THE VIEW FROM A BOARD

Comic Heroes - - Front Page - Artist Mike Perkins has a li­cence to draw some top spy ac­tion…

The comics medium won­der­fully en­com­passes a mul­ti­tude of cat­e­gories. From your ba­sic, myth­i­cal su­per­hero through fan­tasy (dark, light, ur­ban and adult) and space-far­ing sci­ence fic­tion epics... and yet, for me, the mileau I most pre­fer to read about and be in­volved in cre­atively is the spy genre.

Maybe it’s the in­trigue and mys­tery linked to the ad­ven­tures or per­haps it’s the sheer sense of scale one can plug into those es­capades. The spy genus can en­cap­su­late and en­fold any other brand be­neath its wings, go­ing any­where and run­ning the gamut of lit­er­a­ture, from crime to mys­tery to hu­man in­ter­est to any of the other type of sto­ries men­tioned above. Be­ing English I’m sure a lot of the de­sire to work on an es­pi­onage comic comes from be­ing ex­posed to con­stant re-runs of the Bond films on any bank hol­i­day when I was a child; a time when, as the day dragged on and there was lit­tle left to do, you found yourself in front of a TV set with three chan­nels and a de­sire to see dar­ing ex­ploits, far off lo­cales and gor­geous ex­otic birds… of all kinds.

shaken, not stirred

My su­per­spy was real: self-cen­tred, vain, cold-hearted

and a sex­ual preda­tor

When I was at Cross­gen, and itch­ing to get back into pen­cilling, I was asked if I’d like to take on the sci-fi ti­tle Sigil. I was tempted. I re­ally wanted to re-es­tab­lish my­self as a pen­ciller af­ter spend­ing three years ink­ing but I en­joyed be­ing on that mys­tery ti­tle im­mensely. The ca­ma­raderie I shared with Butch Guice and the pure joy I re­ceived from ink­ing his pen­cils was a hard thing to wil­fully give up. So I found my­self think­ing about the kind of project I would leave Ruse for. I came up with the con­cept of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in a flurry of ac­tiv­ity that evening and pre­sented it to the man­age­ment at Cross­gen. Mark Alessi, then boss at that now long-gone comics firm, just didn’t un­der­stand it. How could such an un­com­pro­mis­ing dick be the main guy? I’m re­fer­ring to Charles Basil­don (the lead pro­tag­o­nist of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), of course – not Mr Alessi. Per­ish the thought.

My su­per­spy, the afore­men­tioned Mr Basil­don, was James Bond if he was real: self-cen­tred, vain, cold-hearted and a sex­ual preda­tor. Only be­stowed with the Basil­don moniker when the name was passed on to him af­ter his pre­de­ces­sor died or moved on... as he had done so many times pre­vi­ously and would con­tinue to do so long into the fu­ture. It’s as if Con­nery, Moore, Craig, et al, were not the same guy. They just passed along the same name to en­sure that Bri­tain’s Great­est Spy was al­ways a pres­ence – a dark de­ter­rent.

The pop­u­lar­ity of the ti­tle, even dur­ing the down­ward spi­ral of Cross­gen’s dragged out demise, came as no sur­prise. It was fun and ir­rev­er­ent. It was a spy book. The kind of genre I would have been happy to be draw­ing for the rest of my ca­reer.

Any am­ne­sia story is re­ally a story about iden­tity

Drag­oncon one year and were chat­ting over a drink. She said that she was frus­trated be­cause she had this idea that she wanted to do as a novel, but she didn’t have the time to do it. I sug­gested do­ing it as a comic book. Six months later, she called me out of the blue and said, ‘I’m think­ing of do­ing it as a graphic novel, do you want to do it with me?’ She’d never writ­ten a comic book be­fore so she wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. People have said, ‘You must be do­ing all the writ­ing,’ but I’m not. We’re ab­so­lutely split­ting it. I write scenes, she writes scenes and we edit each other’s work.” CH: Ceme­tery Girl cen­tres on Calexa Rose Dun­hill, who can ap­par­ently see dead people…

“The story opens with a teenage girl be­ing dumped and left for dead in a ceme­tery. She comes to with­out any mem­ory and all she

when that jour­ney fin­ishes with this month’s two-parter Chapel Of Bones?

“We’re go­ing to be con­tin­u­ing. There’s go­ing to be a change dra­mat­i­cally but the tone will re­main the same. There’s been some con­cern that we’re go­ing to make it a larger story, with more cos­mic evil, but that el­e­ment has al­ways been there in the back­ground any­way and it’s in the novel. So we’re go­ing to learn more about that but the sto­ries will re­main grounded in the same kind of dark is­sues that we’ve al­ready been deal­ing with.” CH: Your Sons Of An­ar­chy minis­eries is now on the home strait. Has that been a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence com­pared to your other comic work?

“As a li­censed property, it’s very dif­fi­cult be­cause the cre­ative win­dows are so nar­row. When I did Buffy, they treated the books as if they were a par­al­lel uni­verse con­ti­nu­ity so it didn’t mat­ter where they fell. Whereas [showrun­ner] Kurt Sut­ter and his staff are ex­pect­ing us to be in con­ti­nu­ity so the comic book takes place at a spe­cific time dur­ing sea­son five. It lit­er­ally has to fit right there. So it’s been a tough nut to crack, get­ting the voices and the tone right. It’s been a long process with the people in the writ­ers’ room, who are do­ing the ap­provals, be­cause they keep say­ing, ‘What about this or that?’ and we’d say, ‘It’s in the next is­sue.’ The six is­sues are re­ally just one episode and yet we have to keep hit­ting cer­tain notes ev­ery is­sue to re­mind the reader ev­ery month of cer­tain things.”

Basil­don would ben­e­fit from some Bond-style charm lessons.

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