We are back with another in depth interview with a comic book pro. This time we were lucky enough to spend some time talking with comic writer Paul Storrie.
Paul has written for DC, Marvel, IDW, Moonstone Books, Source Point Press, and others. He is well known for his original character Robyn of Sherwood.
He will have two publications coming to comic shops in the next couple of months. First, on February 12th the long awaited collection of the Gotham Girls mini-series will be published by DC Comics as Harley Quinn and the Gotham Girls. It is written by Paul Storrie with pencils by Jennifer Graves, inks by J. Bone, colors by Trish Mulvihill, and letters by Tim Harkins and Phil Felix. The covers of the five issue series that was originally published in 2002 were done by Shane Glines and Rian Hughes.
Coming to stores in March is the second adventure of Elgven, the Viking Queen in Viking Queen: Sleepers in Shadow, written by Paul. It is published by Source Point Press and is drawn by Kristen Cella with colors by Sean Seal. It will be in stores on March 25th.
Below you will find the audio recording of our conversation with Paul. It is a great listen. We travel through his experiences with these two books and cover his thoughts on some other issues too.
We also transcribed the majority of the interview for you, but there are still somethings that you will only find in the audio.
Pop Culture Squad: I know you have two books coming out soon, so let’s take them in chronological order. First coming out in February is a collected paperback of your Gotham Girls series. It is being collected as Harley Quinn and the Gotham Girls. Congratulations. I know it has been a long time coming. So, what do you remember about how this mini-series came to you and the origins of it getting done?
Paul Storrie: Well, it was interesting because I had done a couple of issues of Batman Beyond. One of which saw print and other one did not, because the TV show was canceled. They pulled the plug on the comic almost immediately thereafter. So, I was doing that, and I think I had done at least one Cass Cain Batgirl inventory story and my Justice League Adventure story at that point. I was pretty comfortable in the “animated series” universe.
One day the link came up, on what in those days must have been a message board that I was on, and I watched some of the Gotham Girls web series that was playing on the Warner Brothers animation website. I watched a couple of them, and I thought “Wow, why aren’t they doing a Gotham Girls comic to go along with the web series?” It seemed like it would be a synergistic kind of thing.
I got in touch with my Batman Beyond editor, Michael Wright, and he said Joan Hilty was in charge of that stuff then. Joan had a really, stellar reputation. She had worked for Vertigo and then transferred over to DCU. So, I sent her over an email saying this is what I was kind of thinking with my rough idea for the story, and it seemed like a Gotham Girls series would be a great opportunity for both the comic and web series to maybe pimp each other–that is probably the worst word choice for that, but to promote each other. She was like, “OK,” and it just kind of worked out from there.
I actually pitched a four-issue series, and then, they said, ”Can we do three?” I, basically, condensed the story. Each issue was going to focus on Batgirl, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy, and when they said three, I decided to mush Harley and Poison Ivy together. Ironically, after the thing has been going for a little bit, they asked, “Oh, can you make it five issues? So, it would be better to collect.”
PCS: [Laughter] Oh, wow! That is the irony right there.
PS: Yes. That is indeed. Ha Ha. So, I said, “Yes! That’s terrific!” I was going to have Renee Montoya as the connecting thread throughout the story, but I was not going to spotlight her, initially. With five issues, it gave me a chance to spotlight every one of the characters involved, and it went from there.
I can’t remember if Joan had worked with Jennifer Graves already or was just in touch with her, and Joan said that she really wanted her to do it. I thought that was terrific. I specially asked for Trish Mulvihill, who is a coloring goddess and a longtime friend of mine. I love her work, and we were able to get Trish, which was fantastic. Then we got J. Bone to do the inks. Jay is fantastic, so it all just came together. It took a while, but it all came together swimmingly, while I was moving from Los Angeles back home to Metro Detroit.
PCS: Well, that is always fun to do work while you are moving.
PS: Yes, it was a little challenging.
PCS: Did you find any difference in editorial direction in the animated series version of comics versus non-animated property comics? We talked before that, apparently, you added to Harley’s origin through this comic. Is there anything editorially that there were differences there?
PS: I did not find much of any difference in terms of approach. Every editor has their own approach but in terms of animated series vs the regular DCU, which I wrote a few things for only, but only one of which one saw print. I did an adaption of the Birds of Prey TV show. They were doing an anthology of that, and I wrote story for that. Then, that show also got cancelled, and they pulled the plug on the TV anthology.
PCS: This series that you wrote was not intended to be necessary a Harley Quinn series, but she is very prominent in it, and you were a writer of her before her pop culture explosion of today. How do you feel about how she portrayed in various media incarnations?
PS: Well, it is funny, because Harley was the character that really made me nervous when I was writing the series. Paul Dini had created her, and her voice was so strong that I was terrified of screwing that up. It was weird. I’ve loved Batgirl since I was a kid, and yet, it was Harley, that I was like “Let me get this correct.”
I actually corralled Paul Dini when we were both out with separate groups at dinner. I made sure he wasn’t in the middle of something, and I said “Hey Paul. Have you had a change to look at it? And did I do all right by your girl?” He was like, ”Yeah, you did pretty good,” or something to that effect. As far as her portrayal in other media or other approaches, I always have a hard time with the whole turn from villain to anti-hero/hero. It takes a lot to win me over on that.
I have to say, that I really admire the energy that Margot Robbie brings to that role. She vibrates with that kind of frantic energy that you want Harley to have, and of course, most recently, she has been written and drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Jimmy and Amanda do amazing things all the time.
You know it is always weird, and I wrote five issues so I don’t feel I have the right to be proprietary. Obviously, different people have different approaches, but that can be good. So long as the core of the character is right then, like little differences in the spin, make it interesting to read.
PCS: We are going to close the book on the Gotham Girls. It comes out in February?
PS: On February 12th, in your favorite local comic shop and available if you don’t have a favorite local comic shop. It will be available through many fine online retailers of comic and books.
PCS: Excellent. So, let’s talk about the second adventure in the world of the Viking Queen that is coming to Comic book shops in March from Source Point Press which is Viking Queen: Sleepers in Shadow.
PS: Yes! What would you love to know?
PCS: So, first off. What has happened to Elgven since the first one-shot story?
PS: Well, actually, although I’m not tying myself to this for future stories, this one takes place not very long after the first one. Elgven, basically, has gone to her father’s sister, who is a witch in Iceland, to consult with her on whether or not killing the of the first Viking Queen, Ovaria, is enough vengeance for the killing of her father, about which she learns the truth of how it happened in the first story. She wondering if honor has been satisfied and feels that her aunt would be a good person to ask about that. Unfortunately, they are caught in a storm and cast far across the sea. They land in the New World about 100 years before before Erik the Red.
I feel I should point out that Ovaria was named that because she was named by Lela Gwenn. She was writing about some health troubles she was having, and we started going back and forth on Twitter and kind of concocted the idea for a Viking Queen doing battle with an evil Sorceress. I asked if she would mind if I wrote that, and she said, “Yeah! Heck yea. Go ahead.”
The world of Elgven is a fictionalized, magical version of like ninth-century Norway. They refer to it as Norvag, and everything is a little different because the gods and frost Giants and the Norse mythology is still real. Is actually real in that setting as opposed to what the Norse thought of the time.
PCS: That sounds fantastic. What brought you back to this world, and could there be even more?
PS: There is definitely going to be more. What brought me back was because publisher, editor-in-chief Travis McIntire at Source Point Press was very enthused about the Viking Queen and encouraged me to do more, but we are going to do stand-alone books.
What happened was that we kickstarted the first one-shot, the stand-alone story. We were blowing through stretch goals, and Travis asked if I could do another story. I said, “Sure, I would love to do that.” We made that an electronic version of the second story one of the final stretch goals of the kickstarter. Everybody who pledged the kickstarter got the digital version of the second issue once it is available.
The plan right now is to do a least four of them so we can put them together in a collection down the line, but all the stories are independent. You don’t have to read the previous one to read the next one.
PCS: For this story, the artist changed. How is it working with Kristen Cella?
PS: Kristen is terrific. I have known her for several years. We both worked on a line of graphic novels at a publisher called Lerner Books. They had a division called Graphic Universe, and we both worked on the “My Boyfriend is a Monster” series. We met through a mutual friend, Christopher Jones, who is known now for his work on the Young Justice comic and is currently going back to storyboarding.
We have been talking about working together for a long time. It just worked out that she was available to work on the second Viking Queen, and she has done an amazing job. I’m really happy with issue one or with the first story. I try not to call them issue one and issue two kind of thing. Kevin Caron did a really good job on that book, and Kristin is doing a very different but also excellent job on the second story.
I don’t know whether we will do a new artist every issue. We haven’t determined that. Currently working on the third, although it has been going slow due to some personal issues. Kristen is fantastic.
PCS: I have seen some of the pages, and I know you are excited about it. They are fantastic. What is the most rewarding thing that you find working in this world that you are now building even more?
PS: You know, what it really comes down to is, I love old school sword and sorcery. Robert E. Howard, despite some of his anachronistic views on portrayals of race, and by that, I mean racist–sadly, back when he was writing, they were pretty common. It is sort of the same with H.P. Lovecraft. You can admire what they accomplished, and still go, “Whoop! Not so great, when it comes to a matter of race.” Well, of course that is true of Edgar Rice Burroughs too, but anyway, I love old school sword and sorcery. Howard, C.L Moore’s Jirel of Joiry. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber is like my bible. I just love that series. It’s fantastic. So, getting to do this it was a chance to kind of do that. Monsters, magic and mayhem, a little bite of eldritch horror kind of thing.
It is so much fun to do that. Plus, I do get to pay homage of my friend Lela Gwen, who inspired the thing by being open and frank about some health issues she was going through. It also got the personal element that I think Lela is terrific and inspirational, and if her fictional counterpart can be that too, that’s a great feeling.
PCS: That is a fanatic part of it. I concur on how wonderful she is. It wasn’t until I was preparing for this interview that I caught the name reference. I knew the story of Lela’s inspiration on all this stuff from the beginning. It looks a little like her, there is that, but the name. It took me a while to make the connection.
PS: Yeah, well, her Twitter handle is LGwenn, and I was going crazy trying to come up with a name for the character. I was going through, filling up page after page in a notebook trying to come up with like the Norse version of what Lela means, or like an analog for that. I was messing around and messing around and then I swear, I was responding to something on Twitter from her, and I looked at her screen name and thought Elgven, just say it like you are Scandinavian. I felt kind of stupid for how long it took me to get there.
I really love working on sword and sorcery stuff. As much as I love J.R.R. Tolkien, like high fantasy is not really my jam. I like that too, but I like the down and dirty, personal aspect that sword and sorcery is really what I like to do.
PCS: So, besides those two close-to-release titles, is there something else you are working on secretly that you can or can’t tell us about?
PS: Well yes. Of course, I am working on the third Viking Queen stand-alone. Josh Werner, who is the co-publisher, art director at Source Point, is pressing me for that. He actually did the cover too for the second story. He is trying to light the fire under my backside. So, I am working on that.
Also, I am not sure how I am going to do this yet, but I used my Ko-Fi.com account to fund some character art for a couple of projects. One, I got a superhero that I had Craig Rousseau draw up and kind of fix my design because Craig is a much better artist than I am. It is almost like as if he does it professionally.
I think I may kickstart an over-sized issue. I got a lot of inspiration from my friend Christopher Mills, who’s been doing the Atomic Action line of comics. He is putting them together, and then selling them through Indieplanet.com, and those are fantastic if you like old school super hero adventure comics.
PCS: Those have been featured on Pop Culture Squad.
PS: Oh! Terrific. I got a first story all broken out but the key is being able to pay the artist to do the work.
Another person I had do an illustration of a character was Eric Jay, who I worked with on a book called Revisionary years back. It was about a fraudulent TV psychic who gets cursed with actual psychic powers, and Eric and I really liked working together. I had him draw up this character Galileo, who is kind of, this is not entirely accurate but, a modern spin on modern mask vigilante spin on the Count of Monte Cristo.
Eric and I talked about maybe doing that. Again, it’s a matter of figuring out a way so we can eat while putting the book together. So, that is also in the works, and I am talking with a couple of other artists about projects.
Kristin and I actually have a pitch in at a publisher for a paranormal romance mystery comedy.
PCS: I would read that.
PS: You really would. I know you well enough to know that you would really dig this book. I just need to find a publisher for it. It is something that, the high concept come to me and I went oh I have to do this, and Kristin would be terrific for this and she is on-board.
I really want to find a publisher to do because it is quicker than doing a kickstarter and then having to put it all together. Plus, I have never done a kickstarter by myself. Source Point Press kickstarted the first Viking Queen.
My current situation is a little up in the air for the amount of work that goes into kick starting a book. I don’t know. Have I made enough veiled references to be in a tremulous personal space, that I should clarify it a little bit.
PCS: That is up to you.
PS: My mom recently passed, and we are in the process of selling her house. I’ve been taking care of her for the last few years. So, cleaning the house, selling the house, doing all this stuff and figuring out where do I go from here. It makes for not a really calm writing experience. So, that is what is going on. I just felt like I made vague references, and I should clear it up.
PCS: Well, it is what is going on. And I knew that going in. That is your story to tell. Thank you, and we look forward to a less chaotic personal space for you, so that we can get more of your writing. It has been fantastic, and we are excited for all the things coming out soon.
PS: Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Seriously, folks from the artists that I worked with: Jennifer Graves, J. Bone, Trish Mulvihill. Bradley Rader, helped us out on an issue. Rick Burchett helped us out on an issue. Joan Hilty and Harvey Richards, it was a really terrific book, so get out there and find Gotham Girls. It’s fun!!
PCS: Cool. Thank you for doing this Paul.
PS: Aw sure it’s been my pleasure. Thank you so much!
You can find Paul’s work at his website storrieville.com. He is also on twitter at @storrieville.
He has a Ko-Fi.com account that he uses to raise funds for creator owned work. You can find that here.