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Committed: Jeff Lemire talks Constantine

Last week Jeff Lemire let me know that he and Ray Fawkes are committed to keeping John Constantine’s life filled with self-sabotage, demons, sex, and all kinds of insanity. After a sneak peak at the script for Constantine #1 (on shelves in March) I found some points of interest, certainly enough to make me look forward to the release of Constantine in March), and Lemire kindly agreed to answer a few questions. Talking about his intentions and the future for our favorite misanthropic anti-hero gives me hope that the core issues Hellblazer was able to wrestle with may not be entirely lost in this forthcoming take on the character.

Sonia Harris: Is Constantine a book you wanted to write? Do you have interest in this character specifically, (because I know he comes with quite a lot of baggage)?

Jeff Lemire: Well, first off, I should qualify all my answers by saying that Ray Fawkes is really the point man on this project. He and I are plotting the first five issues together and working together to build the direction of the book and the character in the New 52 DC Universe. But Ray will be writing the actual scripts. Having said all of that, I will say that I have an intense interest in Constantine as a character. John Constantine is probably my favorite comic book character and has been since I was fourteen. And, like a lot of fans I was really disappointed to see Hellblazer get cancelled. It was the one book I still bought monthly every month and I loved what Peter Milligan and company were doing. But, at the same time, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled to have a chance to write him now.

To me Constantine in Justice League Dark, was a fun take on the character. It was a chance to see John interact with the larger DCU and with the other DC Dark characters. His solo book however will be a chance to re-establish John’s character and go deeper into who he is and what motivates him.

SH: Once I let go of the name “John Constantine”, I was able to enjoy your version as an entirely new character. Did you need to find a way to approach Constantine as a new character?

Jeff Lemire: No. To me our take is true to who he was to a large degree. Ray and I are working really hard to maintain the integrity of the character, to keep him consistent with what we loved about the Vertigo version, but to also reintroduce him to a new audience and make him a part of the larger DCU again like he was when he was originally introduced in Swamp Thing in the 80′s.

There are certain words we can’t use, but otherwise we aren’t pulling any punches. The two key differences are that he younger than he was in Hellblazer, and he is operating in New York now. Though we will see JC in London again.

SH: There has been a lot of speculation about how the move to the DC universe will change John Constantine. Outside of obvious differences (e.g. age, marital status, country of residence, etc), what kind of a man can we expect to see in this new Constantine?

Jeff Lemire: John is a man who is very much motivated my his thirst for knowledge. I also believe that deep down he does want to do the “right thing”, but that often is blurred together with what’s right for him. As a result he can be selfish and brutal. He is also a man who has a very hard time trusting anyone else.

SH: Apart from a few notable exceptions, Hellblazer was written by British writers. Did you feel any trepidation about finding John’s “voice”?

Jeff Lemire: Sure, at first I did. It’s a learning process to be sure. There are issues of JLD I’d like to have another go at, and some that I’m quite pleased with. But I felt like Constantine 1 was a chance to course correct and refine certian aspects of his character. I will say that Ray has a better ear for John’s dialogue than I did.

SH: In Hellblazer, the city of London and politics (or more specifically – John’s hatred of Tories), played an important role in many stories. Are either of these going to show up as devices in the future in the book?

Jeff Lemire: London will continue to play a role in the book and in John’s life. He returns to London in Issue 3 in fact. As for the politics. I feel those were aspects of the character that were very specific to Hellblazer and to the time the early issues of the book were being written. That’s not to say that our book won’t have political undertones, but I think they need to come about organically and John’s worldview in 2013 as opposes to 1989 when those early issues were published.

SH: In the past, the worst of Constantine’s battles have been against his self-destructive tendencies and the vitriol of damaged people (and demons). By placing him within the DC universe, will he be fighting more flamboyant, super villain types from now on, or will he continue to be his own worst enemy?

Jeff Lemire: John’s greatest enemy should always be himself. If it’s not that I think it’s not Constantine any more. I don’t plan on seeing JC fight Doctor Polaris or Crazy Quilt any time soon. Having said that, we will see other mystics appear in the book, MR. E, SARGON etc. But again, John will have a more complex relationship with them than the typical “good guy/bad guy”dynamic.

SH: Some of my favorite old Hellblazer comic books were one-shots, simple stories about the bizarre, ridiculous, and tragic that John deftly handled. Is that something that you’ll have room for, in between long-form, epic battles with big evil?

Jeff Lemire: Absolutely. In fact we are focusing almost exclusively on shorter arcs and one shots, with an underlying mythology running through everything.One of the things I learned form Animal Man was that huge story lines can be good, but if your only telling one story all the time, the reader can loose patience. We made that mistake with Rotworld, and I don’t want to do it again with Green Arrow or Constantine, or with Animal Man after Rotworld for that matter.

Our first five issues of Constantine will be composed of a 3-parter and then two stand alone issues.

Constantine #1 is out in March from DC.

Other articles I’ve written for CSBG about John Constantine include:
Committed: Hellblazer – DC Shoot Themselves in the Foot (again)
Committed: DC Got Their Marketing All Over My Constantine 
Committed: Neonomicon, Hellblazer & Fables… NSFW? 
Committed: Why You Wish You Read Hellblazer

17 Comments

Having missed out on Hellblazer when it began, I’m really looking forward to Constantine. I’ve liked DC’s version of him and how he has been handled in The Search For Swamp Thing prior to the New 52 and in JL Dark. Very excited that Lemire is co-writing this, too.

I think the part that upsets me the most is that Epiphany won’t be around any more. She is one of the strongest, funniest and most interesting characters in comics.

Very, very interesting to see Lemire flat out admit to the problems with Rotworld that people have been moaning about. It’s pretty honest of him and it’s good to see that he’s open, and in tune with, his faults. And given that they’re buddies, I imagine Snyder probably feels much the same way about it.

The worst thing about the new series, for me, is not the fact that they cannot use certain words anymore, or that you have to handle sexual stuff in another way. My biggest problem is that the ytake him out of London! I know Lemire said he will be in London again, but only for a few issues here and there. He will be a New York placed character. Thats so wrong, on so many levels! Constantine IS London! You can put him to another place for a few issues, but London is essential for him! Its like, taking Batman out of Gotham for good. Its just wrong! If they won’t get him back to London any time soon, I am not sure if I will be able to enjoy the book.

@Marius

Have you read Constantine when he was written by Alan Moore or Brian Azzarello?

Hmm, why is the preview pic on the main page for this article a picture of Amy Adams from Man of Steel?

Just curious if this Constantine will still be bisexual…

第一弱点:“前列腺”    据有关研究,男子在50岁以后,约有60%的人患有前列腺疾病。其原因是雄性激素类固醇分泌的改变而使尿道周围的腺体增大。增大的前列腺被压成扁平状,进而压迫膀胱而导致排尿困难。前列腺的问题很容易被忽视,稍有不适应该去医院进行检查并及时治疗,避免病情加重。    40岁以上的男性可通过自行计算排尿时间,如1分钟内是否能排尽,来判断自己是否出现前列腺问题。此外,排尿连续性是否好、有没有滴滴答答的感觉,排尿是否困难,排尿后期尿线是否明显变细,也是判断标准。第二弱点:“心脏”    在有些西方国家,人们把心血管病称为“男性疾病”,80%的心血管病都发生在男人身上。而45岁到60岁之间的中年男性是心肌梗死的高危人群。临床统计表明,男性患心肌梗死入院治疗的人数是女性的7-10倍。   &nbsp,sag;在中国,临床上,65岁以下的冠心病患者以男性居多,到80岁以后,男女比例才越来越接近。这是因为,男性在竞争中,承受的压力更大,不少男性在饮食上特别偏爱动物脂肪类食物,并有吸烟、喝酒的不良习惯。临床上,高血压也以男性患者居多,四五十岁大腹便便的人随处可见,这一切都会使心脏功能受到损害。而男性患者的特点为:即使病情凶猛,只要抢救及时,预后也会不错;如果抢救不及时,极易发生心梗,很快猝死。    第三弱点:“胃”    男人们喜欢饮酒、抽烟、喝咖啡,男人们在餐桌上狼吞虎咽,男人们经常暴饮暴食,然而,当男人们尽情抒发时,他们肚子里的抗议都纷至沓来;胃痛、呕吐、呕血、嗳酸……医学研究发现,男性胃病的发病率比女性平均高出6.2倍。    专家建议,在做饭时要营养搭配、荤素均衡,最忌胡吃海塞;如果晚上有应酬,很晚回家,可以煲些滋补清汤,或准备容易消化的清粥,这样不仅有利于解酒,也可以保护其胃肠功能;少吃红肉,美国病变症研究院的一份报告称,如果每周摄入的红肉超过510克,会提高患结直肠病变的风险;多吃些鲜山楂、山楂食品,平常还可用干山楂泡水喝,山楂中含有熊果酸,具有养肝去脂功效,能降低动物脂肪在血管壁的沉积,在一定程度上减轻动脉硬化;每年定时去医院进行肠道检查,尤其是大便带血时,千万别误认为是痔疮而不重视。第四弱点:“肝脏”    在慢性肝炎病患者中,男性是女性的4倍。主要原因是饮酒。肝脏每日最多只能分解、转化60――80酒精,超过此量就会有害肝脏。另外高脂肪食品对肝脏也很不利。    第五弱点:“直肠”    直肠癌男性明显多于女性。男人一般进食脂肪和蛋白质比女人多,医学研究表明,在缺少含充分的纤维素食物的同时,食用过多的脂肪和蛋白质是发生直肠癌的一个重要原因

Not to sound like a ****, but is Kon Krypton a DC Employee? I’ve never heard anyone say they like Search for Swamp Thing, let alone the abysmal Constantine in it.

No, Dave, I’m not a DC shill. But as I said, I missed out on Hellblazer. I just recently got back into comics after many years away. What I have seen of Constantine, though, I have liked. He isn’t impressed by Superman and as far as I can tell he doesn’t take crap from anyone. Sorry if you don’t like his current incarnation, but please don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

The more I hear the more comfortable I am with this book. John has been around longer than Vertigo, and now that the shock of rebooting him has worn off I’m more comfortable with this as a return to his roots.

@ Kon Krypton

You’re proving Dave’s point. And no you’re not a shill….just another part of the Didio DCU sheeple who wouldn’t know a proper comic from Adam.

[...] Jeff Lemire on the comic book Constantine, that he’s co-writing with Ray Fawkes, new this week: [...]

[...] Yeesh. Even Jeff Lemire thinks it went on too long, in retrospect, talking to Sonia Harris over at CBR: SH: Some of my favorite old Hellblazer comic books were one-shots, simple stories about the [...]

@GSO89

Just found your comment. No reason to be sh*tty. I was reading comics when you were still in diapers, no doubt. Just because I like some of the things DC is doing doesn’t make me “sheeple.” You’re probably one of the guys that is p*ssed off because Wally West doesn’t exist. Get over it.

It’s perfect time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!

Lemire’s take on John Constantine was AWFUL. He showed no understanding of the character, nor of how to write a British person’s voice. Lemire has been a blight on John Constantine’s history.

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