In June 2007 the Houston artist, writer, and publisher wrapped up his Strangers in Paradise comic book series after a fourteen-year run. He writes Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane for Marvel Comics, and he is now launching Echo, a new superhero series.
How did Strangers in Paradise differ at the end from your initial concept and expectation?
It grew organically through the making. I always felt that if I developed a cast of strong characters, they would lead me through a story and that’s what happened. The action of drawing brought them to life. To me, art is a verb. When it comes down to the act, things change, obstacles crop up, and you adapt. Through all that, the original concept remained the same.
Has the new comic, Echo, been percolating for awhile?
When I finished Strangers in Paradise, I thought I would chose my next book from the files of ideas I’d collected. But everything felt dated. So I began with a blank page and Echo came together from an assortment of junk science ideas in my head. I wrapped that frightening stuff around this innocent young woman and the story appeared in the contrast.
Any concerns that the “junk science” elements will alienate SiP fans?
I’m hoping my readers know that whatever the boundaries of probability my stories will always be about people. I think there’s more humanity in Stargate than Silence of the Lambs.
What are the upsides (and downsides) of being your own publisher?
The upside is I get all the money… tens and tens of dollars. The downside is my wife and I have to do all the work. We’ve added people to the routine but, there’s no getting around it, publishing is a lot of work and there’s no safety net.
What comics will you be working on for other publishers in 2008?
I’m writing two books for Marvel: Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. For those books, I write polished scripts, highly detailed, because somebody else has to interpret and draw them.
In your teens, which comics did you enjoy the most and which (not necessarily the same) most influenced your current work?
As a teen I read R. Crumb and the cartoons in the back of the Golden Age National Lampoon. It allowed me to see comics as more than fantasy work for kids, but also as adult expressions for frustration and satire.
Are you more interested in pushing the genre’s boundaries or continuing to establish yourself and your books in the public eye?
I’d like more readers but when I’m alone facing a blank screen, all I think about is my imaginary world and what I can find there. The old saying is true: Just make what comes naturally then see what you have. All I can do is make my stories and see what the world makes of them.