Phil Jimenez Talks About

We've all heard the rumors about Them—how They possess arcane secrets and shadowy knowledge They don't want Us to discover.  For decades, centuries, perhaps even millennia, They have kept these secrets, but now the truth is coming to light.  Beginning this December, series creator Grant Morrison and new regular penciller Phil Jimenez bring us a monthly dose of the hidden truth in THE INVISIBLES, VOLUME TWO.

No stranger to the world of THE INVISIBLES, Jimenez pencilled "Entropy in the U.K." in issues # 17-19 of VOLUME ONE.  Now he is kind enough to offer us a glimpse of the world They don't want us to know about.  Let's listen carefully.

And let's not forget to look over our shoulders, hm?

Interviewed by SCOTT SIMMONS in early December 1997

THE INVISIBLES, VOLUME ONE featured rotating art teams illustrating separate story arcs.  Now that you're the regular penciller, month-to-month, of VOLUME TWO, will the stories continue to be divided into arcs?

The stories will indeed be divided into arcs; the first 4 issues comprise the first, and the 2 following that comprise the second.

What are your plans, in terms of the art, to distinguish VOLUME TWO from VOLUME ONE?  Can we expect more of the tilted camera angles, James-Bond-style intrigue, and unusual page designs that made "Entropy in the U.K." so stylish, or should we be ready for something completely different?

I'm not sure my art in the first volume was as distinctive as you describe, but I hope my art on the second makes a positive impression.  With each new script, I get more and more in tune with Grant's vision, and the beauty of my relationship with editor Shelly Roeberg is our very similar ideas on visual storytelling.

I usually do rough breakdowns on one of Grant's scripts, and Shelly and I go over them, panel by panel, to determine the beest possible storytelling devices, camera angles, dramatic moments, etc.  About 95% of the time we're 100% in sync.  It's an incredible working relationship.

I think my storytelling's gotten stronger—and therefore, the storytelling on the book will be stronger, visually and graphically—and I think I have Shelly to thank for that.

King Mob, Lord Fanny, Jim Crow, Boy, Ragged Robin, and Jack Frost may be the strangest mix of characters ever to share a single title.  They span a wide range in terms of personality, sexuality, and background—not to mention their differences in body type, clothing, and actions.  How do you deal with such a diverse cast of regulars every month?  Does keeping them distinct become a challenge?

Actually, the cast is so distinct from each other it's been really easy to create a fashion sense, a body language, and interactive acting for each of the characters.  That's been one of the true joys of this series and one of the reasons I took it.

Boy is so different from King Mob, who's so different from Ragged Robin, etc.  I have a wonderful time looking through magazines and hanging out at restaurants and bars, finding the latest drag outfit for Lord Fanny or the latest hip-hop fad Jack Frost is trying to impersonate (all the better to woo Boy).

It's been an interesting challenge for me putting my own sense of identity into someone else's characters, but Grant seems to be all for it.

I've found that the easiest ones are the women and the drag queen—Boy, Robin, and Fanny all have a style and a sensibility that's easily translated on paper, and I love to draw each one.  King Mob is a little tougher, although I've had the roughest time with Jack—the character's so immature I often draw him like a 12-year-old even though he's 17 or so.  I have to age my drawings of him constantly.

But I love the interrelationship of the characters, and I hope I pull that off.

Your tight pencils and emphasis on detail have invited some comparison to George Perez.  Has his work been an influence on your own?

George Perez is and will always remain my biggest comic-book influence, no doubt about it.  I owe my career to his influence.  It seems we also share very similar sensibilities; I was drawn to George's work the moment I saw it.

(Heck, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and WONDER WOMAN remain bound, in volumes, above my desk, and I flip through them constantly to remind me of how much more I have to learn about the craft of drawing comics.)

There's a Picasso quote—the exact words escape me now—about how an artist who emulates another artist develops his own style through the horrible copies he makes of the artist he so admires; something like that.  I hope people know that in my case, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that slowly but surely I'm combining my horrible imitations of George's work with other outside influences and continuing to grow.  I hope my fans will stick around to see where I end up.

Like Perez, you've garnered a lot of attention doing mainstream DC super-heroes in books like TEAM TITANS, GUY GARDNER: WARRIOR, and (most recently) TEMPEST.  Now you're working on a creator-owned title without a super-hero in sight.  Why the decision to go all the way from one end of the spectrum to the other while still remaining at DC Comics?

Well, personally, I think THE INVISIBLES is a super-hero book.  They've got sorcerors, shamans, psychics, and the group is out to save the world from other-dimensional demons bent on world domination.

Beyond that, I desperately wanted a team book—and this one intrigued me because of the variety and type of characters, the fact that I'd be forced to draw a lot more and be less able to hide my drawing mistakes behind capes or bubbles.

And the fact that Brian Bolland would be doing the covers and Todd Klein would be lettering.  (Todd lettering was the sinker.)

Further, I'd like to believe I've always tried to push myself—that's why I went from GUY GARDNER to SWAMP THING to LOBO to AQUAMAN to THE INVISIBLES—I just want to draw anything and everything, all types of characters in all sorts of settings.  I just don't want to get bored (and with INVISIBLES, I don't think I will.)

Let's digress for a moment.  With your 4-issue TEMPEST mini-series, you've gotten as much attention for your writing as for your art.  Do you have any plans to write more comics in the future?  (And do any of those plans include Garth or other members of the AQUAMAN cast?)

I would love to write an on-going TEMPEST series—I have at least 2 years worth of stories for the character—but now we're trying to hammer out a second mini-series, because that's all DC wants right now.

I learned a lot writing and plotting this mini-series; I hope I have the chance to use that knowledge to craft other stories.  (And I hope I really do have more to tell and not just think I do.)

And I would love to work on an original Titans reunion book with George.

What other Phil Jimenez projects can we look forward to in 1997?

I'm working on THE INVISIBLES for the moment and trying to get editor Eddie Berganza to read a proposal for my dream project, an epic super-hero mini-series that introduces bunches of new heroes and villains and all sorts of fun stuff, to be put out in '98 sometime.

I'll be trying to launch the next TEMPEST mini-series for the fall of '97, and I'm doing pin-ups and covers.  As a matter of fact, I'll be doing a JUSTICE LEAGUE pin-up with all of the 70 characters that have ever been a member of that team.

Now that you've become immersed in the world of THE INVISIBLES, I have to ask one more question:  How paranoid are you?  Do you think there might be any truth to the "ultimate conspiracy" Grant Morrison is unraveling for us in THE INVISIBLES?

Interesting question with no short answer.

Do I believe in conspiracies?  Absolutely.

Would it surprise me if Grant's "ultimate conspiracy" were true?  Not at all.

But I don't spend my life being paranoid; I just try to produce work I hope will have positive effects on other people's lives, living day to day, trying to work out all the infinite mysteries of the world and our universe in my head, with my friends, and in my own work.

Thank you for this interview!  Take care!