Joe Kelly is one of Man Of Action, a creative group that works together to create amazing stories, including Ben 10, Generator Rex, and is currently working on Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble. On his own Joe Kelly has had great runs on Supergirl, Superman, X-Men, and Deadpool, as well as creator owned titles including Bad Dog and I Kill Giants. We spoke with him at Rose City Comic Con.
Hello I'm Ian Melton and I'm here talking with Joe Kelly. Now I've seen you signing a lot of Deadpool comics, is that the most common book you are asked to sign?
Yeah Deadpool tends to be the book I'm asked to sign, though X-Men, Superman, and a lot of my own books make it front of me.
I remember buying Deadpool as it came out and at the time it was not a big seller, but now your run is considered to be so essential and important to the character. How do you feel about it?
Well it is so well regarded nowadays but no-one, well except maybe you and a few fans were reading it back then! I was told we were canceled almost every third issue and it got to be so ridiculous because I couldn't plan anything. Eventually I left with issue #33 because I was just tired of being told we would be gone soon. I had more stories but I feel I said everything I wanted to and it was a good place to leave.
Have you considered ever revisiting Deadpool again?
I wouldn't mind, but I almost never go back and there are other characters I'd like to write and particularly work on my own ideas.
Have you ever looked at other Deadpool stories?
No, I never look back. I mean, when I leave a character or book I stop reading it, I mean no disrespect to other creators, I know the books don't stop, but I just don't look back.
Most creators say that same thing, you aren't alone. Though a lot of creators read your run on Deadpool before doing their own.
Well Deadpool is actually the only exception. I read #34, just because I was told I was mentioned in it and I wanted to see how.
Actually you were mentioned twice, in that issue when Christopher Priest wrote the great joke of Deadpool throwing away "everything that worked" in the book, and again at the end of his run when Deadpool decided he needed to get all of that back.
It's great to be remembered for that run because it was such fun. The best compliment I got about it was Rob Liefeld approached me and told me that he considered me the real co-creator of Deadpool for establishing so much of what the character is known for now.
And you guys did that story in Deadpool #900 together…
Yes that was a lot of fun and the only time I've returned to the character.
What about in other media? I assume you've known about the Deadpool video game.
I haven't played but I know (laughs) it is very mature and we were so worried working on Ultimate Spider-Man when we found it was coming out around the same time we did our Ultimate Deadpool episode. We were so worried kids would see Deadpool on Ultimate Spider-Man, love him, and go out and buy the game!
Well I hope parents can read! It is a very M game, not for little kids. Though my son loved the Ultimate Deadpool episode, though his love for Deadpool comes from two things that man (points to Christopher Yost is who is across the way) and his adding Deadpool to the Hulk Vs. Wolverine animated movie, and the Lego Deadpool figure.
They did a Lego Deadpool figure? The power of toys!
Speaking of I've been asking creators the same two questions at the con and depending on the fan base I bet toys kind of influences your answer to this question, but what do you feel fans know you best for?
Wow, good question! I mean yes a lot of fans know me from writing and helping to create Ben 10, the toys sure help. I mean if you go by most exposure Ben 10, Generator Rex, even though it didn't do as well, and now Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble, I'm really known as an animation guy now. Most people know those works that I've been involved in.
Are you going to be involved at all with the new Ben 10 comic form IDW?
No, Cartoon Network owns that outright, same with Generator Rex, which we knew from the beginning. We had a great run on both, Ben 10 way longer, but Generator Rex did at least get a full run. I mean I know we, the guys at Man Of Action, would be involved in the Ben 10 comics if asked, but no one has, and no one from Cartoon Network has spoken with us about it. We are plenty busy with Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers Assemble.
UPDATE: Joe Kelly was unaware that Man of Action Studios was contacted about the BEN 10 comic. Man of Action had to turn it down because they were too busy on their TV shows and creator-owned work.
Where are you guys at with those shows?
Avengers Assemble we are working on Season 2, and just loving it.
And Ultimate Spider-Man?
Still going strong.
So Disney isn't looking for just 65 and done?
No they want to keep it going as far as we know and we just love working on it. Building Spider-Man's world and his interactions is just so fun.
Is he a character you'd like to write more of in comics?
I would, but I'd like to do a run where I don't have to tie it in to any events really.
Well Marvel seems more open to that if you look at how Dan Slott has handled the character; he has been mostly left to do what he wants.
Very true and I think if the opportunity came up and I had the right approach that would make Marvel and me happy I'd love to do it, but no plans right now.
Okay, before we wrap up though what comics work do you think you are best known for?
Well Deadpool and I Kill Giants. I mean among fans those tend to be the two books they love the most I've written.
Okay the other question; what do you feel creators know you best for?
I think same answer, Deadpool and I Kill Giants. I mean a lot know I work in animation but among comic book creators I'm still known for those two works. More I Kill Giants though among creators I think…
Well people respond to personal works I think, things that really are a part of the creator.
I Kill Giants is really personal to me.
(Laughs.) What about Deadpool? Is that a personal work for you?
(Laughs.) Yes! Work out years of therapy through that book!
So last thoughts. You are super busy with animation work, what about comics?
More will be coming! More Bad Dogs will be coming out soon and I want to get back to Four Eyes and should be hopefully next year!
Thank you for your time and hope Rose City has treated you well.