John Byrne has written and drawn many titles, including Alpha Flight, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and soon, Amazing Spider-Man. He also drew issue #138 of DD. Here he talks about his work on DD and his new Spider-Man:Chapter One series.
Kuljit Mithra: How tough was it for you to start your comics career while being based in Canada?
John Byrne: Very. It's always easier to be right where it's happening -- in this case New York -- so it took me about four years to become an "overnight success".
Mithra: I'm sure many people don't know that you have drawn an issue of DD (#138) considering most people associate you with Alpha Flight, X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc.. Was your Daredevil issue one of your first assignments for Marvel outside of X-Men?
Byrne: DAREDEVIL was very early in my tenure at Marvel. Originally, I was supposed to become the regular artist on DD, and that crossover with GHOST RIDER -- one of the first crossovers, so blame me! -- was to have been the beginning of my assignment with the character.
Mithra: Honestly, do you remember much about that assignment?
Byrne: Mostly I remember what happened AFTER, as I sat and waited for the next issue's plot to arrive. And waited. And waited. And finally was told the book was so late it was going to have to be assigned to another artist. It was never quite made clear to me whether or not the Powers That Be thought its being late was my fault.
Mithra: What do you think of the Daredevil character?
Byrne: I had not read much Daredevil at that time. My Mom used to severly restrict the number of comics I could read when I was a kid, and I would always have to drop one title in order to start reading another. When DAREDEVIL came along there was nothing on my reading list that I was prepared to drop, so it was not until years later that I started reading. And, really, it was not until Frank Miller started messing about with the mix that I really began to see there was more to the character than being "Marvel's Batman".
Mithra: Why do you think he isn't more popular?
Byrne: A lot of it has to do with the perception noted above -- he's Marvel's Batman, most people think, and given that, Batman is the more interesting character. It also has a lot to do with him being an "ordinary guy" in a "universe" populated with cosmic characters. Batman managed to make his mark because he was, effectively, the second superhero. By the time DD came along, the marketplace was full of such characters.
Mithra: If you were hired to 'revamp' Daredevil, what ideas would you bring to the title?
Byrne: I'd have a hard time finding a "take" on Daredevil, Frank having done such a fine job of "ending" the story.
Mithra: You have also written Avengers West Coast. Steve Englehart had plans for Daredevil to join the team, but that didn't happen when he decided not to write Daredevil. Do you think Daredevil should be part of a super-team?
Byrne: I think Daredevil, like Spider-Man, would be totally out of place in a team -- as the current incarnation of Batman is in JLA.
Mithra: Will Daredevil be making any appearances in your new Spider-Man project?
Byrne: Daredevil will, of course, appear in TWICE TOLD TALES [Note: Now called Spider-Man:Chapter One], having appeared during the period which we have arbitrarily declared to cover Spider-Man's "first year". In fact, truth to tell, one of the reasons for making that arbitrary decision was to be sure the first year would encompass the meeting with Daredevil, so I could get to draw the old red/black and yellow costume.
Mithra: What do you think is stronger - your writing or art abilities?
Byrne: I've always thought of myself as a writer who draws.
Mithra: What do you think of the Event Comics deal with Marvel?
Byrne: Odd. No criticism of the talents involved, of course, but I do not understand why the Suits at Marvel feel a need to "out-source" the product.
Mithra: When does your Spider-Man project come out?
Byrne: TWICE TOLD TALES begins in October, and my run as penciler of AMAZING [SPIDER-MAN] the month after.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1998
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
Black and White
Roberto De La Torre
Carmine Di Giandomenico
Tommy Lee Edwards
Elektra Hand Devil
Fall From Grace
Justin F. Gabrie
Devin K. Grayson
Alex Irvine & Tomm Coker
Mark Steven Johnson
Ryan K. Lindsay
Vatche Mavlian &
Shane McCarthy &
Richard K. Morgan
Stephen D. Sullivan
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