I'm the writer of the Uncivil War series of books and have just finished an original graphic novel for the amazing First Second Books that I'm dying to talk about but can't yet. Same goes for a project I'm working on with the great Kelley Jones: wanna tell you all about it, can't. I used to edit Detective Comics, the flagship title of DC Comics, as well as Batman: Black & White, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and The Batman Adventures. I later went on to write The Gotham Adventures, and helped create not one, but two new Batgirls, the first as the co-writer of DC's first ever monthly Batgirl series and the second as the writer of Batgirl Beyond. I've also written children's books, animation, music reviews, webcomics and novels. I live up in the Pacific Northwest with my magnificent wife, children's author Melissa Wiley, and most of our six children. (One escaped.) I also write about music at Reason to Believe.
And the tl;dr version:
I got my start in comics as the legendary Dennis O'Neil's assistant editor at DC in the early 90s. After a dreamlike year of working with many of my favorite creators in the industry on books such as Batman and DC's flagship title, Detective Comics, I was promoted to full editor. A few years later my title was changed to "Editor and Batman Group Liaison," which was a fancy way of saying I helped with quality control from an editorial point of view on pretty much everything Batman-related, from novels and screenplays to lunchboxes and beach towels, as well as any other comic book featuring Batman as a guest star.
One of the many benefits of the gig was being one of the very first people outside Warner Bros to see an early version of the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series. When the decision was made to create a miniseries to tie in with the new show, I was given the enviable task of editing it. Assembling the creative team was ridiculously easy: writer Kelley Puckett had been my predecessor as assistant editor on the Batbooks before going freelance, so was one of the few comic book creators who was intimately knowledgeable about the show. Penciller Ty Templeton, one of my all-time favorites, just happened to stop by the offices and just happened to have a very small gap in his schedule, allowing him to pencil the first few issues once I'd finished twisting his arm and he regained the circulation in it. Inker Rick Burchett had no such gap, but decided to give up to sleep in order to squeeze the book in. After Ty moved on, animated artist Brad Rader took over, before the late, great Mike Parobeck assumed the regular pencilling chair.
One of the things which made the animated series so amazing was the way they managed to take a completely adult look at the characters while remaining a children's show. But we had a pretty fair number of Batman comics which took darker approaches to the material, so I didn't want to go in that direction. Instead, I decided to focus on the literal feel of the show, the way Batman's almost inhuman speed and prowess was accurately captured for the first time in a medium other than comics. To try to replicate that sense of motion, I made a hard and fast rule, punishable by electric cattle prod, of never more than four panels per page, and a minimum of dialogue. We also alternated story types, going back and forth between comedy romps and pathos-filled dramas. Also, something which often got overlooked, the Batman was rarely the star of an issue: instead, the villain was actually the focus, with the Batman used as a supporting character limning the issue's guest star.
Within a year, every other major publisher had come out with their own Adventure book, a compliment which flattered me no end.
In 1998, I left DC to go freelance. I wanted to write, and I wanted to spend more time with my family—my oldest daughter had just been through a grueling year of chemo and I wanted to be with her as much as possible. My wife is also a writer—the magnificent children's novelist Melissa Wiley—so the two of us took turns hanging out with the kids and working. It was a great way to live, and after our daughter's ordeal we savored every minute of that freedom.
Shortly after I went freelance, I was asked to write an issue of The Gotham Adventures for a new artist the editor had discovered, a young Canadian named Tim Levins. Tim and I clicked so well from the very first that we were made the new regular creative team, going on to work together for the next four years.
In January 2002, my family and I left NYC for the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In a small town west of Charlottesville, Lissa and I continued to switch shifts between writing and kid-wrangling. I did a lot of work-for-hire both under my own name and a few different pseudonyms, including Anne James and, my favorite, Ned Lerr. (A neddler is a rather obscure term for a geek.) I finished out my run on Gotham Adventures, wrote some Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers books and even a Little Polar Bear book. I also took on a number of other cool projects, including a pair of video games—I wrote the plot and cutscenes (the animated shorts that pop up here and there in videogames) for Batman: Dark Tomorrow, which gave me the opportunity to write just about every major Batman character (and, for once, actually get to hear them speak my words), as well as (only) the cutscenes for Superman: The Man of Steel.
In July, 2006, I returned to the editor's side of the desk, this time at WildStorm in San Diego. I worked on a crazy range of projects there—everything from Wildcats and The Authority to Fringe and Starcraft to Scooby-Doo and Looney Tunes. There are almost too many highlights to pick out, but if forced, I reckon I'd say I'm especially proud of the North 40 series and the original graphic novel a god somewhere.
In December 2010, DC Comics shuttered WildStorm, and I returned to freelancing. I wrote music reviews for AARP and beginning novels for Disney, an original YA novel, and helped create a new Batgirl with the brilliant Annie Wu. I've worked with Liquid Comics on a few different projects, and have just finished an original graphic novel for the amazing First Second Books that I'm dying to talk about but can't yet. The same goes for a new project I'm working on with one of my favorite artists for a major comic book publisher. And then, of course, there's Uncivil War and Game Over. I also do a lot of writing about music at Reason to Believe.