Graphic Novel Friday: Blackest Night: Interview with Geoff Johns

Aside from the vuvuzela-esque drone of swooning Eclipse fans, it’s been a fairly quiet summer at the cinema. My money is still on Christopher Nolan’s Inception, but until then, the blockbuster is alive and cranked all the way to 11 in comics.

The action reaches its four-color peak this July with Blackest Night, and on the cusp of the event’s release next week, mastermind Geoff Johns walked me through the seven-book, universe-spanning colossus. Clocking in at over 1,700 pages, the Green Lantern-centric story promises surprisingly bloody thrills with ramifications that will affect the foreseeable future of stories at DC Comics. Long-dead heroes and villains rise from the grave and stalk the living, while power rings splinter to form a full spectrum of color-coded super-heroics. As we discussed the event, Geoff opened up about the timelessness of characters like Sinestro and Hawk and Dove, the delicate balance of introducing new characters in the DCU (and the rewards of seeing them take off), and what lies beyond Blackest Night, including his top-secret Batman project with artist Gary Frank.

(A full transcript follows the podcast.)

Amazon.com: Before we get into your comics, let’s talk about your recent job promotion. In February, you were named DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer. Was this a goal for you, to take a step up from writing to a top-level approach at DC?

Geoff Johns: I had been asked by Warner Bros. to consult on their theatrical movies for a while now, and when Diane Nelson formed DC Entertainment, she came to me and asked if I’d be interested in working on all the stuff outside the comics. So, my focus has shifted to working with Warner Bros. and with Diane on the film, TV, animation, and video game projects based on our DC characters.

Amazon.com: In this new role, are you still going to be so hands-on with events like Blackest Night, where you are orchestrating them across the company as well as writing them, or is it going to be more of a directorial approach?

Geoff Johns: Dan Didio and Jim Lee are the publishers now, and they’re in charge of Editorial. My focus is clearly on everything outside the comics. I still write Green Lantern and Flash and Brightest Day right now, but that’s about the extent of what I’m doing in comics. I’ll still be writing two books once Brightest Day is over—probably about two books a month, maximum, because of my schedule. But I love writing comics, so I hope to do that for a long time.

Amazon.com: There has been the Green Lantern oath that has long made reference to a “blackest night” in a figurative sense, but as far as I know, you’re the first writer to turn it into an actual event. Can you give some insight into what this series involves and what fans can expect?

Geoff Johns: Blackest Night is really about life versus death. It’s about the nature of the universe, what life is about, how we struggle to find purpose in life and ask the question “Why does life exist?” But it’s really—on the super-hero front, it’s about black rings coming down from the sky and raising the dead.

Amazon.com: How did this series evolve as you worked so closely with the Green Lantern books, beginning with Rebirth?

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