An Interview with artist Jeff Lafferty

 

How did you get the job of working on Doom 2099?

Jeff: I was working at Malibu, doing a book called Lord Pumpkin, and then Marvel bought Malibu. This during the days when Image was just starting up and Image I think gave a shock to all the independents. Before Image, no one really cared about independents. Then once Image came, all these independents starting selling. Comic shops started ordering them and these companies got a boost from that. So I think Marvel kind of bought Malibu just to shut it down. But before they did, the editors came in and picked who they wanted from who was working there. I was one of the ones that got picked.

Was there a particular editor that picked you?

Jeff: Yeah, Susan Gaffney, she was the one. The first thing I did for her was an X-Men. A spin-off book called Askani X-Men (X-Men: Books of Askani). Then after that it was straight to Doom I think, I really can't remember.

Were you aware that Doom 2099 was going to be cancelled?

Jeff: Absolutely. That was part of the deal. The way Susan told me was that once they figured that it was going to be cancelled, the artist didn't want to stick around. They wanted to go on to other things. So that's why they needed somebody new on it. I also think maybe why I got it was because my stuff didn't really fit so much with the Marvel style. I think since the book was getting cancelled they thought let's just take a chance.

 

Of the three issues, do any really stand out in your memory?

Jeff: Maybe its the last one, whichever one where I did the cover where he's just standing there with the sword. That was I think my favorite one. I think I put most of my effort into that one. There was some of them that had the cool characters, you know like Dr. Strange. Because I didn't think I would get to draw any of that stuff when I got on it. It was cool.

 

How do you prepare for taking on a character that's more obscure? Do they give you previous issues to look at?

Jeff: They did. I remember they sent me a ton of reference for Doom. I think they might have sent me the whole run of comics to read. I'm not a quick reader, so I know I didn't read them all, but I definitely did look through all the stuff. But one thing too is that I think my art is kind of quirky. So they didn't really expect it to look like the guys who had been on it before. But I do remember doing sketches for the main character, and giving them to Susan before I did the book. I definitely had to do a try-out. I guess it was good enough, because they ended up giving it to me. I did as much research as I could back then. But it was so much more limited back then, there was no internet. Or I guess there was an internet, but I wasn't on it. It was the days of fax machines and all that. So beyond just the comics and reading those, that's all the research I could do.

 

Were there any challenges unique to working on Doom 2099 as opposed to other comics you have worked on?

Jeff: I think that was the first time where there was known characters, like the Thing. That was kind of challenging because even though I went to work at Marvel, I wasn't a guy who was like waiting to get his big break on Spider-Man or something. I never really drew Spider-Man or Thing or any of those kinds of things. So it was kind of weird to sort of take that on. Then I remember once the first issue came out, there was sort of a backlash about the way I was drawing everything. I kind of realized there was this fan-base out there that sort of expected like a certain thing. And my characters didn't fit in the way they wanted. But it wasn't all negative. But that was one thing. Just realizing that there's people that really care about Dr. Strange and want him to be a certain way, you know, which I had never thought of before. And then the other thing was just being on a monthly book and dealing with the deadlines. It was just normal Marvel deadlines. That's a lot of work, doing a whole book in one month. And I hard a hard time adjusting to that. I also had a real hard time adjusting to the inkers. I just wasn't use to having people ink my work. I guess none of those were specific to Doom 2099, but that's kinda what I was going through at the time.

 

Were you happy with the inking?

Jeff: Not so much. I mean I remember at the time I really didn't like it. Now looking back at it, I think they did the best they could. When I came into comics, I came in through the side door. I wasn't even drawing in that Marvel style to be inked. Everything I did was fully painted and everything. So when suddenly I was drawing for someone to ink, I just had no clue how to do it. That was really hard, just trying to figure out how to do that. So the pages would look the same. Plus I think the digital coloring thing was just starting. I wasn't use to that. You sent me some of the pages, and looking over them and the way they did Dr. Strange and they changed all the line color and all that. I just wasn't use to seeing stuff like that. It just looked really weird to me. It's kind of nice to look back. I do have a kind of fondness for the pages.

 

Was there a lot of communication with the inker?

 

Jeff: Yeah, there was a lot of inkers. There was one issue that had five inkers. That was just because I was getting real behind on the book. But I think the main inker was supposed to be Vince Russell. He talked to me a lot on the phone. You know I hate to be a bastard, but everybody who was inking I never thought they were doing it right. I really probably was a pain to work with. I think they did their best, but I can sympathize with what Vince was going through, trying to work with me. He was the one I knew the best out of all them.

 

Was there a lot of communication with the writers?

 

Jeff: I didn't have a lot of contact other than talking through Susan. They were doing their own thing. I think, I am not sure, you would probably know better than me, but I thought that they brought back one of the writers that had left the books to finish it up. Is that right?

 

Yes, John Francis Moore, he was the writer for the first 24 issues. He pretty much started the character, and yeah, he came back for the last two issues.

 

Jeff: That's what I remember. I remember talking to John too, in the beginning. I remember the scripts changed. The first script I got was Marvel style. Where they kind of just give you the beats, the specific action, and then you have to panel it out. Then I remember John went on with the next two issues and they came in as full scripts. I remember that first script, and I think it was Tom De Falco. I remember that because I used to read Savage Sword of Conan and he wrote some stories back then. So I immediately knew that name. His scripts were so loose. I remember there was a fight scene in the first issue and it was kind of like you get to page 12 or whatever and they fight and then go to page 18 and there was nothing there. So I wasn't used to that, but I think it all worked. I kind of liked doing it that way.

 

Were you offered work on 2099: World of Tomorrow?

 

Jeff: No. No. At that point I went off to Image to do a book there. I did more Marvel stuff, but that was the last time I worked for Susan.

 

 

I think the two covers you did are really great, and one of things I find cool is that on #43 the logo is vertical, not horizontal.

 

Jeff: Right. I wonder if they did that because of the deal with the art. That one has kind of a funny story. There's a panel in the comic where Doom is stretched out on the wires and the tubes and all that kind of stuff. But it was just a head-on shot with the arm going one way and the other arm going out. So I did a sketch of that and turned it in to Susan and she very timidly kind of came back to me and said....and she was one that never wanted me to change anything...but this she was asking me to change it because Marvel has had trouble when anything look remotely religious. And it looked kind of like Jesus being crucified. Even though it had nothing to do with that, she just didn't want any kind of back lash that might come from it. So I didn't have a problem with that, and I changed the angle on it so he's kind of hanging sideways and she was happy. But I wonder if that's part of the reason they stuck the logo on the side.

 

 


 

 


 

Questions or Comments? Email me.