Comic-Con: 'Supernatural' Creator Eric Kripke Gets 'Jacked'

Jacked Promo Illustration - H 2015
<p>Jacked Promo Illustration - H 2015</p>   |   DC Entertainment
"I’m using the superhero myth as a way into an honest story about a mid-life crisis"

Supernatural creator Eric Kripke's arrival in the world of comics was announced earlier this year, when his series about a regular man who received more than he anticipated from a "smart pill" he purchased online was called Amped. Now titled Jacked, the comic book series — which he's also developing for television — is scheduled to arrive in stores this November, and he told The Hollywood Reporter all about it.

What was the genesis of doing Jacked as a comic book, considering your history in television? Is this scratching the itch of a longtime comic fan?

For a long time, I wanted to tell a brutally, embarrassingly realistic superhero story, where the hero isn’t a square-jawed dude, but a neurotic with a gut and acid reflux (or: me).  And so it made sense to tell that story in the medium that inspired it— comic books.  I also want to make it into a television series, but the comic gives me the perfect lab to explore the characters and the world.

And yes, Vertigo has been a major, major influence on my work. You can find Supernatural’s DNA inside Sandman, Preacher, and Hellblazer (which sounds dirtier than I meant it to).  If you look at the comics on my office shelf, it’s something like 90 percent Vertigo.  I dig it more than any other label by a mile.  So I’m beyond thrilled— and honored and humbled-- to be writing a Vertigo title.  

You were writing the mini while also developing the concept for television; what was surprising about the differences between the two media when it came to the way the stories behaved in both?

I find that you really use different muscles when writing for each medium.  Screenwriting is based on time: the actor takes a beat; there’s a rhythm to an action sequence; there’s an emotional moment.  But comic writing is based on space: how many panels per page, what image makes the most sense in that panel, whether or not you present a big full-page splash.  And the two mediums don’t always translate from one to the other.  So there’s been a challenging (and fun) learning curve, as I’ve tried to figure out how to reach the full— and very different— potential of the comic format.  

The series centers around a man who becomes a superhero practically by accident; I've seen you describe this book as a personal story, so are you approaching superpowers as a metaphor for celebrity and the "power" (and, as Spider-Man would put it, responsibility) that comes with it?

It's flattering that you think I’d have any stories to tell about celebrity or power!  Afraid I don’t have much of either!  No, when I call Jacked personal— and it is, the most personal thing I’ve ever written— I mean that I’m using the superhero myth as a way into an honest story about a mid-life crisis.  (Which yes, I’m having.)  And I think it’s relatable for a lot of people.  Who have we grown up into?  Are we the people we thought we’d be, when we were kids?  Is there still time to do something truly exceptional?  Plus, now our knees and backs and stomachs hurt.  So: what if there was a pill that not only made you stronger, but allowed you to finally fulfill your dreams?  Well, I’ll tell you — you’d get addicted...

You have a killer art team on this book. What is it like working with artists, colorists and letterers instead of actors, directors, and the army of people responsible for bringing your shows to life?

I’ve been a rabid fan of John Higgins for years.  Among his massive pile of incredible work, he drew my all-time favorite Hellblazer story Son of Man.  So it’s a dream come true to be able to work with him.  He’s so skilled and talented and kind that mostly, I’m just trying to learn from him— and stay out of his way.  

And working with one artist, rather than a whole team of filmmakers, is both freeing-- and intimidating.  Freeing because the budget is much lower— and the limits are our imaginations.  Intimidating for the same reason— there are no limits.  Usually, there’s only so much you can pull off in television, but that gives you some creative direction, working within those boundaries.  In comics, there’s no boundaries— and so I find myself battling the blank page a bit more.

Jacked launches in November.