¦ Features ¦ Alan
Grant interview part 8
Whose idea was
the ongoing monthly The Demon series? Had you read the Kirby original, or Alan
Moore's revival of the character in the pages of Swamp Thing before you came to
write the series?
It was Bad Dan Raspler's idea. I'd read and enjoyed the Kirby originals, and I'm
sure DC must have sent me Alan's stuff as reference, though I don't remember it.
I once wrote a
Dredd story for 2000AD called 'Jack Kirby's Demon', but they changed it.
Demon (Art by Jim Murray)
The Demon has
been one of those DC properties, along with Doom Patrol, that seems to continually
be re-starting in new series. Why do you think the character has never particularly
gelled with the readership?
I don't know. It
has good ingredients--magic, Hell soap opera, a bit of mystery, tragic hero/villain
in the same body. I think the problem was, Etrigan could never be really bad,
the way a demon would be.
The whole DC magic
genre is something I've always found suspicious, despite Neil Gaiman's best intentions.
The truth is, if you want to build a bridge, you don't hire 3 guys in capes to
chant mumbo jumbo and wave wands. You hire engineers.
In real life, magic
seems to do nothing. In fiction, it appears to be limitless. I tried to make the
point in Anarky that evil requires free will and the deliberate negation of rational
thought. I called the editor of Darkseid to find out why said villain was evil,
what traumatic event or whatever had turned him bad. "You don't understand,"
he told me, "Darkseid is the essence of evil. He IS evil."
Get a life, pal.
How did you
come to be offered the job of writing Legion for DC?
Karen Berger's idea, I think, though it may have been Keith Giffen who asked for
me to dialog his plots. When Keith left, I took over.
Was your working
relationship with artist Barry Kitson different on Legion – I believe he
co-plotted with you?
Barry and I have been friends a long time. He lived in Norfolk, I lived in Suffolk,
and he actively wanted to collaborate on the writing. So we spent a day or two
each month at each other's homes, figuring it out.
How did you come
to co-write Lobo, perhaps your American work most similar in tone to your 2000AD
work, with Keith Giffen, and how did you divide up the writing?
Main Man (Art by Simon Bisley)
Because of the
Legion material, Keith asked me to do the dialog on Lobo. Barry Kitson was up
for being the artist, but Keith wanted a dirtier, more in-your-face style to revamp
the character. We always used to say--Keith writes a loose plot, Bisley draws
whatever he feels like, and I try to make coherent sense out of the result.
Keith and I argued
vehemently against the decision to launch Lobo as a monthly. We knew a one-dimensional
character like this can't sustain a monthly book. But DC knew better. Keith refused
to do it. I refused, too, till they told me the book would be put out to tender
from any writer interested. I preferred to stay with the character. Keith didn't
talk to me for a year, he thought I'd betrayed him. But I was trying NOT to betray
We still work the
same way now. Lobo has been taken over into the Wildstorm universe, so expect
more of the Main Man's exploits.
How did you
find re-teaming with Keith Giffen and Simon Bisley for the Lobo/Authority crossover
– had your method of working together changed?
I hated that book. Kieth, for the first time ever, wrote a meticulous, tight-assed
plot that left neither Simon nor I room for manouevre.
will change with the sequel, currently in the works.
You also worked
for Marvel Comics, on titles like The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D,
Silver Surfer, and The Punisher. How did you find working for them and also their
troubled imprint, Epic?
Despite the efforts of guys like Tom de Falco and Nel Yomtov, I don't think I
ever enjoyed a single story I did for Marvel. Robocop was a nightmare. They chose
the 8th and worst of my 8 Silver Surfer ideas. They made John and I cut out all
the Scottish humour from Punisher: Blood on the Moors. Archie Goodwin at Epic
was different--Archie was one of the last of the old school American editors (they've
all gone now Denny has retired). He KNEW what a story was. Most editors today
For Epic you
produced Nightbreed with John Wagner and Jim Baikie. What was the process for
adapting the Clive Barker story/film?
They sent us a script, we adapted it. Barker never had any contact with us. We
never saw the movie. I think Jim Baikie worked from stills from the movie--actually,
some of the best, most atmospheric work Jim has ever done.
Last American (Art by Mike McMahon)
Also for Epic
you wrote, again with John Wagner, The Last American (recently collected as a
graphic novel by Com.X), with stunning art by Mike McMahon. This seems perhaps
the most personal story you've written, with very little of your usual leavening
black humour present. What was the inspiration for the story?
We wanted to do
something different, and because Mike had complained about the millions of folk
he had to draw in Block Wars, we decided to make it simple. Just a hero, 3 robots,
and a wilderness.
Together with Chopper
in Oz, it brought the crisis in John's and my partnership to a crescendo. We had
radically different ideas on how to play it--or should I say, our overall idea
was the same, we just couldn't agree on how to do it.
wrote Books 1 and 2, I wrote 3 and 4.
Now that the whole story has been collected and readers can buy it easily without
having to scour specialist shops and the internet, what are your feelings about
the strip looking at it today, and are you still as proud of it more than a decade
It looks great.
Mike's artwork is a visual delight--some of it stares down from my wall even as
I type. I'm more proud of it now than I was then.
Q: How long did
the Batman/Judge Dredd crossover Judgement in Gotham take to come to fruition,
and how did you and Wagner decide to approach writing the book?
vs Dredd (Art by Simon Bisley)
I think it was originally proposed by Nick Landau, to be written by Alan Moore
and drawn by Brian Bolland. John and I were furious; we may have threatened to
stop writing Dredd altogether. The idea was dropped for a while, then resurfaced.
I guess it was at least 4 or 5 years from first talking about it to seeing it
We approached it
the way we approached anything else: we sat down on the floor opposite each other,
and started talking...
Was there a
lot of pressure from the two companies (DC and Fleetway, then publisher of 2000AD)
when you were writing the book, and were you surprised with how successful it
We came under no pressure, because we wrote it pretty damn fast. We knew Batman,
we knew Dredd, and we just sat down and wrote it. Simon then did his inimitable
bit. We were surprised by its success, and small royalty cheques still arrive
all these years later. When we did the signing at Virgin in Oxford Street, more
than 1400 folk turned
up--more than either Elton John or David Bowie drew.
How did you
find the production of the three follow up crossovers, Vendetta in Gotham, The
Ultimate Riddle, and the long-delayed Die Laughing? Why was Die Laughing so delayed?
Would you consider penning another Dredd/Batman team up?
The production was totally screwed, mainly because Glen Fabry turned an 8-month
job into a 5 year slog (still love him, though). Cam Kennedy and Carl Critchlow
stepped in at short notice to keep the franchise alive and never really received
the praise they deserved. (Both of their stories were written after Die Laughing,
but were published
I'd have no problems
with another Dredd/Batman, though I might prefer to do Batman/Anderson or Batman/Strontium