B. Clay Moore interview

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(WoW SEP 07)

B. Clay Moore is the writer of such books as Oni's Leading Man, and Image's Battle Hymn and two Hawaiian Dick mini-series, Byrd of Paradise and Last Resort. This month, Hawaiian Dick becomes an ongoing series from Image. Westfield's Roger Ash contacted Moore to learn what's in store for this series.

Westfield: What can you tell me about the genesis of Hawaiian Dick?

B. Clay Moore: Hawaiian Dick was just me combining some of my favorite things in pop culture together into one big concept. Fifties noir, detective fiction, tiki kitsch, modern jazz, the supernatural... what came out was the character of Byrd and the universe of Hawaiian Dick.

Westfield: You've done two Hawaiian Dick mini-series. What led to the decision to do an ongoing?

 height=Moore: Over the years, no matter how much other stuff I've done, I think I've always had the most fun with Hawaiian Dick. And the book has developed a faithful following. The thought of expanding the stories of Byrd and the book's cast was really enticing to me. With a mini-series, the temptation is always to start a story and wrap up all the threads within that space. With an ongoing, we can drop hints about where we're headed and not feel the need to rush every subplot. Some things will seem trivial at first, but will end up paying off in the long run.

Westfield: For people who've never read the book before, what should they know about Hawaiian Dick? Who are the main characters?

Moore: The first of the three main characters is Byrd, a former Stateside detective who retreated to 1953 Honolulu in disgrace, and who now picks up what money he can solving cases that fall just outside the scope of the Honolulu Police. His hulking wartime buddy Mo is a detective on the force, and assists where he can. The third primary player is Kahami, a barmaid who now works part-time in Byrd's office, trying to sort out his paperwork and keep his case files straight. A couple of characters introduced in the second mini-series (The Last Resort) will also be popping up again in the first story arc, although new readers won't be confused if they haven't read the previous series. The book is set in 1954 (a year after the debut series) Honolulu, and revolves around Byrd's attempts to solve what generally turn out to be unsolvable cases.

Westfield: What can people look forward to in the new series?

 height=Moore: The first story arc involves a World War II flying squadron that runs into strange happenings while doing an air show in Hawaii. The criminal underworld begins to move against Byrd, although it's not clear who's giving those orders. The series is set in 1954, so don't be surprised if the House Un-American Activities Committee begins to look into Byrd's past a bit. Speaking of Byrd's past, readers of the book know that it's a bit of a mystery, so we'll be slowly addressing that, as well. The book will feature backups by a variety of creators, including Hawaiian Dick co-creator Steven Griffin, who has written and is drawing a multi-part story starring Kahami.

Westfield: How did artist Scott Chantler become involved with the project and what do you feel he brings to the book?

Moore: Scott's previous work has been at Oni Press, with the J. Torres-written graphic novels Scandalous and Days Like This, and with his own Northwest Passage. Scott's a friend, and we'd talked frequently about him contributing something to the Hawaiian Dick mythos (such as it is). When it became apparent Steven would have trouble working a regular book into his schedule, Scott eagerly signed on board. His style is open and clean, and he's a fantastic cartoonist, with a real affinity for the era. He's also dependable, which is important. Steven is coloring Scott's first two issues right now, and the combination is beautiful.

Westfield: Are there any other projects you're working on that you'd like to mention?

 height=Moore: For starters, I'll be following Hawaiian Dick up at Image with a book called '76, featuring two stories set in 1976. Jackie Karma is set in New York, written by me with art by Ed Tadem, and Cool is set in Los Angeles, written by Seth Peck (who is also working with Rick Remender on an Image book called Sorrow), and drawn by a phenomenal new talent named Tigh Walker. My first DC work will be appearing soon in the pages of JSA Confidential, and I have a story in an upcoming issue of Marvel Comics Presents, featuring Stingray. Much more to come, but that's the most immediate stuff.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Moore: Just that I hope people give Hawaiian Dick a chance. I don't think you'll find anything else like it on the stands, and you can rest assured it's being produced with a lot of love by its creators!