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As we all know San Diego Comic Con represents the most iconic convention featuring the most iconic of creators, writers, and architects of all things geek. And fitting the description of iconic is Jim Starlin. You know, the creator of some characters you may have heard of like Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Shang-Chi…and THANOS!
I’m not sure I’ve ever said ‘yes’ faster for an interview I was offered. Jim Starlin was gracious enough to do an interview on the Saturday morning of Comic Con, the busiest and biggest day of the convention. To sum up my overall impression I’d say Jim Starlin is highly intelligent, humble, gracious, insightful, and REALLY funny!
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
JG (James Gavsie): I’ve got a million questions but there’s one that I really need answered. I brought my wife to Avengers: Infinity War where she saw Thanos for the first time. She’s not a fan of comic books, is not into animation, and hasn’t really been interested in superhero films. However, when she saw Thanos on screen she became really interested in the character. And she became even more interested about Thanos after I explained his comic book history and how he was infatuated with the embodiment of Death. So my question is…how did you turn someone like my wife who isn’t into anything geek and turn her into a raving fan of Thanos?
JS (Jim Starlin): A lot of that has to credit with the Russo brothers and clearly the script writers, they did spring off my writing of Thanos who is a complex character. I have had 40 years to play around with him and I’ve layered him as far as I can. And basically I am as surprised as anybody that so many people find him so captivating and appealing because you know, he’s in love with death. And basically, I’m sitting there going, he’s purple, he’s big, and he’s a scary looking guy.
At this point Jim Starlin pulls out his phone and googles Thanos for me.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”27158″ img_size=”800×450″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]JS: I’m going to pull up something to really horrify you.
JG: Please do!
Jim Starlin shows me an image on Google of a Thanos ‘onesie’ for girls.
JS: It’s also on Instagram.
JG: That’s crazy!
JS: Okay. Have you seen this one though? (Shows me a bikini that has Thanos’s eyes on the top and his smiling mouth on the bottom.)
JG: Ha! That’s really disturbing but at least now I know what to get for my wife for her birthday.
JS: There’s a point where a creator’s ego should that be overturned by his good taste. But I think we’ve hit that.
JG: I like where this interview is going. Ok, onto the next question. What’s the metaphor for farming?
JG: Yes. At the end of the Infinity Guantlet Saga, as well as at the end of Infinity War, we see Thanos take up the simpler life of a farmer. I also saw that one of the characters from your Dreadstar series in the 80s started off his ‘adventures’ living the life of a simple farmer after having been a warrior for most of his life. So, what does the life of a simple farmer represent to you?
JS: Well, Thanos wants peace.
JG: Wait…It’s as simple as that?
JS: It is. He’s got this mission obviously, but he wants peace. The problem is that he wants his version of peace which may be slightly different than others. That’s actually my favorite scene in both Avengers Infinity War and End Game, where Thanos both times comes to peace with what has happened and sits quietly accepting his situation.
JG; That’s interesting!
JS: You didn’t think that would be my favorite parts, did you?
JG: I never would have thought those two scenes would be what you would have picked as your favorites, no.
JS: It’s in those two scenes where we see Thanos completely revealing himself.
JG: Let’s talk about the comic book industry. We don’t know what the future is going to hold and there seems to be a lot of uncertainty with many people trying to push the industry in certain directions. What would you want to see happen in the comic book industry? What does the vision of the desired future of the comic book industry look like for Jim Starlin?
JS: The comic book business model is tricky as it’s very easy to lose money a lot of the time. I am not entirely sure how to go about remedying the situation other than I think the industry should go with more of a graphic novel approach than the current monthly ‘pamphlet’ as Graphic Novels have a longer shelf life that you can put out there and get into the bookstores. There is still a place for regular comic books but when you have a character like Spider-Man who has numerous monthly titles it becomes much harder to continuously collect all issues year round for just one character. Basically, I think what you have is a comic book industry that has been in flux since the 1970s. Doomsayers are all the same. The industry just has to keep being translated into something new. Right now, comics are developed into your research and development for the movies and television shows so that may be the way that it keeps going.
JG: Ok, so I do this show called Who Would Win where we debate over battles like Luke Skywalker versus Spider-Man. I’d love to throw some Who Would Win matches at you because there’s no one I can think of who would have a better understanding of all of this.
JS: I love it. And I’m almost sure I know what’s the first one.
JG: Okay, let’s see! The Beyonder versus Thanos WITH the Infinity Gauntlet?
JS: I’d have to say the Beyonder wins that. Okay, you didn’t hit me with the one I thought you were going ask.
[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”27157″ img_size=”731×502″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]JG: Which one do you think I was going to ask?
JS: Darkseid vs Thanos. This is what I usually get for obvious reasons.
JG: Gotcha. So who would win that battle?
JS: It’s whoever strikes first.
JG: I agree 1000% and they’re so different by the way. I mean other than having maybe big ambitions.
JS: What’s funny is that Thanos is actually based off the New Gods character, Metron and not Darkseid.
JG: That’s right. Because of Metron’s chair,
JS: Right, the chair, and you had the eye shapes and stuff like that. And he was actually much thinner when I first did my concept drawings. But then I bulked him up.
JG: Well, that was the 70s. Right? You know, Arnold Schwarzenegger was doing his thing as was Lou Ferrigno.
JS: Well, the intellectual characters tended to be thinner and that was a cliche by bulking them up and making him really buff. That sort of changed who he was and made him a sort of unique.
JG: Absolutely. Okay. next one. How about Marvel versus DC? Because I like small battles.
JS: Let’s see. Uh, that’s a tough one because they both have omnipotent characters in there. Once again, it would probably be who strikes first. I mean you’ve got the Specter on one end and the Living Tribunal on the other.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”27160″ img_size=”800×450″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]JG: How about Superman versus Captain Marvel?
JS: Which Captain Marvel?
JG: Present day Carol Danvers.
JS: I can’t answer that because I haven’t read many of the new Captain Marvel comics.
JG: Really? Why is that?
JS: I tend to avoid comics that I have worked on and that I’ve moved on for two reasons:
1. It’s a new person taking on how to express the different vision of the character.
2. Secondly, that’ll keep me from critiquing the new stories. Because who wants the ghost of Christmas past looking over your shoulder while you’re trying to do some great work.
JG: Last question. What do you want to see for the next phases of the Marvel cinematic universe?
JS: Well, I don’t know anything more than the general public does. But looking at certain things like the end of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie I’m hopeful they’ll be going with a Magus storyline.
JG: Interesting. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for Secret Wars.
JS: Lots of people want that. So, yesterday during the Russo’s panel the moderator was lobbying heavily for Secret Wars.
JG: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, by the way. I’m a huge fan of your work!
JS: Well thank you for keeping me alive by reading my work as it’s a symbiotic relationship. You may get entertainment, but I get to eat![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]