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Eddie Berganza: The Interview
by Michael Hutchison

Eddie Berganza

Fanzing: First, could you tell us a bit about Mr. Eddie Berganza and how you become a comic book editor?

Berganza: Well, I don't like being called Mr. Berganza. Eddie's fine. I was born in the far off land of Guatemala (A.K.A. Yavin or at least that's where they film those scenes from NEW HOPE). I came to New York when I was seven, where ironically I learned my first words in English from the old George Reeves Superman show. I was always yelling, "Look up in the sky!" and people just looked at me funny.

Skipping ahead a bit, I got a college internship with STARLOG, where I met Bob Greenberger. Years later that would pay off, when they were looking for someone in the copy room at DC, and Bob put in a good word for me.

So, yes it does matter whom you know. And I strongly recommend for people to do internships. It's a great way to meet people and make connections, and not just in comics. It also gives you an idea what the job really is, and maybe you don't want to do it. It changed my mind about wanting to be a publicist.

Fanzing: Are editors required to live near the DC offices in this day and age, or can they live anywhere the way writers and artists can?

Berganza: Editors have to come in to the offices, where all writers and artist send their material. It be cool if we could stay at home, but most the production is done at DC and we have to check it all on the premises.

Fanzing: I've been told that you have a wide knowledge of DC history. Who are your favorite DC characters? All considerations such as sale-ability aside, are there any DC characters not published that you'd like to see in their own titles?

Berganza: Yes, it's sad, I know so little about real history, but I can recall how Validus killed Invisible Kid in Pre-Crisis continuity. Just don't ask me numbers of issues.

My favorite characters are Batman--who's just so dark and cool--and Green Lantern (all of them)--a regular guy who can do anything with a magic ring. What could be better? And the more I work with him, the more I'm getting to like this guy from Krypton.

I'm a big fan of team books, and with the return of the JSA, I guess the only ones left are the DOOM PATROL (although Grant Morrison made it a tough act to follow) and there's also the METAL MEN.

Fanzing: "Titans" has been a big shock for the market, in terms of an iconic popularity that may almost rival "JLA". I mean, we all knew that there were New Teen Titans fans who've been hanging on even when the title was petering out, just as JLA fans managed to endure the really lame post-Giffen era, but did you think the enthusiasm for the new series would be this great?

Berganza: I was hoping it would be. I've always loved the team, and I knew there were others out there who felt the same--and there was some good stuff after Giffen.

Fanzing: The phrase Justice League always conjured up visions of the Big 7 and thus it seems only natural that JLA sprang back once the book contained those characters again. Was this the thinking you used in returning "The Titans" to a core group of the five founding members and five new members? Not to slight the writing or the art in any way, but do you attribute the success of the title to its return to the team icons?

Berganza: Well, it became obvious that regardless of the fun things we were trying to do with Dan Jurgens Titans, the readers were clamoring for the original five. Currently, we're giving them that and a little extra. The creative team of Devin Grayson, Mark Buckingham and Wade Von Grawbadger has contributed a lot to give it all a very modern spin.

Fanzing: Are you having any in-house difficulties in securing Nightwing and Flash (and to a lesser extent, Tempest), given that they are actively involved in other books? Is Flash a problem, given the upheaval in his own book AND his membership in JLA? Is Nightwing a problem, given that the Bat-team wants him down-to-earth?

Berganza: Sharing characters is always difficult because you don't control their fates as much as react to things happening to them. Thankfully, we've been able to use those twists and turn them into cool stories. The new Flash was a surprise, but Devin is playing with him in an interesting way. And this new guy will affect the team's performance as we go into our big bang wrap up for the year.

And the Bat-guys are very cool with us. We just lost Nightwing a bit during NML, and plan to keep him rooted to reality. He works best that way, and we don't see the point in changing it.

Fanzing: Why did you decide to split up the buddy team of Cyborg and Changeling?

Berganza: Because it was unexpected. You've seen them together so much. It was time to let them grow as characters apart from each other. Gar will be back for the end of the year wrap up. So, it's not like we don't like him, we just wanted some change.

Fanzing: Can you give any hints as to what we may see in the upcoming year of Titans?

Berganza: Ooh, that's a lot. Let see, in issues 7-8 the team encounters a speed drug, and the outcome has some serious repercussions for one of the members. In #9, we have the return of two past Titans favorites, and Donna and Roy get a little more serious with each other. Then 10-12 is our big Tartarus vs. Titans vs. H.I.V.E. that we've been building up to since issue #1.

Fanzing: Will there be any character development for Damage, whose intriguing origins were only revealed in the late issues of his own title?

Berganza: Definitely. Devin's got a great storyline for Grant that will change the way fans see him.

Fanzing: Any chance of a JLA/Titans crossover (or I guess that should be another crossover)? What about a Titans/JSA crossover? (I'd just love to see more of Damage and Nuklon/Atom Smasher, the "sons" of the Atom)

Berganza: None planned. There is a TITANS/LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES crossovers in the works by Dan Jurgens and Phil Jimenez. And I'd like to see the Titans team-up with Young Justice. I've been talking to the editor of that title, and we get along real well, so I'm hoping it'll happen.

Fanzing: I have a number of non-Titans questions here, as you edit a wide number of books. I've just got to ask…was it your idea to change Guy Gardner into "Warrior" and get rid of the bowl cut and the old costume? (BTW: I loved the postscript to the last issue of Warrior where the old, power-ringed jerk Guy Gardner returned and threw you guys out the DC Offices window. That was inspired!)

Berganza: Beau Smith was largely responsible for turning Guy into a real guy, and not just the jerk that Batman punched out. So we both agreed that the bowl-hair cut had to go. (You'll notice that what may be my biggest contribution to comics history is my attention to the hero's hair. Catwoman got a hair-cut during my brief editorial stint. Look for Superman's to be less stiff.)

Guy's costume change came about because at the time the whole change with Green Lantern was happening. So, I chose to sacrifice a power ring (even a yellow one) rather than Guy himself. It kept Kyle unique and we found something for Guy that was just his own.

Fanzing: Is it true that Devin Grayson was required to kill off Nemesis in a single issue of "Catwoman"? Can you shed any light on that?

Berganza: That was before I was the editor.

[Editor's note: I was under the mistaken impression that Berganza was the permanent editor of "Legends of the DC Universe" due to his editing a recent story. However, I think Eddie's answers were good, so I left this section of the interview in.]

Fanzing: "Legends of the DC Universe" is another title of yours. How is it doing, sales-wise? It seems like one of those titles that is so open to possibilities that it could go on forever if the sales keep up.

Berganza: That was never my book. The idea on that title was that each editor would provide a "Legendary" story with the characters under their perview. The book is now being handled entirely by Bob Schreck, and I can't wait to see what cool stuff he comes out with.

Fanzing: Is your basket overflowing with pitches for "Legends of the DC Universe"?

Berganza: Thankfully, no. Nor am I looking for any now for the reasons I stated above.

Fanzing: Excuse me if I'm advocating sales-shelf poison in an age where comics are already hard to market, but is there any chance of LOTDCU delving into characters beyond those who have their own books already? I'd thought the book was going to explore the vast DC Universe, but it seems to be a showcase for the big name characters either done by different creators (James Robinson writing Superman) or by their classic creators (Marv Wolfman on Teen Titans, Denny O on Green Lantern/Green Arrow). Others say it's a book devoted to telling DCU stories that aren't necessarily canonical, which was the way "Legends of the Dark Knight" began. (Certainly that's true of some stories such as the Superman story, which cannot be canonical unless you're wiping out the Golden Age Ultra-Humanite.) So I guess what I'm getting to is this: what do you see as the focus of Legends of the DC Universe?

Berganza: Well, you do want stuff that sells. That's not a bad thing. And you got cool creators working on characters they normally don't get a chance to or haven't done them in a long time. But to put you at ease there is some stuff coming up with lesser seen stars of the DCU like the Atom.

Fanzing: Did you feel the special Crisis on Infinite Earths issue was up to what you'd planned?

Berganza: Again this wasn't my book. This Special was handled by our Executive Editor Mike Carlin, and he seemed happy with it.

Fanzing: Any chance of seeing the Marvel Family in the Legends of the DCU?

Berganza: I guess.

Fanzing: Now I have a number of Superman questions. What has been your favorite incarnation of Superman over the years?

Berganza: The first movie is by far my favorite. The cartoon is excellent. I just wish Superman didn't grunt so much.

Fanzing: Do you have any plans to take the Superman titles in a different direction, and if so, what?

Berganza: They won't be as connected as before. They'll each have their own special flavor.

Yes, we are keeping the triangles, but only so the fans know what order these adventures are happening in. The subplots is what will really unite them, but very subtly, and you can enjoy the titles separately again if you wish. There will be 3 storylines that will unite them, but they will be contained to just one month and be spread far apart.

Fanzing: Do you agree with the "event-driven" approach to sales that Superman comics have taken?

Berganza: If the story is good, I'm all for it. Nobody complained about "The Death of.." or "Return of the Supermen."

Fanzing: Does DC consider the current multiple-title continuity for Superman to be a success? Has there been any discussion or consideration of a return to Silver Age-type, single-issue stories?

Berganza: The mega-fiction that has been created out of this has given us great story possibilities, definitely. There's also room for the single issue storyline. I plan to have all of the above.

Fanzing: Alan Moore has had great acclaim with Supreme, remaking the character to bear a remarkable resemblance to the Silver Age Superman and writing stories with many of the elements that used to be present in the Superman titles. Has DC considered that it might increase Superman's success and popularity by re-incorporating those elements into Superman?

Berganza: I'm hoping to move really forward with Superman into the new millennium. We can use the past as inspiration, but we have to have faith that we can create some of our own history.

Fanzing: How bad was the P.R. situation in terms of Jerry Ordway and Dan Jurgens leaving?

Berganza: It was not a good thing. Both these creators did a lot to put the Man of Steel back on the map, after a time that nobody cared about him. They will hopefully be involved with the character on other projects. But to get the focus back on the Super-titles, major changes were required. If everything were the same, would we be doing this interview?

Fanzing: Could you comment on Superman's future in the movies? Specifically, what would you like to see done and what would you like to avoid?

Berganza: I would just like them to have faith and respect in the material it's derived from. Again look at the first movie. When Superman first arrives to save Lois from the falling helicopter it's really inspiring!

Fanzing: What do you think of a Superman-Supreme crossover? Superman-Captain America? Superman-Thor?

Berganza: S/S, if Alan Moore wrote it and all they did was played cards, it would still be amazing. Supes and Cap: someone like Mark Waid could probably come up with a good spin that would bring home the whole "American Way" ideal. And Superman-Thor? Hey, there's this new kid named Jurgens, who might be able to come up with a big enough cosmic thing for these two to meet, and, of course, FIGHT!

But what I'd really like to see is SUPERMAN/X-MEN. I think Kal and Ororo would hit it off. And to see Rogue kiss Superman and steal his powers would be fun. Plus Brainiac and Magneto meeting--whoo-hoo!

Fanzing: Do you have any tips on how to get into comic book writing (or art) in this day and age?

Berganza: Do an internship. Become an apprentice to someone. It's not easy, but those help get your stuff seen. And then there's…

Fanzing: Dan Curtis Johnson tells me that he got his first professional writing gig with DC Comics, which flies in the face of the usual "work your way up via smaller companies" route. As the editor who hired him, what made you decide to give him that chance? What signs are there that tell you a new writer has talent?

Berganza: He had the sponsorship of a really good artist in J.H. Williams III. I trusted J.H.'s judgment, and wanting to work more with J.H. made me open to the idea of looking at his writer-friend's material.

Fanzing: Do you consider Amateur Press Association and other fan fiction…where Devin Grayson and Jay Faerber got their start…to be a helpful training ground for aspiring writers?

Berganza: As with anything, the more you do it, the better you'll get. So any forum that allows you to practice your craft and get printed is a good thing.

Fanzing: What are some differences between working with relative newcomers (like Devin Grayson) versus longtime writers like Waid or Peter David?

Berganza: The newcomer, if you're lucky and get someone as talented as Devin, will give you a fresh approach to super-heroes that the older pro won't have thought of…just because he has been doing it for so long and won't question some of things that for him or her have become standard to super-heroes. Of course, a real pro will strive harder to get you a new aspect of a hero that you've never thought of before. The Speed Force is an example of that. What Peter did on the Hulk was uh, Incredible.

Fanzing: Has the comics business changed with the coming of the Internet?

Berganza: Too much gossip about the creators. We're kinda losing the fact that the characters are what's important, and not who's feuding with whom.

Fanzing: What do you think should be done to expand comics readership in the US?

Berganza: Getting the books into more places. Getting kids back into them. DC's doing pretty good with its Trade Paperback program, so I'm hoping that's the beginning of something bigger.

Fanzing: What's the hardest decision you've ever had to make as an editor?

Berganza: Whether to take off to see THE PHANTOM MENACE or not.

Fanzing: So…who does your hair?

Berganza: A lady named Tracey, but I'm very particular about it. I gotta keep my Tempest look going.

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by Michael Hutchison.