Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category
Canadian creator, Seth.
The Toronto Comic Arts Festival hits the city this weekend packed with a veritable who’s who of top cartoonists — both from Canada and abroad.
Headlining this event is the on-stage reuniting of longtime Toronto comic book icons Joe Matt, Chester Brown and Seth.
Just ahead of his get-together, Seth (yes, just Seth) took time out to speak with JPK about why TCAF is important, the many projects he’s got on the go and why it’s so much fun to torture Joe Matt.
JPK: Tell me about the significance of having Chet, Joe and yourself reunited on stage.
Seth: “We were close friends and working artists together for a long time, maybe 10 years, in Toronto. Then Joe moved away to Los Angeles and I moved to Guelph and it’s just been a long time since we spent any significant time together.
“Even though there’s a stage event of getting together, the nicest part is for us just to be together after a quite a bit of time.”
JPK: Joe recently published Spent, a collection of some issues of his comic, Peepshow, and the friendship between the three of you is a large element. Is the story an accurate reflection of your relationship with one another?
Seth: “It’s accurate in some sense and in others it’s not — which is one of the things we hope to take him to task for when we see him. Rereading the book myself, I was reminded of how inaccurate it actually was.
“You can’t really argue with someone’s interpretation of how they see you. I come off much more significantly mean than, well, my wife might think, but the truth is I was probably a lot meaner to Joe than I was to anyone else.
“When you read something like that you realize that you’re kind of a puppet for the other person’s opinions. A lot of the stuff in there where I say ‘this is nothing like me’ I think ‘well, this is exactly like Joe’. Because it’s just an opportunity for Joe to get someone else to say the things that he can’t have himself saying in every panel.
“But it’s a funny book, though. You can’t get too angry.”
JPK: What’s your impression of this weekend’s third biennial Toronto Comics Arts Festival?
Seth: “I think it’s a really good event for Toronto. I think it’s nice to actually get away from the idea of the comic book convention, per se, which generally have been focused on collecting. What’s nice about TCAF is that it’s really focused more on the art form. It gives people an opportunity to come out and see comics, not purely from that collecting sort of angle, and promotes it as an art form that is coming into its own finally.”
JPK: Do you enjoy getting the chance to meet your fans and hear their feedback?
Seth: “I’m not one of those people who really enjoys meeting the public. I’m comfortable with it, since I’ve done enough of it over the years now, but it’s just too hard to have a meaningful conversation with someone who’s coming up to have a book signed.
“I tend to be the type of person who’s happy to just sit in the studio alone at home.”
JPK: What do you expect from your stage appearance on Saturday night?
Seth: “I think we’re counting, on some degree, on being able to have an actual conversation.
“Chet and I have sat down and done a bit of talking about what kind of direction it might go. We certainly want to put Joe on the spot in some manner or other. He seems just sort of to demand that kind of behaviour from you.
“We’re going to focus on Joe, primarily, since he’s the one coming through town with a new book. We want to give him a chance to really talk about what his artistic choices were — and then hopefully we’ll tear him to pieces over it.” *laughs*
JPK: I understand you’re currently working on a project for the New York Times?
Seth: “I finished that up now and I’m working on expanding it into a book.”
JPK: Is that what you’re primarily working on right now?
Seth: “It’s one of a couple of things I’m working on. Right now I’m working on finishing up my next issue of my Palookaville comic which is continuing on a story called Clyde Fans, which I’ve been working on for years. I’m hoping on getting a couple more of those out within the calendar year.
“As soon as that’s done I’m back to what I was just talking about, which is George Sprott. That’ll take me probably a couple of months, to get that together into a book.
“At the same time as that I’m working on a collection for [Canadian publisher] Drawn & Quarterly on Doug Wright. It’s going to be a two-volume series on his life’s work.
“He was an amazing cartoonist. I collected his work and studied him for about 10 years at least, as a collector, planning this book series, but then when it actually got underway we actually tracked down his family and went into the archives where he has donated all his work and it really was an eye opener to see the amount of work and the quality of work he did in his life.
“I think it’s going to be an impressive series for Canadians to see, too, because I don’t think we have much of a sense of the history of cartooning here in Canada.”
JPK: And, of course, you’re still working away on the design for Fantagraphics’ Peanuts collections?
Seth: “Oh yeah. There’s one out now and I’ll have to start work on another in a couple of months — it’s going like clockwork. I can pretty much gauge where my life is going just by whether or not I’m working on one of those books or not.
“I enjoy working on it, but I’m looking forward to that day [eight years from now] when I can put volume 25 on the shelf and be done.”
New Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone.
Gail Simone is one of the hardest working writers in comic books.
She first caught readers’ eyes with her witty wordplay for Marvel Comics’ Deadpool and quickly rose to stardom by taking DC Comics’ Birds Of Prey to new heights, leading to her taking on the adventures of Superman in Action Comics and showing why being bad is so darned good in the acclaimed miniseries, Villains United.
More recently she’s completed a Secret Six miniseries and writes the monthly comics: The All New Atom, Gen 13 and Welcome To Tranquility.
And now comes Simone’s greatest challenge, as she’s signed on to tackle the adventures of one of DC’s most iconic creations, Wonder Woman.
“Wonder Woman is the premiere female action hero of all time, in my opinion,” Simone said in a phone interview this week from her Oregon home, ahead of her trip to Toronto where she’ll be a guest at the Women Of Comics symposium as part of this weekend’s Paradise Toronto Comicon (www.torontocomicon.com).
“I’ve written Wonder Woman in a few different projects — in a JLA Classified six-issue arc and once in Birds Of Prey — and I really love writing her character.”
Penning tales of the Amazon princess is rife with challenges, Simone said.
“There’s going to be some difficulty because she has such a long history and everyone knows Wonder Woman and everything, but I’m just really just excited to get her back to being the No. 1 female super-hero in the world and to make her the star of her own book,” she said.
The fact that Simone is the first woman to write the character on an ongoing basis is fun, but daunting, the creator admits.
“I’m really excited and I’m kind of nervous, too, because I have the added thing of a mainstream female comic book writer getting to do Wonder Woman and there seems to be a lot of anticipation,” Simone said.
“I don’t want to let people down.”
And making the move to Wonder Woman hasn’t come without a price.
Simone is ending her over four-year run on Birds Of Prey as a result.
“It was really hard,” Simone said of leaving the book. “I still have moments where I’m really sad because I really miss the characters because I wrote them for so long.
“(But) I feel that I reached my goal, which was to make those three characters — (Black) Canary, Huntress and Oracle — lead characters, not just sidekicks or plot points for the male characters.”
And Simone hopes readers will agree that the move is worth it.
“I don’t want to give away too much, but I can guarantee you it is not going to be a boring book,” she said.
Grendel creator Matt Wagner.
Comic book icon Matt Wagner is returning to his signature character, thanks in large part to a very smart woman.
Ahead of this year’s 25 anniversary of the first printing of Grendel, Wagner’s cult-favourite series, the writer/artist said he was inspired to revisit the character by his editor, and sister-in-law, Canadian-born Diana Schutz.
“She said ‘Look if it’s going to be something big for the anniversary, if it’s going to be a Grendel project, you have to draw it, not just write it — you really have to make it something special and put your mark on it’ and I said ‘yeah, absolutely,’” Wagner said in a telephone interview this week from his home outside Portland, Ore., ahead of a trip to Canada to attend the 5th annual Paradise Toronto Comicon (www.torontocomicon.com).
“And she said ‘and if it’s you drawing it, it should be Hunter Rose’ because that’s the one I’m associated with most artwork-wise and I said ‘yeah, you’re right.’”
“And she said ‘and if it’s going to be a Hunter Rose story, it’s got to be something important, it can’t just be a caper’ and I said ‘oh, shit, I already told all his important stuff.’”
Then the wheels started turning, Wagner said.
“I found a narrative loophole and kernel of an idea and before too long it was a full-blown story.”
If you’re not yet familiar with Grendel — a generations-spanning epic containing multiple protagonists all taking on the same name in the pursuit of things like money, power and revenge — Dark Horse Comics is hoping you soon will be.
In addition to this new miniseries, Grendel: Behold The Devil, the publisher recently released a 25th anniversary hardcover edition of Grendel: Devil By The Deed, Wagner’s first complete Grendel tale, and is soon to deliver Grendel Archives, the first-ever reprinting of Wagner’s first four Grendel stories from 1982 and the deluxe Art Of Grendel hardcover, featuring work by dozens of renowned creators.
What’s made Grendel last so long is how eclectic it has been, Wagner said.
“The key to Grendel’s success has been my willingness to continually reinvent it, to never think it was all done, to never think I’ve said all there was to be said,” he said.
“I had no original plans to keep it rolling on. I had no inkling that there were going to be other versions of Grendel, but once I started down that road I realized what a wide-open path that it was and never looked back.”
While it has been a long time since he’s written stories featuring Hunter Rose, Wagner said it took no time to get back into the groove.
“It’s incredibly natural,” he said. “There’s just something about coming back to Grendel that’s like speaking a language I was born to.”
She already had two novels published and was working on a third, but Cecil Castellucci was forced to learn how to write all over again for her latest project.
The 37-year-old former Montrealer, now living in Los Angeles, is the author of The Plain Janes, the first book from DC Comics’ new Minx imprint — graphic novels aimed primarily at young, female readers.
Figuring out how to go from her successful experiences penning young adult novels like Boyproof and The Queen Of Cool to the sequential storytelling of comics was a thrill, but took some getting used to, Castellucci admits.
“It was totally exciting because I love writing and I love telling stories and I like telling them in many, many different ways,” she said in a telephone interview from L.A. this week.
“It was difficult to figure out at first how to move the action forward with panels. I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I was completely overwhelmed.
“But (artist) Jim Rugg really had my back and he drew the first seven pages from the first seven pages of script that I’d written and once I saw those pages and I saw how my words could be translated into a picture, then I began to understand how move the action forward.”
The novel centres around four teenaged girls named Jane who find friendship as they undertake a guerrilla art project that turns their whole community on its ear.
“It’s about the reject table at lunch and trying to find beauty in the world and trying to make friends with people who are being true to themselves,” Castellucci said.
“I think everybody feels like they were a misfit in high school a little bit, even the popular kids, and so I think that everyone will find a bit of themselves in one of the many characters in there.”
Helping to launch the Minx line and to produce stories that will hopefully get more young girls reading comics is exciting, the author said, but she doesn’t necessarily want The Plain Janes labeled as a ‘girl book’.
“I always think it’s silly when we say ‘this is specifically a girl book’ or ‘this is specifically a boy book,’” Castellucci said. “People like a good story.”
As for whether this was a one-time thing or a life-changing experience…?
“I loved working on The Plain Janes, I loved working with Jim Rugg, I loved working with (editor) Shelly Bond” the author said.
“It was an awesome, awesome experience and I’m chomping at the bit to do another comic book or graphic novel.”
Mike Mignola has got quite the little empire going.
The creator of Hellboy has not only reached legendary status in the comics world, but his character’s leap to the big screen with 2004’s theatrical success and an upcoming Hellboy animated special have helped land him the status of pop-culture icon.
Ahead of his appearance as a guest at the 11th annual Fan Expo Canada (www.fanexpocanada.com) in Toronto from Sept. 1-3, Mignola took some time to talk all things Hellboy and beyond with JPK.
JPK: What do you think about having Hellboy as an animated character?
MM: “I think it’s great. It’s certainly nothing I ever expected, but then that’s the case of so much with Hellboy.
“It was fun to create sort of a third version of Hellboy. If you think of the live-action version as being the second version, this is the third.
“In a way, the animated version falls in between the other two. It’s pretty faithful to the comic, but there are a couple of subtle differences that separate it from both the movie and the comic.
“I’m really happy with what I’ve seen, so far.”
JPK: How is work progressing on Hellboy 2?
MM: “It has bounced around a bit, but it seems like it’s settled down into Universal doing it. I expect we’ll be starting pre-production her e in the next month or so.”
JPK: What kind of involvement are you going to have with this project?
MM: “On both the animated thing and on the movies, I’ve had kind of the same role where I kind of co-plotted the stories. Shortly after Hellboy 1 came out, Guillermo and I sat down and came up with an original story for Hellboy 2 and then he went and wrote the screenplay.
“Once we start pre-production I’ve be involved in doing some of the design stuff and working with other designers — very much what I did in the first picture.”
JPK: How excited are you about seeing Hellboy back on the big screen?
MM: “I would love it. The animation thing is fun, but the live action is just such an interesting process. Animation is kind of like drawing and I think ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand that.’ The live-action thing, the idea of designing these characters and designing these things that then actually have to be built and you have to use actors — it’s so different than anything I usually do. It’s really a fun process.”
JPK: Are there going to be any ties from the plot of your books to the second movie?
MM: “The second film kind of reflects the direction the comic is going now, while the first film covered Hellboy’s origin story which has the Nazis and Rasputin and the Lovecraftian creature stuff.
“One thing that’s always been a feature in Hellboy is the kind of fairy-tale, folklore, old-world mythology stuff — none of which was in the first film. This film has all that stuff.”
JPK: When can readers expect your next Hellboy comic: Darkness Calls?
MM: “Darkness Calls has actually been bumped back. I think right now it’s looking like February.
“We had a changeover with artists and that put us back to square one.”
JPK: What’s the experience like for you to hand over the art duties for the first time on a main Hellboy project?
MM: “I’ve got to say it’s a little awkward because Hellboy, unlike B.P.R.D. and other things, is so close to my heart.
“I originally thought up this story, thinking I would draw it. By the time I actually got down to writing it, I knew that someone else would be drawing it. But it’s still dealing with images and ideas that I’ve had banging around for a lot of years. It’s strange to hand over certain things to other people and say “I was going to draw it this way.’ I can either drive this guy crazy trying to get him to read my mind or I can step back and say ‘I trust you’, which in the case of Duncan (Fegredo), I do.
“For the most part I think Duncan is doing a better job then I ever would have done with the material. You get a richness and a detail in Duncan’s work that just isn’t what I do anymore.”
JPK: Your next Hellboy art project is set for this fall’s Dark Horse Book Of Monsters. Do you have any Hellboy art projects planned for after that?
MM: “I will draw things in the future. I think because I’m trying to do so many different things, at least for the foreseeable future, my art involvement will be small.
“At the end of the latest B.P.R.D. series, I stepped in and drew the last five pages of the series. It was a special moment in the book. I think as Hellboy goes on there will be places where I’ll want to step in and do some special moments.
“There are a couple of stories I do want to do someday, but right now my focus is on keeping the Hellboy stuff going with Duncan, keeping the B.P.R.D. stuff going with John Arcudi and Guy Davis and I’m also writing an Abe Sapien miniseries and a Lobster Johnson miniseries and I’m co-writing a novel right now that I’m also illustrating — I’ve got a lot of stuff.
“I’ve also got a lot of non-Hellboy stories and art projects that I want to do.
“I’ve got a billion things to do. If I sat down and tried to draw a Hellboy thing of any length, it would just never get done and I don’t want to get in the way of expanding all this stuff.”
JPK: You’ve just finished up a three-issue writing arc on Conan. Do you have any appetite to work with any other company’s established characters?
MM: “Not at all. There are a couple of characters it would be fun to draw once, but I can’t imagine doing that stuff because now I’m so used to doing my own thing.”
JPK: Looking ahead to Fan Expo Canada 2006, do you enjoy getting out and meeting your ...
Geoff Johns has just about done is all in the DC Universe over the past seven years — and done it well.
He’s made himself a household name for comic book fans with terrific stories on The Flash, JSA, JLA and Hawkman and continues to do so with Teen Titans and Green Lantern. He earned the honour of penning DC’s mega-series, Infinite Crisis and is one of four top writers — along with Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid — collaborating on the ambitious weekly comic, 52.
Ahead of his appearance at this weekend’s Fan Expo Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (www.fanexpocanada.com), Johns took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with JPK about what’s coming up in his monthly titles, his upcoming arc on Action Comics and what to do when you meet him in person.
JPK: Of all the projects you’re working on right now, what’s the one you want fans to like the most?
GJ: “Green Lantern is pretty close to my heart. And with Ivan Reis on the book, I just think it’s one of the best-looking books out there.
“I think he’s the greatest solo hero concept in comics — by far.”
JPK: Why so?
GJ: “Because of the background, the fact that he belongs to a Green Lantern Corps and there’s a big mythology to it all. There’s just something really great about it.”
JPK: What’s in store for Green Lantern over the coming months?
GJ: “There’s a huge price on his head in the current book and he’s got to find out who’s trying to kill him and why. At the same time, Sinestro, the renegade Green Lantern, is forming his own version of a corps. So we’re going to be rolling toward that huge, climactic war between the both corps.
“It’s all about what is the purpose of the corps. Is Hal there to protect and serve the universe or are there other hidden things underneath that ideal? And there are!”
JPK: What do you have in store for the upcoming re-launch of the Justice Society Of America and what do you think is going to make it stand apart from its successful predecessor, JSA?
GJ: “First off we’re going to be expanding the concept of what the Justice Society Of America is. So it’s really taking the very first superheroes that ever appeared in the DC Universe and ushering in a new generation — making it a real society.
“It has ties to every single corner of the DCU now. It’s going to interact and be more of a DCU cornerstone book. It embraces the whole concept of the DC Universe and pushing it forward and paying respects to its past and utilizing everything it has ever been and is going to be.
“We’re also trying to make it a lot more accessible, as far as storylines go. It’s going to be very character based, but with the epic scope in the background.
“It’s going to be Justice League Of America’s brother book and it’s going to be kind of a big brother book. We’re just trying to craft the book in a way so that it’s in the centre of the DCU. It has ties to nearly ever DCU hero there is — and villain — and we’re going to be exploring all those ties and what it means to be a hero. The tagline of our book is: “The World Needs Better Good Guys” and that’s what the team’s all about.”
JPK: For fans of the JSA series, how much carryover are they going to see?
GJ: “Close to 100 per cent. There’re a few regular characters that won’t be in there — Hawkgirl’s in Justice League, but we’ll have Hawkman — and we’re adding a bunch of new guys to the mix.
“If you’re a fan of JSA, you’ll be a fan of this book. I think you’ll probably find that we’re peeling back the onion layers on the characters back a little bit more, getting more into their heads. We’re getting more into why they do this and where they’re going.”
JPK: With issue 50 of Teen Titans fast approaching, what does the future hold for that series?
GJ: “Right now we’re doing a series called Titans Around The World, where you really get a chance to meet all the Titans that served on the team in the missing year. [Editor’s note: All DCU books fast forwarded in an event called One Year Later earlier this year.]
“You’re going to meet a lot of character’s like Ms. Martian, Zatarra, Bombshell — who’s this cool army brat that’s coated in the same metal Captain Atom has — and a few other guys. And we’re going to be bringing Raven back to the team.
“It’s really about what happened to the Titans in that missing year and why did all those people quit the team. You’ll see that a lot of the members that were on the team are very jaded about their experience with the team and it’s very personal to each member.
“Titans Around The World is really about whether this new team will fall apart like every other team they had during that missing year. It’s about how this team can stay together and why the Teen Titans should exist in the first place.”
JPK: Do you have a timeframe for you run on Titans?
GJ: “I’ll stay on until I’m out of stories. I’ve been on the book a while, but I’ve still got a few more stories left to tell.”
JPK: How are you enjoying working on DC’s big weekly book, 52?
GJ: “It’s terrific. We’re in the late 30s and the stories are all hitting big moments and big spots and some crazy stuff’s happening, so it’s really exciting to write.”
JPK: How has the collaborative process of having four writers working on one book been?
GJ: “It’s been great. We met for two weeks in a room together and we just sat and rapped and talked about storylines and planned everything out. It’s been a lot of fun because you learn something from working ...
Jim Lee has been among the hottest artists in comics over the past 15 years and there’s no reason to think he’s going to cool off anytime soon.
After burning up the pages of Batman and Superman over the past few years, Lee — who’ll be in Toronto this weekend as the comic book guest of honour at the annual Fan Expo Canada (www.fanexpocanada.com) — has now turned his attention to All-Star Batman and Robin and re-launching his signature series Wildcats.
He’s also taken some time out of his busy schedule to talk to JPK about his being a comic book executive, his art projects, working on DC’s biggest video game project ever and what keeps him motivated after such a prestigious career.
JPK: Tell me about the reboot of the Wildstorm Universe and reviving Wildcats.
JL: “There’s a couple of things that are exciting for me: first, I haven’t really worked on this material, hands on, in eight or nine years, so going back is really nostalgic. But I don’t think I would have done it for that reason alone. Lately almost all of my projects have been driven by my desire to work with some of the best writers in the business and we were able to get Grant Morrison [to write Wildcats] — a super-creative, super-imaginative guy. When he signed aboard, that’s what really sealed the deal for me. The fact that it’s Wildcats makes it even more exciting, because that was the first thing I created when I left Marvel back in ’92.”
JPK: What’s it like working with writer Grant Morrison?
JL: “It’s crazy because you work with all these great writers and you expect them to have some sort of commonality, other than their excellent work, and what I’ve discovered is that every writer works differently, every writer has a different thing that they really focus on through their writing. Working with Grant has been a real thrill-ride. His scripts are as zany and mischievous and odd and interesting as his work itself. It can be a challenge to decipher what he wants, but at the same time it’s a lot of fun.
“If you followed his work on New X-Men, you’ll know that, aside from creating a lot of brand new concepts, he’ll also take things that have been around for ages and find a new way to make them fresh and interesting and to reinvigorate them with a real contemporary feel and that’s what he’s done with Wildcats.
“It’s unusual seeing something you created, but seen through someone else’s eyes. Through someone as creative as Grant Morrison, you’re getting some interesting and kooky stuff.”
JPK: What is the crux of Worldstorm, the Wildstorm revamp?
JL: “ Basically we’ve gone back to the core Wildstorm titles — Wildcats, Gen 13, Wetworks, Stormwatch, Deathblow and The Authority.
“When we launched all these titles, these were all unknown characters and the thing that worked for us was that we got creators that the fans cared about. We couldn’t really do this [relaunch] without the people more creators like that, so we got writers like Brian Azzarello, Garth Ennis, Christophe Gage, Grant Morrison, Gail Simone and artists like Whilce Portacio, Talent Caldwell, Chris Sprouse and Carlos D’Anda.
“I feel like we’ve got a real solid lineup of creators and that’s what’s going to make this project exciting.”
JPK: What kind of commitment are you making to staying on Wildcats?
JL: “We have a 12-issue story that we’re doing on Wildcats, and it’s bi-monthly, so I’m alternating it with All-Star Batman and Robin.
“It’s actually very difficult. You’d think it’s the equivalent to working on one monthly book, which I was able to do on Batman: Hush and Superman: For Tomorrow, but going from Frank Miller’s writing to Grant Morrison and back and forth is a little bit of a leap.
“The way we want the books to look is very different. Frank wants to do something very dark and noir and Grant wants to do something very bold and that is a distillation of what we started back in the 90s with Image Comics, which is bright, day-glow comics that just burst out from the page.”
JPK: What’s the experience been like working with Frank so far on All-Star Batman and Robin?
JL: “It’s been slow so far. *laughs*
“It’s not his fault. He’s been a prince as far as turning in the scripts on time and that was actually the initial concern because he’s so busy with [the film versions of] 300 and Sin City2 and obviously his comic work, that I thought ‘Well, will he have time to write a comic,’ but he’s been ahead of me ever since day 1. It’s really been on me that the book’s been late.
“Frank was the reason I got into comics. Back in ’86, I was a senior in college and Dark Knight Returns came out and that inspired me to think ‘Hey, comics can be more than what I remember from being a kid’.
“It’s unusual working with someone that you idolized when you were a teenager.”
JPK: So you’ve got Miller and Morrison added to your list, any other creators you’re really interested in working with?
JL: “Geoff Johns and Greg Rucka. I like their work a lot and we’ve talked about doing something. But those guys are much more able to fit more projects on their plate then I am. I can’t do more than 22 pages a month — if that — and usually I want to do 12 issues with a writer, so I’ve got three years of work already lined up right now.
“Geoff Johns and I will probably do something four years from now. It’s weird to say something like that.”
JPK: You’re done major Batman and Superman story arcs over the past few years. Any other DC characters you’d like a shot at?
JL: “Wonder Woman would be awesome. I’m also a huge Legion Of Super-Heroes fan and I think that would be tremendous to work on.
JPK: What’s your experience been like working on the forthcoming DC MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game)
JL: “The ...
Lost Girls writer Alan Moore.
It’s taken 16 years for Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie to complete and release Lost Girls.
So needless to say, Moore has had a lot of time to think about the controversial project — a three-book set that depicts Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Alice of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Peter Pan’s Wendy in lusty adolescent adventures instead of their familiar time spent in fantasylands.
In a sprawling and fascinating interview, JPK talked Lost Girls, pornography, relationships and what’s next for one of the most influential writers in the world.
JPK: What is the origin of Lost Girls? How did you form the idea of these three characters coming together in one story?
AM: “It probably all originated from my very vague desire to see if it was possible to do an extended narrative based upon sex, rather than upon violence, which was the general run of things in the mainstream comic industry. There was book after book based on fights and more or less an absolute prohibition of any kind of sexual material.
“In my mainstream work, where it was appropriate, I’d try to give the characters I was working with a sexual dimension because I felt that made them more three dimensional and believable.
“The idea started to germinate that it might be possible to do something that was entirely about sex — that didn’t have a swamp monster or a quantum super-being at the centre of the story. That was pretty much where my ideas began and ended for a few years, with the idea of doing an intelligent, beautiful, literary pornography that transcended the genre. That’s quite an easy idea to have, but when you actually sit down and think about how to do that, it become a little more problematical.
“A couple of year later I was asked to contribute something to an erotic anthology magazine that was being published over here and apparently Melinda had been asked independently to contribute something to the same magazine. I need an artist if I’m going to turn out a comic, and I think it was Neil Gaiman who put us in touch.
“The way that Lost Girls actually came about was simply a collision between half an idea of mine and half an idea of Melinda’s. I’d thought that it might be possible to do some kind of sexual narrative that related to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, simply because there are a number of flying scenes in Peter Pan and because Sigmund Freud said that dreams of flying are dreams of sexual expression (which is probably nonsense, but Sigmund Freud said it). It was a pretty half-assed idea that didn’t really go very far and it only suggested a smutty parody of Peter Pan, which wasn’t really what I had in mind.
“Melinda in the past, in her own stories, found that she’d enjoyed those stories that happened to have three women in the central role. From there the ideas came together and I remember thinking it was a very obvious step from thinking ‘Well if Wendy from Peter Pan was one of the three women in question, who would the other two be?’ Alice and Dorothy obviously sprang to mind immediately.
“Once we got those three characters in place, it suggested all sorts of possibilities. You’d be able to compare their stories and see which bits of them are similar, which bits hard striking differences and they seemed like such perfect characters for the story that I wanted to tell, in that they provided a brilliant metaphor for the way in which we, as human beings, enter the world of our sexuality, where everything is reversed, all of the laws that have governed your previous existence have suddenly turned right on their head. You come straight out of your childhood into a world where nothing makes sense in the way that it previously had and all of the people seem like insane grotesques straight from the mind of Lewis Carroll.
“It also struck us that, with those characters, you’ve got childhood characters that we all read about during our own childhoods. Now, with Lost Girls, it turns out that they’ve grown up with us.
“It seemed that in some way, we could use these characters as everyman or everywoman characters that all of the readership would know from their own childhoods and they would be bringing all of that to the work. That is, as long as we could represent those characters accurately, as long as we could make it so it wasn’t a travesty of those characters, so we were respectful of those three characters and that the adult women who are depicted were believable — women that might have grown out of the three girls in the original stories.
“Once we had those three names in place, the rest of the story seemed to grow organically from there. It took two or three weeks to actually stumble upon the idea, but once we had it, it only took another week or two at most before I had the entire story broken down and we realized we weren’t talking about an eight-page inclusion for an anthology. We were talking about something a lot bigger that would probably take us a while longer. I don’t think we realized at the time it would take us 16 years longer, but those are the breaks, I suppose.”
JPK: This book plumbs the depths of human sexuality in such a graphic way that it, in my mind, crosses the line between erotica and pornography. Where does that line fall for you and do you think the term pornography get a bad rap?
AM: “The line between erotica and pornography is one that I considered quite a lot when we were starting out Lost Girls and I decided quite early on that I prefer it was referred to as pornography.
“There are a number of reasons for this, for one, I thought the term erotica sounded a bit too middle class, that the difference between the two was ...
There is really only one word that can be used to describe Alan Moore’s new book Lost Girls — pornography.
That contentious word, however, brings no shame to perhaps the most influential and revered comic book writer of the past 30 years.
“I decided quite early on that I prefer it was referred to as pornography,” Moore told me in a telephone interview from his home in Northampton, England.
“The term pornography comes from the etymological root ‘pornos’ — which means ‘prostitutes’ or ‘wantons’ — and ‘graphos,’ which means ‘drawings’ or ‘writings.’ So what we’re talking about is drawings or writings about wantons or wanton behaviour. That seemed perfectly adequate to me.
It’s talking purely about the realm of the human imagination.
“It struck me as important to signal right from the beginning that this is a work entirely about the human sexual imagination and it takes place entirely in the human sexual imagination.”
Moore, author of such important comic book works as Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell and The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, along with illustrator (and fiancée) Melinda Gebbie, chose a rather fantastic basis for their pornography.
The Lost Girls are Dorothy from The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Alice from Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Wendy from Peter Pan. Instead of the girls’ wellknown adventures being based in fantasy worlds, Moore and Gebbie imagine those same adventures in the real world as tales of adolescent sexual awakening exchanged when the three meet by chance as grown women.
“They seemed like such perfect characters for the story that I wanted to tell, in that they provided a brilliant metaphor for the way in which we, as human beings, enter the world of our sexuality, where everything is reversed, all of the laws that have governed your previous existence have suddenly turned right on their head,” Moore said.
The book’s vivid portrayal of almost every sexual act imaginable has raised more than a few eyebrows since its release last month, but Moore said there is method to their madness.
“We wanted to do something that was frank and honest and beautiful about the human sexual imagination and that didn’t really leave any areas untouched or excluded,” he said.
“We’ve tried to make Lost Girls a pornography that is not purely aimed at heterosexual white men, but one that is aimed at a wide variety of sexualities and, more importantly, is aimed very squarely at women.”
While the term pornography may have negative connotations, Gebbie suggests keeping an open mind. “(Pornography is) capable of great beauty and drama and depth,” she said. “It’s just that no one has applied themselves to it in a long, long time.
“It was a neighbourhood that was left to the rats and we renovated it.”
Author Alan Moore
Illustrator Melinda Gebbie
Publisher Top Shelf Productions
Price $75, HC
***** (out of five)
I’ve never really been interested in seeing any kind of human sexual escapades depicted that involved a horse.
It’s just not my cup of tea.
However, Lost Girls — a three-book slipcased set — has shown me that seeing such a thing, in the right context, can actually leave you feeling somewhat enlightened, rather than requisitely disgusted.
In a frank and purposeful effort of madness and genius, as only he is capable of, comic book icon Alan Moore, along with gifted artist and fiancée Melinda Gebbie, uses Lost Girls to explore the nature of the human sexual imagination by means of three familiar fantasy characters — Alice (Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland), Dorothy (The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz) and Wendy (Peter Pan).
The result is clearly a work of pornography — one that is spectacularly literate, exquisitely illustrated and without doubt one of the most groundbreaking comic book works of the decade.