It’s a surprise that we haven’t seen the manic comic energy of Christopher Moore in the funny pages before. After writing a dozen novels about bloodsucking teens, angels, monsters and the Messiah, the beloved author has launched a new experiment with The Griff.
This kinetic, cinematic mash-up about an alien invasion started life as a screenplay, co-written with filmmaker Ian Corson. Now the script has been warmly adapted as a graphic novel by the writing duo and innovative Singapore-based artist Jennyson Rosero. Even better, Moore himself will be on hand to promote The Griff at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Read Kirkus' roundup of graphic novels new for 2011.
What can we expect from The Griff?
It's really quite different from any of my novels in that it has a much wider scope. It's an end of the world story, with the end of the world coming in the form of dragons from outer space. Of course rather than a "voice" it has the visuals, which are provided by an artist, Jennyson Rosero. It's fun, in a splashy, B-movie sort of way.
How heavily does your adaptation with Ian Corson and Jennyson Rosero differ from what you imagined for film?
It's pretty close to how we imagined the movie, except a lot cheaper. We had to leave out a few of the more specific action scenes because they didn't translate well to a comic book form, and I think it's a little less scary because you can't really linger on a single frame the way a shot can linger and build suspense in a film, but the story itself is spot on to the movie script.
What about The Griff lends itself to the graphic format?
It has a large scope with a lot of broad action. There's so much to describe, that the whole "picture is worth a thousand words" thing becomes manifest when things are moving fast. You can't take three pages to describe what's happening in two seconds, and a visual can convey all that information instantly.
Jennyson Rosero has a unique style. What do you think of his designs for your creatures and characters?
He got the characters almost immediately. Jennyson has done a lot of work in the Manga genre, so at first, he would sort of default to the "big-eyed" look, but after a little direction, he brought the characters back to a more classic Western comic look.
The female characters got a bit sexier than I think we had anticipated, but that's sort of the nature of the genre, so it works in context. The creatures took a little tweaking, but we're pretty happy with how they came out. I kept sending him pictures of the Welsh flag, since the creatures were much more dragon-like than classic "griffin."
Collaborating with a working filmmaker had to have been a little different from pounding out novels in your office. As someone who’s usually pressed for time, what was that experience like for you?
It's not unpleasant, but it feels very clunky. You have to talk about a lot of stuff instead of just making the decision and going with it. With a movie script, you want to leave most of the visual detail up to the director. You don't really call the visual shots or put in a lot of stage direction. In a comic script you are doing exactly that, describing every detail of every frame.
I know you’ve fielded offers to play in the sandboxes of the biggest comic companies. What would appeal to you about those gigs?
The kid in me loves the idea of being able to move Spidey or the Flash around in a story. If you don't have to make it credible, i.e. you get to start with a guy who got bitten by a radioactive spider and has powers, you can just rock ’n’ roll from the outset. That's very appealing.
No real set up or development of character because it's been done for you over decades. Of course, that's the limitation, too. But if time weren't an issue, I would have jumped on the opportunity to play with the big-boy toys.
As someone who’s just coming back to comics, have you seen anything out there that appeals to you, either as a professional writer, or an enthusiast?
It's just a different way of approaching humor for me. You can think in visual jokes that work within the frame, which is much different than writing humor in prose. In some ways it's limiting, too. I know some writers include big blocks of prose in their comics, and that can establish a voice, but I don't think I'd be comfortable with that.
The biggest appeal, perhaps, is that someone else can bring their talent to the mix, and that can give you a dimension to the work you hadn't thought of. As a reader, I like that there are huge, multilevel mythologies that you can catch up on.
What might comics adaptations of your novels feel like?
I think the vampire series makes the most sense as graphic novels. There are great settings [San Francisco] and almost infinite scenarios that you could carry out, and Abby Normal could stay 16 forever, sort of the next level of Hit Girl as far as foul-mouthed snark. That kid has moxy, they'd say in a ’40s movie.
I like the look of the Kick-Ass graphic novel a lot. Something like that would be cool for the vampire novels, but I think other styles could work, too. A really dark horror-comedy in the style of Archie and Veronica might be fun. Maybe, Rex Morgan M.D. does smart-ass vampire story or Roy Lichtenstein graphics with really profane dialogue.