While attending this year’s Comic-Con International I was able to sit down with the man behind Darby Pop, Jeff Kline. What followed was a great conversation about the genesis of this wonderful line of comics.
UTF: My first question is how did Darby Pop come about?
Jeff Kline: I had worked in television for twenty plus years and a lot of the artists that I’d been around had also worked in comic books. I grew up as a huge fan and for some reason out of everything I’d done comics always seemed like the hardest to get into. Finally, a couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to see if there was a way to get in there.
I started just asking if I could have lunch with various professionals. Ended up having a really good couple of meetings and was really sort of taken into the world of the comic book industry. Well once you get behind the curtain it’s a bit terrifying but there’s also something incredibly exciting about it.
First, I was just going to dip my toe in it and do Indestructible and see how it went. Then when I talked to some friends, especially writer friends, and told them what I was doing, suddenly they were, “Oh, I have this idea…” And it became a larger endeavor.
Eric Garcia, who’s been a very good friend of mine for years, is the creator of City: Mind in the Machine. John Raffo, who I met through some mutual friends, is behind The 7th Sword. And it sort of snowballed from there.
UTF: My next question is about Indestructible. Where did the genesis of that idea come from?
Jeff Kline: In television I’m probably not the guy you’d hire to do a straight procedural because I’d want some time travel element or aliens. I had this idea in the back of my head, about a world where superheroes are treated like celebrities and somebody who was trying to create that celebrity for themselves. It’s kind of like the Kardashians.
So what do you do and what would you be willing to do to enter that world? And once you get there is it what you expected? This idea grew in a way that made me see that they have to work harder to maintain celebrity than if they just got a job. It’s a 24/7 deal and are you willing to fake a marriage to keep it in the spotlight? Is that something you would do?
How far would somebody go to live the life of a superhero? At the end of the day, you’re making a choice to potentially sacrifice your life because if you don’t have superpowers and super-villains do, you’re exposed. What do you have to do to protect yourself? How do you do it? How can you game the system? That’s kind of what Indestructible’s about.
UTF: There’s something else I want to ask, I think it was on the first issue that you had a quote from George R.R. Martin. How’d that happen?
Jeff Kline: I’ve known George for years. We actually worked together in television and that’s one of the things that a lot of people don’t know about him is that before Game of Thrones he had a whole career in TV. There wasn’t this embrace of genre as you’ve seen it in the last five or ten years. It was much harder to get a genre show on the air.
George was one of those few people who had these incredible ideas but could actually funnel them into TV-acceptable. We had a great time working together and we’ve stayed friends ever since. However, when I talked to him about doing a quote for the book I said “You have to read it first and if you don’t like it you don’t actually have to do it.” Luckily, he loved it.
UTF: I have one last question for you. When it comes to this industry there are plenty of fanboys and fangirls that frequent our website and they might just want to get into the comic field. Do you have any words of advice for them?
Jeff Kline: I’m still pretty new so I may not be the best person to ask. But this is a business you get into for passion, because at the end of the day, there’s a lot of other ways to make more money with security. If you want to be an artist or writer, it’s probably going to be a freelance life for awhile. You really have to go into it because for whatever reason you can’t imagine not going into it.
Having said that if that passion is going to take you there, one of the nice things about the industry is that almost everyone will talk to you. You come to any Con and somebody will take five minutes to hear you. I do feel like it’s an incredibly welcoming world with a real understanding that the potential market over there and the people who make it here, that there’s a thin line between them.
I find that the creators are the ones who read the most. They want to read everybody else’s stuff. That’s different. If you want to get into the movie business, it’s really hard to get five minutes with people that you perceive as having power. We’re in San Diego right now, where else could you put 120,000 or so really passionate people in an incredibly ultimately small space with limited air conditioning and not have 20 people die or have fights break out.
As long as you’re passionate about your thing and you can sort of defend your passion it doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about, there’s a respect that’s granted to you. That’s kind of amazing and doesn’t really exist in a lot of other places.
I want to take the time to thank Mr. Jeff Kline for chatting with me. It was a great pleasure to talk about Darby Pop and I can’t wait to see what he and his cohorts accomplish as the year rolls on.
So what did you think of the interview my fellow fanboys and fangirls?
Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.