the Fifth Dimension with Keith Champagne
JSA Inker turns JSA writer
talked to Keith Champagne a
while back when he had the one two punch of writing an
issue of the previous Legion of Super-Heroes then launching
a creator owned series, Armor X.
Keith had a fine view of Pokemon rear all convention
lot has happened since then. Armor X met with critical and
some financial success, and Geoff Johns decided that in
the gearing up to Infinite Crisis, he might need to take
a break from some of his books. To do that on JSA, Johns
tapped Champagne, long-time inker on the series, to write
three issues, then publicly announced and in effect anointed
him on his own website.
#78, 79, 80 will find Champagne on double-duty, writing
and inking a tale of the JSA searching to reclaim Jakeem
had to check back in with Champagne about this dramatic
(and deserved) boost to his career...
McCaw: What did you do to or for Geoff Johns to
get what you call the best gig you’ve ever had?
Champagne: Of all the times to draw a blank! I
know there's a hell of a joke in here somewhere but for
the life of me...I can't come up with anything that works
for an all ages audience.
McCaw: Seriously, have the two of you conferenced
about this? Was this arc you’re writing something
he had planned to do, or did you approach DC with the idea?
Champagne: We talked once just about continuity
stuff before I started writing, to make sure all the stars
were aligned and I'd be picking up where he left off and
leaving off where he could pick things back up.
if Geoff had written these three issues, you would have
had a completely different story that deals with resolving
the same subplot. As it was, Geoff and Peter Tomasi were
very open to my just taking the reigns and riding the sleigh
anywhere I wanted to take it. These aren't filler issues
at all. These books matter and very much have an effect
on the team. Two characters aren't making it out of this
one -- the stakes are pretty high.
first approached me about writing these issues. I'm pretty
familiar with the status quo of the book because I've been
working on it for four years now, I'm up to speed on the
characters. And as I've been doing more writing in comics,
I think it just made sense to plug me in. Once I was given
the gig, I briefed Peter on what I wanted to do, Geoff gave
the thumbs up, and it was off to the races.
like to publicly thank Geoff, he's been a great gentleman
to step aside and let me take the reins for a few issues.
I know he takes a LOT of pride in the lengthy run he put
together on JSA and it wasn't easy for him to step
aside and give that up. But I think the logistics of his
schedule made it impossible to give his all for a bit and
he put the book and characters first, rather than throwing
together a hasty storyline. That's really something to be
respected, I think.
for The Flash on JSA #78
credit goes to Peter Tomasi for taking a chance and putting
me in the game. There are a host of bigger names and better
known writers that would have jumped at the chance to write
a few issues of JSA but Pete gave me the nod and
it's a huge opportunity for me to show what I can bring
to the table. So thanks to both of them, and I think I repaid
that show of faith by turning in three GREAT issues that
took everybody by surprise, both in terms of quality and
in terms of what happens.
McCaw: Some of it obviously spins out of events
in Day of Judgment and possibly leads into Infinite Crisis.
How hard is it to work under the constraints of a massive
crossover? Is there anything you would have done differently
if you didn’t have those parameters?
Champagne: Actually, I really enjoyed working "under
the constraints of a massive crossover". It really
made me feel like I was a part of something bigger, like
I was contributing to this giant story unfolding in the
DCU. It was fun. Logistically, there wasn't that much I
really had to work in. One character specifically had to
be moved to a certain square on the chessboard and there
was some acknowledgement of some background elements happening
in other DC titles but all in all, this is a pretty self-contained
arc. It does tie in to Day of Judgement and Infinite
Crisis but it's not beholden to either.
McCaw: Your arc deals with The Fifth Dimension.
How many Marilyn McCoo jokes will you be fitting in?
and Mxyzlptk are not in the book. They would have been but
because I couldn't kill them off, they were thrown out.
McCaw: To write this arc, how many obscure
comic books did you have to read? Is there any old comic
in particular that fans should be looking for?
Champagne: Zero. There's nothing in here that newer
fans will scratch their heads about. Older fans might perk
up and say, "Hey, is that really so and so??"
but it's more of an Easter Egg thing then a continuity nightmare.
Keith Champagne be the man of the hour?
McCaw: When we last talked for Fanboy Planet, you
were anxious about the reception of the first issue of Armor
X. Now that it’s on the stands, how has the reception
been for you?
Champagne: I think Armor X flew under
the radar a bit. Reviews for the book were solid at first
and got better as we went. The fourth issue was five stars,
dammit! I'm very proud of what Andy Smith, Across The Pond
Comics, and I put together. The book is being collected
into the trade format early next year and we're going to
tweak things a bit and add some extra content to make it
something special and to help it stand out a bit more.
mention that Armor X has jumped publishers to Speakeasy,
who will be handling the trade and the new series next year.
Did I just say new series? Oops!!
McCaw: You’ve mentioned doing sequels to
Armor X. Can you talk about those plans?
Champagne: I could, in theory...
McCaw: Okay, will you talk about those
Champagne: Oh. Sure. There's going to be an Armor
X Vol. 2 next year, although the length and format
are still being determined. Andy and I are really anxious
to get back into that world. The last issue threw a huge
curveball at people and I think we established that this
is a book where literally ANYTHING can happen. When you
play with the kind of power the armor possesses, all bets
are off and not everyone makes it out alive.
who read the book should ask themselves: Why was that suit
of armor just sitting there waiting for Carson to find it?
Was Carson supposed to find it? Maybe it was meant for someone
specific and that being might be pretty damn pissed right
about now. And that might not bode well for Whitney.
McCaw: Rumors abound that creative teams
will be thrown up in the air after Infinite Crisis. Where
do you hope to land?
year they'll need a bigger booth.
Champagne: I haven't landed anywhere yet but I
hope it's somewhere regular. I'm a monthly guy with a family
to support so I've got to keep the gravy train running.
I hope that writing these three issues of JSA leads
to more solicited writing work. I also have a couple of
pitches for projects that will be in the pipeline soon.
all modesty aside and with no arrogance intended, I think
I showed, without a doubt, that I can play with the big
boys. I've been working behind the scenes for a long time
for a chance to sit at the grown up table and I'm hungry
to dig in. So knock on wood that more opportunity will present
itself. In the meantime, it's up to me to make that opportunity
McCaw: If you got invited to the DC writers’
slumber party on a regular basis, which snack would you
Champagne: Everyone loves popcorn!!