September 19, 2014

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Rose City Roll Call 2014: Jeff Parker

Rose City Roll Call! Cambot! Gypsy! Tom Servo! Croooooow! Periscope! Dark Horse! Kurt Busiek! Ooooooooooonnnnni! It's another Panel Patter feature on creators and publishers who will be at Rose City Comic Con! You can find all our features for the show right here!

There are a ton of great people in comics, many of whom live in Portland, but I have to say, in terms of class, helpfulness, and being a nice guy to fans and pros alike, it's rare to find someone like Jeff Parker.

Despite being someone who gets high-profile gigs with both DC and Marvel, Jeff is about as down to earth as you'll find, acting more like the friend you have over for a few beers on your patio than somebody who's basically crafted the modern voice of the Adam West-era Batman.

I've been a big fan of Jeff Parker for years, with some personal highlights being his work on Marvel's All-Ages books (I recently re-read some of the Avengers books he wrote for the line, and they are as good as I remembered them), Underground (with artist Steve Lieber, named my favorite indie book the year it came out), and of course, his Batman 66 work, which manages to find ways to take the best elements of the camp, combine them with his sharp wit, and turn out a book that looks like the TV show if it had an unlimited budget.

Once upon a time, Jeff Parker told me, "I know it's Red Hulk, but trust me. This is me we're talking about here" and proceeded to make Thunderbolt Ross into a compelling character who knew he'd made horrible choices in his life and now had to find a way to redeem himself in a body almost identical to the one he hunted for years. It turned the concept on a dime and now Ross has a place with the other heroes, albeit a precarious one.*

That's the kind of writer Parker is. Give him a concept, and he'll tell you a solid story, one that takes the best of the current elements and uses them to entertain. This is true of Aquaman, where he kept the level of danger and anger but lost the oppressive level of angst that Johns had given the reboot. He's got the edge of the New 52 but can also play some long games with plot lines. It's been a great ride so far, and I hope others are enjoying it as much as I am.

Though he's best known for his company work, Jeff also does great creator-owned comics, like Meteor Men, which should be available in print right about now. James Kaplan did our review of the book and needless to say, it should be a must-purchase at Rose City, if there are copies available.

For the show, Jeff should have copies of his more recent work (so likely Meteor Men, Batman 66, and his Flash Gordon/Phantom/Mandrake team-up, King's Watch, which is outstanding), maybe a few copies of Interman, and probably a few surprises.

If you want to really see Jeff shine, though, go to his spotlight panel at 2pm on Sunday. Jeff is a riot when he's interviewed, and this one is going to be extra special, because it's none other than David Brothers doing the questioning. It's a Parker/Brothers moment, and not to be missed!

Whether it's a boy meeting aliens or the least respected member of the Justice League punching out sharks or finding a way to make the stilted dialogue of the 60s still sound fresh, Jeff Parker is your man. If you aren't a fan yet--you will be once you grab some books at Rose City.

Can't make the show? Jeff Parker's website is here.

*Or at least he did. I don't read as much Marvel as I used to. Not keen on how the current writing teams seem hell-bent on taking the "flawed characters" concept and turning it up to 11, so I pick and choose what I follow.