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superhero chats with TORCHWOOD’s Carol E. Barrowman
Hello out there in comic book land! It is I, superhero, and I’m here with a neat little interview with Carole Barrowman, sister of John Barrowman who is more than likely known to most of fandom as Captain Jack Harkness of both the “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood” televison series.
TORCHWOOD MAGAZINE is delighted to announce that a forthcoming issue (#14) will feature an original TORCHWOOD comic strip, written by none other than Captain Jack himself, John Barrowman, and his sister and regular collaborator, Carole E. Barrowman.
Barrowman has a comic project which she’s co-written with her brother for TORCHWOOD MAGAZINE and she took some time to go over it with me before it debuts her in the U. S. in mid-March, but before we get to the interview here’s a couple of tidbits from the press release:
The story, featuring in the first 100-page issue of the bi-monthly magazine, sees Captain Jack facing a deadly threat on a remote Scottish island, where people are disappearing one by one... To his horror, Jack starts to suspect he may know who – or perhaps more specifically what – is responsible...
Artwork for the comic strip is provided by Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring. Tommy Lee Edwards is the acclaimed artist behind several stunning comic projects including Marvel’s current smash hit ‘1985’, plus the acclaimed BULLET POINTS, DC’s THE QUESTION, and several more.
Great, with that out of the way let’s get on with the interview!
superhero: Had you ever been interested in comics before your involvement with this project? CAROLE E. BARROWMAN (CB): Oh, yes. Been a big fan since childhood when I read my first Tin Tin comic. I also read a lot of graphic novels. Here’s a link to an article I wrote if you’re interested.
I’m a particular fan of Neil Gaiman’s 1602 and my favorite comic superhero is Batman– although Doctor Manhattan is a close second.
superhero: What is it about Batman and Doctor Manhattan that make them your favorites?CB: I've always liked Batman because he appeals to my intellectual nature. Batman has to use his intellect in a way that the other superheroes don't. Batman has no super powers. He has gadgets and lots of cool equipment and, of course, lots of money, but he really has to fight using his wits. In my opinion, he's also the most psychologically damaged. I like that about him too. Dr. Manhattan is just way cool. I love dystopian stories and books and he's kind of an iconic dystopian character– destroyed and born anew out of a scientific horror. He's also pretty damaged psychologically.
superhero: Was this originally developed as an idea for the TV show?CB: No. “The Selkie” never had anything to do with the TV show. When John and I met the artists, Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring, at last year’s Comic Con, we knew we wanted to collaborate on something with them. I’d already written a short story about a selkie and John remembered it. We picked up its thread and I reworked it to become a “Captain Jack Tale.”
superhero: How was it working with your brother (John Barrowman)? What was your writing process like working together?CB: We’ve collaborated on a number of projects now and because we’re pretty close anyway our working routine is comfortable and usually pretty fun. After we came up with the idea to rework my selkie piece, John and I brainstormed for a while on what Jack’s role would be in the story? John really wanted to get Jack to Scotland and we both wanted to give fans a side of Jack that may not have been explored too much before. After we had the story’s outline and the artists created the panels from it, I wrote the script.
superhero: What else have you both worked on?CB: We worked together on “Anything Goes”, John's autobiography, and we've worked on a few smaller projects in relation to his albums. For “Anything Goes”, I pretty much shadowed John for seven weeks, and hung out on the “Torchwood” set with him while he was filming the second series. He also dictated lots of material on iTalk and I worked from that too. For the comic, he and I knew for awhile we wanted to work on a Captain Jack project so we brainstormed for a while on a story. I then wrote the script and worked directly with the terrific artists, Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring.
superhero: What sort of research did you have to do for the project? Both for the story and for the craft of comic book writing?CB: Since I’d already written a story on the selkie and done my research during that process, I didn’t do very much for the story. As far as creating the comic, though, I pretty much went to school on Tommy and Trevor. They are amazing and we’d email almost daily when the drawing part of the comic began. It was a very rewarding experience as a writer because it forced me to shift any exposition from the verbal to the visual and even though word choice is always important to a writer, it’s even more critical in this context.
superhero: Will this story be considered canon for the Torchwood series?CB: That would be pretty awesome, but I don’t think I have any control over that. However, since John knows Jack so well, he did make sure that what we were imagining didn’t contradict the canon in any way.
superhero: So you didn't have to get approval from the BBC or Torchwood's creators to do this project? Were you just able to write it and go? No legal hassles?CB: We did have to get BBC approval, but we encountered no problems. We worked closely with the editor at the magazine, Martin Eden, who took care of shepherding us through that side of things, and I have to say that everyone we worked with at the magazine and at the BBC were a delight. It all went very smoothly. The script was approved at a couple of different points in the creative process, as were the drawings, and then the final comic.
superhero: Will there be any other members of Torchwood participating in this story or is this simply a Captain Jack solo adventure? When does this story take place? Before the series? After? During?CB: This is all Jack. And although there’s a flashback set in a time in Jack’s past (I think fans will spot the clue that ties it to a time period), overall the story is not specific to the chronology of any of the series.
superhero: What is it about the Selkie myth that intrigued you? What is it about the myth that you thought would make a good match for the Torchwood universe?CB: I’ve always been fascinated with the role of myth in our cultures and our history, and I include a lot of work with myths and stories in my courses at Alverno. How do myths help us understand our world more clearly? How do myths shift and change as a culture’s needs shift and change? The selkie is a Celtic myth that I remembered from my childhood in Scotland and I wanted to explore what it would mean to find a contemporary purpose for the selkie myth. I think I’ll let you all decide if you think it has a place in the Torchwood universe . . . although I have to say that I think it’s a more personal Captain Jack story than it is a Torchwood tale.
superhero: How did you find your artists? Your press release states that Mr. Barrowman met them at Comic-Con 2008 when they did a Captain Jack piece of art…do you know how they were commissioned for the piece? How did things develop with them beyond that?CB: John and I met Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring at Comic Con in San Diego last year. They’re both Doctor Who/Torchood fans and the piece they created was out of their own love for Captain Jack. It’s brilliant . . . Captain Jack’s image over the Face of Bo. John and I both have one framed on our office walls. John thought it was one of the best likenesses of him as Captain Jack as he’d seen and we decided then we all wanted to work together. After that, it was a matter of finding the right story and working time for a project into all our schedules.
superhero: Are there any other Torchwood/Doctor Who ideas you'll be working on? Is this the beginning of a comic book writing career for you?CB: I’d love to write more comic scripts. I found this to be a very rewarding experience, in part because it demanded such tight collaboration with other creative minds. So who knows what may be in my future …
Carole is a Professor of English at Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, where, among other things literary, she teaches a course titled 'The Future in Film and Fiction.' She's a regular reviewer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, and a regional NBC morning show.TORCHWOOD MAGAZINE ISSUE #14 Torchwood Magazine Issue #14 On sale in the UK and Ireland 19th February.
On sale in the US 17th March
Torchwood Magazine Facebook Page.
Well, that’s it! I’d like to thank Ms. Barrowman for her time and I’d also like to thank Ricky Claydon of TORCHWOOD MAGAZINE for getting this all arranged. I’m a big fan of both TORCHWOOD and Mr. Barrowman and I hope that this strip is a big success for all of the parties involved.
Looking forward to the next season of TORCHWOOD, this is superhero signing out.
Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com.