Interview By: Kaitlyn Tarallo
Magic is brewing in the Marvel Universe, and you can thank Jason Aaron for that! Before Benedict Cumberbatch became the face of the upcoming cinematic adaptation of Doctor Strange, Aaron was hard at work transforming the Sorcerer Supreme in an all new Doctor Strange comic book series. We were lucky enough to chat with the Marvel Comics writer about what went into taking on this project, and the future of this mystical superhero. Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Q: We’ve read that your comic book career started after winning a Marvel Comics talent search contest. What a way to dive into the business! What kind of advice would you give to recent grads working toward their dream careers?
JA: Well it’s a great gig if you can get it. For me, it was worth everything I had to go through in order to get here. I’ve never worked harder as a writer than when I was first trying to break in to the business. Even though writing wasn’t the thing that was paying my bills at the time, I still had to treat it like my main gig. If you want writing to be your full-time job someday, you can’t wait until someone is paying you to do it before you start devoting the time to it. If you want it to be your job, you’ve got to treat it like a job. Which means you’ve got to write and re-write as much as you possibly can. Let’s just say I didn’t exactly have a very active social life back in those breaking-in days.
Q: Speaking of Marvel, you started working on Doctor Strange about a year ago, and have been with it ever since. How did that opportunity come about?
JA: I sought it out. It wasn’t that I’ve been carrying around a briefcase full of Doctor Strange pitches for years. It just kind of suddenly seemed like the right character at the right time for me. It was the same way when I took over Thor. I’ve always loved the weirder characters and creators from throughout Marvel’s history. Artist Steve Ditko gave Doctor Strange so much of his innate weirdness back in the 60s. And then writer Steve Englehart really took that to another level in the 70s. I’m just trying to out-weird those guys, I suppose, and build upon the foundation they laid.
Q: When it comes to working on a developed character like Doctor Strange, who has been featured in stories by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, do you feel an added sense of pressure? Did you always feel fully prepared to take him in a new direction?
JA: With any job at Marvel, you find yourself standing on the shoulders of giants. So yes, there’s always pressure, especially for someone like me who grew up reading these characters and worshipping their creators. But you can’t be intimidated by that and afraid to leave your mark on the characters. If anything, that pressure gets me more excited for the job. With everything I do, I’m trying to honor what’s come before with these characters, while also taking them in a direction they’ve never been and putting them in the midst of stories we’ve hopefully never seen.
Q: Which elements of his character were you careful to preserve?
JA: He’s the weirdest guy in the Marvel Universe, and the beat he walks sets him apart from any other hero in the Marvel Universe. Doctor Strange spends his days dabbling with magical forces that are beyond human comprehension. There has to be a price for that. A price he pays, whether physically or mentally or spiritually or all of the above. So when Strange shows up and casts a spell to save the day, it’s a bit more complicated than Captain America throwing his shield or Spider-Man shooting some webs. It’s a dark and dangerous path he has to walk as Sorcerer Supreme. So on the outside, Doctor Strange may seem like he’s having loads of fun, which I like, because I want the series to be playful and fun, but on the inside, Stephen Strange is a damaged and tortured soul.
Q: Doctor Strange has a multitude of not-so-typical superpowers, all of which come with their own repercussions. What is your strategy while writing about these powers and their costs? Do you try to incorporate themes that are relatable to current events and the real world around us?
JA: My main objective was just to show that there is a cost to what he does. Doctor Strange can’t just be the deus ex machina who shows up, wiggles his fingers and saves the day. I wanted to see him work harder for his victories. And to show that even when he wins, he has to pay a terrible price to wield such powers.
Q: Which power do you find to be the most fascinating for the Sorcerer Supreme?
JA: His digestive prowess. You’ve seen his refrigerator, right? No, scratch that. Never look inside Doctor Strange’s refrigerator. Trust me. That’s rule #1 at the Sanctum Sanctorum.
Q: Many dedicated readers are anxiously waiting the premier of the cinematic adaptation of DOCTOR STRANGE on November 4. What are your hopes for the Doctor Strange franchise once the movie premieres?
JA: I’m just excited for magic to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think we’ll see things we’ve never seen in a Marvel movie. I for one can’t wait to be transported to Doctor Strange’s weird little corner of that world.
Q: We’re definitely looking forward to what the future holds for Doctor Strange. Are there any upcoming projects in the works that you can share with us?
JA: Right now, the doc is busy facing down a murderer’s row of fearsome enemies. The “Blood in the Aether” arc sees Strange facing a different enemy with each issue. Some of them are new to the pages of a Doctor Strange comic. Others are some of the most notorious members of his traditional rogues gallery, now reimagined by artist Chris Bachalo and I. It’s gonna be a tough ride for Doctor Strange. But hopefully a fun read for fans.
Have you had a chance to read Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange comics? Share your feedback with us in the comments below!