Comics Creators

Wednesday Fan Chat #30 - Kurt Busiek


Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again. Please give Kurt Busiek a warm welcome to this week’s fan chat. Kurt’s break through project was the incredibly successful Marvels. Since then he has split his time between mainstream series like Avengers, Iron Man, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, Conan, Superman, JLA and Trinity, and creating his own projects, including Thunderbolts, The Power Company, Jonny Demon, The Wizard’s Tale, Shockrockets, Arrowsmith and the multiple-award-winning Astro City along with his new book The Autumnlands. Please leave your questions in this thread ahead of time or show up at 2pm NYC (7pm UK) Time on Wednesday. Questions only please. All other posts will be deleted. Thank you.

Find when the chat is happening in your time zone here.

You can check out all previous chats in our Millarworld AMA Archive.


Hiya, Kurt! Welcome back!

Who do you see in the ALCS? I’m thinking KC, but…

And a hefty two-parter. Did you and Brent develop a map of Astro City early on? It’s been remarkably consistent! The follow-up; what do you think of BvS having Gotham and Metropolis on the same bay?

Cheers! Hope you’re feeling decent!


Hi Kurt. Thanks for taking the time out if your shedule to do this Q&A session!

I was wondering how the Marvels sequel, Eye of the Camera, came about. Was this something you had wanted to do for a while or did Marvel approach you to write it?


Hi Kurt,

Your foreword to the first Astro City collection was one of the best calls-to-arms that I’ve ever read for superhero writers (and readers!), effectively making the case that there is still a huge amount of potential for the genre to expand its scope and develop beyond its relatively simplistic roots.

To what extent do you think that writers and artists are now realising that potential? Do you think that the genre is still fairly narrowly focused or are we starting to see the greater maturity and breadth of subject-matter that you hoped for when you wrote that piece?


Hi Kurt,

i like your work and particularly with Alex Ross. That´s an epic combination!

I have a question: i like to do art and illustrations with 3d modeling but, do you think that this king of works doing with 3d models will have more aceptation on future and change the vision of actual comic style?

Here an example of 3d illustrations

Thanks Kurt of your work.


Hello Kurt,

Thank you very much for taking the time out to answer our questions today. I’ve been a big fan of yours for very many years and have given copies of Conan and Superman: Secret Identity as my gateway drug comics to people who say they don’t like comics.

Any I have a couple of questions:

  • While you have a large body of work for DC and Marvel in the superhero world, you seem to have moved away from that arena of late. Are there other genres that you haven’t worked in would like to take a swing at?
  • I am a colossal fan of your run on Avengers (and JLA/Avengers) with George Perez. Did you ever come up with a page or panel which completely stumped him? I know he has a reputation for adding extra detail and embellishment.
  • Do you work full script or Marvel style? Does it depend on the project and collaborators?
  • Any chance of more Arrowsmith? That was great.


Hi, howarya? Nice to be here.

I’m just now finishing a bowl of delicious honeydew melon, and I’ll get right to your fine questions.

Thanks to Mark for inviting me, and the Millarworld wizardry corps for making it all happen.


Welcome back to Millarworld, Kurt. I hope you enjoy the chat.


I’m a Red Sox fan, so I mostly pay attention to the Sox, which doesn’t really put me in a position to predict anything about other teams.

That said, I’m rooting for the Royals, because if the Red Sox can’t have it, no one else in the AL East is allowed to have it. See my fine logic there? Pithy sports analysis?

And I’m rooting for the Cubs, though that’s really not going well, is it? But after 2004 I’m happy to root for other longtime frustrated fan bases, and Ron Marz is more entertaining when he’s angry at sports than when he’s happy with them. More pithy analysis.

Moving over to ASTRO CITY – yes, we put together a map of Astro City early on. My scribbly version is in the fist TPB, I think, and we printed Brent’s version somewhere else, and did an even more elaborate version for the Visitor’s Guide. Brent takes care of the map, adding neighborhoods or locations as they come up. We treat the whole thing fractal – we have all the big pieces established, and as we need smaller detail, there’s room to fit it in as we go.

I didn’t know anything about Gotham and Metropolis being on the same bay in the movie, but that’s how it worked in the 1970s and early 80s when I was reading their comics, so it works just fine for me.


EYE OF THE CAMERA was a mixture of both. The last act of it, with Phil in the hospital and Maggie coming to visit and all, was something I cooked up back when Alex and I were finishing MARVELS, and we talked about doing it someday as a 30-page special called EPILOGUE.

And Tom Brevoort bugged me about doing a sequel for a while, and he’s very good at roping me into things, so eventually we took the idea for EPILOGUE and put a new story in front of it leading up to it all, and that was EYE OF THE CAMERA. So it’s probably six of one, half a dozen of the other. The idea was there, but if Tom hadn’t been stumping for it, it would likely never have happened.


I think superhero comics have gotten a lot more sophisticated, but are (with some exceptions) largely doing the same kind of stuff, just in more sophisticated techniques. And in the Marvel and DC Universes, there’s such an emphasis on line-wide events that I think it’s gotten harder for creators to have an individual vision for a book and follow through on it. So if you go back to my metaphor of a city in the corner of unexplored terrain, I feel like the events keep dragging everyone back into the city for the latest round of overly-coordinated activity, and that makes it harder to explore that other terrain.

But then, thanks to the events, I read very little from the big universes any more, so I may be completely wrong and just not seeing it. I’m enjoying books like SQUIRREL GIRL and SILVER SURFER, and looking forward to the new Waid/Samnee BLACK WIDOW, but for the most part I find I’m following books where the editors and publishers aren’t going to be deciding hey, let’s revamp everything and take this book away from these guys and give it to those guys and establish a whole different approach, only to decide a while later that it’s time to do that again, and nothing ever feels anything but transitory. So if there are exciting visions going on in the Big Two that aren’t going to get blown up by the next event, I may not know much about them.

So your question is probably better asked of someone who’s paying more attention.


Comics are comics, however the illustrations are done. Whether they’re pen-and-ink or paintings or photographs or drawn entirely digitally or whatever, what matters is whether the comics that result from them are good. The rest is a matter of what tools you use to make them.

Stuart Immonen used 3-D modeling to do a sequence in SHOCKROCKETS, and used those models to aid him in drawing the rest of the book – what mattered to the end result was that he did it well.

So I have no idea whether 3-D modeling will change the vision of comics, but if you can use them well, go ahead and use them, I’d say. Make good comics with them and see what happens.


Hello Kurt,

As many others of said, thank you for taking the time to conduct this fan chat with us. I have been a huge fan of your work since MARVELS and am a diehard Astro City fan. I am the same Dr.G -Nerdologist the runs the Welcome to Astro City podcast through thre Pulp 2 Pixel feed. Rereading the series from the beginning has been a treat and a chance to discover new things I missed the first time through. In rereading I do have a few questions that have come up.

1.) This first question is a muti-parter: The comic book creation process is a collaborative process between the writer and artist, often with the influence being a two way street. Having worked with the amazing Brent E Anderson for the last 20 years on Astro City, how has his particular style of art influenced the types of stories you have told or they way you went about telling them? Also if you could elaborate on how so long and fruitful a partnership began.

2.) Regarding the aging of the characters and the world of Astro City, in a previous interview I listened to you mention how the Quarrel/Crackerjack story you recently completed changed from your original idea because by the time you were ready to write the story the charcaters had also aged. In my opinion, this made the story one of the strongest and most emotional you have written in a series full of strong emotionally real stories. My question is what other stories have changed from your initial idea to the final version because of the time between your first introduction and the time we get to see those characters again?

3.) Finally for the pure fanboy questions: Are we going to see and N-Forcer story anytime soon? (I have been chomping at the bit for one since his second appearance in vol1. issue 2 “The Scoop”). & Have you thought about a story of Astro City’s Municipal Workers a la Damage Control style?


Hi K,

Longtime fan, first time caller. You know I loved your JLA story from the mid-80s and wonder how that came about. DC Comics at the time always felt very much the place where the regular guys worked and suddenly you were in there on a prime book. What’s the story behind that? I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this in all the years I’ve known you.



Hey Kurt,

With all the comic adaptations happening on TV and film, do you feel that Astro City could be done well on either medium?

And what do you think about the current comic zeitgeist in Hollywood?


Thanks for evangelizing for comics (and my books!), Simon. It’s much appreciated.

Yeah, I’ve been moving away from doing work-for-hire and more toward my own creations – the only WFH project I still have on my desk is BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, and once I’m done with that I’m hoping to do fully creator-owned stuff for at least a while. If I get the itch to do big-company superheroes again I can always change my mind, but for now I’m happy making up my own worlds.

As for genres…well, I don’t need Marvel and DC to do superheroes, so I’ll continue to do some hero material – not only ASTRO CITY, but other things I’ve got in the pipeline. But I like all kinds of different approaches to storytelling, so I’m not wedded to any one genre. I’m doing epic fantasy in THE AUTUMNLANDS, did SF in SHOCKROCKETS, historical fantasy (or maybe alt-historical) in ARROWSMITH, and so on. A lot of the ideas I have jotted down for future projects are what used to be called urban fantasy and these days is called mythic fiction, so that’s a genre I’d like to do more with. But romance, history, crime, straight drama…I’d like to explore a lot of things.

No, I never came up with anything that stumped George. I think he’s un-stumpable. But then, I never asked him to draw specific panels – we worked together plot style, so he was always free to tell the story as he saw best, and he sure did. And yes, he added lots of panels, lots of detail, lots of lots. It was a blast.

I work in whatever way will suit the project and the artist, really. Alex and I did MARVELS full-script, and most of ASTRO CITY has been done full-script (though there’s been a Marvel-style issue or two in there), but AVENGERS and ARROWSMITH and UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN were plot-style. It all depends on what’ll get the best results. Sometimes I’ve done rough page layouts, too, or even just drawn out panel shapes. I believe in doing whatever’s necessary to make a good comic book, and that varies from project to project.

And yes, there’ll be more ARROWSMITH. I don’t want to talk about behind-the-scenes stuff until it’s all resolved, but there’ll be more.


Having worked for both of the big two are there any of their characters / teams you haven’t had a chance to work on (yet) that you’d like to turn your hand too.

Is there a non comics property you’d like to have a go adapting for comics / continuing the story with comics?


You’re more than welcome. They’ve always gone down really well.

Am I right in thinking Batman: Creature of the Night is the Batman-ish Secret Identity follow up. Is there any schedule for when that might be coming out?

Also, as @Todd doesn’t seem to be on the thread, and no one else has asked, can I ask what your favourite Kurt Russell movie is?


Hi Kurt .

My fellow Millarworlders have already asked the questions I intended asking other than my standard non-comic questions

1 - Whats your favourite alcoholic drink ?


2 - Whats your favourite take out food?
I’d like to just take the opportunity to say how much I enjoy your work and wish you all the best in all the future projects you have. I only got back into comics a couple of years back after a 20 year absence and your work has been one of the reasons why I’m sticking around.



Thanks for such a thoughtful answer.