You could call it the comic book equivalent of the old “chicken or egg” question—what comes first, the super powers or the chiseled good looks? If the powers lead the charge, then you’d think there would be plenty of super heroes rocking dad bods, double chins and muffin tops. We’re talking about men and women who would look less like bodybuilders and more like those of us who spend far too many hours at the office or on the couch, and way too few at the gym.
People, in other words, like the hero of JACKED. Created by TV writer Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Revolution) and drawn by John Higgins, JACKED tells the story of what happens when Josh Jaffe, an otherwise unremarkable middle-aged father, suddenly finds himself with super powers. Will he use those powers for the greater good, or find himself succumbing to the addictive nature of that power? You’ll have to wait until JACKED hits stores next month for the answer to that question, but Kripke and Higgins were more than happy to answer several of our other burning questions right now.
Tell us, briefly, how you would describe JACKED:
Eric Kripke: Super powers are almost always bestowed upon dimple-chinned, athletic Afflecks. So what if a doughy, neurotic, middle-aged Albert Brooks (or: me) got super powers instead?
John Higgins: It has a real and identifiable “hero.” The great thing about Josh is no one would aspire to be a Josh. Josh is an ordinary Joe who gets caught up in an extreme and momentous change to his ordinary everyday life, the question asked is how do you cope with that?
What's the theme of your series?
John: Trepidation, damnation, redemption, damnation.
Eric: Two themes: one, a warts-and-all, realistic look at what would happen if someone in our world actually got powers. And two: it’s about what happens when you hit the middle of your life; are you the hero you always thought you’d be? Chances are—no. So is there still time to do something great—to be something great?
Can your main character change a tire?
Eric: Jesus, no. He barely knows how to call AAA.
John: No. He could just about do it if his wife is not available.
What’s your favorite panel from a comic ever?
John: The panel from Batman: The Killing Joke, where the Joker appears at Barbara Gordon’s door holding a gun. This, for me, is the perfect “before image” in the Bat-universe, as from here on the Joker changes into one of the most chilling of all villains. He was never just a “colorful character villain” ever again after this.
Eric: I know I work with him, but my favorite panel really is my partner-in-crime John Higgins’ work on the “Son of Man” storyline in HELLBLAZER. An H.R. Giger-ish demon with some intimidating-boy-junk has his amorous way with one of Constantine’s adversaries—eviscerating the poor bastard in the process. Clearly, something’s wrong with me, if that’s my all-time favorite panel—but it was just so shocking and insane and really proved to me that comics, and especially Vertigo comics, could do anything.
What would you consider to be the most essential tool of your trade?
Eric: My computer—but more specifically, the internet. It’s still wild to me, how you can dig up any piece of research, no matter how obscure, right at your desk. When I was starting out as a writer, I had to go to the library. No offense to libraries, but as far as research goes? The internet is a hundred-billion times better. And I know that’s true, because I just looked it up. On the internet.
John: A soft cushion to sit on, can't concentrate on work with a pain in the butt.
Where do you expect/hope comics will go in the next ten years?
John: Comics will find a new surge of energy and creativity over the next ten years starting in the Fall of 2015. The publishers will recognize that all the creators involved will be worth their weight in gold, which will be how they get paid in ten years time. I am working toward this great moment, sitting on my soft cushion working hard and eating more.
What’s the most unusual part of your job, or something people can’t believe you do?
Eric: It’s part of my TV job, actually: haggling with networks over language and violence. It’s always hilarious horse-trading with their lawyers. “If I cut out the phrase ‘donkey hump,’ you really need to let me keep ‘chapped-ass-monkey.’” Or debating how many times a decapitated head should roll before it becomes gratuitous. (The answer: three.) It’s surreal and sometimes my favorite conversations.
What was the last non-comic book you read? (no judging)
Eric: Babayaga by Toby Barlow. Witches and Commies in Post-War Paris. Check it out.
John: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Clare North.
Favorite adage that defines your world view.
John: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Eric: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” And: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”
What is the stuff that dreams are made of?
Eric: Falcons, be they Maltese or Millennium.
John: Pink cotton candy or bitter disappointment. A little undecided on that one.
JACKED #1 will be available on November 25, 2015 in print and as a digital download.