THE VIEW FROM A BOARD
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.”