ABOUT ANDY DIGGLE
Andy Diggle is a Lancaster-based comic book writer. He has put his hand to writing such characters as Batman, Green Arrow, Superman, Daredevil, Doctor Who and James Bond among may others. This also includes creator owned content such as Snapshot (a cracking read – John). He has also worked as a writer, and editor, for the long running, weekly 2000AD comic. Perhaps his biggest hit comic book was the DC’S Vertigo imprint comic, The Losers, where he worked alongside the artist, Jock, someone he has worked alongside on numerous occasions. The Losers, not only won an Eagle Award and got nominated for an Eisner, it was also turned in to a 2010 movie, directed by Sylvain White and starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and more.
The characters of John Diggle and, particularly, Andy Diggle from the Arrow TV show are named because of Andy. You can see that the Arrow TV show is heavily influenced on Andy’s work on the Green Arrow: Year One comic book.
Andy is one of my favourite comic book writers, in fact he is number 1 without doubt. I’ve had many hours of enjoyment reading the various books he has written, from Batman: Confidential to Six Guns to Snapshot. I’m also lucky enough to live in the same city as Andy and I fortunate enough to have once met him, albeit very briefly, as he signed copies of his The Losers comic at, local comic book shop, First Age Comics.
So, Andy was kind enough to agree to answering some questions from myself over email. Maybe, as we live in the same city (and hopefully he will read this), we could do something similar but, rather than over email, meet up in one of our local hostelries.
I hope you enjoy the following and may I please thank Andy for giving up some of his time to answer the questions sent to him, it is very much appreciated.
THE DC WORLD INTERVIEW
What initially drew you in to the world of comics and do you remember the first ever comic book that you read?
I’ve been reading comics as long as I can remember. I have older brothers who subscribed to weekly British humour comic The Beano, so that was always around. Plus Asterix, which was always amazing, and the occasional ’70s British war comic like Battle, Warlord or Commando. But it was discovering 2000AD when I was 10 that really blew my head off and set me on the path.
How did you break in to the comic book industry?
The short version is that I applied for a position as an editorial office assistant at 2000AD, and got it. The longer version is that I taught myself to write scripts by transcribing audio recordings of my favourite movies as a kid, studied the pacing and word/panel count of my favourite comics, ran the comics section of a bookshop in my teens, wrote my university dissertation on comics, taught a module on comics at De Montfort University, took evening classes on script writing, sought advice from creators I admired, wrote lots, tried, failed, tried again… and THEN applied for a job as an office assistant.
Who do you consider to be the biggest influence on your comics career and how has that person changed your work, if at all?
John Wagner. He’s a volcano of original ideas, his scripts are lean and tight, and he has a mastery of tone – smart, funny, brutal, absurd, exciting, heartbreaking. Whether as a reader, editor or collaborator, I’ve learned more from John than any other writer. He’s a national treasure. Biggest lesson? Brevity.
How do you recharge your creative batteries?
Reading a good book, going for a long walk, or blowing people’s’ brains out in Ghost Recon PvP.
What element of your work gives you the greatest satisfaction?
Your career has taken you in all directions, from 2000AD to The Losers, but it’s your time with DC/Vertigo Comics that I would like to ask about. First off, do you prefer to write for DC or, for the more mature story, Vertigo?
Vertigo hands down. It’s more my sensibility.
I’m a big Batman fan so your Batman: Confidential run is one I enjoy very much. I love how it’s set very early in to Batmans’ career. One thing I really enjoy about your run is that Batman comes up against Lex Luthor; saying that, so does Bruce Wayne. How did you come to decide to bring Lex Luthor to Gotham and was he fun to write?
Yeah, he was. It just occurred to me that Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor were like mirror images of each other. Both ego-driven billionaire industrialists using their power to fight shadow wars. Pitting them against each other seemed like a no-brainer. Plus it gave me an excuse to write Batman fighting giant robots. Any story can be made better by adding giant robots.
Green Arrow: Year One – This serves as the influence to the flashback scenes for the TV series Arrow, how proud of you of that fact?
It’s hard to be proud of something I had no involvement with, but it’s nice to see the series being embraced by fans.
How did it feel to know that the character of John Diggle was named because of yourself, along with his brother who is, actually, called Andy Diggle.
It’s flattering. Though having a popular character called Diggle plays havoc with my vanity googling. It was nice being the only Diggle anyone had ever heard of. The weird thing is, I actually have a brother called John Diggle – and he isn’t a comics fan, so he doesn’t even appreciate it. Honestly. Brothers.
Jock worked as the artist on your Green Arrow run and, as with the story itself, the style influences that seen on the Arrow TV show. Did you work closely with Jock in coming up with the style seen in the comic and how does it feel seeing it on the small screen?
Jock’s a genius and doesn’t need any advice from me. I think I gave him some notes on the look of Ollie’s outfit – the hood being old sailcloth, the bow being an old suspension spring etc, so everything would look salvaged and cobbled together, Mad Max style. But in terms of overall visual style, that’s 100% Jock. I remember warning him that he might go crazy having to draw jungle in every panel – how do you draw all those leaves?! But he was like, it’s fine, I have a shorthand. And he’d just sketch out a few loose tree silhouettes and suddenly boom, you’re in the jungle. Like magic. Amazing!
You worked very briefly on Action Comics after Grant Morrison left; without going in to the reasons why, do you have any regrets on leaving so soon after starting?
I don’t regret leaving, but I do regret having to leave. It was chaos. But to their credit, DC were very apologetic about what happened, so I don’t think any bridges were burned. I hope not anyway. We have talked since about my doing something new for DC, so hopefully it’ll come together. I have had other very good experiences at DC. You learn to take the rough with the smooth.
The Losers, it could be argued, is your biggest success. How did it feel, in 2010, seeing your book brought to life on the big screen? (Really good adaptation by the way).
It was exciting of course, though Jock and I weren’t officially involved with the production. We did get to meet the cast during the final days of filming, which was great. The first time we met them they were all in character, so it was like seeing our own characters step off the page and into reality. That was quite something. Chris Evans in particular went out of his way to make us feel welcome. Lovely guy. And we got to hang out with Idris Elba at the UK screening, so that’s one to scratch off the bucket list.
When you write comics that star well established characters, how much research goes in to finding out all you need to know about said character, and do you enjoy that part of the writing process?
It can be a real pain to be honest. Some of these characters have been around for decades, and having to make sense of all their continuity can be like gazing into the mind of a madman. That’s one of the reasons I prefer dusting off characters with less baggage, like Adam Strange. I’m having a lot of fun writing Shadowman right now because his continuity actually makes sense. You can get your head around it and make it your own.
Personally, I would love to see you write Superman in one way or the other; if asked, would you consider a return to write the Man of Steel?
Now that Eddie Berganza’s gone, sure.
Away from comics, what are your thoughts on the DC Universe we see on-screen, whether it be the TV shows or the movies? Do you have a favourite?
I don’t watch the TV shows, but the last DC movies I enjoyed were The Dark Knight and Wonder Woman. I don’t think the sulky grim’n’gritty approach is really appropriate for most DC characters, with the obvious exception of Batman. I would like to see them express something beyond rage and machismo. They need to sharpen their focus on telling a good story. There’s a reason Marvel are kicking their asses at the box office. My kids love Marvel movies but – with the exception of Wonder Woman – I couldn’t drag them to a DC movie. And I’ve tried. They’re just really off-putting..
As there are a number of characters now gracing the screens, which DC character would you next like to see a live version of?
Guillermo Del Toro’s Swamp Thing. Paul Bettany as John Constantine.
Again, my most sincere thanks to Andy for answering my questions and I hope you readers have enjoyed it too. Please keep an eye out for a competition soon. It will have an Andy Diggle related prize and for the competition, Andy has very kindly set the question.
Also, please feel free to comment on this, or any of our articles, either here on the website below or any of our social media accounts. I look forward to reading your thoughts.