Tuesday Q&A

Tuesday Q&A: Lee Weeks

The legendary creator returns to Daredevil with a special project!

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Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 preview inks by Lee Weeks

By Jim Beard

The legendary Lee Weeks made an indelible mark on the Marvel Universe with his “Last Rites” story in DAREDEVIL during the 1990’s. Now, he returns to the character with an all-new tale in the upcoming DAREDEVIL: DARK NIGHTS, an eight-issue limited series featuring some of the greatest talents in comics taking on the further adventures of the Man Without Fear. DAREDEVIL: DARK NIGHTS #1 arrives on June 5.

Weeks’ story, “Angels Unaware,” revolves around a horrific blizzard and a ticking clock that could spell doom for a young person at death’s door. We asked the creator about how the story—which he both writes and draws—came to be, his love for the character of Daredevil, and the particular joy that comes in working with Matt Murdock.

Marvel.com: Lee, you've worked on so many of the Marvel characters over the years; why does Daredevil remain one of your all-time favorites?

Lee Weeks: My favorite characters from childhood were the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, but in those coming-of-age years—late teens/early 20’s—there was something so powerful in what Frank Miller was doing with DAREDEVIL—first with Klaus Janson, and even more so in “Born Again” with David Mazzuchelli—there was something so sincere and real about this guy and his challenges that I didn’t see in other characters. The “Born Again” storyline came out shortly after I broke in [to comics] and it resonated with me in a way and to a degree only a small number of comics ever have.

I love pathos, and Matt Murdock has that in abundance. I also greatly appreciate the element of his faith that has been part of the character for so long.

Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 preview inks by Lee Weeks

Marvel.com: What about DD’s look inspires you?

Lee Weeks: That red costume is so powerfully elegant in its simplicity; combined with the way he moves with perfect control and grace, it’s a powerful package.

Marvel.com: How did the DAREDEVIL: DARK NIGHTS project come about for you? What was the impetus behind your story?

Lee Weeks: The last thing I had written was the Spider-Man limited series DEATH AND DESTINY, circa 2000. I thought I was going to be writing much more after that, but life takes its twists and turns. In fact, I think this was the very first story I even tried to write after Spider-Man; I came up with it four years ago.

There are two distinct things I remember being the genesis for “Angels Unaware”; one, I’ve felt the state of the hero in general, and Daredevil, specifically, had ventured into darker waters than what I remembered. I wanted to find a story that revisited simply what it is to be heroic.

Two, I had a scene that popped into my head, independent of the previous thought. The scene was comprised of a series of ground-level horizontal frames with Matt, having been mugged, lying face down in the snow while people are passing by but not stopping to help him. We see only their shoes, but we can derive something of their societal status by the shoes. Finally, a different pair of shoes—torn and tattered, duct-taped together, worn by a large grizzled guy—only these stop right in front of him. Is he going to be mugged again? No, instead, this guy bends into frame, gathers Matt up, and carries him off to be attended to.

Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 preview inks by Lee Weeks

It’s the age-old idea that appearances can be deceiving; it’s the inner man that matters. And, as much as we want our heroes to be heroic, I think there’s something powerful in realizing that even with all that power, nobody is doing this alone. Nobody does life alone—at least not successfully!

The story sat in a drawer—actually, a hard drive folder—at Marvel for two years. Then editors Steve Wacker [and] Tom Brennan called me and said the previous Daredevil editor, in the transition process, told them about my story and they wanted me to do it.

Marvel.com: Has anything changed in your approach to writing Matt Murdock since you last left him?

Lee Weeks: Hopefully, his core is intact. A lot of what is very cool about telling stories is it often isn’t about changing the character, but revealing the character that’s always been there. Great revelatory moments can often be getting at what someone has been all along, but it’s just never been brought forth. Of course, maybe what’s at our core isn’t always as good as we’d like to believe it is.

Marvel.com: How does the blizzard in your tale bring out the best—or worst—in Matt?

Lee Weeks: The blizzard is the antagonist—well, along with the city and even Matt himself. Sure, there are more flesh and blood barriers to Matt accomplishing his objective, but it’s that blizzard that has challenged his senses to a degree that makes him more like you and me. He isn’t able to rely on his powers as much as he normally can.

The blizzard also is metaphor; the first part is subtitled “Whiteout.” That has a few different meanings, which I’ll leave to be discovered.

Daredevil: Dark Nights #1 preview inks by Lee Weeks

Marvel.com: How does it feel to be both writing and drawing this story? How do you work when you're doing both, as far as the order you create pages?

Lee Weeks: That’s a great question, and simply put, it’s a blast; and I have no formula. It’s back and forth between thumbnails and words, treating the words and pictures like two melodies in a piece of music. Sometimes the melodies run parallel, sometimes they deal in a more counterpoint way. I love finding places where the two seem to be about very different things, but then intersect in a unique way – creating a moment. A story is a series of moments, big and small, rising and falling, leading to that big moment.

As artists, we are given a puzzle to solve. As writer, I get to create the puzzle. And, as much fun as the writing is, I may like the challenge of the re-writing even more; paring things away, getting rid of superfluous words, changing, rearranging—refining. I want to get it down to something that flows with a very specific rhythm. For me, whether in the drawing or the writing, it’s all about rhythm—finding the right set of beats—in a panel, in a scene, etc.
I can only hope I found a little rhythm and a few moments in this one.

DAREDEVIL: DARK NIGHTS #1 by Lee Weeks debuts on Wednesday, June 5.

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