One of the featured guests at Salt Lake Comic Con was Jake Black, a writer with over 350 published/produced credits whose work includes writing for Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Authorized Ender Companion, as well as writing numerous special feature commentary on the DVD releases of Smallville.
Serving as moderator was his good friend Jeff Michael Vice, writer for MSN Movies and panelist for the Geekshow Podcast who opened by asking Black explaining what drew him to superhero fiction.
“I think it’s the hope,” Black said. “The light at the end of the tunnel that not THE light at the end of the tunnel.”
Black got his start in 2001 as a writing intern on Smallville after a long internet search that led to him acquiring the production company’s phone number from a Spanish language site. He stayed on for the entire 10 year-run of the series.
“They pulled me and a couple of the entry level position folk into their office and they said ‘We’ve got seven episodes left this season, and we’re open to pitches’,” Black said “I went home that night and came back with ten pitches…they were all terrible, but it showed initiative…”
From there, he went on to work on Smallville‘s viral campaign and even wrote an issue of Smallville comic miniseries.
“When your first comics publication has the DC shield on it, smaller independent companies are willing to look at you,” Black said. “My career just kind of branched out from that internship.”
In 2009, Black was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. During this time, the producers of Smallville, and other comics professionals, such as Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame, came out to support him and his family.
“They had a big falling out about 15 years ago,” Black said. “but they worked on for our cancer bills. It was the first piece of art they had worked together in 10 years at that point.”
Black was declared cancer-free in December of 2009 and has since worked at a stable writing job writing licensed children’s books, although he does occasional freelance work.
“After cancer, my wife and I really wanted stability, and to a certain extent, we didn’t care what that stability was,” Black said. “The great thing is now I can pick whatever writing opportunities I want to take rather than having to be a hustler all the time…”
Jake Black currently lives in Utah with his wife, son, and twin daughters.