Ray Fawkes is a name DC fans are familiar with. He’s been cowriting Justice League Dark with Jeff Lemire, and also working on the relaunch of Constantine in the DC Universe. But Fawkes has been working as both artist and writer for years, with books like One Soul and Mnemovore on his resume.
We sat down with him to chat about magic in the DCU and where Justice League Dark is going after the latest issue.
Gamma Squad: What was it like stepping into a cowriting role? How do you and Jeff Lemire split the tasks?
Ray Fawkes: Cowriting with Jeff is really smooth. Part of that is that Jeff and I know each other really well, and part of it is Jeff is the world’s most gracious dude to work with. We get together to talk about the plot and spitball, trying to entertain each other. Once we hammer that out, we split it along the lines of characters, because we feel some characters are more naturally voiced by one or the other. Then we make sure it dovetails into one unbroken story.
Gamma Squad: Justice League Dark ends with the team breaking from A.R.G.U.S. And going off on its own. What led you to make that break?
Fawkes: To be honest, there are very few members of that team who would be comfortable working for the government. I don’t see Frankenstein being comfortable working for A.R.G.U.S. They did the deal, they got the books, but they have no urge to work for the government. They won’t have the resources, but they won’t be beholden to the requirements of A.R.G.U.S.
Gamma Squad: In addition to your writing resume, you and Jeff are experienced artists as well. Do you find that experience helps when writing a book?
Fawkes: It helps, but it’s also a hinderance. It makes it much much easier for us to picture what’s possible, the kind of instructions and layouts you can have. But you don’t want to go in with assumptions, Mikel [Janin] often surprises me. He’s going to give us his own spin and it’s something I wouldn’t have thought of.
Gamma Squad: JLD brings a lot of DC’s magic users into the spotlight. Any favorites on the team, and any hints you can drop about cameos coming up?
Fawkes: It’s no secret Jeff really loves Frankenstein. As much as he loves Frank, I love Madame Xanadu. If you scratch just below the surface, she’s probably the most nuts of the entire team. In her mind, she can see the future, and she sees it as this endless spool of terror and adventure, but she has to sit and pretend everything is OK.
There are characters who may show up again. The Enchantress is just a fantastic character, her brain is in outer space. You could talk about Shade for hours. It’s great, there are so many interesting characters in the magic corner of the DC Universe, and so many of them are really, really weird. They don’t have your average joe motivations or outlooks.
Gamma Squad: Swamp Thing will be appearing next issue. Any chance this has to do with Black Orchid’s surprising transformation?
Fawkes: Speaking of people with weird outlooks! There is a tie-in with that, but you may not see it in full in this arc. Black Orchid will be playing a role in Animal Man going forward. There is a tie between her and Animal Man and Swamp Thing. That’s me spoiling Jeff’s book for people! [laughs]
Gamma Squad: This book and the new Constantine relaunch have a theme of magic as a corrupting force? Is that theme going to prominent going forward?
Fawkes: Magic as we’re protraying it, it’s a very tempting and potentially toxic source of powers. A lot of the villains… Look at Nick Necro. He could have been a good guy, and instead he was one of the worst.
It’s all about potential. John himself is riding the line, and he’s not exactly the best of the best. We’ll be dealing with that, the team looking at him and saying “Hey, we don’t know if you’re a good guy.”
I want more like this!
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