Steven Grant has been tasked with bringing back the Garth Ennis character Jennifer Blood for Dynamite. Fellow writer Nancy Collins (Vampirella) spoke with Grant about the new Jennifer Blood: Born Again series and what drew him to the project.
STEVEN GRANT: Nick and I had been talking for a long time about working together – we'd known each other since the early '90s – but schedules just hadn't worked out. Finally I had an opening, so I asked him at 2013's San Diego if there was anything he wanted me to try my hand at. He suggested Jennifer Blood. Being a Garth Ennis fan, that interested me, since I liked Garth's run with the character but thought later versions swerved a bit far from what he did. The challenge interested me.
NC: What is your personal spin on the character?
SG: She's a sociopath, but not evil per se. Very intelligent, very capable, and since her first series ended has been in seclusion trying to figure out how things got so out of control. She does figure that out in the course of the mini-series, but learns figuring it out is only half the battle. It's one thing to recognize your bad behavior, another to avoid falling into old
behavior just through stress and habit. But in order to put some semblance of a life back together, she has to learn to do this.
NC: To my knowledge, you are the first American writer to work on Jennifer Blood. How do you plan to different your 'voice' from those of Garth Ennis, Al Ewing and Michael Carroll?
SG: I'm more concerned with the character's voice than mine. I did use Garth's voice for her as the starting point, but it mutates a bit as her circumstances change. For one thing, the narration Garth used was written in a book, a little more mannered than normal speech. He was good at differentiating her writing voice from her speaking voice. But the written mode is something she has to learn to give up. But while I did use Garth as the starting point, I'm not trying to emulate or imitate him. It moves into my idiom fairly quickly. Now that I think about it, she might sound more American than she did before.
SG: It's been pretty spectacular, I think. I wasn't aware of his work prior to this, so I didn't know what to expect, but I'm very pleased. He really gets what I'm trying to do with the character.
NC: You're best known for gritty crime stories like The Punisher and 2 Guns. What is it about honor-bound assassins and morally ambiguous protagonists that you find so compelling?
SG: It's not so much that I'm obsessed with those kinds of characters as I've realized they're among the best vehicles for the things I want to talk about and the worldview I want to express. My natural tendencies are to anti-mythologize – not necessarily the best approach for someone working in comics, where mythology is the industry obsession – and loner heroes with a shall we say unconventional relationship to law, order and standard morality give me a chance to work the darker corners of the room. Whenever anyone talks to me about heroes, I smell a con man talking, even if they're just conning themselves. It's not the "grit" that appeals to me, though. It's the absurdity. I tend to view most of my stories as absurd albeit rather deadpan comedies.
SG: I recently had both 3 Guns and Deceivers out from Boom! and have a couple other series in prep there. There are several things bubbling up at Dark Horse that should surface in 2015, while I'm also in discussions with Legendary and I have to finish a revival of Gil Kane's His Name Is Savage for a yet unnamed company. (Seriously. They haven't named it yet.) I don't think I'm allowed to mention the other titles yet. I've also been developing some creator-owned books with Paul Gulacy; hopefully the first of those will surface next year as well.
NC: Who has the higher body count: Jennifer Blood or Whisper?
SG: To tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself.
NC: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.
SG: My pleasure. Thanks very much, Nancy.
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