Jeph Loeb

Jeph Loeb

Joseph "Jeph" Loeb, III was born in Stamford, CT. The die was cast for the future writer when in the 12-year-old Loeb read his first comic book. Within a year, the young boy had become so obsessed with the medium of sequential art storytelling that he managed to convince his father to purchase an extensive collection of comics from a collector in New York. Reportedly, the assemblage included nearly every Marvel comic published between 1961 and 1970. Further cementing his destiny was the fact that while living in Massachusetts, where his step-father was the Vice President of Brandeis University, Loeb spent time in the company of college student, family friend and popular DC Comics scribe Elliot Maggin. Although comic books and superheroes were still a passion for Loeb, more practical professional aspirations led him to attend Columbia University, where he studied film. Under the guidance of such visiting instructors as Paul Schrader, he soon earned a BA and master's degree in film. Immediately upon graduation, Loeb was on a plane and off to the West Coast, determined to take Hollywood by storm.After penning an episode for the supernatural suspense anthology series "The Hitchhiker" (HBO, 1983-87/USA Network, 1989-1991), Loeb officially broke into feature film screenwriting with the script for "Teen Wolf" (1985). Co-written with friend Matthew Weisman, the low-budget fantasy-comedy became an early hit for its star, TV heartthrob Michael J. Fox. On a roll, Loeb and Weisman saw another of their script collaborations hit movie screens later that year in the form of the Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot-'em-up "Commando" (1985). Another box office hit, it out-grossed "Teen Wolf" and went on to achieve considerable cult classic status over the years that followed. Less successful was Loeb and Weisman's follow-up, the script to "Burglar" (1987), an action-comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg and based on a novel series by crime author Lawrence Block. That same year, Jason Bateman took over for Fox in the comedy sequel "Teen Wolf Too" (1987). Based on a story by Loeb and Weisman, it was scripted by another burgeoning writer named Timothy Kring. Despite the critical and commercial disappointment of "Teen Wolf Too," Kring would become instrumental in a later phase of Loeb's screen career.Later in the decade, it was almost by accident that Loeb made his first foray into the obsession of his childhood - comic books. While working on a script for a movie based on the DC Comics superhero The Flash, the young writer was introduced to then-DC Publisher Jenette Kahn, who asked Loeb if he might be interested in writing an actual comic after the film project had fallen by the wayside. Loeb enthusiastically accepted and was eventually paired with up-and-coming artist Tim Sale for a limited series revival of a relatively obscure non-superpowered team of heroes known as the Challengers of the Unknown in 1991. Although a second miniseries of the title was nixed, Loeb's partnership with Sale would prove instrumental to his future success in the industry. In the meantime, Loeb and Wiseman co-wrote the little-seen "Model by Day" (1994), an action-adventure about a fashion model who uses her martial arts skills to battle evil. Ironically, the film's star, Famke Janssen, would later garner far more notoriety Jean Grey/Phoenix in the comic book adaptation "X-Men" (2000) film franchise.After honing his craft in comics on lesser titles for several years, in 1996 Loeb and Sale reteamed for what would be their breakthrough in the art form. A 13-part miniseries, Batman: The Long Halloween, was set during the caped crusader's early days as a crime fighter and revolved around a holiday-themed mystery involving a serial killer who claims a victim each month. Universally praised by critics, the atmospheric, noir-infused tale made stars of the comic book creative team. Continuing with similar themed back-to-basics storylines, Loeb and Sale turned out a number of subsequent works for DC, such as Superman for All Seasons, the Long Halloween follow-up Batman: Dark Victory, and the year-long event Batman: Hush. Now in high demand, the collaborators provided their services for DC competitor Marvel Comics, for who they delivered the color coordinated titles Spider-Man: Blue, Hulk: Gray and Daredevil: Yellow.Coinciding with his rise in prominence in the comic industry, the medium of television began to present Loeb with several unique opportunities. Among them was a stint as a co-producer and writer on the children's animated series "Seven Little Monsters" (PBS, 2000-03) alongside series creator and celebrated children's book artist-author Maurice Sendak. Noted for his work on Superman for All Season - which helped inspire the show's creators - Loeb was brought on as a consulting producer for the Superman coming-of-age series "Smallville," (The WB/The CW, 2001-2011) during its second season. Later promoted to supervising producer, Loeb also contributed his writing skills, introducing the long-standing comic book concept of "red kryptonite" - a radioactive element from the hero's home planet that exerts an adverse influence on his personality - to the show. Although the series producers offered to keep him on board, Loeb left "Smallville" at the end of his three-year contract in order to care for his son, Sam, who was battling bone cancer at the time. Following in his father's footsteps, Sam had already begun a career as a comics writer, penning an issue of Loeb's Superman/Batman series prior to his death in the summer of 2005 at the age of 17. Despite this devastating personal blow, Loeb moved forward professionally and in early 2006, was brought on staff as a supervising producer during the second season of the TV phenomenon "Lost," (ABC, 2004-2010). With its supernatural themes, bizarre mysteries and ongoing storylines, the immensely popular show shared many similarities with the comic book storytelling at which Loeb excelled. In 2006, he was lured away by none other than "Teen Wolf Too" scribe Tim Kring, who wanted Loeb to join him as an executive producer and contributing writer on a series he had recently created. Inspired by comic book mythology, but placed in a more "real world" setting, "Heroes," (NBC, 2006-2010) became one of the biggest hits on television during its celebrated first season. In his new role, Loeb brought in his comics collaborator Tim Sale to provide several pieces of key artwork, shown prominently throughout the series, and scripted several pivotal episodes. Riding high at the end of the first season, "Heroes" was nominated for Emmy, Writers Guild and Golden Globe awards and won a People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama.As quickly as "Heroes" had risen in popularity, however, it soon began to experience troubles early in its second season, when audience dissatisfaction led to a steady decline in ratings. In the fall of 2008, Loeb and co-executive producer Jesse Alexander were both fired from the show due to the network's concern over the creative direction of the troubled series, which was cancelled less than two years later. Never far from his first love, the writer continued to work in the comic book industry throughout this period, further solidifying a working relationship with Marvel Comics as one of their main story architects. After penning the much debated comic book miniseries Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, which used the five stages of grief to explore the after effects of the star-spangled hero's (temporary) demise, Loeb scripted another superhero event for Marvel, titled Ultimatum. While both series sold well, critical and fan responses to the latter effort were some of the worst of Loeb's career, with particular ire directed at the graphically violent Ultimatum, which many felt traded solely on shock value. Meanwhile, DC Animation released a pair of direct-to-DVD animated features adapted from two of Loeb's earlier celebrated endeavors for the company - "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies" (2009) and "Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" (2010). Making a move to the front office, Loeb was named the Executive Vice President, Head of Television at Marvel Entertainment in 2010, where he oversaw live-action and animated series based on the company's vast character library. Early projects for the newly-minted executive included the animated series "Iron Man: Armored Adventures" (Nicktoons, 2009-12), "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes" (Disney XD, 2010-12) and "Ultimate Spider-Man" (Disney XD, 2012-17). By Bryce Coleman