Writer To Writer – Nancy Collins Talks With Christina Blanch
Nancy Collins, writer of Vampirella, talks with Christina Blanch about The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood #1, both came out this week.
Nancy Collins: So, Christina, after using comic books as teaching aids as part of CAPE (Comics Association of Professionals and Educators), how does it feel to actually be writing one? Is this your first comic book gig?
Christina Blanch: It's amazing. One of the reasons that I decided to write a comic book is because I call myself a comics scholar and 'analyze' comics and have my students create comics. I figured that the experience would be good for me in my area of study. And it's amazing. I am having such a great time writing this story. It's amazing how sometimes the characters go a completely different direction than you intended. Sometimes I will get done writing a scene and say to myself, "Wow, what a jerky thing to say!" then I realize, oh wait, I wrote that.
NC: Wasn't this originally designed as a web-series?
CB: This is still a web series. It debuted on Thrillbent.com over a year ago and is still going strong. We are on a short break right now to let Chee catch up as he has a lot of other commitments, but we should return on the web shortly! I really enjoyed, well, learned a lot anyway, from converting the series from the web to the printed page. I literally cut and paste a lot of it! It's like arts and crafts night around here when it's time to do the conversion!
NC: How did The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood end up at Dynamite?
CB: When I started getting invited to conventions, I realized that I did not really have anything to sign except some promotional material. So, my editor and I put together an 'ashcan' copy of Wormwood to take to conventions to sell and sign. When Nick from Dynamite saw it, he asked why we printed them and I explained. He told me that he thought I had taken it to Image and when he found out I hadn't, he asked to print it. Chee, Chris, Troy and I were thrilled. Dynamite is really taking some chances right now on interesting things, and we couldn't be happier to be a part of it.
NC: How much of a collaboration is there between the two of you? How do you split up the writing chores? And how much input does your artist, Chee, have in the storytelling process?
CB: Chris and I have outlined the entire series and we take turns writing the scripts. I always 'edit' the scripts after either of us writes one and makes comments so that it has a consistent tone. Then we send it to our Thrillbent editor Mark Waid who then sends it to Chee who does some sort of witchcraft on it. When Chee sends it, every time he sends a new installment, it's amazing and magical. He is so important to the story telling. I always say that Chee makes Chris and me look good. He's amazing. Some people are great artists and some are great storytellers, well, he's both. The book wouldn't be the same without him.
NC: The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood seems to be more in the tradition of the old 'crime comics' of the 1940s, combined with contemporary noir ala Breaking Bad and OZ. Where did the idea for the series come from?
CB: My co-writer Chris Carr and I both taught in prison. We always joke that we met in prison. When the teaching program was canceled, we got together for coffee and talked about writing a book about all of our prison experiences and stories. I suggested a comic as I was really interested in what Thrillbent.com has announced they were doing. It seemed like perfect timing, so we pitched it and they liked it. Back to the question, many of the stories told in the book are based on real ones that we experienced or were told by our students. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
NC: Can you tell us a little more about who the main players are in the series, and what readers can expect in upcoming issues?
CB: The main players are Charlie Wormwood, just a normal guy who teaches in prison, his wife Michelle, who we'll get to know more about, and their son Jr. who is sick with some illness that they can't quite put their finger on. In prison we meet Barnum, who leads Charlie down the wrong path, Liz, his co-worker in prison, and a lot of other shady and fun characters. Outside prison, you have yet to meet Big Rob and Twitchy, two of my favorite characters. They were only going to be in one issue, but I loved the characters so much I made them recurring.
NC: Do you have any other upcoming projects you'd like to let your fans know about?
CB: I am working on a few things. I have a story coming up in the next issue of Aw Yeah Comics that is quite different from Charlie Wormwood. I am also working on a series called Resolute Bay with my artist Patrick Yurick that's all about archaeology, science fiction, science fact, and yes, there are dinosaurs. It's going to be awesome!
For more on the Damnation Of Charlie Wormwood, click here.