Jeff Loveness is an entertaining guy.
Although the comedy writer is operating at the top of his game in the TV biz (he's currently a writer on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' and has written for the Emmys, to name a few), it's his comic book work that has really garnered our attention: Loveness has worked on Groot's ongoing series, dabbled in the X-Universe, and most recently worked on the painfully underrated Nova series with artist Ramon Perez. His exemplary work has also nabbed him his own original comic through Aftershock comics, World Reader, a cosmic book focused on a woman whose gift is to telepathically connect with the ghostly denizens of dead planets.
Recently Jeff took the time to answer some of our questions about his love for sci-fi, cosmic adventuring, and why he will always be a Cyclops apologist.
Between your work on Groot and currently on Nova with Ramon Perez, you’ve got a good sense of cosmic storytelling. Did you use that as a base of sorts when conceptualizing World Reader?
I wrote World Reader before Nova came along. So World Reader might've informed Nova, actually. I love the canvas of space. If you ground yourself in real emotion and a human idea, you can go as big as you want. I really love the intimacy and grandeur of it all. My next project might stay grounded, but after this and Nova, I'd love to head back into space with future work.
Normally space-faring protagonists are involved in living planets and living civilizations. Why go the route of exploring dead worlds?
Sci-fi, specifically comic book sci fi, seems to always go so epic and cataclysmic... but we rarely dwell on the cost and loss of it all. I wanted to write something that focuses on the fragility of life... and how we so easily extinguish it, on a personal or planetary scale.
I found Sarah being a "Space Medium" to be a good way of exploring lost life and the mistakes we all made along the way. Every planet had a cause of death and we'll get a first hand glimpse into that in every issue.
Were there any particular works that inspired you in writing the story?
I love Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. Solaris by Tarkosvky. and Ray Bradbury sci-fi like The Martian Chronicles. Old school, lonely space sci-fi was the main inspiration behind this. I love sci-fi that swings for the fences and actually tries to answer what existence is about.
Do you have a definitive ending for this story, or do you hope to let it evolve as it goes?
Yeah, World Reader, as of now, is a 6 issue limited series. But it's a HUGE story, so there might be room to return to it if the fans love the story and I find a new angle on things. But yeah... for now, it's definitely got an ending.
Seeing how AfterShock has immediately become a great publisher for innovation from well-known creators, when did you know you wanted to work with Mike Marts and co?
I worked with Mike Marts on a Cyclops short story for "Death of Wolverine." I really loved that project, and then Mike left sometime later to form AfterShock. He connected with me shortly after that and asked if I had any pitches. I was still absolutely brand new to the comics game, so I truly appreciate the risk Mike took on me. The guy has steered some of the greatest comic runs in modern history (Grant Morrison's X-Men/Joss Whedon's Astonishing... all of Batman) - so I was floored by the chance he took on me. Hopefully I don't completely blow it.
How did you assemble your team on the book (artist, letters, colors, etc)?
Gotta give credit to Mike Marts on this one. He brought Juan and Rachel on board, and they've absolutely blown me away.
How in the world do you juggle your comic work with your day job at Jimmy Kimmel?
Oh, I'm very lonely and have no life and cancel on a lot of friend dinners. But it's worth it.
Were comics in the back of your mind as you did more and more entertainment writing in your career?
Totally. It's a medium very close and personal to me. Writing for Marvel, and now AfterShock, has fulfilled a creative dream of mine that I didn't even know was possible. I get to write and perform comedy AND write comics? I have absolutely nothing to complain about.
You’re active not just on Twitter, but on Reddit as well. What drives you to interact with fans so directly like that?
Cause I am one, first and foremost. Some of my first memories on the Internet came from joining an online forum for X-Men Legends- the PS1 video game. I felt such a strong sense of creative community with all these lonely X-Men fans. We even joined up and wrote a flash-game together... we... were all very popular. Clearly.
And now that I'm on the professional side of things, I still try to read what the fans say and see how they react to things. I try not to let that affect the process thought. I still write the stories for myself. I'm not in the writing game to cater to fans or please the Internet... but I do meticulously read up on my stuff to see how it's playing... I probably shouldn't do that. I just open myself towards pain and rejection. Old internet habits die hard.
You are a well-known Cyclops apologist (your Cyke solo story in ‘Life After Logan’ was one of the best interpretations of the character I’ve ever read). I’m an OG Wolverine guy. Explain to me why I should like that skinny mutant radical?
Cause, deep down, we are Cyclops. We're all trying to keep ourselves together. We all feel awkward around others, maybe even detached because of who we are. I hate when Cyclops is presented as the boy scout or popular, preppy guy. He's totally not. He's boring, sure. But so am I. He's deeply repressed and trying his best... and he still always ends up failing and falling on his face. I relate a lot to the guy. I find him inspiring. Sometimes, we coddle our favorite characters. But Cyclops isn't written that way. He is put through the gauntlet constantly, and he rarely ever wins. He's written maturely. He can be an adult - an adult who totally makes the wrong call. I'd love to write more in his voice. He'll always be my favorite.