We have a new writer-on-writer interview, this time featuring Troy Brownfield, writer of Blood Queen vs. Dracula #1, talking with writer Dan Abnett about Battlestar Galactica: Death of Apollo #4, both on sale now. Cover art by Mike Mayhew, Dietrich Smith and Livio Ramondelli.
TROY BROWNFIELD: Dan, I always like to start by going back to the beginning. Obviously, you're associated with science-fiction/space opera in comics. What sparked your early interest in the genre (in any medium)?
DAN ABNETT: Probably a diet of Doctor Who, Star Trek, Space 1999 and Blakes Seven as a kid, and I've always read. SF was always amongst the books I picked up at libraries and second-hand stores.
TB: Related to that, what was your first exposure to Battlestar Galactica and your reaction to it?
DA: I saw the original at the cinema in the seventies. In the UK, they turned that first couple (I think) of episodes of the show into a theatrical released movie. Don't know if that happened in the States. I really liked it. I had great production values and great FX, but it was also wonderfully retro in its feel, reminding me of the space opera novels I'd read as a kid.
TB: In terms of general writing, what's your process like? And how is that process altered when you're working a property like BSG that requires various approvals, etc.?
DA: I write full script, fleshing out from my outline. Oddly, these days I often write the dialogue first, almost like a screenplay, to make sure I've covered all the scenes and story points I need to, then break that dialogue down into panel by panel, page by page storytelling with panel descriptions. That often requires compression or expansion of dialogue from the basic skeleton, and moving scenes around. Character moments, gags and interplay tend to get woven into the framework after I've got the panels constructed around the bones of the dialogue.
TB: With the various threads that you could tackle, what in particular drew you to the Death of Apollo as an outstanding story conceit?
TB: You open this issue in the midst of a rescue mission. Clearly, Starbuck's motivation here is to save his friend. But what do you want readers to learn about Starbuck in the commission of this action?
DA: Starbuck is a joker, and very reckless, and his wildcard attitude has always defined him, but he's also a superb warrior and highly skilled, so I think this shows that his recklessness only works because it's backed up by huge talent. And he's also a friend. He's incredibly loyal and devoted. He won't let you down, even though he seems like he's the joker who is most likely to.
TB: Maintaining a balance between two ongoing action pieces can be tricky, but you did a great job handling the tension between the fight inside the ship and the dogfight outside. Those sequences were always a highlight of the show; was that something that you felt was necessary to the spirit of the enterprise?
DA: Thanks! (smiles) Yes, the show's action was always a mix of dogfight combat and on-the-ground fighting, and I wanted to represent both here. Dogfights are so exciting, but they're quite hard to replicate in comics because you run the risk of replication and repetition, which could get boring, or simply anonymity (making it hard to keep up with who is in what Viper, doing what). Dietrich has really made this work. There's dynamism and power, but also clarity and good storytelling.
DA: I guess that would be telling. I guess the question is … is this a metaphorical death, or an actual one?
TB: And finally, can you tell us what Dietrich Smith brings to the book?
DA: Amazing art, pure and simple. Great style, great storytelling, great likenesses and consistency, and a wonderful evocation of the world, in terms of atmosphere, tech and 'sets'. He's amazing.
For more on Battlestar Galactica: Death of Apollo #4, click here.