Interview with Will Pfeifer

By Hervé St.Louis
January 23, 2004 - 14:17

Pfeiffer's run on Aquaman starts at # 15. He's been writing HERO for DC Comics since the series started last year.


Hervé: Tell us about your background as a writer.

My first series was called Final for DC Vertigo in 1999. It was a mini-series I did with Jill Thomson. It didn't sell huge amounts but people liked it. Before, I did small press comics. I'm a trained writer. I've been a journalist by day for 14 years. I do that during the day and write comics during nights and weekends. It's almost like Clark Kent! I did a lot a short of X-Men Unlimited stories too. I think Marvel cancelled the book around 2001. Then, I'm doing HERO which has been marvellous.

Hervé: Do you view writing Aquaman as a challenge?

I do. It is a challenge for a lot of reasons.

1-He's been around since the 40s. He's one of the oldest. He has a huge history with long and complicated events. He's done all sort of thing. It's almost impossible to make him do all those things. I have to pick some elements and go with it.

2-Aquaman does not get a lot of respect. Most people heard of him from the Super Friends. Even my mom said "Wow your writing Aquaman from the Super Friends?" when I told her I would be writing the comic. I have to be careful and treat him with the proper respect. To many, he's the guy that talks to fishes. I have to show why people look up to him and respect. So yeah, everyone first heard from him from the Super Friends. We might as well admit it and move on.

Hervé: What version of past Aquaman incarnations are you fond of?

I like what Peter David and Dan Jurgens did. My favorite version is from Steven Skeets and Jim Aparo. Their stories were strange. He not like other super heroes seen in public. He's powerful and a mysterious figure. There's more than meets the eyes. I like playing him as strong silent type where you're not sure of what he thinks. Weird things can happen in the sea. The ocean has a character of its own. The ocean is mysterious and weird. We sure we can find lots of stories in there.

Hervé: There are lots of criticisms based on the editorial policy for Aquaman. From what you know about him, can you tell us about Peter Tomasi's editing style?

I saw them on the DC boards. Some hate him. I've worked on HERO and Aquaman and really like him. Some people on the board don't know he likes comics. He wants to make them compelling, tell great stories without having to wait next months for the rest. So much criticisms focus on the orange shirt, it's amazing. It's not that big a deal. I like it because I grew with it. Of all heroes, Aquaman should be wearing tights. He swims. Fans either hate or love the shirt. I think it symbolizes fears that we'll ignore past stories from the 90s and 80s. We will incorporate that. If you never read Aquaman before, you will not be lost on his history. I want to make sure that the book tells a good story that's not bogged down on history. I want to use continuity it when it lends to a story. I love working with Peter. Especially on HERO and Aquaman. Going over my scripts, he helped make me a better writer.

Hervé: I've got nothing personal against Aquaman's new styling but why the orange shirt?

When Peter asked me. I asked him which we'd use. He said we'd go back to the orange shirt. I'm not sure it's the case but with big super heroes such decisions take place at higher places. I'm not sure. Peter said he liked it. I like the shirt. That's what Aquaman looks like to me. It looks good. When you get back to the basics. Orange and green underwater stand out. The costume makes sense against blue background. Even the new action figure based on the new costume sold out. I love having an action figure of a character I write.

Hervé: What do you say about fans who say that the orange shirt is another nostalgia move by DC Comics?

I don't know if its nostalgia. To me it's Aquaman. He's worn the shirt for most of his comics. Nobody cares about the old red and blue electric Superman. Batman never changed much. The armor never was a replacement for the orange shirt. Aquaman will interact wit lots of regular people. We wanted people to feel comfortable around him in San Diego. With the shirtless look it's difficult. How would you feel talking with a shirtless guy all the time?

Hervé: Uneasy.

That's why we put back the shirt. It feels better if people talk to a guy with a shirt.

Hervé: What about the artwork on Aquaman?

I think it's great. I was fortunate to meet Patrick Gleason at Wizard World. With Peter, we talked about how we visualized the character. He's able to pack lots of details but it does not look cluttered. In our first issue, there's a few pages of the city underwater with lots of details. He can capture quiet moments very well. He's good with light and dark. I'm really happy. I worked with him on two issues of HERO.

Hervé: Tell us about your upcoming story on Aquaman?

The first six issues 15-20 is called American Tidal. A huge earthquake knocked out San Diego. Half of the city plunged underwater. Aquaman is the first on the scene. At first not many people survived. We find out some people did. They are trapped under the ocean. They can't go back up, like Aquaman and can stay for five minutes at most. They will have to live there. This will bring in Aquaman's experience as a ruler. Not as a ruler of San Diego but to help them set up their civilization. Americans don't want a king. So they have to set up a city life. What they eat underwater will be explored. Many aspects of an undersea civilization with people like you and me will be explored. The story also focus on Aquaman. He was raised as a human although from Atlantis. Both sides of the story will be seen. From this we can tell many stories like villains coming by. Stories are more interesting if they are people for Aquaman to interact underwater with. But it's different from people from Atlantis than real folks like us.

Hervé: Wasn't there a similar story with the Submariner, though I barely remember it? I was too young?

Yeah there was. There's an old story like that. The people will be able to identify with the story.

Hervé: How will Aquaman interact with the DC Universe?

We're not gonna have him meet a super hero every issue but there will be some. He will get help from JLA, especially the Martian Manhunter. The book is about Aquaman not others.

Hervé: You could've have created a fictional city for the upcoming Aquaman story. What made you settle on San Diego instead?

That was Peter's idea. Seems to have more impact if it's a real city. More power. I've never been to San Diego. I'm sure it's a lovely city. Nothing personal against the folks who live there. Maybe it's because of the San Diego Convention.

Hervé: In your opinion, is Aquaman an American hero or a citizen of the world?

A citizen of the world. He was raised as American. He has an American heritage. It's fun to balance that. He has different sides. It's fun to see which comes in any circumstance.

Hervé: What are the greatest challenges you perceive while writing Aquaman?

Who Aquaman is. Everyone has his own idea. Every writer has put his own stamp on it. I don't want to say screw everything. I want to write about him for the future.

Hervé: Just to settle this once and for all. Do you know your Aquaman history even though you would like to focus on a fresh take?

I know some of Aquaman's history. I'm not gonna pretend I know everything. I have a working knowledge of Aquaman. This will not be a book where you need to have read every story in the past.

Hervé: What do you think of the fan reaction so far to your proposed Aquaman run?

HERO had some fan reaction but Aquaman! I'm surprised at how people react positively and negatively. Some are dedicated. It's exciting. There are some criticisms from people who haven't read the book. It's fun to know that people will read it whether they like it or not. It's Interesting to hear any reaction.

Hervé: Some fans predict that Aquaman will sink again - pun intended. What would like to tell them?

I would love for the book to be a top ten. I can't control that. I would tell them to give us a chance, at least read the first six issues. Give us a chance. See what we'll do and then judge us on that. I hope it goes on for a while. It hurts to get a book cancelled. I don't know anyone who doesn't care. You have to write what you believe in to please yourself too not just the fans.

Hervé: Would you like to remain on Aquaman for long?

Yeah. I want to stay for a while. Hope it goes as long as it can. With our set up, there's much story to tell we can tap in that. If I could I'd like to stay for a long time.

Hervé: Is Aquaman going to be approachable to new readers?

Yeah. That's a big goal of what we want to do. Some you almost need a PhD in comics to understand. Aquaman will be easy right from beginning. All you need to know from first issue there's a guy name Aquaman. He's from JLA and Atlantis. That's all you need to know. Hope we get new readers. People say I don't care about older fans but I do.

Hervé: What are Aquaman's strengths as a character?

The first is that he's not an average super hero. He's different from the JLA. He has no secret identity. He doesn't just fight crime. He looks at the bigger picture. He's had tragedy in his life. He has a perspective of the entire ocean. He's not caught up in small stuff. He also has different personality. He's more noble, more mysterious. It's fun to write a character like that.

Hervé: What are Aquaman's weaknesses as a character?

They say a character is as good as his writer. Public perception is important. People see him as a silly character. They think of the goofy cartoon. It's how people perceive him instead of a character weakness.

Hervé: You've been compared with a possible new genre of comic book writers like Geoff Johns who come on board and save a fledgling series? What do you think of that?

Geoff's stuff is great. He does a good job of writing traditional super hero books but there's always something new that he puts with his personal touch. I don't think I'm in his league but I like being compared with him. I Hope to bring new readers. We'll know in a few months.

Hervé: Why be so humble?

I'm not trying to be too humble. I've haven't written as long as him. I think I'm good. I working on that. Geoff is a nice guy and helped promote HERO when it came out.

Hervé: Some people say no A material writers would ever write for Aquaman. Do you agree with that?

I don't agree with that. I don't think I'm A material. Peter David is A material and he wrote Aquaman. Before Frank Miller did Daredevil, people though he was a B character. Same for Swamp Thing. A lot of time with second level heroes you can do more. You can't make lots of changes on Batman. On B heroes you can leave your own mark. I think a new writer can make his mark on Aquaman like I'm hoping to do.

Hervé: How much do you love Aquaman?

I like Aquaman a lot. Growing up he was my favorite. He's an interesting character. He's been handled better some times. He's one of the better-known characters. He's older but also more complex. Lots of material to work with here.

Hervé: Do you think you'll succeed in making people perceive Aquaman positively?

I hope so. Ultimately it's up to the fans to decide. I want to make it dramatic. That's another goal that I have for Aquaman.

Hervé: What's your favourite Super Friends' episode featuring Aquaman?

I don't know. If you could really talk to all creatures in the ocean you would have a big power. It's like Alan Moore and Swamp Thing. It's possible. There's a lot of interest in the sea. Just look at the popularity of Finding Nemo.

Hervé: Did you like the What's Up Super Friends jokes from 2000?

I had forgotten about that. I thought they were hilarious. I have a sense of humour. I downloaded all of them. They were amazing. I'll go back to my files and watch them again.

Hervé: How about some of the other jokes on the Internet such as the Aquaman song and the Filipino maid? I thought they were hilarious.

I don't know the Aquaman song but I love those things. It shows that everyone knows Aquaman. Hopefully, we'll use that to our advantage. Maybe people will pick the comics. They'll see it's not goofy. As long as people are willing to give it a chance.

Read related articles such as

  • Aquaman - An Historiography
  • Super Friends' Aquaman and Black Manta Set
  • JLA Aquaman Action Figure
  • Silver Age Aquaman and Aqualad Action Figures

  • Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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