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Live Chat with J. Torres [Summary]
October 28, 2006
Summary of a Live-chat Q&A session with writer J. Torres
MODERATED Q&A Session
(questions alternated between a prepared list, fan-posted questions at the TitansGo.net forums, and attending fans asking guest J. Torres one-on-one)
To celebrate TTG's third year of success, TitansGo.net also held a live chat with the comic's writer, J. Torres. Maybe questions were asked and some glimpses of the future shared. This is the full chatlog if you're really interested in how things went down.
Prepared Question: How'd you get your start in the comic writing business?
J. Torres: Actually, while I was still in college I was writing up pitches and proposals and sending them different comic companies to no avail. Most didn't even respond, while others would say "not accepting submissions at this time" or "try us at a later time" - which generally meant, "when you've got more experience."
Then one day a friend of mine suggested I collaborate with a mutual friend who was an artist. We started talking and I told him an idea for a comic I had. It was a semi-autobiographical thing called "The Copybook Tales." It was about this wannabe comic book writer who grew up in the 80s and was making his way in the real post-college world in the 90s. We made a mini-comic out of that. Basically, that means a handmade, photocopied and stapled number, like a zine.
We did about six of those, sent them around to different publishers, sold them online and at cons. Eventually, a publisher in San Jose, CA - SLG Publishing - gave us a call and offered to publish "Copybook" as a "real" comic. From there, the artist and I did six issues of that series, moved on to a miniseries for Image called "Siren", then I did some work for Marvel. And here we are ten years later.
Forlong: Will there be an issue that focuses on the relationship two Titans have with each other, like the episodes Forces of Nature and Nevermore?
J. Torres: Well, the only thing I have planned right now along those terms is a short story with Robin and Bushido. I'm trying to remember what else in a similar vein we've got going but I'm drawing a blank right now.
Oh! Wait… do I want to spoil this? Um... Cyborg and Sarah. There.
Prepared Question: J, do you have any advice for fans who want to write for comics or animation?
J. Torres: Okay, if you are a writer wanting to get into comics the best piece of advice I can give you is hook up with an artist. I mean that creatively!
The reason being is that very few to no editors/publishers read script or pitches, especially if you're new and inexperienced. But they will read mini-comics, web-comics, and homemade comics if you will. And that can showcase what you can do.
The only other way to break in then is either by knowing someone on the inside or by making a name for yourself as a writer in another industry. A lot of new writers are discouraged by this but it really is true.
Forau: Does it matter which "other industry" or is there a preference?
J. Torres: Not really. For example, Adam Beechen is from animation and is now writing the JLU comic and Robin. Brad Metzer is a novelist. Alan Heinberg works in film. I think it's just a question of being good and knowing someone.
Forlong: Will Raven have any kind of romantic type of relationship in general? At this point, I'd be satisfied seeing her with almost anyone.
J. Torres: Raven... Oh, my dear Raven... People will hate me for saying this but I like her "alone."
BUT (before you throw stones) lets say that I send her on some dates in upcoming issues. So, she's "dating" but no one exclusively like Robin/Starfire, you know?
Side note from J. Torres: Something was mentioned about the digests. I heard some sad news about that this week. Apparently, there was two Batman Strikes digests that were supposed to be out this month, but low sales forced DC to cancel them
When I asked my editor what that meant for us (and other Johnny DC books) he asked his superiors and was told that they're "re-thinking" the digest program. So, if you're one of those readers who wait for the digest, you might want to reconsider picking up the singles from #21 on just in case, you know? I believe TTG is their best selling Johnny DC title, including in digest form. So, maybe we'll keep going the way we are, or maybe we follow whatever they decide for the whole line. Fingers crossed. But please continue to support TTG anyway you can
Prepared Question: What gave you the idea to include those knock-knock jokes with chibi characters throughout the issues?
J. Torres: Sam Register. It was his idea. And it proved a hit with the kids so DC said keep doing it. Not that I don't like them, but some stories/issues I just thought we didn't need them, but during those times my editor would be like, "Where are the chibis?!" So, I had to put something in I like the idea of the jokes and chibis but not if it's forced, you know?
JThree: Did everyone involved with the TT series (or comic book) agree with the decision to end things like they did on "Things Change?" I'm not asking for names or specifics, but didn't anyone out there want to cut poor BB a break?
J. Torres: I really don't know whose idea that was, but we must remember WE ALL thought there would be a season six.
Prepared Question: Is it a coincidence that Mike Norton's design for Rock's costume highly resembles "The New Teen Titans" Terra's? (for those who don't remember Rock, she's from the Paper/Scissors/Rock trio in that Starfire issue with Wildebeest)
J. Torres: All I can say is I love the "falling rocks" symbol on her chest
barfarama2: Do you have any big plans for Titans Go! #50?
J. Torres: I'm going to be in NYC in November and the first thing on the agenda with Tom (editor) is to firm up plans for that issue. I just hope we're still around by then.
Prepared Question: What other comics have you written? Any new comics you're working on coming up?
J. Torres: Degrassi! It's a teen drama, but no costumes, no Tower.
combatchic: Who is the hardest Titan to draw? (or, in this case, write)
J. Torres: Drawing, everyone pretty much says Cyborg. All that circuitry, I guess.
Writing-wise, probably Robin. Mainly because there are so many different Robins out there, and remember I'm OLD, so sometimes all their voices are battling it out in my head and affecting the characterization of the TTG Robin
Forau: Any other version of Robin you prefer to show the most in this incarnation?
J. Torres: The TTG Robin is supposed to "intense", "driven" and "serious" for the most part. But traditionally, Robin is a wisecracking sidekick, you know? Well, I try to keep him like on the show, of course.
Prepared Question: What do you like best about working on "Teen Titans Go!"?
J. Torres: I just love that I love what I do. I love writing comics, I love the Teen Titans, I love that this is my "job."
FocusedShadow: I heard J talking about trying to get permission to do a story about the Tournament of Heroines quite some time ago. Is that still a possibility, or has the team had problems with making it?
J. Torres: The problem is finding the time/issue to put it in. We're booked up for several issues, and I want Todd to draw it too, so it's a matter of scheduling.
Prepared Question: Which Titan is your favorite?
J. Torres: That's like asking a parent to pick a favorite child! (Starfire)
FocusedShadow: Besides Chynna Clugston, are there any guest artists that are planning to do the artwork in a future issue?
J. Torres: Fabio Laguna just turned in a short story. X-Men fans might remember him.
Sanford Greene is also doing a short. People might know him from the Evil Dead comics. I think he did Ghostbuster too. Johanne Matte, who worked on the video games, did a short as well and it's probably my fave of the shorts to date. Not that I pick favorites
If you guys wanna see pages of Sanford's upcoming issue, check here.
Prepared Question: What characters from the DCU will we see next for TTG?
J. Torres: I can't say. It'll spoil some surprises. But it's already in the can so that means it's coming soon. Well, it's in one of the origin stories... that's all I'm saying.
lostinseganet: If the show came back for more seasons, because it's entirely possible, would you be willing to work on it?
J. Torres: Heck, yes!
Prepared Question: What are your currently favorite TV shows, cartoons? Anything on your comic pull list?
J. Torres: The Office, My Name is Earl, 30 Rock, Studio 60, Legion of Superheroes, Batman, Avatar. I actually get all the DC and Oni comics for free. But the books that I do buy include Vagabond, Bone, Usagi Yojimbo, Shadow Star, Alice in Wonderland from SLG! Um... I think that's about it.
TheKaiser: Can you give us any more detail on the issue you mentioned before that was a Raven-centered issue that also would feature Jericho? Do the two interact at all in it?
J. Torres: Oh, yes. Depends on your definition of "interact" but they well, interact.
That issue also has the Emoticlones as I call them, Raven's colorful personalities from Nevermore.
Marie: In the theme song it says, "never met a villain that they liked", but they met Terra. So was Terra considered a good guy or a little of both?
J. Torres: That is a brilliant question! She must not have been a real villain if they liked her enough to call her a Titan and a friend
ToboeLoneWolf: Can you write a comic that is set within the timeline of main story arcs, say, a comic with Robin as Slade's apprentice, or that time when Terra ran away, or Raven right after Birthmark?
J. Torres: I would love to do more issues like these but my editor is leery of doing stuff that's too "old", you know? He wants us to stay as current as possible. Mind you, I will keep pushing for that type of stuff because I think there's a lot of story to mine there.
NevermoreRaven: You mentioned "origin stories" and the appearance of Arella in your last interview- are you planning to do all five titans origins? Will it be similar to the "DP Beast Boy" story? If so, how will you handle Robin's? Will you mention Batman?
J. Torres: The short answer is yes; I'd like to do all five eventually and possibly even other Titans. But I don't want to get into specifics of who's up first... but it's not the girls.
JinxFanForever: Are you considering at one point to make a Jinx origin comic? Or something that might thrust her into the spotlight a little more?
J. Torres: I actually want to do more with the former Hive kids so origin stories are certainly a possibility. Stay tuned?
Evilbob: Do you plan for slightly darker themed comics?
J. Torres: Well, we've tried to do at least one every year so yeah. I think the Kilowatt stuff coming up is pretty "dark." And I think #50 might be dark-ish. Plus, the Phobia story I'm still developing will be too.
Evilbob: We have seen General Immortus and the other members of the brotherhood of evil several times, but are is there any chance we may see Brother Blood soon?
J. Torres: Yes
InsanityManifest: I've been a fan of Cyborg since the original DC comic, and I was wondering, are there going to be any comics centering on expanding his character at all?
J. Torres: Yep! You should make sure you get a copy of #45.
InsanityManifest: How can I improve writing humor?
J. Torres: Ooh, that's a hard one. Because I feel you either have it or you don't, you know? I don't think it's learned. I guess my best advice is to just keep it natural, don't force it.
Java6796: Now that Todd have drawn some new Titans (that didn't appear in the show) are you planning to use them in the comics?
J. Torres: Some of them we've requested the powers that be to let us use them. We're still waiting to hear back, you know? I'd love to use all those character Todd drew "for fun." They're not only cool designs but all of them are interesting characters.
Liobit: Are fans allowed to send in ideas for future comic issues?
J. Torres: Unfortunately, DC has rules in place that prevent this kind of thing. It's a legal issue, you see. That's why you rarely even see contests where fans get to write or draw stuff.
The_Portal: Since a new comic has been confirmed with Mad Mod parodying a Hard Day's Night, I was wondering if the comic would be based on the plot, or would just be full of references from the movie?
J. Torres: A little of both, actually. Everyone should watch a "Hard Day's Night" because it's a terrific movie, but it'll also help getting the gags in the issue. Chynna and I love the Beatles so this was a labor of love.
Genpachi7: Have you ever thought of bringing Golden Eagle to the comic? If you remember him that is.
J. Torres: Yes, I remember him and yeah we've talked about all sorts of Titans to bring in. The question is when/how and if the powers that be will let us. There are enough Titans out there to have a South and North team too.
Genpachi7: How and when did you come up the idea for the T-Robo?
J. Torres: Well, since TTG is anime-inspired and we had all these vehicles, plus Cyborg being so into inventing stuff. It just seemed like a natural thing! It was cool when they made a toy for us. He's sitting on top of my shelves over here.
Evilbob: What exactly is the age target difference between TT and TTG? TT had things that targeted older audiences, are you not allowed to do that? Are there any specific examples of things you wanted to do that you can't?
J. Torres: Well, TT originally was supposed to be aimed at boys, ages 6-10. Then they discovered it also appealed to older kids and even adults. So, they started changing the way they wrote the show, you know? For us on TTG, though, statistics show that most of our readers are still grade schoolers, and parents buying for their kids, so we have more of a balancing act.
Neko: What was your favorite issue to write?
J. Torres: Hmm, it was probably #2, just because BB was so cheeky in it. Also, #13, again because of BB. He's fun to write and love seeing Todd bring the humor to life, you know? But actually, #38, our next Valentine's was fun to write too. Larry plays cupid in that one so you can guess why it was fun
Neko: If you could have any TT merchandise, no matter how silly, what would it be?
J. Torres: Hmm, I would love action figures of ALL the Titans. Like, everyone. That would make me happy.
Psy: The Titans East have made alot of cameos in TTG, and Speedy and Aqualad got their own half issue. Will TE have their own full issue in the future, like the episode For Real?
J. Torres: I had a story idea for one such issue, but it had to be shelved because we had so many other things going. But I'm sure we'll try and find a place for it on the schedule. Or at least I hope we do!
type: Could you give Terra some food so she can gain some weight? She is so skinny it not funny. Why did you guys make her that way?
J. Torres: You know, it's not that she doesn't eat. She just a high metabolism! I think it was just a design idea to make her look like a "real teenage girl." Or at least mix up the body types on the show a bit.
type: Have you ever considered helping the story for the teen titan videogames? Teen Titans had almost single-handedly caused the Majesco Sales, Inc. Company to have a good quarter. Perhaps you could develop a relationship with them and create games.
J. Torres: Actually, I've asked. Johanne Matte works for the design company and I've told her to tell her bosses that I'd be down for that. But, alas, haven't heard from them. Maybe they already have writers on staff. But I'll keep asking! Trust me, I want that job.
Nights: With his audacity, and devil-may-care attitude, Red X has always been a favorite character of mine, so I was wondering if he would be getting any sort of development in the future. Not necessarily his identity, but his motives, his interaction with others, and his personality in general. Perhaps a comic explaining just how he was able to break into Titans Tower?
J. Torres: Red X is a tricky one. I really want to do more with him but I don't want to do anything that would undo or go against the grain of the creators of the show. So, before I tackled anything major with him, I'd want to sit down with Glen or David and pick their brains to get it right, you know?
Sort of what I did with Wonder Girl. I talked to Glen first and said how about this? Would this work? Would this be how you guys would've done it? I just want to honor the work they did on the show.
Java8926: Would Slade reveal his identity in future issues? Were issues going to be made into episodes if the seasons continued?
J. Torres: No plans for comics to become episodes, unfortunately. But I guess we'll never know what might have been
As for Slade, I don't know yet. See my answer about Red X.
Java8926: Will Aqualad get a girlfriend relationship?
J. Torres: See Issue #38 for the Aqualad question.
Liobit: So is there a verdict on Slade? Like, not his identity, but what happened to him?
J. Torres: Well, according to the people I spoke to on the show, Slade IS back. So, it was only a matter of time - or season six - that he'd come back. Maybe in a DTV? We could only hope!
terrafan05: Are there any TTG side-projects in the works like a long graphic novel re-telling the Judas Contract using special guest artists ala death of Superman?
J. Torres: Sorry, nothing right now. We wanted to do a Trouble in Tokyo adaptation but the way they kept moving the air dates made it hard to schedule a comic book.
Fiy: Will we see more of Argent in upcoming issues?
J. Torres: Yes, I'm trying to remember issue numbers but I'm blanking... But we'll be seeing more of her! Oh, she's got a quick cameo in #38. It's funny.
Java3501: Since the main DCU Titans has a story arc about Slade making his Anti-Titans team, will you be able to do that in TTG! with Rose Wilson?
J. Torres: Well, we don't want to repeat or copy them too much, but I will say we've got the "Teen Tyrants" coming up in an issue. And I swear we came up with that before seeing the Anti-Titans stuff.
Java3501: Will there be an issue where The Brain uses a gigantic robot body and the Titans end up fighting him (using the Titans Go Bot of course)?
J. Torres: Like in the Silver Age Titans? Neat idea. Maybe someday. We have no immediate plans for the Brain but maybe in the future.
Psy: Speedy appeared on JLU. Could a JLU character appear in TTG?
J. Torres: Yes.
Java6796: Is it possible that maybe you could make a contest for fans to make one fan character appear in TTG?
J. Torres: Contests would be up to editorial. You can write to the Johnny DC address and ask.
Java6796: Is there a possibility of having an issue with only the founder Titans?
J. Torres: I actually have a story idea starring the Fab Five so please stay tuned.
KefkaFloyd: Will there be any more issues with Terra as a main character or focus of the story?
J. Torres: Oh, should I answer this and spoil stuff? Maybe My editor might hurt me for revealing too much.
KefkaFloyd: Do you know what company prints TTG?
J. Torres: Quebecor. I believe DC (and Marvel) do all their printing there and have been for decades now.
ToboeLoneWolf: Considering that TT is anime-influenced, do you have any anime you like watching? Or manga you like reading? Possible influences?
J. Torres: Like the animators I'm a big FLCL fan. My all-time faves include Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Gatchaman, Giant Robo, Big O, Blue Submarine No. 6, Jubei-Chan, Chobits, Sol Bianca, Read or Die, I could go on!
ToboeLoneWolf: Pirates or ninjas?
J. Torres: Ninjas!
Java6408: Why aren't you allowed to use Batman or even talk about him on TT or TTG, aren't they owned by the same company?
J. Torres: Well, it comes from the show's own "rules." They wanted to keep the "sidekicks" separate from the adults and refer to them as little as possible. That's basically it.
LIGHTNING ROUND Session
(All participants were given a brief chance to ask J. Torres their questions on the fly, with J answering as many as possible)
ToboeLoneWolf: What do you think is in Robin's briefcase?
J. Torres: His briefs! Look up the film term "McGuffin."
Evils-Fire: Do you like writing/drawing Terra?
J. Torres: I love Terra!
RavenStar: You said JLU - could we ever see Kid Blue Beetle and Kid Booster Gold, since the adult versions are in the JLU comic?
J. Torres: Booster and Gold, probably not.
Psy: More Blackfire?
J. Torres: Blackfire, yes, but that's all I can say.
Evils-Fire: Who's your favourite male character?
J. Torres: Favorite male... huh... probably BB... if I really had to choose.
Java3501: How about Rose Wilson and kid Devil?
J. Torres: Waiting to see what DC says about Rose and KD.
ToboeLoneWolf: Opinions on Speedy/Cheshire?
J. Torres: Speedy and Cheshire, see #38!
scotty: How long does it take to draw an entire issue?
J. Torres: Todd usually takes 3 weeks. Mike Norton's about the same.