Karl Kesel, as most you know, was the writer of DD from #353-357, 359-364. Mr. Kesel brought some much needed attention to the title, along with Cary Nord. He is currently writing Adventures of Super-Man and is coming back to Superboy with issue #50.
Kuljit Mithra: Currently most of your projects involve you as the writer, but many people don't realize that you also do some inking work. Did you begin your comic career as an inker or a writer? What was your first work? Which do you enjoy more?
Karl Kesel: I began as an inker, working over Dan Jurgens on the Legion of Super-heroes (among other things) before moving on to ink John Byrne on Legends and Superman. I enjoy inking and writing equally-- one revitalizes me for the other. I will actually be writing and inking a monthly title very soon-- SUPERBOY, starting with #50.
KM: How did you get the writing job for Daredevil? Were you looking for something after FF2099?
KK: I got a call out of the blue from James Felder, who asked if I was interested. At the time, I was still working on FF 2099... maybe James knew something I didn't about the future of that title!
KM: Why did you choose to go with the 'humourous' Daredevil? It brought in new readers, but it disappointed some readers who were more used to the 'serious' Daredevil. Did you get any negative feedback from them?
KK: It had been decided editorially to go back to the "wisecrackin' hornhead." I had no problem with that, since that's the sort of comics I enjoy doing, and that's the DD I remember loving as a kid.
KM: Were you afraid people would think you were just copying Spider-Man?
KK: I wasn't worried, although the characters can be played fairly similarly... too similarly, if not careful. The analogy I always use is Spider-man is Daffy Duck, and DD is Bugs Bunny.
KM: Are you an old fan of DD? I'm asking because you brought back some old DD villains that many people had forgotten about, like Mr. Hyde, The Enforcers, The Eel etc.. I kept waiting for Stilt-Man to show up.
KK: And I wanted to bring Stiltman back! I guess I am an "old" fan-- I started reading DD around issue #50!
KM: You worked with Cary Nord on most of your run. What did you think of his work?
KK: Gorgeous. Statuesque. And he only got better every issue.
KM: You also had the chance to work with Gene Colan (#363). You also inked his cover. What was it like to work with a living DD legend?
KK: An honor and a dream come true. Gene Colan is THE Dardevil artist, as far as I'm concerned.
KM: Prior to your departure from the comic, James Felder quit his editing position. Because of this, rumours started that this was the reason you left the comic. Can you set the record straight on why Felder left the comic and why you left the comic as well shortly thereafter? Was your decision really based on your heavy workload?
KK: Actually, I quit the book shortly before James resigned at Marvel. I did indeed leave DD because of my heavy workload. I had begun to feel overwhelmed and burned out and needed to cut back.
KM: Did you feel that you were running out of ideas for DD?
KK: Not at all, although I had a number of ideas that didn't seem to take the book in the direction editorial wanted it to go.
KM: What do you think of Joe Kelly, your replacement on the comic?
KK: Joe's a great guy, and obviously doing very well for himself. We've traded a few e-mails, and he has some cool ideas in store for the book, but I simply haven't had time to keep up with DD since I left the book.
KM: Which DD issue of yours do you think was the best? worst?
KK: "The Devil You Know" issue, where everyone calls in to Karen's radio show, is my personal favorite. Probably I'm most disappointed with the Absorbing Man story, simply because some mis-communications between James and myself made the issue less than either of us really wanted it to be.
KM: According to some sources, you were interested in writing the Heroes Return Fantastic Four series, which eventually went to Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis. What did you have planned for the series to set it apart from what had gone before?
KK: I don't really think it's my place to go into that here. Someday I hope that I will work on the FF, but I'm sure Scott and Alan will do some pretty amazing stuff.
KM: How much input did you have in creating Superman's new costume? Who came up with the design?
KK: Ron Frenz designed the new outfit all by himself. I am, however, the guy who said "I know-- let's change Superman's powers!"
KM: You must have known fans weren't going to be too happy with the change.
KK: It's a valid story that puts the character through some valid paces. I'm glad we were brave enough to go through with it.
KM: Are you still going to be writing a Superman title? I know Stuart Immonen is trying his hand at writing.
KK: I plan to be writing Adventures of Superman for the forseeable future.
KM: Currently you are writing the new Unlimited Access limited series for Marvel/DC. What is the basic plot of this series?
KK: Access finds out he can travel through time as well as between the Marvel and DC Universes. Unfortunately, he can't control this power! We get to see cool things like Jonah Hex meet Two Gun Kid, the Legion of Superheroes in the Days of Future Past, the Original JLA fight the original Avengers, that sort of thing. The whole series has been a riot to work on-- the most fun I've had since Spider-boy, and almost as much fun as I'm having on Superboy.
KM: Will Daredevil have an important role in this series? The last series promised a bigger role for DD, but it just never happened.
KK: DD does have an appearance in #2, and it's a cool one, but that's about it for ol' hornhead in this mini-series.
KM: Has there been any opposition from the two companies concerning any of the characters involved?
KK: Actually, the approval proccess has been remarkably painless! Comments and corrections from Marvel and DC have been frighteningly minor! I wish my regular monthly assignments went this smoothly!
KM: What titles are you currently writing, and what can we look forward to in the future?
KK: Adventures of Superman; Unlimited Access; Tangent: Joker; dialogue to a Superboy/Risk one-shot; and the upcoming writing-and-inking gig on Superboy starting with #50-- a book I hope everyone who reads this will at least give a try.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1997
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
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