Chynna Clugston-Major Interview

Chynna Clugston-Major is best known for her work on her creator-owned title, Blue Monday, published by Oni Press. But she has also done work for Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel's Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, and Oni's Hopeless Savages. Her latest series is Scooter Girl from Oni Press. World of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently spoke with Chynna about her new book.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the Scooter Girl mini-series? Who are the main characters and what can you tell us about the story?

Chynna Clugston-Major: I can tell you that the title is deceiving, and that it's actually a story told from the point of view of a very egotistical and relatively psychotic boy named Ashton Archer, who abuses just about everyone he knows in one way or another, yet somehow manages to be worshipped by all of them like a god. Until, of course, his soon to be arch-nemesis Margaret Sheldon rolls into town with her twin brother, Drake, and promptly begins to rip apart Ashton's vast empire, spawning a very brutal rivalry that might never be resolved (literally!).

Westfield: How does Scooter Girl compare or contrast with what you've done in Blue Monday?

Clugston-Major: It's a black comedy, as compared to BM, which obviously isn't very dark at all. As a matter of fact, BM's so laughy and sunshiny that occasionally I get people complaining that the characters smile too much, which is odd, because they're normally drawn frowning. Scooter Girl however is geared toward a slightly more mature crowd, though mature is a pretty subjective word in this case, heh heh. It's pretty juvenile in a lot of ways, so don't be fooled when I say mature. I guess I really mean bawdy. It's also a closer study on modernists, or neo-mods rather, and the really strong personalities that lead these sort of underground cultures. The way it's the same as Blue Monday is only in the idea that it's a comedy with some drama, there is a soundtrack, and the main characters ride scooters. But you won't necessarily like all of these characters, they don't really apologize for their faults, whether they know they have any or not. The situations they get involved in and the things they do to each other will more than likely make you laugh, though you might feel a little wicked for it. You'll see quite a difference, especially in storytelling technique, and the story itself. Not to mention it's a complete self-contained mini-series, so you're going to get the whole thing in six issues, unlike BM, which I plan to have go on for years.

Westfield: Both Scooter Girl and Blue Monday take place during high school. What is there about that time of life that you find interesting, or conducive to the types of stories you want to tell?

Clugston-Major: Well, actually, Scooter Girl only takes place in high school in the very first issue, (the rest is completely post.) But, I do like concentrating on teenage years quite a bit. I like telling stories from this perspective because it's the one time of your life when it's expected of you to be totally moronic and do dumb things, fumble with love and sex and the concept of your future and not be totally ostracized for possibly screwing up what are supposed to be important events. With that, there's a lot of room for gags, and no need for worrying about the repercussions of a lot of the mayhem that ensues with characters of this age as far as storytelling goes. Well, no serious repercussions, anyway.

There's a lot more to it than that, but it all sounds so cheesy I can't really stand to hear myself say it, so I'm not gonna.

Westfield: Do you have plans for the cast of Scooter Girl after this mini-series?

Clugston-Major: No, this is it. I don't think they'll be showing up again, I'm afraid. Unless it sells really well. I'll sell myself out. And when I make millions, I'll buy you guys uhhhh, somethin'. It'll be real swanky, though.

Westfield: Music plays a large role in your books. Why is that?

Clugston-Major: Because it plays a large role in my daily life, I suppose. I try to put myself into my work as much as possible, and I'm constantly listening to music, so naturally that music gets put into whatever I'm doing. Also, many times a song or an album has caused me to think up a scene that could be in the comic, and I build a story around that scene (or song). I can't help but see it like a movie, and a movie isn't interesting without a soundtrack. I don't understand why it shouldn't be the same with comics. Just because the pictures don't move on the page doesn't mean they don't move in your head, you know? And to get a feel for a certain mood, well, in films music is always used to help encourage a reaction or feeling... If a reader has the music available, it's not vital to the plot, but it certainly helps one to pinpoint what is really being felt in any particular scene. I can't imagine music not playing a large role in my books, it just wouldn't make any sense to me.

Westfield: Do you plan to collect the Blue Monday holiday specials?

Clugston-Major: I don't know, it's a mystery!

Westfield: Speaking of collections, do you have any plans to collect your early work, Bloodletting?

Clugston-Major: I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you... the line is getting really fuzzy! Are you calling me on a cellular phone? I don't know you. Who is this? PRANK CALLER, PRANK CALLER!!

Westfield: Who or what are your artistic influences?

Clugston-Major: There's a lot, so I'll name just a few... the major ones are Evan Dorkin, Adam Warren, Jamie Hewlett, The Hernandez Brothers, Philip Bond, Charles Addams, Dan Clowes, Edward Gorey, and the really big one is Rumiko Takahashi. Not all of these influences are very apparent in my books, but I've spent hours upon hours studying their work. I'm sure the majority of them would think I'm a moron for that, but I think they rule.

Westfield: Do you have any other upcoming projects you'd like to mention?

Clugston-Major: Well, after Scooter Girl the next Blue Monday series will be underway, and sometime after that there may be a project that I'll be working on with a certain Mr. Paul Dini which I'm very excited about. I also have an extremely cool project coming up after all of the above that I'm jumping up and down about, because it's something I've always wanted to do, but it's still being developed and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to really discuss it a whole bunch yet. I will say that it will be through Oni Press, and I'm sure word will be spreading about it soon enough... so keep your onions peeled!

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Clugston-Major: Yes. For the love of god, kids, please... if you're going to wear leather or vinyl pants, make sure that 1. They fit you and aren't all baggy in the butt, and 2. You don't wear them unless you're on the way to a dance club and 3. I don't see you, 'cause I might just have to smack you upside the head for them anyway, even if you observed my first two rules.