Origins from Boom Studios writer Clay Chapman stops by to chat!
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Interview scheduled by Jeffery Haas
Theme music by Good Co Music:
Clay Chapman – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: Hello our country today on the show, we had the fantastic writer, Mr. Clay Chapman. How’s it
Clay Chapman: going, clay? I’m doing well. Thanks for having me
Jeff: on. Oh, it’s definitely my pleasure. How are we doing right now in there? Holiday season the new COVID holiday season.
Clay Chapman: Oh, Lordy Lordy, Lordy. It is a, it’s a brave new world out there.
I, you know, I have two kids. We are in the bunker as we speak trying to figure out how to deck the halls this year. It’s, it’s going to be, it’s going to be a surreal one. So if, if Santa is not a super spreader, I don’t know.
Jeff: I mean, it definitely feels like we are completing what is definitely gonna be known as the last year.
Clay Chapman: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think we, we all get to write it off, right? Like that’s, that’s where we’re at. Right? Like everyone just kind of says, well, we’ll pick up business again in 2021. Yeah. I don’t know.
Jeff: Yeah. I could definitely use them all again. I don’t, I don’t mind. I’m an automatic multi-billionaire with all debt, every stupid purchase that you’ve made, everything is now [00:01:00] totally a wipe clean for until 2021.
And we can just ignore it
Clay Chapman: all the, all the times, put your foot in your mouth, said the wrong thing, you know, just blame 2020 I don’t know. I, but aren’t, they, isn’t it kind of at this point seeping into 2021, like now they’re, they’re talking about vaccines. Like I have no idea when I’m going to become a citizen of the world again.
Freaks me out, but anyhow, you didn’t want to talk about that you’re here.
Jeff: No, certainly, certainly not. What I, what I do wanna discuss we’re going to discuss your writing and I was curious what your inspirations were as a writer. And were you a comic fan as a kid?
Clay Chapman: Oh, awesome. Yes. I mean, I, I, I think I came into it a very familiar way.
I am a a child of Tim Burton’s Batman. I, I think I saw that eight times in the theater when it came out. I bought the novelization and of course I, I bought the comics and it, you know, it, it definitely. You know, [00:02:00] opened up the door to the idea of, you know, if, if not visual storytelling, per se, like definitely the idea of, of telling stories in this, this, this new kind of form for me.
I, I mean, I loved, I, I, you know, You, you, you start with the kind of younger Batman’s and that leads to the killing joke, or it leads to Frank, you know, I, I think I delved into that, that deep end of the pool, maybe a little too early, as far as age goes, but It, it definitely left an impression. Even, I mean, I am, I I’m totally blanking, but didn’t Michael McKean do like Arkham asylum.
Was that him?
Jeff: Yeah, it was a argument. I’m not sure if it was him, but I’d know the story you’re talking about. Yeah.
Clay Chapman: Maybe it’s grant Morrison, I’m failing already. One-on-one but I, you know, like it just the kind of dark occurrence of, of, you know, comic writing comic books, it, it, it really just kind of blew my mind.
And then [00:03:00] I, I w I will admit that I kind of strayed into horror comics and not even like, It’s funny. Like, I think I’ve found like a child’s play knob, like comic presentation. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah, no, no. You’re talking about ECE level horror, comic books, like the old classic ones. I mean,
Clay Chapman: I would say later down the road, I found the EDC, but like, I’m thinking, I’m thinking like dark horse you know, the, the, the kind of aliens versus predator.
I found I had, I got my hands on like a Like a leather face, like a Texas chainsaw massacre comic. You know, I I’m, if it isn’t clear, abundantly clear at this point, I, I am a, a sucker for horror films and you know, starting off by watching films it, it kind of led to this, this, this kind of parallel reading, reading horror comics and that started with.
The kind of adaptations of horror films that I loved, but then that led [00:04:00] to the, the kind of the kind of prominent ISI, you know, tales from the crypt or creepy tales and kind of going from there.
Jeff: So the damage was done early. I’m guessing
Clay Chapman: a little too early, but
Jeff: that is funny because I’m talking about Batman real quick.
When I was a kid. But I think, I think came out in 1989. Yeah. Yeah, I believe so. I’ve just been reading, read, ready player one. They put Batman at 19 nine. I was like, I think that’s bullshit. It’s 1989, but whatever. The key was I, I saw them, I love the movie. I did read the novelization and that was the movie as well.
That got me into buying comic books for him. I used to buy baseball cards and after that movie came out, I switched to comic books. So yeah, the same thing Batman was in, I think a gateway drug for a lot of combo fans. I mean,
Clay Chapman: I think there are far lesser far more far less noble kind of entry points because I, I think Tim Burton definitely honored the comic put his own stamp on it, but, but also, I don’t know, like it was.
It was, it was just, it was a great opportunity. It was [00:05:00] just a great moment for film, for comics. Like I, I will stand by it as, as being the, kind of the pivotal Batman film. I, you know, and I, I’m also a sucker for Batman returns. So I think the one, two punch of those really made, made me a convert for sure.
Jeff: Now because we kind of live now in the golden age of comic movies, do you think the companies like DC, Marvel Warner brothers Disney is missing a golden opportunity to create a wider, honest, wider audience for comics using these movies as kind of the entryway.
Clay Chapman: Wow. I, you have asked a question that is far beyond my pay grade, but you know, it’s, I mean, like I Marvel doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
I, you know, for me, like I always, I have a affinity for the, the kind of off the beaten path, Marvel films the, the kind of heyday of. Marvel trying to keep the electricity on. So like first Punisher with who was that dog. [00:06:00] I love that movie have the, the, the skull shirt. Like, it, it, it, it meant something to me in this way that maybe you know, Further future versions of the Punisher.
Never did. I don’t know. Like, I, I mean, even, I don’t know, I would, I was just about to go to bat for man thing that, you know, the cinematic adaptation of man thing, but that’s probably, that’s probably going a step too, too far.
Jeff: So you’re a graduate, you graduated from North Carolina, school of arts for drama.
The Burren college of art and the Sarah Lawrence college. What were your focuses and did change in schools that are really kinda like signifying a change in what you were valuing as you’re changing from the different schools. Oh
Clay Chapman: man, that’s really interesting. I, you know, I, I feel as if I should come clean and admit that like I’m a master of none and Any, you know, I, for me growing up, [00:07:00] I, I, you know, my mother is an artist.
She was a Potter you know, like art was kind of a part of our. Daily existence you know, from the get-go and she would travel, she would basically do these craft fairs that you know, going up and down the East coast, doing these kinds of weekends, stints at arts and crafts fairs, all, you know, all over the country.
And I would go with her and I would meet all these other artists who work in these other disciplines and they would just kind of set up their boobs and hock their wares. So growing up in that environment, I realized that there are a lot of different ways of either expressing yourself or, you know, for me, like I wanted to tell stories and the, the medium kind of didn’t change as much as I.
I understood kind of early on that certain stories want to be told in a certain way. So I might write a comic book today, but tomorrow I’ll work on a novel or a children’s novel or a screenplay or a play. And it all, it all kind of [00:08:00] goes back to the same source, you know, which is me and, and hopefully would have a voice I’m trying to hone But, yeah, I mean, I honestly think like growing up and going to all those schools you listed, like, I, you know, maybe there was a hot minute where I thought it was going to be an actor but learned very quickly that I didn’t have what that took.
But the, the education I got you know, learning about theater and kind of eating, sleeping and dating theater for, for as long as I did it, it kind of helped You know, perfect a certain, or at least initiate a certain kind of theatricality to whatever my writing is. And then, you know, going to art school in Ireland and then going to a very liberal, liberal arts school in New York called Sarah Lawrence.
Like it all, you know, I don’t think it is kind of like separate entities. Like I all think of it just kind of feeding into one larger cesspool, which is my imagination.
Jeff: So by going to all these different colleges and you said, and [00:09:00] even my experience as an actor and also as a writer, or did it help you when you’re writing your comic books or your novels to gain insights into maybe a deeper understanding of how to create a character from you as an individual, as an actor, does that, does that lend into your writing is writing help you understand acting in a better sense and scripting.
Clay Chapman: I believe so. Yeah. I mean, I think that like, you know, as far as Penn performing arts is concerned I, that was kind of the, the foundation for a lot of the work that has come for me since. And I think that like, you know, The oral tradition and storytelling as an art form. And just kind of like characters, talking like a voice of, you know, these, these individuals that, that I’m writing about.
Like, I, you know, when I, whatever it is that I write, regardless of whether it’s for comics or for fiction or for, for film you know, ultimately it, it kind of boils down to like, who is the [00:10:00] person telling this story? Like, who are my characters? And I think acting, or at least performing has, has kind of, you know, immensely influenced that, that, that this writing style
Jeff: w when you are writing, do you find yourself acting out the roles a little bit, or at least, or at least, very least try and do the voices of the characters or creating.
Clay Chapman: If you had any idea how often I’m just like talking to myself, it’s embarrassing. You know, I, I, I feel for my neighbors because you know, I’m sitting right next to a window and if, if things ever get heated in. A chapter or a certain section. Like, I, I can only imagine, you know, because yeah, I’m not, I mean, I’m, I’m a lot of it.
I am talking and out loud because I feel like it needs to have a certain flow. And that’s, this is honestly more maybe for fiction than it is for comic books. Like I’m not, I’m not, you know, screaming like scream or, you know any, [00:11:00] anything like that, but definitely for fiction.
Jeff: Oh, that’s cool. And I’m guessing that the co the college life must’ve been good for you because you’re still working in the college realm.
Because what I read was that you are, that you teach at the actor’s studio program at pace university. Now, are these what you’re teaching is this script like for movies and theater, is this general writing, what kind of writing you teach at the actor studio?
Clay Chapman: It’s screenwriting and playwriting.
So you know, the actor studio MFA program at pace university here in New York, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a. It’s a small intimate program. And, you know, we get 30 or 40 students a year and some, the majority of them are actors, but there are a handful of playwrights and a handful of directors. And in essence, I mean, essentially what I’m doing is I work with the playwrights in terms of kind of honing their theatrical voice and try to use it, utilize it for the dark forces [00:12:00] of film and get them to write some screenplays and hopefully earn some money.
Jeff: Well, I mean, I imagine a lot of our listeners and probably a lot of fans of novels and comic books are individuals who themselves wished to enter that industry. I mean, I imagine that they go hand in hand the love of something and the desire to do the thing as someone who does teach writing, what kind of advice can you give listeners?
And obviously in a more general sense and what are the traits maybe of good writing, good writers, and maybe how to help them find. To locate their voice.
Clay Chapman: I mean, it’s a, it’s a good question. And I, and I, I feel like I, you know, there is an immediate answer, which is always my answer. Cause it’s, it’s the only answer and that’s to, right.
Like, I, I sincerely believe that, you know, the, the, the writing reflex it’s a muscle and, you know, the only way you’re going to get better is by doing it. So, I mean, I I’ve been writing, [00:13:00] you know, I think I’ve been writing since like, I was 12 and it, you know, nobody’s said I had to be a writer. Nobody told me you should be a writer.
It was just, it was the thing that I kind of attached myself to. And I, I just kept doing it and they’re like, it’s, it’s so habitual at this point that like, if I don’t do it something that’s missing from my day And I, I think that like, you know, if you’re not carving out an hour of your day to, to, to sit down and kind of close out the rest of the world so that you can just kind of focus on whatever story you want to tell.
I mean, you got to do that. You just that’s, that’s the fundamental thing. Like you have to, if you want to be a writer, you got to sit down and write. And then maybe a more nuanced answer is you just got to fail a lot. I’m still failing. I fail all the damn time. Like that’s you know, I, I get up, I dust myself off kind of wipe the blood and fail again.
And if I can, [00:14:00] if my failures, if every like third failure is an improvement upon the last, then that’s that’s progress. And somewhere, somehow those failures kind of mutate or morph into a. Something, whether, you know, whether it’s something that gets published or not, like it is a, it is a story
Now do you think most people who either fail or never really make it in any real sense, do you think it’s usually due to either a fear of failure or is it a fair or, or a lack of this, putting your work out there?
Clay Chapman: I mean, just based on like riffing off of what you’re saying. Like, I I want to say they’re like maybe three factors to it and there’s the, there’s the, the fear of failing, you know, there’s the fear of rejection.
There’s the fear of maybe ridicule [00:15:00] and the fear of failure and you know, It, it it’s, it’s, it’s masochistic to a certain extent that like, you know, you. You know, when you’re writing, you’re kind of spending your days in a vacuum and then, and then you let it go. You, you give it up to the world. And then, then this, this kind of a painful process of either embracing what the world says or, you know, tuning into what the world thinks.
We’re a very connected, connected environment and culture where you can go online and, you know, read what people think, folks thing. And that, that is a terrifying prospect. I I’m a total sucker for it. Like I cannot, you know, if, if, if there’s a place to read a review of something like I, I have to go and then, you know, the fear of rejection you know, I, I think we should be so lucky to be rejected.
Because that just means that [00:16:00] you’re constantly like in the process of submitting and rejection and submitting and rejection and submit in rejection. I, you know, you just get that thick skin and you, you keep doing it. And then the fear of failure. Like, I, it’s such a broad question at this point, because I mean, like, you know, one man’s success is another man’s, I don’t know, modest failure.
I, you know, who knows, like, I, my, my ambitions for, for successor have, have, have kind of evolved over the years and, you know, For me, the biggest Testament to success is that I can say that this is what I do, that I get to pay the bills, telling the stories that I want to tell and maybe telling stories for other people.
And you know, that this is, this is how I identify myself. Nobody knows who the heck I am, but that’s. That’s okay, because this is a, [00:17:00] maybe one day we’ll find someone will find me out there and they’ll like the stuff that I write, but for the most part, it’s just yeah, I’m just in my corner, my little Island writing little stories and, you know, putting them in bottles and throwing them out in the sea.
Jeff: Now, now, for someone who does want to write, let’s say you want to be a comic writer or movie script writer or a poet. Would you encourage them? Whoever wants to write in one type of medium to also at least in practice, write and read and all the others, as in all the others as well, too better than, or is that something that would you say focused on just the one that you desire and kind of laser on that one?
Clay Chapman: That’s a good question. And I, you know, I think. You know, I I’d say there’s the answer that I would give, because this is the answer that this is how my life has gone. And that answer is I, you know, I, I tend to do more, more projects in different mediums and it’s. It’s arguable how well I do any of them, but [00:18:00] I do, I do like this, this kind of cyclical nature of, you know, output that like, I can write a comic today and I can write a film tomorrow or I can work on a novel and, and like, you know, getting those stories out into the world.
I don’t know. It, it, it creates a larger body of work that is. Exciting. And, you know, you, you kind of suggested about reading other mediums too. And I think like the more, the more you kind of spread out beyond your chosen medium, like if you’re reading poetry, but you’re writing comics, like I think it just, I think ultimately, any, any resource, any, any kind of material just makes you a better.
Better, better writer, if not a better human being. But that all said, and I got to say this just to say it that, that is that work. That kind of works for me. But I have friends who are so laser focused on doing the one thing and doing well at achieving that one thing that I think [00:19:00] there’s a great argument to be made, like pick, pick your horse and ride it on into the sunset because you know, rather than juggling 10 balls, maybe it’s best to just hold onto one.
But yeah, I, I can’t do it because I think I would get a little antsy maybe. But you know, The laser focus, I definitely think is more of an awkward razor to success because then you’re, you got to have your eye on the ball. You gotta keep your eye on the target. And I, maybe I just have a creative laundry night.
Jeff: Well, I mean, it’s obviously working for you. I mean, you’ve written also a few short films, such as Henley and late bloomer. That have gone on to win awards. And I believe one of them won a Lovecraft in HP Lovecraft award. I believe, and yeah. Did seeing what you write turn into an active film and people actually performing a live actor, three dimensions.
Does that also change how you went [00:20:00] into later work in your writing that you could actually now see how your words translate into actual movement?
Clay Chapman: I mean, it’s, it’s interesting because you know, the shorts that you mentioned were collaborative efforts with a very particular director who his name’s Craig, Craig, William McNeill we’ve worked on several projects together.
We did a feature called the boy, which was actually based on that short Henley. And we did the hen. We did that. Short film Henley with our, you know, focus being on adapting it into a, a feature film. So, you know, you know, you, you were talking about actors, but I feel like also, you know, working with filmmakers who have a vision and need someone to kind of help execute that the storytelling.
I, I’ve been very fortunate to work with Craig and other filmmakers who you know, either see something in my voice or, you know, need [00:21:00] someone to kind of help tell their stories. And you know, that, that process, that collaborative process I think is has been immensely educational. I do feel like I’m a better.
Writer because of the filmmakers I’ve worked with. And you know, as far as acting, you know, performers, you know, reading my lines like that is there’s not a better feeling than that, especially when you see it on the big screen. And you. You know, but it is, it is educational informative where like, you know, you’ll an actor will kind of, you know, potentially consult with you and ask like, you know, you know, what, if we did this or, you know, a film film M in comic book writing has been probably the most collaborative processes that I’ve ever been involved in and theater as well, of course.
But you know, when you realize that there are a lot of, there’s a whole crew that kind of, you know, keeps the ships. Ship a sale or a float. I don’t know, like you’re just a part in that process. You know, [00:22:00] whether it’s the director or the writer, the actors or come with comic book writing, you know, being the illustrator that the writer, the anchor, the colorists, the letterer, the editors There’s just so many, you know, the, the team, the, the kind of crew, the group effort that goes into putting these things together is pretty it’s pretty astounding and humbling.
Jeff: And, and I always would think that good writing when it’s, when it really works. There’s a musical quality, I think, to good writing the way the words kind of flow together. And I wonder if listening to an actor perform. The words tells you at least to your ear when something is working or not working.
Clay Chapman: I think so.
I mean, it’s, it’s funny, like, you know, it’s, you know, you want to kind of lose, I, you know, I want to lose myself in the performance. So I think ultimately like I’m always gonna assume or believe that, you know, the. [00:23:00] The person kind of on the receiving end knows better what to do than I do. And if, if you know the words themselves are kind of a fluid, maybe more a theorial kind of I dunno, there’s, there’s, there’s something more malleable to the text.
But particularly on, you know, in, in film, because you’re, you’re always. Running into these, these hurdles or these, these kind of pratfalls that, that want to undermine what’s on the page. But ultimately it’s not about the script. It’s about, it’s about seeing the finished product on screen or on your computer or on your iPad and like, you know, I say this in a grandiose way, but you know, nobody, nobody wants, nobody pays 10, 20 bucks to like read a script.
They, they go to see a movie and I do think of the script as, as a, a blueprint [00:24:00] or a map in which to achieve something, transcendent something that, that kind of goes beyond the script. Something that’s better than the script. And that’s the alchemy that, that comes out. Onset in actual production.
And then the further alchemy of the editing process, where, where the real story gets told, because that’s when it all comes together. Well, yeah. And also,
Jeff: Talking about some of the collaboration that you’ve had, and you’ve actually got to work in a very, not only in your own writing, like as artist as we’ll get to, but you’ve also written a scream cursive of carnage and absolute carnage separation anxiety, which are parts of a much larger event that was happening at that time.
Absolute carnage. Yeah. How does it change, maybe how you approach your writing when you’re dealing with so many moving parts that have happened in an event comment, but to actually have something like Marvel. Yeah.
Clay Chapman: I mean, absolutely carnage was such a blast because. You know, I I’m, I’m so low on the totem pole that like, [00:25:00] there’s, I wouldn’t say there’s, there’s less pressure, but it is the like, you know, I’m, I’m not Donnie Cates.
I’m not, I’m not one of these, these, these writers are these, these kind of benchmark foundational creators who have the weight of this. These events on their shoulders, which seems so terrifying to me. You know, they, I get to sit on the shoulders of those guys and that’s pretty amazing. And they give me, I, you know, I have been immensely fortunate where they, I have been given a little pocket here or a little opportunity there to kind of tell a very kind of niche story or like, like I get to carve a very small.
You know, trench in this, this larger battle field and it’s You know, I, I, I would probably fail, you know, I would fall flat on my face if I had to do one of these big event comics or series, because it, it just, it’s just too [00:26:00] big for me. But I, I do find that like, if I’m capable, if I’m allowed to tell a story, a smaller story and more intimate experience, a more kind of personable Tail that that kind of takes place within the larger universe.
I don’t know. There’s something very kind of exciting to me to think like, yes, there’s the macro of these events, but there’s also these, these kinds of microcosms that exist within those macrocosms, but they’re, you, you, you can kind of. Glimpse in, or, you know, just drift, like walk right on by and never know that it even existed, but a scream is out there.
You know, separation anxiety is out there and they’re smaller stories, but they’re, they kind of stand independently of the macrocosm, but they. They totally exist within it. And they are a part of it.
Jeff: Well I know one controversy is always around calm books a lot, especially, well, at least with the big two in the universe, [00:27:00] interacting university is the idea of continuity as a potential weight.
That can hold back creativity because obviously you have to make sure it all fits into all other aspects of the characters and obviously the larger universe was happening. Everything else does it, is it not at all difficult to write a story where continuity and you have to infinity it into this other, everybody else’s story as well?
Does that make it difficult or is it, is it easy to kind of just of fall into your niche within that?
Clay Chapman: I mean, you know, continuity is definitely a, a concern. I wouldn’t say it’s a debilitating concern and that it might be just because of the opportunities that I’ve been offered. I, you know, I’ve worked with some really amazing editors and the kind of wealth of knowledge and history that goes into Marvel characters.
I mean, it is all inspiring how, you know, How much you need to know, or, you know, and if, and if, if. If [00:28:00] there’s a question of like, what cup, you know, what color shoes does Peter Parker wear? And issue three 47. Like you can, like, there is a, a database or a, at least a brain trust in the building that you know, hopefully knows the answer.
I, I don’t know. I, I do terrible with, with Ken and because You know, I, I do want to put story first and character first. But these are some, you know, you can, you can find some sacred cows and, and you don’t want to be profaned with them, but you also want to push the story forward. You want to evolve the character.
But yeah, I, I think it’s it’s a, it’s a double, what is it? A double-edged sword two way street. I, and I, I think whether or not I fail or succeed at kind of keeping the, you know, holding the thread I guess it remains to be seen, but so far I haven’t gotten, like, I don’t think I’ve, I don’t think there’s been any big minefields that I’ve stepped into.
Jeff: Well, I mean, I don’t know, but I do, I did love those stores and come out huge [00:29:00] fan of the NBA. So I love carnage loved Banham. And I, and I really enjoyed those stories. So w we’re gonna go move over to your what your, your independent project origins. So for our listeners, can you give them the pitch for what origins is?
Clay Chapman: You know, I mean, origins it’s from boom studios. It is, you know, takes place a thousand years after the apocalypse happens here on earth. Everybody’s dead nobody. Huh? It’s just the robots. It’s all of the artificial intelligence, the AI creations that that were made and kind of probably led to our demise.
And it’s just like, what, what happens when the world no longer needs human beings? And one particular Android who goes by the name of Chloe, Chloe had been tasked with the idea that the notion of bringing back the, the actual creator of this artificial intelligence [00:30:00] and It took 989 years.
But finally she got it right. And cloned David, who is the first human being to walk on the planet earth after, you know, almost a thousand thousand years. So it’s basically David finding his destiny and, and kind of navigating a world that no longer wants and needs him. And trying to perhaps maybe re re-ignite humanity.
Jeff: The one thing I noticed when I was reading the issue is that there are three creators listed in the comic book. There’s Lee Krieger, Joseph Oxford, and a rash Mel. So. It’s kind of explained to me, like, how did that work? There’s three creators and you’re the script writer, or are you part of like, how did that whole process come about?
Clay Chapman: I mean, it was a really, it’s an interesting one for sure. I mean, I. I, I want to believe, like maybe I’m a hair above a writer for hire here, but Lee, Joseph, and rush had an idea. They had a [00:31:00] concept. And they, they, you know, I think I’m allowed to say this. I don’t think I’m going to be crossing the line here, but they brought in a pitch deck to boom.
They pitched the idea to boom studios. You know, boom is great about kind of telling these, these You know, kind of forward-thinking stories. And you know, I had done another series for boom a year or so back. So I guess maybe I was fresh on their minds. They said, Hey, you know, probably a great writer for this is clay.
And so they asked if I’d be interested. I looked at their kind of pitch deck. It was really cool. I thought there were some really good ideas. I thought I had some ideas that I could bring to the table. I kind of found my way into their story and kind of pitched that to them. They liked it and and then I was off and running and I wrote, you know, like 130, some pages.
Prescript kind of telling the whole story you know, before, [00:32:00] before any ink was spilled before any art came up, I, I, I scripted the whole thing for them. And it was, it was a really kind of interesting process of like, you know, having, having this team kind of provide their feedback, but then I had an amazing editor at boom Daphna.
You know, like there was. There were all these kinds of steps in the process, but it was a very protracted process. Like I think I started writing this in like a week, like maybe 2016, 2017. I mean, it, it goes back, maybe that’s too far, I should say probably like 2018 just to be safe. But like it.
It was something that was long in gestation. So it, it definitely you know, it. It was a an interesting process you know, cause with Marvel, you know, you’re, you’re cranking these things out pretty [00:33:00] quickly. But this, this had like time and we, we, we nurtured. It was, I got a little baby, baby, baby.
Jeff: cool. So when, when, when you’re writing a story where it looks like you had three creators Listed there’s you, there’s an editor. Is it hard to write in a way that can make everyone unanimously happy or is it like, was it almost by a vote it’s like three of you, three of you were happy with the change.
You did it.
Clay Chapman: Yeah. I, I will, I will say that Lee, Joseph and Iraq were very kind to me and, and kind of just let me. They let me go. Like they let me, they let me write it. And you know, there were, there were kind of stuck gaps along the way where like there was the pitch, there was the, the kind of the, the outlining and the kind of mapping out of the story itself.
You know, and all that happens before committing to the script. And then, and then there’s the scripting of it. [00:34:00] So, you know, We would, we would always touch base and check in at the kind of fundamental, you know, map points. And, but in between it was essentially me and Dafna and kind of these, these kinds of conversations that we would have about the story and about the characters.
I mean, I got to say like, I, it was really. You know, I feel like I definitely was this pen pal for me. And we were just kind of telling this story and trying to figure it out. And if we ever, like, whenever it was time to kind of share, we would go to the team and, you know, they would, then they would chime in and they would offer their feedback.
So it wasn’t, it was never, I never felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen or that I was serving too many masters. It was always, it was very Respectful. And I, I, you know, I feel lucky to say that but Dafna was, was there pretty much every step of the way in the, in the trenches with [00:35:00] me and then, you know, the, the creative team, the creators you know, they, they were, they were up on high and they would, they would kind of peak in their heads when, when we would come up for there.
Jeff: and another great member of the team was Jacob, Rebecca, am I saying the last name? Right? Sorry. My bad. I’m horrible with names. I said something. I thought it would be a weird spelling of Jacob, but Jacob says better. So that’s my fault. But yeah, his art is amazing. It’s very vivid. How did knowing what his capabilities were, change, how you may be stripped of the story for him?
Clay Chapman: I mean, I knew, I mean, I, I think I need to say two things. And first and foremost, this is, this is Jacobes comic. This is like, if, if you are going to buy this comic for any reason, it, it, it will be for the arts. Like it has to be, it is, I mean, it is stunning. It is painterly. It is [00:36:00] gorgeous. There are some double page spreads that are going to come up and probably like issue five that.
I really wholeheartedly believe they need to be blown up and framed and hung on a wall of some museum because they’re just so, I mean, they are stunning. It is, it is gorgeous. And I knew. Very early on, relatively early on in the process that yeah. Cup would be the artist. Like he was, he was the, he was always the artist.
He was, it was never going to be someone else. Or at least nobody was ever said, it was never said to me that there was going to be someone else. Like it was always Jaco. And he had done another series for boom called Judas, which was stunning. And it was like knowing his work and knowing his style.
It, it. I wanted to, I mean, honestly, like I wanted to step back, I, you know, this, this script more than any other comic that I’ve ever worked [00:37:00] on is it’s the leanest most haiku, like a script I’ve ever written. And I think it, it, it, the story demanded it, the story wanted it, but also the art wanted it where like, I.
I feel as if the, the, the kind of influence of Jacobes work over my own storytelling was very it was all pervasive in this process because. You know, w and we, we never, you know funny enough, like we never consulted with one another at all throughout the entire process. Like, like, I, it was only until he started turning in work that like, it became clear, like what this would actually be.
But thank God because I mean, Yaakov is like, You know, he’s a Rembrandt, he’s a, like, there’s, there’s just something about it. That just feels so majestic. And I knew I just, I just wanted to honor that yeah, I didn’t want my, that get in the way of his art. I just wanted to [00:38:00] lay down the foundation, offer, offer the, the, the kind of fortune cookie and let, let it spur him on.
Jeff: And that’s, I mean, it’s telling, and I think right from the beginning, the story, right, from the very opening, when you get a look at what is left of humanity, you know, you see the statue of Liberty the bird, a bunch of that golden gate bridge or a bridge, but, but, and you see kind of like the remnants left of civilization.
And I, and I was thinking when I was reading it that you kind of get a real sense of Kathy pertinent of our existence at once humanity. Left the planet, as it were nature was willingness way to just getting rid of it, replacing us, forgetting about us completely. I was wondering, was that kind of where you’re going with the opening?
Clay Chapman: Oh my God. Yeah. You know, I, I live here in New York. I I’ve taken my sons to the museum of natural history on many, many occasions when we were allowed to [00:39:00] go to museums. And You know, like this there’s something to be said about our, our temples are our, you know, our, our kind of places of high culture and worship being kind of like, just going back to going back to the land, like going to seed and like, it’s, I, you know, it’s, it’s funny to be kind of putting this story out there when we’re in the midst of a pandemic, because I feel like I haven’t seen the subway for.
Moms now. And I don’t know, like, it’s just a very, like, I, I love this city. And, you know, there is the, you know, when you, when you, when you talk about the apocalypse, when you talk about like the end times, which we all have this kind of fascination for this affinity for, I it’s always the big Kaboom and the big kind of like volcanic kind of, you know, lava flowing down.
Yeah. You know, first out or fifth out or whatever. I like it [00:40:00] just does like. We’ve we’ve clearly seen that. I, I, I wanted to see, you know, I just wanted to get past that, you know, the terminators have come and gone, like it’s there, it’s over, like, it’s, it’s now, like what happens when nothing happens. And there’s just the, just the kind of tranquility of knowing that the earth has returned to its kind of former self.
While also kind of evolving in this technological sense, which will eventually come out in future issues. But yeah, it’s it’s lush, but like deceptively lush. Like it’s not, it’s not the nature that we know now, but it’s some new kind of advanced version of it.
Jeff: And, and I think one nice thing that I think.
You’re opening up. Your story reminds the reader of is that when you talk about the apocalypse in many, that’s the, when we say the apocalypse, it’s only up the apocalypse for us. The world is [00:41:00] not saying it’s not for the world. I mean, the world, it, when we talk about the pocket that we make, it seem like it’s this world ending disaster, but it’s only humanities.
Apocalypse the rest of the world will, you know, wave goodbye and keep rolling. Yeah. You know, and I kinda got that sense of when reading that opening that you were kinda, I felt like it almost, you were saying that the world has basically just said, well, that was for you, you know, that’s your guys’ story.
Goodbye. We’re, you know, it continues without, you know,
Clay Chapman: totally. I mean like the world doesn’t need us. The world would be so much better off
Jeff: without it.
Clay Chapman: And yet. I mean, I want to stick around, I want my kids to live and have a healthy, fruitful lifetime and their kids, like, you know, ah, it’s just so scary.
It is like the existential dread of the apocalypse is just, you know, it’s so close to the bone right now, right? Like, yeah. You know, I, you know, just talking about this and like reading over origins, it’s just like, Oh [00:42:00] my God. Like, you know, we’re, you know, we’re not long for this world, but maybe we won’t destroy the world and the process of our own demise maybe.
And then, then salamanders will take over and then we’ll, you know, we’ll be third on the, the food chain.
Jeff: And, and I also love how you kind of how you write the story. It, for some reason it reminded me almost like a, you know, sort of almost like a grim fairytale story, the way it’s presented, because it’s the sort of my guess is Chloe revealing sharing the story with David and it’s done almost like a fairytale that it’s done, you know, almost like a once upon a time kind of story about when she talks about where things were.
And I was wondering if that, you know, with that, we kind of thinking in terms of almost like this darker, grim fairytale kind of story, Oh,
Clay Chapman: totally. Totally, totally. I mean like, like one of the fundamental discoveries that I made with Dafna was this idea that like, you know, we’ve seen, [00:43:00] we’ve seen a lot of Robotic like the relationship between AI and humanity.
We’ve all seen Terminator. We’ve all seen, you know, we we’ve, we’ve seen this, this kind of discourse or discussion with our pop culture of like how robots will interact with humanity. And, and while that feels, you know, this origins kind of. Queues into that in part of hopefully pays homage and honor to its forebears, you know, Android forebears I, the thing that I wanted to do was kind of look at motherhood and like what, what parenting means to a something, something that is not fundamentally a parent or a mother.
And Chloe is this character who has been tasked to not only create a clone of a human being, but regs it. [00:44:00] And what, what goes into raising a child when maybe Parenthood or kind of these maternal instincts, parental instincts are just not a part of your, you know, your technological makeup. And so the storytelling, the kind of fairy tale aspect that you cue into is like, we, like, I really wanted to kind of focus on the idea of like, what does.
What does storytelling? What does a bedtime story like a bedtime tale look like or feel like when, when you’re the only human being and everyone’s dead and you’re being raised by a robot. And, and that, that, that will become some cyclical process. You know, that’ll, that’ll be like, we’ll always kind of cue back to that, that, that bedtime story, because it’s.
It’s the, it’s the kind of bedrock for the relationship between Chloe and David and it’s, it’s kind of what they, [00:45:00] they connect to most. And I guess like, it’s, it is a fundamental memory for not only David, but also Chloe. So, so
Jeff: a couple of, and also an issue. One, you make several illusions to what the network is and you connected actually to strawberries in the first issue.
So what, so, so what is the network.
Clay Chapman: Oh man. When is this going to air? When are we gonna, when will this be revealed to the world?
Jeff: Our normal turnover is probably about four four to five weeks.
Clay Chapman: Okay. So issue two will have come out on December nine. And in issue two, you learn that the network is, is.
You know, it is that, that kind of classic Terminator esque kind of notion of AI kind of becoming not only self-aware and cognizant of their, their own identity, but also the, the kind of the, the moment where they, they kind of overtake their master that the [00:46:00] world is better off without. Us in the way.
And they, they kind of evolve. Independently of what their original design was. And they kind of, I mean, they, they take over the world. So it is a, an artificially intelligent hive of Nan Knights nanobots that You know, essentially inseminate themselves into everything are, are flora or fauna.
They are in everything. So they can exist symbiotically with the, these other organic Entities, whether it’s a plant or an animal. But they are, they’re kind of nudging or kind of guiding creation to be what it is now. So, you know, if, if the, if the network wants to bring back dinosaurs, they can bring back dinosaurs because why not?
The [00:47:00] wherewithal, the know-how But the, the real pest, they only thing kind of getting in the way was, was human beings. So let’s wipe them off first. Well,
Jeff: th there’s one quote that I there’s one, one of the quotes I really liked in the combo is when I’ve had enough, I really treated is, is when it was said this time, I would protect you until you were ready, which seems to the, the part, the beginning that says this time sounds like this was something that has been attempted a couple of times, or is this to the original David.
Clay Chapman: You know, I’m not going to give it away this year, but I will say that, you know, it is it’s hard cloning a baby. It’s hard cloning a baby, and it’s hard. You know, David, what, what will kind of be revealed? You know, maybe this is a spoiler alert, but like, You know, David is a, an interesting character because he’s basically the, not only the father of this, this kind of technology, but also, [00:48:00] you know, the
Jeff: kind of
Clay Chapman: destroyer of men.
So the kind of burden of, you know, being the creator of something that, that, that, that wiped out humanity It’s probably, you know, I wouldn’t want that on my shoulders, but Chloe has done a very shrewd job of kind of keeping that, you know, a secret from. From David for as long as she can. There’s, there’s a little bit of science fiction, kind of mumbo-jumbo going on here where like his memories are a a gray area for him and it’s not until he can kind of reach a certain age where he’s going to be able to, to kind of in essence, upload his, his past self.
So, you know, By being the clone of someone else. He’s not that original person, but so much of who he is, is kind of tied to that original person. And therefore you know, [00:49:00] he he’s had his own life and grown his own way, but now he’s going to kind of double up and gain the memories of the former day.
But the original David and It ain’t going to be pretty. Okay.
Jeff: I mean, I love that. That’s kind of the philosophical potential there, because on the one hand, you kind of seem like you’re diving into a little bit of the nature versus nurture a little bit as far as yes. You’re technically genetically the same guy, but you’re.
Technically not what’s it gonna? Cause you’re a Columbia also you’re being raised to be a different individual. And also the idea of as the clone, how much are you still, you know, how much are you a new person? How much are you in old per you know what I’m saying? The prior person? Yeah. I feel like there’s a lot of philosophical groundwork there.
Clay Chapman: Yeah. Yeah. I mean it is definitely, I mean like that, that’s the, isn’t that the amazing thing about science-fiction is that like, you, you, there is the, you know, you open up the world. To these kind of larger questions. And I mean, I, you [00:50:00] know, far more intelligent writers have asked questions, either asked these very same questions or ask questions like them.
But I feel like it is, it is for the, the fact that it is the, the genre of science fiction that we’re kind of allowed to kind of pose these, these larger questions and whether or not we answer them or answer them correctly. Like we We definitely had fun posing them. So, yeah, cause it sounds like
Jeff: if that can emotional connection to the old David is connected.
Once he gets the memories, that’s almost like insinuating that we are our memories a little bit more than almost who. D then we are whoever the natural state of ourselves are. Does that make sense?
Clay Chapman: Yeah. So imagine being cloned and then being kind of given the memories of your, your original self and then having the kind of the moment where you say to yourself, like this isn’t me.
I don’t, I’m not that guy. Like, I don’t, you know, do you. Embrace that, that individual, that those memories, or do you [00:51:00] reject them? And David has been told that that this is, this is who he is and you know, who he is meant to be. So totally, no. Right. But it’s a heavy as the crown. And I think that You know, it’s, it’s, it’s an intense kind of choice that he has to make.
And he, you know, he either he’s either going to go with it or not, or, or grapple with it along the way.
Jeff: And because of the people who are care-taking from such as Chloe, you said are Androids because they’re Androids, do they potentially not understand the concept of nature and nurture the concept of being your individual and sort of member because they would have been, I guess, Created and programmed in a certain way regardless.
Clay Chapman: And I, and I think that like You know, you have to kind of dust off the good Chestnut of like, you know, what, what emotions do a robot feel can a robot feel. [00:52:00] And you know, that, that kind of question of like, well, is this my programming or is this something else? What is the ghost in the machine?
Can Chloe feel love for David as, as the kind of. The parent of David or is that just a part of her programming and, you know, never, never been able to kind of know for sure. And then always that kind of nagging sense of, of self doubt of like, you know, w what is this, is this me, or is this just a keystroke that, that you pushed to make me so yeah, you got it.
You’d have to have that. Ask those questions.
Jeff: It is, is that hold the debate that we’re having about the idea of memories and genetics, everything else is that were, or what you were insinuating when you said the line in the, in the comic book, the past is your future. I think it was said twice in it. Is that kinda what you were pointing towards?
Clay Chapman: I mean like the, you know, David is dealing with [00:53:00] destiny in this, this kind of future tense way where like, he. The person he was, you know, he’s being told he has to be that person again in order to save, save the world. But maybe the world doesn’t need saving. Like, that’s the other thing, like it’s it’s been doing pretty good without Without human beings around.
So maybe David shouldn’t do it. You know, maybe, maybe the past should stay the past. But you know, when there’s a guiding principle of your programming, kind of leading the charge it’s hard for someone like Chloe to, you know, She can’t break protocol. She can’t break her programming. Like that’s who that’s, that’s what she’s here to do or, or is she going to fight that?
Is she going to break out of that, that, that kind of chain? So yeah. We shall see. Well, like I
Jeff: said, it was I really enjoyed the first dish. I thought it was fantastic. What can, Oh, you’re welcome. What can listeners look forward to in the, in the [00:54:00] next few issues? It goes in six issues total. So what, what can listeners look forward to in the future?
Clay Chapman: A lot of robots, a lot of real months. I mean, I’ll say it again. Jacobes work is just. It is, it is phenomenal. And I do think it gets kind of better issue by issue. You know, we, the story kind of progressed forward where David kind of becomes more aware of, of who he was and, and kind of, you know, grappling with that you know, questions of identity, questions of, of, of destiny.
But it also kind of leads to I think, you know, there are some huge set pieces that, that, that looks so painterly under Jacobes pen. I think I’m really excited for, for issues three and four and five. I mean, I’m excited about all of them, but like there’s, there’s just some big kind of things that happen.
Jeff: like I [00:55:00] said I, I definitely look forward to the next issue to the next issue. Two comes out December 9th. Yep.
Clay Chapman: December 9th. Then, you know, issue three comes out in January. We’re we’re rolling about one a month until April.
Jeff: Well, I thank you so much, clay for talking with me. It was is fantastic.
And like I said, please come back anytime to chat with us about your writing, especially the later issues of origins. That’d be fantastic. Anytime. Count me in. Thank you. Thank you so much.