In joyful celebration of the landmark 50th issue of writer Jeff Parker’s critically acclaimed HULK Comic, superstar Jeff Parker graciously and enthusiastically agreed to answer questions from the people who count the most: the loyal fans!
So many terrific questions were asked. Only a handful were selected. But a big “thanks” goes out to all the fans for their outstanding participation!
Now without further ado, we’re proud to present the first Red Hulk Blog fan interview:
Jeff, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule. Our first question comes from Shutterbug who would like to know how you got started in your craft:
“Hello Jeff, I would like to know what inspired you to be a writer and what was your first big break?”
I’ve made comics and cartoons since I could hold a pencil (though those early ones are a little rough) and I think I always wanted to tell stories. I was accepted as an artist first, I used to show samples of my pages at every comics show I could attend, and artist Bo Hampton, who I assisted sometimes, helped get me an assignment on a Vampirella story at Harris Publications years ago. I drew it and he inked it, and it was my first paying work though it never turned up in print.
Published Vampirella by Jeff Parker
I kept sending samples everywhere and eventually landed a couple of fill-ins on Wonder Woman, and then regular work on Solitaire for Malibu Comics. Editors at Malibu also started buying my writing, but before any of those stories were printed, Marvel bought the company and shut it down! It was years later after I self-published my Interman graphic novel that people started asking me to write for them. In short, it can take over a decade or more to ‘break in.’
The Interman by Jeff Parker
Next we have Mirko who wants to know how you got involved with the Hulk universe and what was it like to tackle the new Red Hulk character:
“Did you seek out the assignment for HULK or was it Marvel? How did you feel about writing a character that started out [what some felt as a mere] copy? How did you tackle the tasks of making him interesting? Keep it on! YeAHaw!”
Editor Mark Paniccia asked me to write a story for MONSTER-SIZED HULK #1 which teamed me for the first time with Gabriel Hardman. After that I would often pinch hit for Hulk stories when they needed more material, and then I got more involved during the World War Hulks books. That led to me coming on after Loeb and McGuinness finished their run, and then appropriately, Hardman came on with me.
Monster-Size Hulk #1
The World War Hulks books were good for letting me get my feet wet with Red Hulk, so by the time I came on as writer, I had plenty of ideas about him. I liked approaching it more from the angle of a retired military man who still wants to serve and tries to figure out how in a world that’s new to him. Because that’s a real situation that happens every day- except for the gamma strength, of course.
Both Kallark and Madden4Life would like to know more about the Red Hulk’s powers and the motivations behind changing them:
“Hi Jeff, your run is very, very good and I literally loved it. The problem with your RULK is his weakness when compared to Loeb’s Red Hulk. Why? “
“Yea why weaken Red Hulk? Why is there no heat or fire in his mouth anymore? Do you plan on exploring new powers like heat damage?”
Well, it’s a problem if you want him to be always stronger than everybody else, which I don’t think makes a character interesting. I established that his power-stealing was burning out his Ross side so he would abandon it (and eventually lose it fighting Omegex) – because he doesn’t want to lose his humanity.
Red Hulk risks it all to save General Fortean
We’ve already got a Hulk who wins by getting madder and stronger, I like the idea of a Hulk who has to use his head too, and that’s what makes Ross/Red intriguing to me.
Then we have the extremely enthusiastic Time2Time who would ultimately like to know about your methods of continuity research:
“Jeff you red blooded talented crazy bastard!! You actually made me a fan of the Red Hulk over the Green one!!! That is insane!!! Now listen to me!! “Fall of the Hulks Alpha” is one of the best comics ever written. All that tinkering you did with Marvel Universe continuity was ballsy but genius!!! Intelligencia attracted the Beyonder to earth??? Ballsy!!! They were behind what Venom is today??? Ballsy!!! Wow!!! So how do you do it?? Your research!! Is it all reading??? Have you read and taken notes on hundreds of comics??? Is there some Marvel superhero continuity computer that is available to the writers??? How do you do it!! Never leave the Rulk Jeff!!! We love you and your work!!!”
First off, you are the best questioner ever. Next, thanks for talking about that, I felt like we got some cool things out of the Intelligencia story. I especially like putting out the idea that they helped with most of the fantastic escapes and returns of other criminals who appeared dead, and that the ancient Wakandans summoned the vibranium to Earth. I’m actually not that great with continuity- I often resort to the internet and nerd friends when I really need to make something line up. But you may notice I don’t always worry that hard about it- I don’t think we should have to refer to an keep referencing details from some story of thirty years ago, it’s not a good way to get new readers. Thanks T2T!
Fall of the Hulks : ALPHA
Zombie-Wolf is curious about an open-ended story thread involving the beautiful warrior from the future, Thundra:
“One question I’ve always wanted to know was if there’s ever going to be a return of Thundra to the Red Hulk continuum. She kisses him back in World War Hulks, so what’s not to say she plays genetics again like in the case with Lyra?”
I’ve had some notions about other Thundra appearances. I thought it was cool that she made a bit of a comeback in all those Hulk issues, she’s a cool character. Lyra is coming up soon though!
“I’ve had some notions about other Thundra appearances” – Jeff Parker
Now we have Warren B. who wants to know if Ross will ever fully redeem himself… and how much do other titles featuring the Red Hulk [“Avengers” for instance] influence the direction you take with future stories:
“Hello Mr. Parker, Aside from your own writing in the main Hulk title, there seems to be few thoughts about the fallout of Red Hulk’s previous rampages. Other than [large] events like Fear Itself and Circle of Four… does the character’s use and treatment in other titles affect your plans and directions? [Also] is Ross anywhere close to ‘paying his dues’ in your eyes, to the Marvel U in general and specific characters? He took his licks in Scorched Earth, but do you think any other heroes still bear grudges, and should they?”
Maybe when the public weighs it against the years of classic Hulk rampages, they don’t notice so much? In other team books there’s just limited space and time to focus on individual characters’ situations, so we cover all that in the solo book. Nothing in Avengers has ever seemed to interrupt something I wanted to do or show….
The Red Hulk joined the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AVENGERS # 7
I did have to work around and deal with the fact that Red fought The HammerThing in Fear Itself, but once I realized it was a chance to show what M.O.D.O.K. and other villains do during a big invasion they’re not part of, it was a great opportunity. I think the other heroes are more accepting of him but still don’t want to interact with him any more than they have to.
Finally, Matt would love to know which HULK comic is your personal favorite:
“Hi Jeff. If you had to pick one issue of Hulk you are most proud of which would it be [and why]?
Probably #41. It achieved a lot of things I wanted, though really I should say that whole Omegex three-parter since it’s one story. I was happy to finally show that The Watcher had a plan all along, and that Annie used her brain to save Red with the help of Zero/One. And all of the Ross childhood stuff was so perfectly brought to life by Gabe Hardman, I just couldn’t have asked for better. This was the story where I wanted us to go back and see who Ross was before he was the old crank obsessed with Hulk, and really connect to him. And from reader reaction I got, I think it worked.
You can read our review of HULK # 41 HERE
Do you have anything else you would like to close with, a message directly to your fans?
Thank you all for following us deeper into the world of Big Red. There are some big battles coming this year and old friends returning, so 2012 is going to be a blast. But mainly, thank you again!
We would like to thank Jeff Parker again for taking the time to answer our questions. In addition to his outstanding Red HULK series, be sure to follow Jeff Parker’s critically acclaimed Marvel THUNDERBOLTS (now DARK AVENGERS) title as well as his regularly updated website at www.parkerspace.com !