Slumming It Up With Len Wein On Before Watchmen & More [Interview]

ACB’s Geoff Arbuckle spends a few minutes with comics legend, Len Wein at C2E2! Click “More” to read his interview with comic royalty!

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias by Len Wein and Jae Lee

Len Wein… What can you say about the guy? He’s created some of the coolest characters in comics history. In fact, after Stan Lee, there may not be another writer who has created more long running and beloved characters in comics. The man created Swamp Thing which is enjoying an excellent rejuvenation in DC’s New 52 under the pen of Scott Snyder. More than that, everything you know and love about the X-Men is a direct result of Wein’s abilities. First, he created Wolverine, an undisputed mega star of comics. Then, he wrote Giant Size X-Men #1 which introduced a whole new group of uncanny mutants. After that? He was only the editor of one of the biggest damn comic stories of all time, Watchmen.

Now, he’s getting ready to takes us back to Before Watchmen, DC’s mega event coming this Summer. He’s going to be writing the Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair series for the event. Let’s catch up with him to see what he has to say about that and his entire career.

ACB: Unfortunately, I was not able to get into the Before Watchmen panel this weekend…

Len Wein: Then you don’t know nuthin’ then, do you?

ACB: I do know it’s coming out. That has to count for something.

Wein: It is definitely coming.

ACB: My first question is why is this happening now as opposed to any time over the past 25 years?

Wein: Over the years, Alan [Moore] didn’t want to do it. After 25 years of asking Alan to do it, DC finally said screw it, we’ll do it ourselves. It’s Dan DiDio’s now.

ACB: Obviously, each one of these series is a prequel, and you’re handling Ozymandias. What should we expect from that as far as where this fits into what we already know about him?

Wein: In the first issue, on page four, he’s born. The rest of it carries all the way up to where it ends, where we see him for the first time in the original Watchmen. It details his entire life.

Before Watchmen: Crimson Corsair

ACB: You’re also working on the Crimson Corsair book…

Wein: Yes, that’s right. It’s in the same genre as the Black Freighter story. But it’s a brand new character and a brand new story. It’s the first “new” thing we’ll see in this entire project.

ACB: As the editor on the original Watchmen, you seem 100% on board with this. You’re ready to go!

Wein: You betcha!

ACB: That being the case, is there anything you can tell us about the other series?

Wein: Only the creative teams. Beyond that, I’ll probably get shot if I reveal anything.

ACB: Swamp Thing, a creation of yours, is hitting it big again in the New 52. When you see characters like that that you’ve created flourish now after 30 or 40 years, what are some of the feelings you have?

Wein: Damn, I’m good! No, really… I’ve got a track record of creating characters that have lasted over decades and successfully no matter who does them, it seems. I’m always impressed with my own creative ability to come up with characters with that kind of longevity.

ACB: Wolverine, in particular, is a major, MAJOR character of yours.

Wein: Exactly.

ACB: Do you like what you’ve seen that character doing on the big screen and comics that are coming out?

Wein: Yeah. Obviously, you adjust for the medium and each has different needs. So far, I’ve been genuinely happy with the transition. Hugh Jackman, God bless him, and everyone involved with Wolverine has done a terrific job.

Arguably, Wein’s greatest triumph, Giant Size X-Men #1

ACB: Really, everything that the X-Men have become is thanks to you. You did Giant Size X-Men #1. Have you ever thought about calling Chris Claremont up and telling him “you’re welcome”?

Wein: I actually have done that.

ACB: Describe your creative process if you can. What really draws you to a character?

Wein: Finding something new in him that someone hasn’t done already. I mean, the creative process… I’ve never really been able to explain it clearly. It works. The ideas are just there. I’ve always been afraid that if I spend too much time trying to figure out how it works, it will stop working.

ACB: What kind of comics are you looking at these days and saying, “Wow, that guy really has it.”?

Wein: I’m really enjoying Swamp Thing. I love Fables. There are several more books, but I just get so many that I can’t remember them all, but those two spring to mind immediately.

ACB: And definitely with Swamp Thing, I’m sure you have a vested interest.

Wein: Exactly. He’s been done very well over the years and very poorly over the years. Right now, Scott [Snyder] is doing him right.

ACB: Should we expect anything else in comics from you beyond the two Watchmen series this year?

Wein: Beyond The Watchmen, probably not. That will cover me pretty well for the rest of the year comics-wise. On TV, I’m on my first episode of Beware the Batman, the new animated series. I’m also working on my seventh episode of Ben 10, so that should keep me pretty busy this year.

Again, I can’t thank Mr. Wein enough for taking some time with me. This guy is truly one of the all time great writers. Be sure to check out his Before Watchmen series Ozymandias and Crimson Corsair this June!

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I'm a lifelong geek. I don't hide it. I don't deny it. My true geek love is comics. I love reading them and discussing them. I am definitely much more a Marvel guy than DC, especially when it comes to my favorite, The Avengers. Questions? Comments? Email me at geoff@acomicbookblog.com