Jeff Lemire Talks Creation, Comics, and Expanding the World of BLACK HAMMER (Exclusive)

Jeff Lemire has had an impressive career. Beginning with indie books like Essex County and Sweet Tooth to becoming one of the most prolific Big Two writers of the last decade, Lemire has really done it all. After almost 10 years of making comics about other people’s creations, he returned to the world of creator owned books with his critically lauded Dark Horse Comics series, Black Hammer. It’s a deconstructed look at superhero comics, with Lemire introducing an entirely new roster of heroes banished after a multiversal crisis, now making their home on a small farm. Black Hammer was a huge success and saw Lemire recently launch the world’s first spin-off, Sherlock Frankenstein. We got a sneak peak at some exclusive pages, and talked with Lemire about his career, creating a comics book universe, and expanding the world of Black Hammer.

Black Hammer was years in the making, and originally Lemire never imagined it becoming a shared universe book or even an ongoing series. “The genesis of Black Hammer was something that slowly evolved over many years, so at the beginning I didn’t really see what was coming. It was over 10 years ago that I originally conceived the world of Black Hammer, and at that time I hadn’t really written many comics for other artists. I’d only really done my indie stuff. I was originally going to draw it myself and it was just going to be a graphic novel, and over the years I would open the notebook and add little things to it. Little by little it started to change and grow and turned into what it eventually became,” Lemire told us.

After the success of Black Hammer it was a simple choice for Lemire to keep creating within the same world. “I’d done a lot of superhero stuff at Marvel and DC, but as soon as I started doing Black Hammer it became apparent to me that any superhero story I wanted to tell from now on I could tell myself with so much more freedom. It’s kind of hard not to jump at that, you know?” he laughed.

Sherlock Frankenstein revolves around Black Hammer’s daughter. Although the book is also about expanding the world of Black Hammer and introducing a roster of brand new villains, it’s really just a story about a girl on a journey to get closer to her dad. “Even with Black Hammer–and especially with Sherlock Frankenstein–the book was always about Lucy, and I think you’ll see that she was always going to be the main character of this book. I was just laying the groundwork. Really it’s just about this girl on a quest for her father,” Lemire explained.

Creating comics is a huge undertaking and there’s something very special about finding that one great collaborator. For Jeff, Sherlock Frankenstein artist David Rubin is a constant source of inspiration. “David is one of the rare artists who takes whatever I give him and brings it to life more than I could’ve imagined, and it’s always better than I could have imagined! I’ll see what he did and I’ll sit down to write the script, and it’s almost like my ideas get better because of what I’ve seen. They go in a direction I never would’ve gone, just seeing the way that he draws characters. So that kind of collaboration that you don’t get all the time, that’s really exciting for me to have someone like that to work with. It’s kind of like a game of catch–he throws it to me and I throw it to him, and everytime it comes back a little bit better,” Lemire recounted.

As for what’s next for the world of Black Hammer? “The one I’m working on now is a little bit bigger, a companion book. There’s no sort of rule or format we’re using. If the story feels like it needs to be bigger, we can do that. It sort of feels limitless at the moment,” Lemire said.

As our exclusive pages show–you can read the rest in the gallery below–Sherlock Frankenstein is a visually stunning book with an intimate and authentic story at its core. You can grab Sherlock Frankenstein #2 from your local comic shop on November 22. We can’t wait, but will you be picking it up? Let us know in the comments!

Images: Dark Horse Comics

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