Michael Lark Lazarus #7 Interview, Part 2
Howdy, folks! Robert here! As promised, here is Part Two of the interview Michael Lark was kind enough to grant us, breaking down Issue 7 of Lazarus and talking more about the series as a whole. I did want to pause for a moment and give some special thanks to our editor, Mara, who was kind enough to format and post the first half of the interview whilst David and I were both unavailable. We felt the delay on this one a little bit, so her turning her hand to things was of great assistance. She was the one who rightly pointed out that it is a stellar collaboration that causes a comic to cross the line from excellent into true greatness. It is with pride that we bring you Michael’s ongoing insights into that process and into the work it produces. You can find Part One here if you missed it the first time around. Enjoy!
Robert: Okay, can I ask – and I’ll ask on the understanding that you did not tell us this, I brought it up – but picking it up from what you’ve said, is the gun held by the Barrets that caused all this difficulty the rifle that Casey uses in the shootout?
Michael: Yes. <laughs>
Robert: You were talking about this before in the context of the Man With No Name poncho, and that panel where Casey’s sighting down the barrel of the rifle and shooting, that’s just pure cowboy stuff. Hunter’s eyes, down the sight, very western. The bandits have got what looks like shotguns and semi-autos and the like, and Casey’s got the cowgirl thing happening.
Michael: Oh, yeah.
Robert: You were talking before about where she’s going, are we right then in assuming she’s on some kind of Westernesque arc?
Michael: I won’t necessarily say it’s her arc, but all of these characters have a future of varying lengths, but they all have a future in this story, and knowing what at least parts of what her future is, and you’ll see more of that, who she is and what she’ll become. We haven’t even gotten to the Lift yet, we’ve got two more issues to get to know them, and they have an even bigger part in the story to play.
David: I must say I feel like I know the Barrets much better than I know the Carlyles already.
Michael: Well, they’re much more human, aren’t they?
David: Much more the sort of humans I choose to hang out with day to day.
Michael: I think the other part of it is that we’ve had much more quality time with them. With the Carlyles we’ve got the machinations and the plots but I don’t think we’ve had as much of a chance to see who they are as people. That’s something though that we have a little more time to do. We’re going to learn more about Johanna next issue, we’re going to learn a little bit more about all the characters.
David: Talking about the shooting now, the moment where Leigh is shot, she’s framed between the gunfire of the bandits and the gunfire of her parents. The Barrets obviously aren’t firing at her, but she’s caught between the two of them, with identical bullet sounds. That framing seems to suggest a kind of mutual culpability, presaged in the concerns that the whole road trip might be ill-advised.
Michael: You know, that’s not what that should’ve looked like. And it’s a little unfortunate, because I maybe should’ve not put the blood coming out of the front of her, because I didn’t want to create the impression she was shot by her parents as well.
David: Oh, I wasn’t assuming that she was shot by her parents, more that the framing of it was enough to get me thinking that we had them talking about the sacrifices and difficulties of the journey, and then, bang, we have the sacrifice of Leigh. Like The Odyssey.
Michael: See, I’m fixated on this now. Because I see exactly what you’re saying, but I wish it didn’t look like that. We were talking before about stuff in the issue I wish I’d done differently, and this is one of those things. The gunfight isn’t nearly as strong as I wanted it to be. Part of that was because it was the last scene I did in this issue. The last page I did was the last shot of the gas station that night. Part of my problem with it is that I feel that there weren’t enough panels showing where all the characters are, so things like that wouldn’t be confusing.
David: That sort of “football field”, spatial layout thing.
Michael: Right. There wasn’t enough space in the pages to tell the story I wanted to tell effectively and still do those kind of things. I felt a little hemmed in. There were a lot of little moments I needed to get out. Like, I don’t know if it’s entirely clear, but one of the bandits takes one of the horses. You can assume that, if you look later and count the number of horses, but I would’ve like that to be shown and have more weight. All that stuff laid out in the parking lot of that gas station.
Robert: There’s a thing about Bobbie running into the field of fire, and that’s obviously deliberate, with a good sense of spacing, because we can see her running into the path of the bullets. That’s obviously a huge moment, running into an active firefight to crouch over a child. Part of what you’ve done there is played with that sense of time, where you’ve got bullets flying, but everything slows down so Leigh and Bobbie can have this moment. The onomatopoeia fades away, and it feels very still. Do you think of it in terms of noise and motion, or do you think of it as a series of captured moments? Cinematic or illustrative, I guess is what I’m referring to.
Michael: What I try to do, especially with scenes like this, is to familiarise myself with the scene. I spent a lot of time reading over the script, doing little sketches here and there, and just thinking about it. A lot of brain work. What I want is to know it well enough so that I can close my eyes and see it playing out in my head. So I can say “I need that moment, and I need that moment and I need that moment.” This scene was especially hard for that. It was really hard to show the sequential series of actions in this, the timing, and to get that chaos across. It was very difficult for me.
Robert: It’s obviously a very chaotic sequence, but amongst that we obviously have one moment of calm amongst the haste. It’s one of those moments where if you were looking it in a filmic sense, you’d drop the noise away and focus in, so you can drill down on the emotions.
Michael: I think part of that is the fact that they’ve hit Joe. Joe’s down for a bit, and its keeping things quiet. The issue for me was that those two moments are happening kind of simultaneously, there’s a guy going to grab Bobbie and a guy going to shoot Michael. A lot of simultaneous action in this scene, but everything does kind of freeze in that moment. We don’t know if they’re going to get out of this and then, bang! bang!, Casey pops out.
David: The onomatopoeia for the gunshots, that very bold KRAK. Many comics don’t use labels for SFX at all now, it can be seen as very “Adam West Batman”. Talking about trying to capture the chaos in scene, because your other options are really to draw bullets and that’s something that I’ve never seen done, but I did find it interesting that you went the way you did.
Michael: I’ve never been a big fan of sound effects in comics, but in this case I think it was something we needed to do. I wanted to capture that sense of chaos, but none of my panels were big enough to show everyone in the scene. I didn’t have a panorama to show everyone and still get across what I needed to get across. So the random gunshots served that effect. Plus, I wanted to get the sense that there were a lot of bullets flying around and not necessarily all of them are connecting. We go back and forth about whether or not we want to use sound effects. We’re working on a gunfight scene right now, and there’s explosions in that one, but we don’t use sound effects. They’re not necessary there. Everything’s visual.
David: I can see how it could look cartoony otherwise.
Michael: You need to make sure you’re not relying on it too much. Once it becomes a crutch…at what point do you say this sound we have to hear, but not this other one? If you have every gun shot, then you need to have this next thing, and then it’s everything.
Robert: I haven’t asked many artists about this, and I personally don’t have the strongest visual instinct, but do you see it as a series of stills, or do you see it as a constantly unfolding action, with your mind kind of filling in the gaps?
Michael: The second one. Now Greg writes it like it’s a series of still images. His scripts are descriptions of a series of still images. And I have to try and get those out of my head, and restructure it in my head as kind of fluid motion. Then it becomes a question of how best to depict parts of that motion, of that animation. It’s almost like the opposite of making key frames for animation, it’s like the animation’s done, and I’m taking the key frames out of that.
Robert: That’s very interesting, because in as far as I think of describing comics, or writing them, I think of them in terms of a series of stills, similarly to the way in which Greg seems to. This is a picture of this, this is a picture of this, and so on. But it sounds like the way it works for you as an artist, and I suppose it may well for many artists, is that you kind of unlearn that, that you break it down into a component set of things that are happening.
Michael: I think I might be a bit unusual in the way I do that. I think most of the artists I know tend to think in terms of still images. I think sometimes that’s my curse, that I have to see it a certain way before I draw it. I think it’s not common for artists at all to have to see things that way.
David: I was talking to Patrick Zircher from DC on something similar recently, and he was saying that whilst you have to follow the script, after a certain point he has to take control, because he has the motion and expression in his head.
Michael: At the end of the day, you’re being asked to draw this because you’ve got a vision. I have a certain way that I see stories being told and Greg happens to like it, and so far people like it enough to want to buy it. So that’s good, but for every artist you have to respect that they have their own style,and there are artists and writers who simply do not work well together. There’s a couple of writers I know whom I happen to work really well with, who see the story being told the way I see it being told. Even if they describe it completely differently. I can take what they’re writing down and see it as a story. There are writers that I’ve worked with for little things here and there, where I just can’t see it. Can’t force myself to see it. I had a terrible time where I worked on Spiderman for just a couple of issues and I couldn’t see it. I feel like I didn’t do a very good job, because I couldn’t get there. It was very frustrating.
Robert: There’s a degree of psychological realism to the kind of stories that are being told in Lazarus, the kind of thing that your approach sells itself to. We’re spending all this time with people in tough situations debating and making hard choices, moral compromises and social brutality, and at the same time you need to show this element of vulnerability, and these elements of humanity, despite it being the future and some of them living for hundreds of years and functioning in ways we don’t understand human beings to function. One of the advantages of seeing it unfold cinematically, or even beyond cinematically – realistically – is that it’s as if you’re witnessing it. Letting you capture those moments of brutality and fragility at the same time.
Michael: One of my favourite things about Greg’s work is that duality, that contrast between them. There’s an incredibly violent scene I’ve had to draw – a child getting shot in the back with a shotgun, and yet there’s this really touching moment at the end. These shots of Bobbie and Leigh are just kind of heartbreaking. Very heartbreaking. And poor Joe. At the same time, thinking about it, Leigh wouldn’t have been out there then to feed the horses if Michael and Casey hadn’t been wanting to canoodle in the tent. She only went out there because they were annoying her.
David: That’s interesting, because that scene where she’s annoyed and walks out is one of those few panels that’s been coloured in the red. Like when they’re talking about the bomb, there are a few panels that have that colouring for no purely literal reason.
Michael: I don’t know if that was as much about Leigh being annoyed so much as showing off the romance.
Robert: It’s very warm.
Robert: You were talking about before how a lot of it is heartbreaking and chaotic, but there’s also a great deal of it that’s beautiful. Do you try and capture that contrast at a remove? We talked a bit about symbolism and the absence of it before, but are you being careful with that balance of aestheticism?
Michael: Oh, absolutely. There’s a crime scene photographer who became an artist in it: Weegee. There’s a weird beauty in the violence. It’s like a weird dance. I love that kind of stuff. I love Westerns for that reason, martial arts movies for that reason. I like that stylised violence. I mean, I don’t do it very stylised because I’m more like a documentarian, but there is that aesthetic to it. I always like doing the fight scenes. I wish I had more time to do them, because there is almost this weird dance-like, ballet to them.
Robert: You talked before about The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and there’s obviously a lot of that kind of artistic violence in Leone films. I know David had a note to talk to you about Shaw Brothers films.
Michael: Oh yeah, I love stuff like that. Half my Netflix queue is kung-fu movies.
David: On that note though, I noticed you’ve got a different kind of dancing between say, the fight scenes we’ve had with Eve and the scenes in these issues. The Barrets are kind of scrambling whilst Eve’s graceful and in control.
Michael: These guys are a bunch of screw-ups! Bunch of guys living in the wilderness, they’re lucky if they can hit the broad side of a barn. Joe’s not a gunmen. He can build a house, build an outhouse, but he’s never been in a gunfight.
Robert: That’s very interesting, in terms of how you depict the physicality of characters like this, because it’s very hard for some artists, to my mind, to depict failure. You do it very well, but I tend to see a tendency for most artists to depict their subjects as doing things well, whether that’s because their reference material shows a good execution of the thing that’s going on, or because that’s how they picture drawing things. Here’s someone firing a gun, so depict that we draw the platonic ideal of someone firing a gun, so it’s understandable. You’re drawing people here though, who in some cases suck at what they’re doing. Is that a point of artistic fidelity for you, that you capture that?
Michael: See, I think you’re talking about a cliche in comics that I’ve never been interested in, this unrealistic idealism of the characters – protagonists and antagonists – that doesn’t speak to me. It doesn’t tell a kind of universal story, I don’t share anything with it. Most of us fail much more than we succeed, and that’s life and how we learn and who we are. And that’s who I want to draw, real people. It’s fun to otherwise dip your toe in that water, and I might love to do something where, I dunno, Thor came along, but I’d do something like Bendis’ Alias, where Jessica Jones flies for the first time and crashes in the water. I always liked in Gotham Central that when Batman turned up, everyone was like “Holy crap, it’s Batman!” Or that the Joker was done in such a way that if he came down and sat with you on the subway, you’d freak out a little bit. Ledger captured some of that in the movies.
Robert: Even as you said that, I flashed to that sequence where Marcus is on the roof with the Batsignal, and Batman is in the periphery of vision and it’s bizarre and frightening. And I think you hit the nail on the head there, drawing the contrast between that desire to portray the real and how that makes you connect to characters a lot more.
Michael: For me, certainly.
Robert: For us too, as readers, part of what’s attractive about the book is that you can get into the humanity of them in a very visual sense. The reason I think it matters so much visually is you’ll often see characters who are written as failing, but artists seem to have difficulty connecting with that. That sense of uncertainty that pervades being alive, that underpins being human.
Michael: Well, Greg’s characters always feel very real to me. It’s easy for me to draw them real.
David: In the next scene, we’re watching Eve watching Johanna swim. Which I found really interesting, because it’s very similarly laid out to the scene in the early issues where we watched Jonah watch Johanna swim. Is this one of those areas you’ve got physically mapped out? Did you use the same model you used before, or did you recreate it?
Michael: I used the same model for the exterior, but we didn’t see the interior before and I had to build the interior. It’s very modern, very Los Angeles “mansion up in the hills”, and it has its roots in that. It’s the room above the pool.
David: It’s got that very 70’s style to the bar, which feels very LA to me, though that’s probably a function of too many movies from the 70s and 80s set there.
Michael: <laughs> Yeah.
David: I’m not comfortable villainising Johanna, but events do seem to repeat around her, we see her swimming, we see a sibling coming to her with a problem and her offering to help. It’s Eve’s loyal offsider who turns up to discuss where he’s to be sent next. Orioso in the same position Mason was in before. When you’re drawing them, does that sort of parallel make sense to you, is it something that’s fed into the way they’re interacting?
Michael: I see the dynamic between Johanna and Forever being different. Orioso’s just kinda here, he’s going to be coming back the more we move into the plot being described here. but the dynamic’s not quite the same. I don’t know, maybe Johanna’s trying to breed Eve into the new Jonah, the next plaything/patsy that Jonah turned out to be, but Johanna’s complicated. She’s a complicated girl and I can’t say where it’s all going. I don’t agree with you about the dynamic exactly, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on there. I agree it’s important not to demonise here.
Robert: It might also be worth talking a bit about Sergeant Orioso. His is a name that has been dropped a lot, and we’ve seen a little bit of him before, but this is probably the longest period of time we’ve spent with him, particularly where we can see him. Get a good look at his face and the kind of guy he is. Clearly, as you say, he’s got more to come in the plot. Have you spent a lot of time putting together what kind of person you think he is? He seems very, not exactly young, but compared to the machinations of the Carlyles whom he so readily serves, the kind of backbiting between them that he must often be in the wings for, very different. Have you spent much time designing his background and perception of things?
Michael: Some of that stuff Greg puts in the script. He definitely gave me some tips. Not so much background information, more emotional background information. He’ll say something like “He thinks he’s been called here because he’s in some kind of trouble, but it turns out he’s getting a promotion.” What that means is that his, and his family’s, quality of life is increasing. He’s being lifted. There’s a reason this story arc is called Lift, and there’s a lot of people being lifted from one part of life to another in this story arc. Orioso’s not immune to it.
David: Let’s delve in to the depths of the interrogation sequence!
Robert: One of the things that I noticed is that Emma and Johanna look quite a bit alike. Obviously both blondes. I mean, Johanna’s in much better health and condition and whatnot. Is that parallel deliberately drawn? I mean, does Johanna’s appearance betoken to Emma what she could look like, what her life could be?
Michael: No,I don’t think so, because I don’t think Emma has in her head that even in her wildest, wildest dreams she could be anything Johanna Carlyle could be. She can never be lifted into the family. It was more a case for Emma of, when I drew her for the first time in the last issue, it was the way she seemed she’d be to me. She seemed like this waifish mess, living on the streets practically. When seducing the soldiers she’s wearing her best dress. But I don’t know, maybe Greg intended something there in setting up these scenes.
Robert: Thinking about Johanna, a phrase that I’ve used for her is the smiling assassin. You know, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. In this scene it’s shown to work a lot better than Eve’s approach did, the smile and the soft sell, and the “we’re all friends here” approach. Do you think as Eve watches Johanna throws out these inducements to Emma, she sees echoes of the way Johanna approaches her? The compliments and the promises?
Michael: Do I think Eve sees it? No. I think that what’s going on between Johanna and Forever at least feels like the real deal to Forever. She feels, at least, that there’s real affection there. I don’t think she thinks Johanna’s out to get her. She’s pumped full of loyalty drugs, remember, so I don’t think she’s questioning Johanna at this stage. She really saw Johanna as Jonah’s victim. She knows Johanna’s a disappointment to their father, but she knows how hard he can be. She thinks Johanna’s really trying to do something different.
David: There’s no reason to assume that the offer isn’t genuine. When you’re trying to stop an IED, as in the case here, it might well be the best outcome. So in that sense it could well be that Johanna’s techniques here let her be the hero. That this is her time to shine.
Michael: Absolutely. She’s trying to get back into Malcolm’s good graces. She’s probably more interested in impressing Malcolm than she is in stopping the bomb from killing a bunch of Waste. If the two go together, sure, who cares? But the Carlyles lose nothing by making her a star on the Post.
Robert: I do love the sell, even in the artistic sense. When Johanna first comes in and asks if Emma knows who she is, there’s the small lettering indicating the shock: “You’re Johanna Carlyle”. Like it’s approaching awe. She can change Emma’s life as an afterthought, a gift that Johanna can offer as a whim. We talked a lot before about vulnerabilities, but there’s a great counterbalance in this scene where we can see how she comes across as godlike, almost perfect. Is it something Johanna’s working on? It’s not effortless for her, she’s marshaling her appearance and demeanor into a weapon.
David: There have been scenes before where we’ve seen her with mirrors and appearance based stuff. That can’t just be vanity, that’s her arsenal.
Michael: Oh, yeah. She’s Johanna Carlyle and she knows it.
Robert: I did note the touch of Johanna throwing the matter over to Eve for her opinion. It’s funny because I don’t necessarily see stuff like starmaking as part of Eve’s duties. Did you picture them rehearsing, working it all out before they went in, practicing good cop/bad cop?
Michael: In my mind, Forever was surprised. Figures it out quickly and plays along, but I think for Forever it came as a genuine surprise.
Robert: We don’t spend any time with her in close-up when that idea is floated out?
Michael: No, we didn’t have enough room to do close-ups.
Robert: And that’s it, because I didn’t pick up much of a sense of shock, so I was very curious about what was going on in her head.
Michael: This is one of those cases where we just don’t have the room to do everything we might have wanted to do. Particularly once word balloons start taking up space in those little panels.
Robert: I think that works in the scene’s favour though – we as the audience know what’s coming next, and that adds tension to the conversations.
Michael: It’s a constant battle to prioritise. Greg and I speak often, because he’s never had the problem of needing to fill up pages, it’s always a matter of editing down what you want to do and fighting for space to make it all fit. I don’t think there’s ever been an issue of a comic I’ve drawn where I hadn’t wished I’d had two or three more pages.
David: It’s a question of priority, I suppose. Eve and Emma are critical in this scene, Eve’s emotional journey isn’t the driving force.
Michael: She’s deliberately detached too. She could sit, here, but she doesn’t. She’s Johanna’s subordinate, kind of hovering over her like Darth Vader. It’s a shame, because I did think about Eve’s side of it, I had it in my head, but it’s a question of picking your battles.
David: Speaking of picking your battles, we move on to the aftermath of the Barret battle. I know you said you don’t focus too much on symbolism and metaphor, but we notice that we transition from the prominent cross on the top of the grave in the first panel to the power poles by the side of the road in the wasteland, arrayed in a way similar to Roman crucifixion. Together they form a powerful juxtaposition, especially in the rain.
Michael: Wow, they really do. This is one of those things that’s completely subconscious and unintentional. I thought the telephone poles just looked right, I wanted to have them there, and how it led the eye back towards the fire. Sure, though, I like that, I’ll own that! <laughs>
Robert: David was talking about the Roman nature of the crucifixion scene, but something that became apparent to me as we moved from the wasteland to the vast number of people waiting for the Lift is that the scope of the scene is very redolent of pilgrimage or Crusade imagery. The thronging, almost tent-city nature of it.
Michael: Pilgrimage? Absolutely. Just to get myself some visual inspiration I looked at a lot of images for that, did a Google image search for pilgrimage and went from there. And it is a pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of this kind of capitalism gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Robert: I think part of it, talking about beginning with the fire and the smoke, there’s a lot of grey, the sky kind of coming down over them as it starts to rain.
Michael: Santi did such a beautiful job colouring this scene. I had no idea what it was going to look like and when I got these pages back I was just blown away. This whole issue, Santi knocked the ball out of the park. I have an assistant who helps me with unimportant elements of the background. I did the initial images of the gas station, and stuff like that, but a lot of these scenes, particularly, the credit belongs to my assistant.
Robert: The sense of loss in the landscape. I was talking right back when we started was isolation in the landscape, but what you get in the pilgrimage train is just these people stretching off into nowhere. We know Denver’s coming and the sign is right there letting us know that there is a destination, logically, but there’s this real sense of all these people moving to an unknown and possibly unfriendly destination. That captures that real sense of desperation, of the need to hope when there’s no possibility of an end in sight.
Michael: We spend all of the Barrets time in the next issue in amongst the mass of people going to Lift. We get to see the whole moving subculture centered around this event, like people following the Grateful Dead.
Robert: It does echo people who follow a band, but I noted the Crusades especially before, because it looks almost like, as with those, there’s an attempt to move almost an entire civilisation. There are obviously caravans and vehicles and stuff, but they look like stalls.
Michael: It is. People need food and there’s trading to be done. It’s a travelling society. All these people, like the Barrets, have given up everything. They’re risking it all and have nothing.
Robert: It’s hard to tell with the size of the crowd in the last panel but it looks to me like none of these people, stuck out in the rain, have umbrellas. It might be my imagination, but I can’t see a single one.
Michael: Huh. I mean, I suppose it’s not your highest priority when you’re down to the very last things you can carry.
Robert: Oh, absolutely. But that’s what it brings home, that amongst these thousands of people, none of them are lucky enough to be out of the rain. Very evocative of that desperation as the rain starts to hammer down. I was just wondering if you deliberately picked to leave them exposed.
Michael: Greg might have had that in mind when he told us it was raining. He had an extremely detailed description of this travelling caravan, even the vehicles and everything we see. So something like that being missing…could be him. He often is driving at something I don’t know about. I really can’t say enough though how much I love the colouring on this scene. It’s the way I’ve always wanted my comics to be coloured. I am rarely this proud of the colour on anything I do.
Robert: The colouring’s incredible. I wasn’t going to dig too heavily into it today, but we’ve been looking at it a lot. The colouring on the second last page, where we see the sky as Casey comes over the hill on the horse, and Santi’s put those hints of red and vanilla amongst the grey, so we know that the sun is just creeping through.
Michael: I think Santi does the best skies in the business. If you look at the puddles on the ground in the big horizontal panel on that page, you really get the sense they’re going through the slop here. It’s terrible, it’s messy. This is as bad as these things get. Their child has just been killed and now theý’re trudging through this.
Robert: We had some notes for today, and for more than one panel there’s entries just reading “THAT SKY!”<laughs>
Michael: <laughs> I do the same thing. His skies are beautiful. He gets in there and paints and adds a lot of stuff. It’s very textured. A lot of artists who are considered the top colourists, Dave Stevens or Matt Hollingsworth, they would never get this painterly with their comics. I think it works really well with the kind of art I do. Adds to the sense of realism, that sense that this is a really place, and a really crappy day.
David: There’s a lot of dichotomies to the book. The things that we’ve built and the things that are falling apart. The organic and the removed.
Michael: Even looking at the palette, from say when we move from the interrogation room to the Barrets, the colours aren’t that different. Same yellows, same green-blue. But it feels completely different. From page to page, we know we’re going to a completely different place.
David: It helps with that sense of time, too. I’m a quality of light geek, and the subtle variations really play up that sense of hours changing and time passing.
Michael: When I did that first travelling montage, I pushed for every panel to have a significantly different palette, to show that they’re all separate locations. I didn’t want people to feel like we’d just moved from one scene to the next. I have never been so happy in comics as I am working with this team. I am so excited and proud of this book. Maybe because it’s the first book that’s been part mine for a long, long time, but it’s just a labour of love on every level. If they do a TV show, and they stick close to what Greg’s written, I’ll be watching it. I love this book. I’m so glad that we were able to find someone that I was so happy to collaborate with, who gets what we’re doing so completely. We knew right away we wanted the book to have European colouring, it’s why we chose a European colourist, because we did not want this to look like a stereotypical American comic. It’s not. It’s not what Greg writes, it’s not what I draw or Santi draws.
David: In saying that, there’s something that, as outsiders, looks American about the comic. This huge fight about privilege, about the environment, about inequality and power and terrorism. We talked about the Western, and the post-apocalyptic story, which are both genres which have deep American roots.
Michael: The whole background to this book in terms of the financial apocalypse is definitely informed by our experiences as Americans, but I do think it’s the kind of thing unfortunately if things continue the way they are continuing, that everyone will be affected by to some degree.
Robert: Oh, people already are.
Michael: The Barrets, particularly. It’s a Western, and its intentionally a Western, and I definitely feel that there. We’re going to see beyond the confines of beyond the United States. Greg’s figured out this whole world, and we’re going to try and show you that as much as possible. I know coming up we’re going to see some other countries.
Robert: The next arc has everyone getting together, right? A kind of summit meeting?
Michael: Yeah, I don’t know how much I can say about that. But that’s true.
Robert: Let the record show that we said that, not you, you haven’t spoiled anything.
Michael: Yeah, there’s going to be some stuff on that in the previews for the next issue, I think, so it’s not a big secret. But having to design guard armour and different livery and things like that for all the different Families. There’s a Swiss family, there’s the host who are the British family. We were talking about guns before, and I asked Greg about this and Greg just said “oh, they’ve just got cool assault rifles”. I came back with “I know you, there’s going to be more to it than that.” Like Casey’s gun, it’s an instance of him saying “Oh, do what you want to do!” <laughs> “You’re not going to let me do whatever I want to do! We need to go through this carefully!”
Robert: Are the Carraghers turning up?
Michael: I only get the bare bones from Greg until I get the script. Greg usually has a broader plan, but there’s still stuff he’s working out. There are times I’ll ask him “Can this character do this thing?” and he’ll have to think about it and come back. He’s thinking about the future all the time though. Little things, like this issue’s bandit with the stolen horse, end up being important. May not be important this story arc, not the next story arc, but he’s told me its eventually important. We’ve got plans. There are other times, though, he’s telling the story on the fly. It’s one of Greg’s strengths, he lets the story tell itself and follows it where it needs to go, even into some very dark places.
Robert: I don’t think we’re going to get a better exit line than that.
Michael: Yeah, that’s my mic drop moment.