One of the best webcomics out there is JL8 by Yale Stewart, and it just so happened to turn one-year-old this week. The strip, formerly titled Little League, sets the Justice League where we don’t think they’ve ever been before: Elementary school. Stewart was nice enough to discuss JL8′s first year, including how he picks which characters to use and why he changed the strip’s name. We’ve paired up his answers with some of the best strips from JL8′s already impressive run.
JL8 puts the likes of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman up against birthday parties, an evil gym teacher from the planet Apokolips, and a playground full of bullies that look an awful lot like the Legion of Doom. Most of the strips are funny, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting choked up one every once in a while. They can be surprisingly touching.
No. 1 | JL8 #1
Geekosystem: JL8 is a year old this week. Did you think it would carry on this long when you started? Yale Stewart: That's a really good question. To be honest, I think that was the last thing on my mind. I was more concerned about just getting the next strip out, and seeing if anyone would continue to read it.
No. 2 | JL8 Character Buttons
You’ve drawn from a lot of the DC universe. How did you decide which characters to include? Well, some are a given. The entire premise is essentially an analysis of the Justice League and the relationships therein, as well as a throwback to the Silver Age of comics. That being said, the Silver Age Justice League are the obvious choices, with Karen (Power Girl) standing in for Aquaman since I felt there should be another female presence. Also, I felt that Karen was well-known enough to fans that it wouldn't feel like too strange a fit, especially with her connection to the JSA.
No. 3 | JL8 #19 by Yale Stewart
For the secondary characters, Julie Schwartz was essentially the father of DC's Silver Age, so it would make sense for him to be the teacher, since he's the one that brought all of these characters together. Darkseid being the gym coach is just too funny a joke to pass up.
No. 4 | From JL8 #33
The "villain" kids are pretty much the Legion of Doom from SuperFriends with a few roster tweaks, but that continues the Silver Age throwback trend.
No. 5 | Beware the Brat
The strip is called JL8 now, but when it started it was Little League. I remember when you changed it, but you didn’t give a lot of details. Why the switch? Legal reasons. That's all I can say. Legal reasons not involving DC.
No. 6 |
Have you had any problems from DC about using the characters? So far, no. I'm hoping that trend will continue.
No. 7 | From JL8 #79
You’ve included characters like Daniel Hall that not a lot of people know, without any real exposition about who the character is. How is the feedback from fans when you use an obscure character? It's been mixed. It's a weird thing. Since the strip centers around well-known characters, it seems to have cultivated this perception that you should know every character, and if you don't, you're out of the loop, which really worries me. I don't want any reader to feel that it's becoming too referential or anything like that. The entire purpose of the strip is to provide a comic that anyone can jump in and read and not feel like they're left out of stuff. Daniel was brought in and intentionally left vague. Not because I thought a bunch of people would know who he was and could fill in the blanks, but because I thought it made his appearance more interesting. Maybe I went a little too far, but I thought him mentioning to Clark that he was, in fact, dreaming and that this place was his home would give some kind of clue to the reader that "okay, he's a kid that lives in dreams or something." Technically, that's all you need to know about the character at that time. Maybe I went a little too far with the vague. I don't know. I'm just very cautious to not let things become only appealing to a comic fan. I don't want that at all.
No. 8 | JL8 #5
Are there any characters you’ve wanted to write in, but haven’t been able to yet? Oh, yeah. A ton. There are a bunch of storylines I have planned out that I haven't been able to get to yet.
No. 9 | JL8 #28
Do you have a favorite JL8 strip? Mine’s #51 where Bruce talks to “Robin”. I have a few favorites, yeah, for a variety of reasons. Strip #28 is a favorite because I feel that there's a really noticeable shift in the art (that it gets better).
No. 10 | JL8 #40
Strip #40? #39? The one where Bruce is testing his new suits "stealth abilities" I really liked. I always enjoy a strip that I myself can't help but laugh at, and drawing him slinking out of panel took forever because I couldn't stop chuckling.
No. 11 | From JL8 #67
Same with #65 or whatever, when Clark "pushes" him into the bookcase, and Bruce asks "Am I dead?" It's weird. I feel like I don't have an overall favorite, but I can find something to enjoy or something that I'm proud of in virtually every strip.
No. 12 | From JL8 #51
Any plans for Robin to make another appearance? Absolutely, yeah.
No. 13 | From JL8 #85
The kids in the strip that have powers have used them, but only tangentially. Will we see them use them in some sort of full-force conflict? That's a really good question, and one that I've been debating for a really long time. So I guess I don't really have an answer for you, but I would venture to say that odds are better that they will than they won't.
No. 14 | JL8 Free Comic Book Day Art
Do you have plans to release a print version of JL8? Is that even an option using DC characters? Absolutely not. As much as I wish I could, that is simply not an option.
We’d obviously like to thank Mr. Stewart for taking the time to talk to us about his strip, and we wish him and JL8 all the best in the future. JL8 currently updates every Monday and Thursday, but we wouldn’t be opposed to seeing it every single day of the week.
(via JL8, images courtesy of Yale Stewart)
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