Terry Moore Interview (JUN 2008)

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Terry Moore is the creator of the popular comics, Strangers in Paradise and Echo. This month, he begins writing two books for Marvel, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and Runaways. Westfield's Roger Ash recently spoke with Terry to find out what's in store for these titles.

Westfield: How did you become involved with doing Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and Runaways for Marvel?

Terry Moore: I was completing Strangers in Paradise and I wanted to take a year away from my creator-owned projects to do something different. I emailed Joe Quesada one morning and said "Here's what I want to do this next year. Do you have anything for me?" He emailed back and said "Yeah. Let me check with the other editors." He got back to me that afternoon and said "Here are two books that we think you'd be good on. What do you think about these?" And they were Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. It's that simple.

Westfield: What about working on these two books appealed to you?

Moore: They're both about young people and both of them are out of the mainstream continuity. I'm a Marvel rookie. I don't know all the stuff that is going on in New York. This way I could get my feet wet without having to be worried about the continuity and the big guys and what they're all doing. I get to write about a group of kids in California and then I get to write the Mary Jane book, which is kind of in its own space and time. It's good for me. It's a way for me to get in there without screwing anything up.

Westfield: What can you say about the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane book?

 height=Moore: The early pages are coming back now from the art and the coloring and it's just fun. What a great title. I like it because it's my favorite time in Spider-Man's life, which is those early years in school when everything was kind of charming and it was a world of discovery for him. He'd go to school, fight some mean adult that afternoon, and have a milkshake at night. He just rolled with the punches. Plus, it has Gwen Stacey in it. How could any Spider-Man fan not want to work on a book that has Gwen Stacey in it?

Westfield: True. Are there any hints you can give us as to what's coming up in the story?

Moore: I've taken the approach that everything so far was the Freshman year of high school and now we're at the Sophomore year. The series begins with the first day of Sophomore year. Everything is looking rosy, but something crops up. It looks like Mary Jane has someone around school who has it in for her. Why and how and who and what, and all that, is our story.

Westfield: You're working with Craig Rousseau on the book, which is definitely a different look for the book.

Moore: Yeah. It's not as Manga. It's more American. A little more animated looking. He has his own look. That combined with the color is just gorgeous.

Westfield: How is it working with Craig?

Moore: It's been terrific. I don't think I've met Craig over the years, but he really stood out from all the other people who were being considered. I think his art is very appropriate for this book. It's not just drawing cute kids. You also have to know how to make the backgrounds interesting and push those little buttons that remind you of high school and life in America. He's good at that.

Westfield: As you said, you're also working on Runaways. What can you tell us about that book?

 height=Moore: It's after Joss Whedon's story and they're back in Los Angeles. I have to be careful because Joss isn't finished, so I don't want to give any spoilers. I can't tell you something like, "Only two of them make it back to Los Angeles." [laughter] So there's nothing like that. That was a lot harder for me to get into than Mary Jane. I've known the Spider-Man characters since I was a little kid. The Runaways characters are fairly new to me. I had read the book a couple of years ago. So when it came up in conversation, I thought, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember that one." I had to do a lot of homework. I had to go to school and read it all again and take a lot of notes because Brian Vaughn did a terrific job. It's as complicated as Lost. It's a very complex story. I had a lot of catching up to do. The editor's been very good at guiding me and kept me on track. It's a fun story. I love being the mouthpiece for the kids. Chase and Nico are particularly fun to write. I found a way to draw out a side of Xavin, the Skrull, that has not been seen before. It's kind of like how Spock could be funny without wanting to be. I kind of stumbled onto that with Xavin. So, I'm there. I'm living in their world.

Westfield: You're working with Humberto Ramos on this one?

Moore: Yeah. I think he's doing his best work ever. I really do. The pages are so full of excitement, you just wouldn't believe it.

Westfield: Is this a mini-series or an ongoing series?

Moore: The series is ongoing. My story arc is a mini.

Westfield: Being a writer and artist yourself, do you write these books differently since you're writing them for another artist?

Moore: Only in the sense that I do try to be descriptive enough about some things that I think are the salient point of the scene. If it involves a particular building, or I want a machine to look like it's from a particular era, I may point that out. In terms of worrying about blocking and movement in the scene and all that, I'm not bothering with that because the guys I'm working with are so good, they don't need my advice. It's nice to be able to write a scene and I picture it one way, and the art comes back and it's so much better. It's different and it's better than I would have drawn it. It's a delight, actually. We've just gotten started on Mary Jane, but we already have one issue in the can on Runaways and that has definitely been the case there. Humberto's art comes back and I'm just amazed at how much better it looks than I imagined. [laughs] The action is just terrific. Because there's another artist drawing it, I'm free to write whatever I want, like "Suddenly, every window in Manhattan blows out." [laughter] Something I would not want to draw myself, but I'll make Humberto draw it if I can think of it. "Suddenly, World War 3 breaks out! Do that for three pages." [laughter] That kind of thing has been very liberating. I've tried to give Humberto new things to draw; I'm trying to think of something he hasn't done before. I think he's had a good time. What's the point of a comic book if you can't have a visual that is unique to a comic? If it's something you can take a photograph of, it might as well be on tv.

Westfield: You're also a few issues into your new creator-owned series, Echo. Is there anything you want to tell people about that?

Moore: I'm surprised by how into it I am. I thought it would be hard for me to get away from SIP in my mind, but it hasn't been at all. It's like I've switched bands and I'm totally into the new band now. I'm really enjoying what I'm doing. The story is timely for me. I'm writing about things that I'm interested in today. To me, it all feels fresh. It's also been fun for me because there's a sci-fi element to this so there's a lot more action and visual elements to this comic than there was in SIP. I get to draw scary people and gory things and it's fun.

Westfield: For people who haven't check it out yet, what is Echo about?

 height=Moore: Echo is the story of a woman in the California desert who is underneath an explosion one day, and the fallout from the explosion leaves all these little metal drops, like mercury, on her. When she gets home, they all join together to start reforming a suit. When she realizes what the suit is made of, and what it's capable of, she goes on the run to hide it from the people who want it back. It's kind of like Strangers in Paradise meets The Fugitive meets X-Files. It has a kind of nuclear weapon side to it. There's more to it, but it's hard to describe at this early stage without giving you the whole shebang. Suffice it to say, something unbelievably unusual happens to a woman and this is how she deals with it.

Westfield: Is there anything else that you have in the works?

Moore: Those three books are really keeping me busy. I can't imagine doing anything else at the moment. It's like having three babies. I'm busy!

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Moore: Every day, I'm so glad I'm working in comics.

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