Brian Augustyn Interview
What brought you to Impact?
I was a part of Mike Gold’s Development Group at DC, and we sort of shaped Impact together from the beginning. We were looking for a line of comics that would be good “entry-level” super-hero comics for younger readers—which was one of our charges from on high. Gold mentioned the Archie heroes, I recall our thinking being that we could do with them what DC had done with the Charleton heroes. I recall that we looked at acquiring or leasing other preexistent (though dormant) hero universes as well, including (I seem to remember) the Tower comics Thunder Agents. Obviously the Mighty Heroes are the ones we went with.
What was your first introduction to the Mighty Crusaders?
I remember reading the Mighty Heroes during the post Batman TV, camp-hero boom of the late ’60s. As a kid, I guess I didn’t realize that they were weird, goofy comics, because I enjoyed them a lot. I especially enjoyed the Fly and the Black Hood. As a more grown up comic fan, I gained a greater appreciation when I learned of the Golden Age MLJ comics—and the great Simon and Kirby Fly and Shield of the late 50s.
Why did your editing stint on the Fly end after 5 or 6 issues?
I was promoted, plain and simple. I got elevated to be an editor with DC’s mainstream Universe line. I went on to edit Flash, Wonder Woman, and others (eventually including the JLA franchise).
Which book that you edited did you feel was the best overall book?
Of the Impact books, I enjoyed The Fly the most. This was true both because of my affection for the character, but also because I was working with old friends, Len Strazewski and the late, great, Mike Parobeck. Len and I grew up together in Chicago, and I had brought Mike into comics on El Diablo. We later went on to some great fun on the JSA book.
I also greatly enjoyed working with Mark Waid and Tom Lyle on The Comet and Bill Loebs, David A. Williams and Chuck Wojtkiewitcz on The Jaguar as well, though. Impact was a great experience, and I enjoyed the whole thing a lot.
Had you and Mark Waid worked together before teaming up to write the Crusaders series?
Mark and I had shared an office as junior editors at DC, and we had cowritten a Detective Comics Annual in 1988. Also, Mark invented the idea of what became Elseworlds, and he had edited me on Gotham by Gaslight, the first book of that idea. In addition, Mark and I had just hit it off as friends almost as soon as we met at DC in 1987.
How were you told of Impact’s need for retooling?
I was off the editing of the Impact books for a while by that time, though Mark and I were writing the Crusaders for Jim Owsley. I don’t remember anything remarkable in the news of the change of direction, though. Jim said that DC was concerned that the line was slipping in sales and we should consider “shaking things up.” Crucible was our first attempt to do that, and I think we came up with some pretty exciting stuff.
Why did the original plan (thanks to Mark Waid for this info), which consisted of the Crusaders not being the only Impact title–and their adventures through space and time–get scrapped for the Crucible idea?
To be honest, I don’t really recall anything specific. Knowing how Mark, Jim and I were working, I suspect we just began cooking up something new and ran with it.
What was planned for the Crusaders had the cancellation notice not been handed down?
I’m not sure we ever made those plans, but if we did, I just don’t remember, sorry.
Who came up with the Crucible idea?
Jim and Mark and I did—in a long, wild, very exciting lunch at TGI Fridays on 52nd Street in Manhattan.
What was originally planned to happen in the final issue of Crucible?
I seem to recall that Crucible #6 was adjusted to provide more closure, after it became evident that there weren’t going to be any spin-out books after all. If we had proceeded according to plan, we would have led directly out of Crucible into the three follow-up books.
What did you guys have planned for Madame Satan?
I think we had been planning on a multipart storyline introducing Madame Satan as a literally demonic villain for the Crusaders. Beyond that impression, alas, the plans are lost to the mists of my imperfect memory.
Was there any actual ideas regarding Mr. Justice, or did you guys just see fit to throw his name in for good measure?
No, we actually intended to reintroduce him and several other MLJ heroes—just as we did with Steel Sterling in the back-ups to the “lost” books.
If given the opportunity, and the marketing needed, do you think the retooled Impact would have thrived?
I do. Beyond marketing support, though, we would have needed the same energy and enthusiasm we had at the original launch of the Impact line. I think that was a challenge we would have risen to, but we did feel like we were riding on a sinking ship much of the time.
Finish this sentence, “Ideally, Impact would have______”
…done for comics what Stan Lee’s Marvel had done in the 1960s; energize a somewhat stodgy medium, find new spins on familiar material and introduce new readers to a dynamic, accessible entertainment experience. That’s an ideal—I realize that we weren’t Stan, Jack and the Mighty Marvel Bullpen, of course.
What was planned for the NEW Impact after the first issues?
More of the same, I’m sure.
What part did you have in the creation of the Fly for Impact?
I picked the creative team and worked with them very closely to recreate the character within the Impact paradigm. It was terrific fun.
What part did you play in the bringing Black Jack to life?
Part of our challenge as Impact editors and creators was to slowly incorporate other retooled MLJ characters, with an eye toward introducing secondary stars—as well as characters to headline potential, second-wave Impact titles. Len, Mike and I tossed several names from the MLJ list around and Black Jack was the first one we got to. I liked him very much and I guess I was pretty much an equal contributor to his recreation. Among other things, I’m pretty sure I came up with the gambling resort city’s name, Las Arenas (the Sands).
Thanks for the help, Brian!
Thanks for a chance to look back to a special period of fun, exciting comics creation. I was always privileged to work with all the great Impact folks.