Dynamite has given us a new Writer to Writer interview, this time David Avallone (Twilight Zone: The Shadow) talks with Frank Barbiere about Dejah Thoris #5. Cover by NEN, with interiors by Francesco Manna.
DAVID AVALLONE: I read somewhere that you discovered the John Carter mythos through his cameo in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2. I thought Alan Moore did a lovely job with Carter in that book. Is there any character – obscure or not – who you’d like to introduce to readers who haven’t seen them before?
FRANK BARBIERE: I think the world of Barsoom itself is the “character” I’m most excited to bring to light. Dejah is an excellent character, but the world of Barsoom is just so unique and the template for many other great pieces of sci-fi—I hope new readers pick up on what a cool and interesting place it is and hopefully seek out more of the excellent stories in this universe.
DA: Is there a comics creator – writer or artist – who inspires you the most?
FB: In prose I would say Michael Chabon, who manages to use an elegant, literary voice to tell excellent genre-infused stories. In comics, Brian K. Vaughan. Vaughan tells excellent, whip-smart stories with great pacing and has a lovely ear for dialogue—reading his work is usually extremely teachable and inspiring for me.
DA: In the course of developing a series, I always end up leaving some stuff on the cutting room floor. Were there any characters from the Carter mythology you didn’t get to use, or wish you’d had more time with?
FB: I’d love to work in more about Dejah’s new squad. I thought a lot about the characters and who they were in relation to the world and Dejah, but unfortunately they are only supporting cast in this story.
DA: I liked the John Carter movie. I know that makes me a crazy person, supposedly. But I thought it was far better than its reputation. Willing to go on the record?
FB: I actually really enjoyed it. Ironically, it was co-written by Michael Chabon (whom I just named as one of my favorite writers, haha) and feel like the adaptation was a pretty daunting task. I think they handled the character of Dejah particularly well in the film.
DA: Sometimes I have very specific designs in mind and sometimes I let the artist completely loose. Do you involve yourself in the costume/production design at all?
FB: With this book, I was lucky enough to come in with a clear redesign by the excellent Nicola Scott. It gave me a really solid visual foundation when thinking about the character and what her design said about her, but I tend to give an artist the bare bones of character/story to work with and let them find a design that inspires them. That way, when I see it it’s fresh and helps me visualize the character in a new light, instead of having my own rigid expectations. I am a very collaborative comics writer, haha.
FB: I feel like a resounding element through my work is “pulp.” I think that’s a very loose term in ideas of genre, but for me it really implies a bit of noir feel, simplistic and direct dialogue, and an emphasis on action and intrigue. I think comics by design have a “pulpy” feel to them and I don’t mind leaning into that whenever I have the opportunity.
DA: Do you have any plans to revisit Barsoom in the future? Any stories you’d still like to tell there?
FB: I really enjoyed working on Dejah and in Barsoom. I’d love to get a chance to come back to either in the future.
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