Interview: Christopher Moore and Ian Corson

Published on May 11th, 2011

Good news, Comic Impact followers! We have a special treat for you today, it’s a brand new interview! Who are we talking to today? Why, non other than New York Times best selling author, Christopher Moore. Who you may know from such books as, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, Bite Me: A Love Story, and a bunch of other fantastic novels. We are also fortunate enough to talk with Ian Corson who has teamed-up with Moore on his latest project, which just happens to be a graphic novel.

It seems several years ago, these two teamed-up and wrote a screenplay entitled The Griff, but with Hollywood the way it is, the project never quite took off as a feature film. Lucky for us, these guys decided to turn the story into a graphic novel so that we could all read it and enjoy it. What’s even better, these two gentlemen decided to take some time out of their busy schedule and do an interview for us as well!

Comic Impact: First off, what can you tell us about The Griff?

Christopher Moore: It’s a story about dragons from outer space destroying human civilization and a group of plucky survivors fighting back.

Ian Corson:  There’s definitely a familiarity to the story itself but we were drawn to the characters and the situations they found themselves in.

CI: What made you want to do a graphic novel?

Chris:  A number of comic publishers had approached me to do one, which got me thinking about it.

Ian:  After we’d written the original screenplay, Chris and I talked about the idea of one day turning this into a graphic novel.  It wasn’t until the comic book publishers reached out to Chris that this became a possibility.

CI: Is there a specific reason you decided to make The Griff a comic book instead of a novel?

Chris: The story came to me, partially, in a dream, and it was so visual and action-based that I didn’t think it was appropriate for a novel. Most of my novels are character based, and with The Griff, the characters were going to be secondary to the bigger action.  Initially I thought it would be appropriate for a film, which is where Ian came in.

CI: How does the process of writing a graphic novel differ from writing a novel? Also, how long did it take from start to finish?

Chris: The initial film script took about two months, with Ian and I dividing up scenes and writing them after doing an outline. Adapting it to a comic script took another month or so. Then the process of working with the artists and so forth will have taken well over a year before it’s finished. Start to finish, it took about two and a half years, but I was working on other projects while doing it. A graphic novel, in my experience, is a very collaborative work, with artists, colorists, producers, editors, and so on, from start to finish. Lots of back and forth. With a novel, it’s me in a room until it’s done, and the editing production process is very short from my end.

CI: How did you end up working with Ian Corson?

griffChris: I met Ian originally when he was interested in adapting my book Coyote Blue for film. We became friends and when I thought about writing the Griff as a film, he came up. I mentioned it to him over dinner one time and I think it was as long as two years later he suggested we write it as a script. I had very limited experience writing scripts, and Ian had a really good sense of the structure, which is much more strict in a film script than it is in a novel, so it seemed a like a good idea. Plus I was working on a novel that was really hard at the time, and writing the script would be a good way to take a break without feeling like a lazy scumbag.

CI: What was the process like working with Ian Corson?(For Ian, what was it like working with Chris Moore?)

Chris: We work together pretty-well, I think.  I think we both have a very practical approach to the work and can just get it done without infinite discussion of details. We’ll each make decisions and then discuss them after the scene is written. I’ve been in the room when other screenwriters are working together and it seems like they waste a lot of time hashing out every single element of the script, every line, and it’s excruciating. This was an action movie before it was a graphic novel, it didn’t really call for nuanced dialog.  With Ian and I it’s like, “Okay, you kill all these sons-a-bitches, and I’ll write the next scene where they clean the blood off their hands.” Then we just do the work. I can be a little prickly at times, but Ian has worked in Hollywood for fifteen years, so he’s used to people behaving like assholes, so he can let it roll over him and get the work done.

Ian:  Before I met Chris, I was a big fan of his work.  When he wanted to collaborate it was a little intimidating at first.  I kinda felt like Danny De Vito stepping onto the basketball court with Michael Jordan.  Luckily, those inhibitions disappeared pretty quickly and Chris and I fell into a comfortable work relationship.  It was a lot of fun and I’m proud of the end result.

CI: Are you a fan of comic books?

Chris: I’m coming back to them. When I was a little kid, six to ten or so, I loved comic books. Every week I spent my allowance on a Sergeant Rock or a Jeb Stuart and the Haunted Tank, Hawkman, Spider-Man, Sub Mariner – I didn’t really adhere to any particular universe. I just had stuff I liked. I think I fell out of following comics as I got older. I got into Mad Magazine when I was eleven and on. Lately, with the whole digital backlist, I’m starting to catch up on some stuff, but that’s only recently.

Ian: I’ve loved comic books for a long time, too.  My grandfather read comics so I’d always get his hand-me-downs.  He was a big fan of Conan the Barbarian and a few others.  Like Chris, I was drawn to Mad Magazine.  It was almost a religious thing for me.  I couldn’t wait for the next issue to come out.

CI: What were some of your favorite characters or books?

Chris: I’ve always loved Spidey, because he’s a smart-ass superhero. Not as earnest and dour as some of the others. I’m working my way through the existing backlist of Spider-Man books now in digital and loving it. It’s very weird, though, going back to Ulitimate Spider-Man, where Peter Parker is 16 years old. I mean, he was sixteen when I was ten, and he’s sixteen now that I’m in my fifties. It’s a little shocking. A friend of mine e-mailed me the other day and said something about MJ remaining hot all these years, and I replied, “Yeah, but now if I say that then I’m creepy.”

Ian:  I was always a Daredevil guy.  I loved Daredevil and I think Kevin Smith did a great job with Daredevil Visionaries.  I was profoundly disappointed by the movie, though.  It took me a long time to forgive Ben Affleck for his portrayal of Matt Murdock.  He did get the haircut right, though.  My other favorites are the Submariner and the Silver Surfer.  There’s been a few recent incarnations of both that are fantastic.  Esad Ribic has done the art for both characters at various points and his stuff is amazing.

CI: Do you have any favorite comic book writers or artists?

Chris: It’s not really fair to say because I’ve been out of that world for so long. Alan Moore, I guess, which seems obvious. I’m just getting acquainted with some of the artists.

Ian:  Alan Moore, definitely.  I think Esad Ribic is a great artist.

CI: Do you plan on writing any more graphic novels?

Chris: I have an idea another one that’s much goofier than The Griff, but there’s no schedule for it.  I’ve had offers from both DC and Marvel to “play with their toys”, which might be fun, but I’m always on deadline for novels, and graphic novels take a lot more time in the collaboration and communication aspect than I’m accustomed to, so I haven’t committed to any new graphic novel projects. Also, I tend to generate the type of stories that are best told in novel form. I think Ian, who has always been a film guy, really brings a more appropriate skill set and work habits to graphic novels.

Ian:  I have an idea for a medieval action story set in the world of the Knights Templar.  I spent a lot of time in France and I’ve done research into their world.  It’s pretty fascinating.  There were some key events that led to their demise and I’m sort of filling in the blanks with some speculation to create an historical hero’s journey.  I might write it as a movie first, though.  We’ll see.

CI: Would you ever consider writing any comic books that weren’t one of your characters (Example: Spider-Man or Batman)?

griff2Chris: Absolutely. It’s more about time, and about being able to bring something fun to the characters. For that reason, I see myself writing a Spider-Man more than Batman. Although Batman villains can be pretty snarky, so that might be fun, too.

CI: Would you ever want to adapt one of your novels into a graphic novel? (I think Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove would make a great comic)

Chris: Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of them as graphic novels, and I think the characters from the vampire books could be continued with some success. I don’t know if I would have to time to do the work, though. It would be tough. I don’t multitask well, as in handling multiple projects at once, so anything I take on, takes away from some other project. We’ll see.

CI: As long as we’re talking about comic books, if you could have any super power, what would it be?

Chris: I wouldn’t mind Wolverine healing. And if you only had the healing thing, you wouldn’t really be obligated to fight crime and stuff. Someone would be, “Hey Chris, there’s a super-villain on the Golden Gate bridge!” And I’d be like, “Good luck with that, I can’t even bench-press my weight. I’m going to the library, where I have no fear at all of getting paper cuts.”

Ian:  Not sure about super powers, but Batman has some pretty awesome toys.  He kinda wins in the car, boat and cave departments.  He’s also pretty good at kicking ass and apparently has no fear of heights.  I wouldn’t mind any of that but I’d hate having to apply black makeup around my eyes for the mask.  Guess you gotta give up something.

CI: What’s your next project after The Griff?

Chris: I’ve just finished a novel, called Sacré Bleu, and I’m getting ready to start another one set in medieval Venice.

Ian:  I’ve just finished a novel called Bobby La Brea.  I’m also working on another screenplay that I’d like to set up to direct.

So, there you have it! Thanks again to Chris and Ian for taking the time for this interview. Don’t forget to head on down to your local comic shop on July 19th to pick up your copy of The Griff, or you could check out Amazon and pre-order it today! It’s sure to be own hell of an interesting book!

Ken Zeider