character? That's incredible.
Steve: I have a signed movie poster from Alec Baldwin's Shadow movie and-
Jeff: Really? That's awesome.
Dustin: So cool.
Steve: ... in my childhood home, I'm probably the only person that has ever asked him to sign anything Shadow related.
Jeff: That's awesome.
Dustin: I love that movie.
Steve: It's really good until it's not. But at the same time, there are scenes in that that I think are really, really great. And it's directed by the director of Highlander by the way which is kinda surprising to people.
Anyway, so I couldn't be more excited about that. I'm doing some plotting work with Scott Snyder on it.
Steve: Riley Rossmo, who worked with me on Night of the Monster Men is drawing it and it's hands down the best work that he's ever done.
Steve: We have, as people have now seen with the covered issue two, the story that Riley and I did in Batman annual is actually related to Batman and the Shadow-
Jeff: Oh cool.
Steve: ... which introduces one of the villains from the arc.
Jeff: Now is that gonna be a miniseries or an ongoing?
Steve: It is a miniseries. So it's six issues starting in April. And I just like every time I get new stuff from Riley on it like we're doing just some of the craziest stuff that he's tried but it's really, really fun. The thing about it is they're also such a fascinating pairing. Without digressing too much into it when I was talking to Riley about it and talking to Scott about it you have this eternal opposition between Batman and the Shadow because, at least in our book, Batman is the world's greatest detective and at the end of the day he's the person that needs to know everything. And the challenge that the Shadow faces is it's the only time that he's come up against someone who is truly unknowable and it's almost like he has to ... he's never had to accept that before.
So it's the worlds greatest detective and the world's greatest mystery. And this sort of moment of mortality for Bruce which Scott has touched on, by the way, in his run and Tom King has touched on in his run. With this idea that going along with being mortal, and being human, that there are some things that he just won't understand. There are some things that are bigger than our world. And that's sort of what the Shadow represents, that sort of truly unknowable thing that is just outside our point of view. And it's hard for him.
Dustin: That's kinda cool.
Steve: It's hard for him 'cause he's never had to deal with things like that before. And coming with that is the fact that, that said, there are things that make Batman Batman that mean that the Shadow couldn't get outta that story alive without him. So they truly need each other.
But at the same time, I love having these true elements of mystery in the story that are pervasive in a way that you don't often see in a Batman story because usually, he's always ahead of the ball. And he still is within his sphere of influence but then you see maybe there's been puppeteers that he hasn't even seen for his whole life because he can seldomly see on his plane of vision but the Shadow's from a world totally outside our own.
Jeff: Yeah. I can't wait for that book.
Steve: Very much like ... it's gonna be really cool.
Jeff: That's gonna be a lotta fun.
Dustin: So if people wanna follow you on your journey of writing comic books and everything Steve Orlando what's the best way to do that? Where can they find you?
Steve: The best thing is ... I put my solicits and sometimes other things up on thesteveorlando.com. And then also I'm pretty active on Twitter @thesteveorlando. Those are the two best ways. I have a ... there is a Facebook page I think as well but I just started figuring out how to do the writer, or artist page so that's pretty new and I'm still figuring that out. You'll find that I'm not the most social media person. But I am on Twitter a lot and, like I said, everything that you need to know will always be up ... I always put my solicits and news up on my website as well so-
Dustin: Awesome man. I can't wait to hear all the awesome things to come from your camp, man.
Steve: Oh thank you.
Dustin: Very excited.
Jeff: Yeah thanks a lot for taking time to talk to us.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely.