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Jeff Lemire – Interview
[00:00:00] Jeff: listen, there’s a spoiler country today with a very special guest. Jeff Lumiere. How’s it going? Mr. Lumiere.
Jeff Lemire: Good. How are you doing Jeff?
Jeff: I’m doing very well. How are you dealing with your role right now? And COVID and everything.
Jeff Lemire: yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s always seems to be always changing, but all in all pretty good, you know, everyone’s health here and, still working away.
So I can’t really complain.
Jeff: Definitely. It seems to be one of the busiest people in comics right now. And you see a lot of titles, you read it a lot of prior times before that. How do you keep so busy?
Jeff Lemire: well, I don’t know. I think I just, I’ve always liked juggling a lot of different projects at once.
And, and honestly I just really like working, you know, I’m, I’m kind of happiest when I’m working, so I probably work too much, but it’s when you enjoy what you do, it’s, it’s kind of hard not to want to do it all the time, I guess. So,
Jeff: do you find yourself more perfect during this lockdown? Or has it been a drag on your
Jeff Lemire: efficiency?
I think the first, the first month or two, when everything was just beginning and there [00:01:00] was a lot of uncertainty and, and stress about that, it was definitely, you know, my productivity went way down cause I was just sort of dealing with, with family things and stress and trying to figure out what was happening and what we were doing.
You know, like everyone was, but then as we, as it’s sort of, I wouldn’t say, you know, I guess as things sort of leveled out or became more normal, you know, I kinda got back to work at a normal rate as well. And, so yeah, now I wouldn’t say I’m more or less prolific now, but just sort of, I mean, I’m really busy now, but, it’s kind of, that’s sort of the norm, so.
Jeff: Yeah. So the one-time actually must be on some level, kind of in your real house, I’ve read that you left, a future in film cause you prefer a solitary type of life. Was that true?
Jeff Lemire: I don’t know. Well solitary, but I think I just want it was, was, I, you know, I was, I did go to film school and. Mostly because there weren’t a lot of avenues for me to sort of [00:02:00] pursue storytelling or the things I wanted to do.
you know, I grew up in a, in a pretty small town and in Canada and, and being a comic writer or comic regardless was not really something that’s felt very realistic or practical, you know, I grew up around, You know, farmers and factory workers and, and pursuing any kind of a career in the arts, wasn’t really a practical thing.
Or there wasn’t really a path towards doing that, you know? And, but there was a film program in Toronto, which is, was about four hours from where I grew up and I thought, well, you know, that’s something I can get out of. I can get, get, go to the city, get out of the small town I grew up in and, and sort of learn about storytelling.
And, and, and so I did do the program. this would have been the late nineties, mid nineties, I guess. And, but yeah, the more I did it, the more, I just kind of fell more in love, more in love with comics. I’d always loved comics first and foremost, but especially when I got into the city and started, Taking the program.
And I just wanted to draw all the time, you know, and all the ideas I got for films, I, I would, I just realized I’d much rather sit down and draw them [00:03:00] myself as comics. So, and also, you know, just film this, it involves so many people and it’s so expensive then. Whereas with comics, you can just. Sit down and execute your idea exactly how you see it, fire yourself.
So in a lot of ways, it seems more achievable too, you know? And, so yeah, I just kind of started pursuing comics really seriously and never looked back. So what did your parents think when you were like,
Jeff: Hey, you know, I went to school for film. I know, but you know, I’m going to do this complex thing instead.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, I think they were probably were terrified that I was going to be, you know, homeless and destitute for the rest of my life. But, they were pretty, you know, pretty good about not verbalizing that I think they, they were always, probably pretty worried and didn’t really see a career in the things I was pursuing, but, but they kind of gave me my space to do it.
And, you know, eventually, obviously it worked out for me, but, yeah, I’m sure. There were times where they, they were very doubtful that’s for sure.
Jeff: Yeah. I would say, I mean, you kind of had your parents kind of in a tough situation because on the one hand [00:04:00] complex, it was very hard for you to get into, but I imagined film isn’t that much easier.
Jeff Lemire: No, they’re both. They were both sort of out of, out of their sort of wheelhouse. And like I said, they, they were my dad’s a farmer and worked in the auto factory. And so, I mean, doing that, the kind of things I was trying to do, wasn’t really something, anyone. In our family or in our immediate immediate sort of sphere growing up, didn’t do these kinds of things.
So I think it was all sort of foreign and strange to them and they just sort of hope for the best. Yeah. Luckily it worked out
Jeff: we’ll come back to your meeting. as you were preparing for your future.
Jeff Lemire: Ah, geez. Well, you know, I mean, when I was a kid, like I said, I was in a small town, so there weren’t any comic book stores and that would have been the, in the mid to late eighties, I was, you know, growing up on a farm.
And, so the only comics I could really get my hands on or whatever was that the news on the newsstand, you know, convenience stores or whatever gas stations. And so it was do really just all the Marvel and DC stuff from the mid to late eighties was sort of. [00:05:00] What I fell in love with originally and what made me kind of fall in love with comics and start drawing.
And I mean, I still have such a. The sentimental connection to pretty much anything published between like 84 in 91, you know, by Marvel and DC, especially. Yeah. I was always for whatever reason, gravitated more towards the DC stuff. So that stuff sort of was what I grew up on. And then of course, as I, when I became a teenager and got a little older, it was kind of perfect timing because that’s when the, the vertigo imprint.
Sort of kicked in at DC. And so there, all of a sudden comics were kind of growing up as I was, and there was always sort of something to keep me interested in, in the medium. so then I got really into the vertigo stuff and, and then when I, when I left home and came to Toronto, suddenly there were a whole bunch of really great comic shops here, and I could get independent comics and foreign comics and it kind of just opened my eyes to all kinds of privilege.
You know, any, anything you could imagine. And, so in my early twenties, I, I really got exposed to all kinds of other [00:06:00] stuff, you know, and started, started reading a lot of, like Dan Klaus and Chris ware and Seth and all the kind of independent stuff that was coming out in the late nineties, early two thousands.
so yeah, you know, the stuff I was reading and the stuff I was into kind of changed and grew as, as I did. So really, if you look at it, I kind of have a really wide sort of a wide selection. I have pretty diverse selection of influences and things that were inspiring me
Jeff: go to the best time for comms mean.
The Sandman would have been 1989, which I guess that’s to me my most favorite of all time.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. So that, that head, when that came and then there were also Hellblazer was being published at the same time. And those, those two books were kind of like, as they grew up as superheroes, as those were the two books that were waiting for me to keep me interested in, I was, so I got really into that stuff and, Yeah.
I mean, yeah, those two, those two tiles in particular were just monuments all. They were huge and had a massive influence on, on my love of comics. For sure. So
Jeff: most last [00:07:00] one’s your first published work?
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I, when I got out of film school, Right around 2099, 2000, I think. And I had started in my last year or two at school drawing a lot of comics and trying different things.
And, so I spent about three or four years after I got out of school working on this big graphic novel that never really came to fruition. You know, I think I was still. I was still learning and my style was changing so fast and I just, I should’ve been doing shorter things to kind of experiment and find my voice, but I kept trying to do this one big, long project that never happened.
And then I kind of finally just put it aside and. And, lost dogs was something I tried to do just sort of really quick and fast, something different and it, it kind of came together. So I published that in, in, 2005, I guess, but I had, there was some like mini comics and scenes and sort of self-publish things I had done before that, that were.
Kind of just locally distributed, but [00:08:00] yeah, so the last text would have been the first thing that went out to comic shops and, and, and it was in diamond and stuff. Yeah.
Jeff: Yeah. And the cool thing is that last one, AIDS Erica ward.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. So I wasn’t able, I mean, I was dirt poor, you know, at that time I was out of school and I was just working in restaurants and trying to draw all day.
And, I didn’t have any money to publish my own comics, or print them or anything. But, I applied to the Zurich foundation, which I don’t, unfortunately I don’t think it’s still active, but it would give out grants to first time. Self-publishers so I, I won one of those and that was, that enabled me to.
To pay for the printing of lost dogs and get it into the diamond catalog. so that was, that was like a huge, a huge step sort of in the, in my career and me getting sort of my foot in the door of publishing. it was really exciting. I remember, you know, that being a huge, a huge moment for me.
Jeff: Yeah. Yeah, it must have been, it must felt good. I mean, your very first published work and your art and you really get at that good [00:09:00] sense of validation
Jeff Lemire: by having
Jeff: was give you a lot of confidence to keep moving
Jeff Lemire: forward. Yeah. I mean, I think I needed it then too. Cause there, like I said, there were several years before that where I was sort of floundering and.
I was drawing every day and producing a lot of comics, but, I wasn’t showing them to anybody and I wasn’t really publishing them. So it did get to the point after two or three years where you’re starting to wonder, is this a total waste of my time? And do I, you know, is anyone else going to like this stuff?
Or am I just diluted? And you know, so then when, when there is an outside. Thing like that, where someone that doesn’t know you and isn’t, isn’t connected to you validates your work and gives you that, you know, tells you you’re on the right track. It keeps you going for sure. And like you said, yeah, it validates what I had been doing and made me realize, no, I got to stick to it.
There’s maybe there’s something here. So it really did come at the right time.
Jeff: Yeah. I mean, obviously there’s a tons of comic writers who are. Well, haven’t been in that same situation. What advice would you give to them for them [00:10:00] to push forward?
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s tough. I know what they’re feeling. I guess the advice I always tell everyone is, I think, I think a lot of young writers just want it to happen really fast, you know, and, and they don’t have the patience or the, to stick with it or, or, and they just.
One immediate sort of success or immediate validation, and you really have to be prepared to, to kind of suffer for a while and, and, and just try to get better at your craft. And, you know, I did that for a good four or five years on my own before I ever published anything. And, see, I, I think unfortunately, a lot of people just want it to have them right away and they think there’s some secrets.
yeah. Waking up tomorrow and being a published author and having a career, but it really does. There might be years of struggle where you have to be prepared to. Just do the work, you know, and get better at it before you’re ready.
Jeff: And now you’re one of the big names in the company’s history right now.
you have a very strong base. You’ve had won multiple awards. You’ve been on, he ran for, vertigo. She must’ve been a great [00:11:00] feeling to, speak to you, that you did for vertigo.
Jeff Lemire: Mary serves.
Jeff: how did that feel to be published at the
Jeff Lemire: car
Jeff: that you started reading when you were a kid?
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. I mean, that was the coolest, I, I, you know, I never thought I’d be, I never thought I’d do half the stuff I’ve done, but you know, vertigo was like I said, like we discussed earlier, those early vertigo books were just huge touchstones for me that keep me interested in comics and I loved them so much.
And so to be, to then be. Pitching stuff to them and to be published by them was really surreal. And, you know, I got fairly lucky there too, I guess, because I think the first two things I pitched, they published, which it doesn’t normally happen, you know? And, like kind of, yeah, I was lucky in that, in that it happens so easily for me, but I mean, obviously there was a lot of work that went into those.
Me getting to that point, but, it was very cool to kind of get, get to know Karen Berger and become friends with her and for her to publish my work and, be part of that line and the history of that line, which unfortunately no longer exists, but it is such a great lineage of creators and [00:12:00] all these.
Different creators and comics that I just tend to stay still, you know, I love and, and consider some of the best ever published. So to be a small part of that is, is super, gratifying. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I can imagine. I
Jeff: love the
Y the last man,
Jeff Lemire: it is heaven.
Jeff: It, it, it was a cornerstone of the industry for a very long
Jeff Lemire: time. Yeah, it was, yeah, it’s too bad. It’s gone.
Jeff: Definitely. The black label thing was, so you started off as an artist and a writer. What led you to decide I’m going to stop doing the artwork and focus mostly on
Jeff Lemire: just the
Jeff: writing part of it.
Jeff Lemire: Well, you know, to be honest, I know I haven’t stop doing the artwork, you know, every year I’ve published something that I’ve drawn since then. I think the thing was that you can only draw one project at a time cause it’s so labor intensive and time consuming to draw. So, by writing for other artists, it allowed me to juggle multiple [00:13:00] projects and to do more than one book, you know, and, and to build a career, you kind of need to.
To be able to do more than one project. So, I was doing sweet tooth at vertigo in around 2009, 2010. I was asked to pitch some stuff to the DC universe, you know, superhero stuff. And I obviously had grown up reading a lot of that stuff. So I was very familiar with it. And, so I tried it out, you know, I tried writing for other artists.
I did a couple of small projects, that kind of one led to another. And then I was a big part of the whole. New 52 relaunch and at that with animal man. And, and that was kind of the first one that I just wrote that I kind of felt really, I really kind of found my voice as a writer with that one. So it became kind of cool that I could do.
Books like that, that I was writing for all these great artists, but then I could also keep drawing my own thing, you know, and, which is kind of what I do now. I’m always, always drawing one project, but then writing several. Yeah.
Jeff: So you stayed at are certain artists. You always come back to such as Dustin.
I’m [00:14:00] getting his last name wrong. The
Jeff Lemire: UN. How do you start when it’s pronounced a wine? Just when
Jeff: Nick, when you see him get up Howard Santino, one of the artists that I’ve earned your trust so much, and I mean, they’re just their talent. There’s something else about them that you decide. I’m going to always revisit these artists at work, to work with my projects.
Jeff Lemire: Well, I think it’s like any kind of partnership or collaborations. Sometimes they work and sometimes for whatever reason, they don’t work as well. And, and, you know, I, when I was working at DC, I got the chance to work with all kinds of artists on different, all kinds of different books. And, when one of them works and it feels right, you just kinda know it, you know?
And, actually the. Dustin. And I never got to work together at DC. but we always kind of wanted to, I think we saw, we saw something in each other’s work that we’ve found familiar and kind of certain aesthetic things and kinetic things that we both gravitated towards that we both kind of liked. And [00:15:00] so, and then with Andrea, I’d done green arrow with him at DC and it just really clicked right away or whatever chemistry.
You can have, we had a, you know, it just really worked and we kind of brought out the best in each other and elevated each other, which doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it’s just a job and it just doesn’t it’s okay. But there’s not that special something, you know? And so when you find those artists, where there is that chemistry.
you just, you know, you try to, you try to keep it going as long as you can. Cause it doesn’t always happen. So yeah, for whatever reason with both those guys, I just, I just clicked and we, we kind of brought something that made each of us better on, you know, in the final product. So, yeah, hopefully I get to work.
I continue to work with both of them, you know, I, Dustin. And I have been doing descender and Ascender for Oh geez. Five or six years now. And, that’s. You know, when that’s done, we have already have two other projects kind of in development. And likewise with Andrea, we’re just wrapping up, getting it falls, but, we kinda [00:16:00] of have our next thing sort of in development as well.
So yeah. You know, it’s just, when you find those good partnerships, you kinda just keep them going as long as you can. So as you’re
Jeff: working with them, we’ll often have how you work together, evolved over time on and how you interact with one another on these projects.
Jeff Lemire: Probably. Yeah. I mean, I think when you first started with any artists you’re, when you don’t know each other as well, you brought from, from my, for, for me anyway, writing the scripts, I probably put more detail and more direction in the scripts that at first, because you don’t know what they’re going to do exactly.
And how they work, but then, you know, after several years of working together, I think we know each other so well, now that my scripts have become okay. Probably get a little looser and a little sparser, cause I don’t need to be a control freak. You know, I kinda know what they’re going to do and I trust them and vice versa.
So I just kind of leave it a little more open for them to. Tell the story visually and, and, yeah, so I guess you just kind of loosen up and you don’t have to talk [00:17:00] as much. There’s not as much back and forth. You kinda, you understand where each person’s coming from and you don’t have to say as much, it’s almost unspoken some of the things that you kind of know what the other person wants from you and expects and you just kind of do it.
Jeff: So with Dustin, you’re working, as you said, with Gideon farm, what inspired the creation of getting involved?
Jeff Lemire: yeah. So can you fall asleep? interesting one. It, you know, I had mentioned earlier before I did last dogs, I was trying to do this big graphic novel, you know, when I first started doing comics and it was this kind of horror scifi story that just, I could never get working back then, you know, as a younger crater, but there were a couple ideas in it that I really.
Kind of liked and sort of stuck around. And, and a lot of those, a lot of the characters from that early work were, were characters that are now in Gideon falls, like kind of in a, in our couple of years ago, I kind of dusted off some of those old ideas and kind of re, re thought them with Andrea in mind and, and, and built Gideon falls, kind of from the seeds [00:18:00] of those early, early projects I was doing.
So I guess in a lot of ways it’s, Sort of the book I’ve been working on the longest if you really consider that. But yes, I, you know, with Andrea also, you just, when we decided to do a, create our own book together, I kind of look at his art style and the things he does well, and he tends to do darker, more cerebral kind of psychological horror really well.
So that’s the kind of story I tried to try to build for him. And then I had all these, these little things from the past kind of waiting to be sort of, I guess sort of rediscovered and rebuilt for him. So, yeah.
Jeff: So do you think it was more important, the distance from the worst or the mature you had as a writer that made what you originally had and forget it, that was going to become Gideon falls and make it work
Jeff Lemire: now?
Yeah, it’s probably a bit of both. You know what I mean? That was, so that would have been, I guess almost, almost 15 years ago that I, you know, between the, the original. Stuff I was doing. And then when I re-imagined that for, for Andrea. So, I mean, in 15 years you become, [00:19:00] you’re a different person at that point and I’ve done so much more work between now and then that’s, I guess you can’t help, but look at it with a different set of eyes and kind of bring different priorities to it.
And for whatever reason, it just seemed to work this time where, whereas in the past that maybe I just wasn’t ready for it, or I wasn’t, I wasn’t a good enough writer, probably, you know how to make it all work then, but now I have. A lot more experienced. So, it kind of clicked. And then of course, when you’re working with a great artists, they bring a lot to it as well.
So maybe I needed the ingredients that Andrea could bring as well. To me get one of his,
Jeff: but it’s nice when you have. Everything kind of clicked into place correctly. When you know, now do you have time the maturity experience and then you meet, you meet the partner to make it
Jeff Lemire: yeah, yeah, exactly. The right time, the right project at the right time, you know, and you know, there’s sometimes there are things that don’t, but you know, we’re never published that you, you guys wouldn’t know about that.
Haven’t worked that I’ve tried to get going too, but when they work, they work and that one, that one certainly did.
Jeff: The other ones that do
Jeff Lemire: work.
Jeff: Do you still [00:20:00] have some in the background that you think you
Jeff Lemire: keep them all? Yeah. You got to keep them all because they all find their way into, into stuff and weird ways.
You know, there might be some idea that didn’t work, but some little element of it. Works its way into something else and does work, you know, so you kind of file everything away and some of them, you never think of again, but some of those things pop back up in the weirdest projects. Yeah. You never throw anything away.
That’s for sure. Now in the,
Jeff Lemire: guess we’ll call it for now. The prodo,
Jeff: getting false story was the black barn and, and that there a lot to villain, an aspect of those registers over those things that became. Part of the regular Guinea for as we know it story.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. So the, the original sort of prototype prototype of Gideon falls from, from when I was younger, it had the Norton Sinclair character and it had, he was sort of this, this paranoid young guy who was searching through the city’s garbage for some sort of conspiracy that he believed was hidden in the garbage.
And, and then it had these supernatural elements things, but [00:21:00] that was sort of it. And then, maybe. I don’t know, five or six years ago, seven years ago, I had a completely separate project about this priest who went to a small town and this black barn kind of horror story thing. And that didn’t really work either.
But then when I kind of put those two ideas together and you had this juxtaposition of these two different men and these two different settings of the city and the country, that’s when everything started to click. So, that’s a good example of not throwing away ideas. Cause it was, it was two different stories that didn’t work.
That when jammed together, somehow it sparked and became what it was. The Blackburn was part of that later story. I mean,
Jeff: it’s, it’s a fantastic story. It’s no interesting to read is visually stunning,
is a great atmosphere to that story as well. And I think. I mean, even the idea of like the bug something, it seems so like primal as like something that’s just really disgusting and you know, how many years go by, even something like you would think, you know, like bugs [00:22:00] does kind of
Jeff Lemire: get you somehow.
Yeah. I think there are just certain things that humans are just, they’re just, we’re just freaked out by it. It doesn’t like spiders and bugs are definitely one of them that, you know, Yeah, no matter how, not everyone, but a large, a large part of the population will always just be kind of creeped out by that was insects for whatever reason.
So it’s, it’s one of those primal things you can still use if you use. Well, my, my, my wife
Jeff: that’s who, who
Jeff Lemire: may be listening, so I’ll be
Jeff: okay if I say it, I was just terrified of spiders. So I, to most people I’ve absolutely. It’s terrifying. And you kind of spoke about how big
Jeff Lemire: yeah. Yeah. And they’re not alone.
There’s a lot of people like that.
Jeff: So. Dangerous thing that you did though, around, 22, you cut, you blew it, the black barn, and you really took the story and throw it into many different directions. And that was kind of gutsy does a very kind of gutsy. And not only that you change locale, but it can also change the stylistically very kind of, blade runner kind of modern future.
no matter if you, [00:23:00] but a feature, it goes like the wild West. In a different part of the
Jeff Lemire: story.
Jeff: Was there a locale that you find more interesting and was there anything like that, that you either were concerned about that worked out or that you thought yourself when you did it? Oh my God. This worked out even better
Jeff Lemire: than I thought. Well, the whole, the whole multi-verse aspect of getting folks kind of developed.
I, I mean, I kinda, it was kind of in the back of my mind when we started, but it became much larger than I think, than I, than I thought it would be. and the more we kind of played with it, the more fun we were having with it. So I think we had done a story early on earlier that was sort of a Western, it was only one or two issues that was kind of an origin story, you know?
And, when we did that, I just, I, for whatever reason really loved doing that kind of weird Western with Andrea. And, so I wanted. That kind of opened the door to go back to that setting for sure. In this newer, in the newer stories. And then it’s Gideon falls has always been about contrast, you know, so if we’re going to go to the old West, I [00:24:00] needed a new, I definitely needed a new environment to contrast that the way.
City the city and the country did in the earlier episodes. So this sort of a cyberpunk future was the perfect kind of balance to the old West in a way. So you just kind of build it like that and you play off. It’s all about contrast. And I tried to do at the end of each arc of that book, I try to kind of pull the rug out from under what we’ve been doing and reinvent it again.
And again, you know, it, it just kind of keep flipping it and flipping it and it just kind of gets crazier. and you know, this was sort of the last trick. Just blow it all off, have them all scattered and then have to come back together. Yeah. And
Jeff: when the story kind of blows up so much, And honestly, this is issue that had come out was 24.
When, when I, you know, for this engineer, and obviously you’re only going to issue 27, is it sort of, was there a concern that you blew it up, someone that you can’t close it out [00:25:00] by issue 27 or it needs more time to unravel.
Jeff Lemire: Yes. That’s why she, 27 is ADP.
Yeah. Well, you know, there’s going to be one more full arch after this, but then we thought, you know, wouldn’t it be cool instead of doing it as an arc to do it all as one issue and just do it like this massive, almost like Gideon falls, the movie, you know, where it’s like this, this, this huge story to end that.
So rather than doing four or five issues, we just kind of did it all as one big issue. And, it just has this huge Epic kind of scope. The last issue that. I, you don’t see that a lot, you know? And so it was really fun to do it and only Andrea could pull it off because he’s so fast, you know? So, yeah, so I definitely took the time I needed it.
It’s just all in all under one cover instead of four covers. Okay.
Jeff: So is there going to be a, released alive because of the size or it’s not drained? I work
Jeff Lemire: in that now. No, he’s, he’s a machine plus we’re, we’re waiting. We’ve always been really far ahead of our publishing schedule because of all the people I work with Andrea’s is the most [00:26:00] like me where we’re, we’re always like a year ahead of whatever’s being published, that we’re both, both kind of obsessive about being ahead of schedule.
So, I mean, we were so far, have you got, we even took time off to do that joker. Book for black label. And then, and we came back with, without missing our deadlines, you know? So, yeah, I know there won’t be any delay. It’s good. It’s gonna all come out in, on time.
Jeff: So does Andrea, Andrea really appreciate them, like, Hey, thank you.
Any issues on pages only one time?
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. Well, I definitely ran the idea by him before I started writing it, but he loves the challenge as much as I do. And I think he saw the potential of. Having a book with that, that a page count that high really allowed him to kind of cut loose in that final issue and experiment and try some pretty nutty things with the layouts without having to worry about running out of room.
You know? So I think he liked that.
Jeff: Well, and the one thing I have
Jeff Lemire: noticed about a lot of
Jeff: the stores, it’s obviously ones that are right now is that there’s definitely a lot of [00:27:00] religious overtones in a lot of your comics. You work on right now, family tree. a Senator has, quite a bit, can he false has quite a bit, especially in, it makes an issue trait, you, you have a Gideon falls, which basically faith is something that is purchased kinda like the old, like, the medieval times where you can buy your way to heaven.
and it’s kind of a very dark troubled Virgin of religion. that kind of like a feeling towards projection, you believe faith has gone in our culture and that’s something just kind of a cool
Jeff Lemire: set up that you, that you had in mind. No, I think it’s a little, it’s a little bit of both. I mean, I think it was cool to see this, this future where you literally have to pay tokens to worship, whatever, you know, it’s a fun idea, but I mean, it doesn’t reflect my own views or anything.
I think it’s just. almost stories kind of, you know, there’s certain primal kind of themes that run through a lot of stuff, you know, you know, family and, and fear of death and, and faith and all these things kind of run through all a lot of fiction, you know? So it’s, it’s kind of no surprise that it works its way into my [00:28:00] stuff too.
And, in different ways, you know, in Kenya falls, it certainly. There were certainly riffing off Catholicism and Christianity, but, kind of showing it in ways you would never expect, but these people still kind of maintain their faith in, in the face of all these horrors and all these things that you think may.
May shatter their faith, but they don’t really go up on each other or on what they believe, you know? And like, I kind of liked that, that element of it.
Jeff: Yeah. I, like I said, I really like you’re dealing with that future lookout, but I must say my personal favorite is definitely the old West park, is visually stunning.
There’s something about the, the horror aspects that you’ve created in that old West. Setting really quite brilliant. And do you think it’s at all possible? You’re only doing something maybe limited in that kind of world.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. I’m already working on another, another thing that, you know, sometimes, like you said, I had a lot of fun doing that.
And I knew I wasn’t done with it. So there is another project I’m working on now, which, Oh, it’s too early to really discuss much more about it. But yeah, [00:29:00] it’s definitely gonna, if you like the Western stuff and getting falls, it’s, it’s really taking the seeds from that and then building another, another kind of story from there.
So, not connected to Gideon falls, but aesthetically very similar.
Jeff: Yeah. I did read somewhere that James wan is producing a film version. Can you pause that? So in development and
Jeff Lemire: which stages? Yeah, so it’s actually a television show, not a, not a film, but it’s with, hive-mind entertainment. So they’ve done a couple of things.
They did the Witcher show on Netflix and, they do the expanse. So, you know, they’ve done some, some really good genre section and, and, yeah, there, James wan is. Is on as a producer as well. And, the pilot script’s been written and, and it’s, you know, in development, I guess, as they say, I don’t, I’m not sure exactly what the current state is, but it’s, it’s still moving forward as far as I know, you know, at this time.
So fingers crossed.
Jeff: Is there any kind of suggested release date that’s worded
Jeff Lemire: that you guys are working towards? No, this stuff takes forever. I’m [00:30:00] learning, you know, like for instance, sweet tooth coming onto Netflix next year, and that took at least five years of development to get, to get it to the point where it was filming, you know, and, and, and I’m doing the, television show, for one of my earlier books, Essex County I’m.
Writing and show running that here as a Canadian television show, and that’s taken us, I think, five or six years of development, you know, just to get to the point where we’re ready to shoot it. So these things take a long time and, you know, they’re only a year or two, another of Gideon, so might be a few years away, but yet still moving, you know, piece by piece and still moving forward,
Jeff: you’re living some patients, right.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, the good thing, you know, the truth is I love making comics and that’s really what I live for is, is comics. So the TV stuff, obviously it’s really exciting and fun, but it’s not really why I do what I do. So my view of it is, you know, if it happens great. And if it doesn’t, I have not lost anything. I still got.
Get to make comics and got to do the comic of Gideon falls [00:31:00] the way I wanted to. So I dunno, I don’t think a lot about it until it’s time to really think about it. I just kind of let them work on it and do my thing. Well, you’re
Jeff: also working on the family tree, which is totally very different Gideon for us when you’re doing something like that.
And you’re moving over mentally to be a family tree. Is it hard to get yourself shifted mentally to do something like family tree?
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. You know, it’s kind of, sometimes it’s, it’s always hard to shift for one book, the other at the first couple of days of shifting, but generally how I like to work is, I’ll really only work on one book at a time.
So, you know, if I’m working on getting them footballs, for instance, I might spend a couple of months. Right, right. Like. Six or seven issues of Gideon falls. And then I just, that’s all I’m thinking about, and I’m just kind of in that world, you know? And, and then I get so far ahead that I can put it away for five or six months and shift over to family tree or center or whatever, and kind of do the same thing.
Right. So I’m always just kind of in one world. And I. I get all the ideas and all the energy I have for that [00:32:00] world out and get really far ahead and then put it aside and go to the other one. So it’s not like each month I’m, I’m jumping between between several books. Cause I think that that would be too hard to kind of differentiate them and, and kind of not get lost and not have the aesthetics of each one bleed into one another.
It’s good to, it’s good to keep them separated and kind of. Try it hopefully put out books that don’t feel too similar to one another. Yeah, I’m going to say it. Cause like I said, they all have very different
Jeff: potentially set a center upon the tree and giddy falls and mean is there like a cathartic, feeling of moving from something so dark?
Like you need something a little bit lighter, like family tree.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, I think so. I think there’s always a little bit of catharsis in doing the dark stuff, which is kind of like do what it, you know, it gets, gets sort of on a negative energy and stuff that’s floating around out of your system. And then yeah, you can go on and do something that’s a little more heartwarming and, Yeah, lighter and in different ways and yeah, I think you’re right.
There probably is some catharsis in doing it for sure.
Jeff: Yeah. And, and, and, and I think, and I really like what you’re [00:33:00] doing and family tree cause an issue where you have, you have, the character of Madigan
Jeff Lemire: who at this
Jeff: point is basically a tree. it makes sense in the comment. It might sound weird, but it makes sense to the tree now.
and basically what you have with the character and making stressor that everything’s gonna be okay. And then basically look at anything away, some really shocking things happen by the end of that issue.
Jeff Lemire: And
Jeff: it makes you wonder, is Megan a
Jeff Lemire: trustworthy character?
Jeff: Is it because she’s the hero or is it, is she kind of
Jeff Lemire: walked by her situation, right?
Yeah. And I mean, it’s good that you’re asking all those questions. I think, you know, cause it’s too. It’s really easy to write characters as having one dimension or, you know, and to be really kind of. To kind of head in one direction and ego exactly. Or the audience thinks it’s going. So it’s good that you can have characters that are a little more gray and, and can surprise.
And I think that book, it takes a big twist, like you said, at the end [00:34:00] of, I guess it’s issue eight, I forget, which is you, certain things happen, but I’m pre I think I know what you’re talking about, where the story does take a massive shift and then, the next issue. It’s a big jump where we go five years into the future spoiler alert.
So you’ll see these questions you’re asking. You will see the answers to them. and there probably won’t be what you think it does. Take a pretty wild turn.
Jeff: No, that’s cool. And so I imagine then what Megan does goes a lot further than it’s. I was up five near the end of that, because obviously this feels more localized, but it must really spread
Jeff Lemire: out.
Jeff: like Guinea falls, you had a 2017 issue. Girl,
Jeff Lemire: you have the same thing
Jeff: going with family tree that.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, family tree is going to be 12 issues. So we felt like that was the right length, like a year long project. And [00:35:00] it’s a great, like for like a good, robust story, but not, not to stretch it too thin.
You know, sometimes the endings kind of come and you, and you don’t want to stretch it out just to stretch it out. So that one felt right at 12 and Gideon felt right where it, where it’s landed, you know? I can’t, I know some, some creators love to do these. Books, just go on and on and on, but I always need to kind of know where, where we’re heading and what the ending is, as much as I needed the beginning of a story.
So I kind of like to do those complete things that have a, you know, a good beginning middle end. So my stuff all tends to have a pretty set ending in mine. And sometimes, you know, the length, the story might shift a little, but I kind of always know where I’m going.
Jeff: So, so basically your family tree and getting balls are going to be ending basically at the same time.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, it’s a weird year for me coming up. Cause a lot of the books that are being published now are all going to come start coming to their end point, you know, around or within, within a few months of one another, which wasn’t really planned, but it just kind of worked [00:36:00] out that way. which is kind of exciting for me because I get to kind of step back and, and then create a whole new.
Bunch of books. Hopefully that’ll be, that’ll be good. So it’s good to have a bunch of, you know, some new ideas kicking around and, and new projects starting up. Okay. Can you give any hints on what those new projects are, or probably too soon to be honest, I mean, you know, as I said, one will be with Andrea again and one was Dustin and, And, the lot, there’s a lot of black camera’s stuff, obviously still coming out.
And so that’s, that’s kind of ongoing. but then there’s a couple of new books with artists. I haven’t really worked as much with that. I’m pretty excited about as well, but yeah, it’s too soon to tell, except for that weird, the weird Western, right. Well, it’s one of those,
Jeff: well, Well, I didn’t, don’t tell you, you want to,
Jeff Lemire: you can take, you can’t give it away, but
Jeff: are these going to be all at image
Jeff Lemire: too soon to tell?
Honestly, I’m just, I like to just get with the artist and start working on the story. And once we feel like we know what the story is, then we can figure out the best home for these things in the best format and everything. [00:37:00] so it’s still really early days. But yeah, I mean, image and image and dark horse seemed to be my home these days, you know?
So, chances are, it’ll be with one of those guys, you know, dark horse seems to be the place where I do all my black camera stuff and then image is still sort of my home for everything else. So I don’t really see that changing. yeah.
Jeff: So is, and you’re also
Jeff Lemire: wrapping up soon. Well, yeah, I guess, yeah, you could surmise that probably from what I said that there, the end is in sight.
It’s not quite as soon as the other two, but the end is definitely insight for a sender as well. Yeah. next year, sometime I think. Oh, wow. Okay. So
Jeff: when you were completing descender, were you always planning on creating a center as well
Jeff Lemire: or do something? No. Yeah, no. It was just a sender, you know, I was starting to get to the, like I said, I always kind of have my endings in mind, you know, as I’m working and as I got closer to the ending I had for descender, I started to get worried about it.
It just didn’t feel satisfying enough for what we built, you know, and I got closer and closer to this ending happening and it felt [00:38:00] very anti-climactic and just sort of disappointing. So I started thinking a lot about what I could do and, and then, the idea came to sort of. You know, instead of having a happy ending where everything’s great, that’s how the site, descending of descender, where, everything is not great.
And basically the worst possible thing could happen. And, you know, out of that idea, the idea of kind of rebooting the book, and completely flipping it from a scifi comic to a fantasy comic. Emerged. And that got really exciting for us. So yeah, I didn’t have a plan, but it just sort of came out of, of me working the story and trying to, trying to find a new ending and discovering this sort of whole new world that we could go to and make the story even bigger.
Jeff: So, so, so you had a descender, you have, now you have a sender or you think of like a
Jeff Lemire: whatever joke you could say about that. Dustin’s already texted me three times as many, [00:39:00] so yeah, he’s got all, he’s got a list of titles like that. We’ll be done with this world that after Ascender and we’re going to do we have a new thing we’re working on that we’re really excited about that. that’s going to be completely different and a lot of fun to do something fresh with them too.
Jeff: Yeah. Cause I must say I really like when you argue with the sender right now, because you’re melding science or melting magic they’re vampires. It’s a really fun narrative that, that you’re, that you’re creating care and. And as a writer, I wonder, is it hard to manage such a diverse concept and still make it so your readers can make it feel accessible to the story?
Jeff Lemire: No, not really. I think it’s a lot of fun because you know,
Jeff: a lot of them.
Jeff Lemire: One of the best stuff comes from like juxtaposing two really different things together. And, and sort of the, the creative tension you get when you put two, two characters that are completely opposite from one another two settings, whatever.
So when you take in this case in an even bigger scale, taking two different [00:40:00] genres and jamming them together, it just starts to open up all these fun possibilities and all these things you could play off of each other. And. All the similarities between scifi and fantasy that you can find, but also all the differences.
And that’s just, that’s just opens up fun story ideas and fun ideas for characters. And I mean, the canvas is so big. It kind of feels like we could, we can do anything. And so, yeah, it’s not challenging if, if anything is kind of creatively exciting to do that.
Jeff: So how deep are you going to dive into explaining how magic exists in a scientific world?
Jeff Lemire: There we go, we go to the origins of it all. Yeah. At some point. So I won’t say any more than that, but yeah, definitely. Yeah. We definitely answered the questions and it’s all in there.
Jeff: So, and with the character is a newer Milo.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. Mila,
Jeff: Mila. Did he intentionally make her a young character? So the reader can experience.
That way, the way she is or at, at the moment where she’s discovering the world, the universe.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah. I love that. I love, obviously I love stories with young protagonists. I’ve done [00:41:00] a lot of them, but, I do, I just love that age where everything’s still has a sense of wonder and you’re not quite disillusioned by the world yet, and everything’s still exciting.
And, and so, yeah, it’s a kind of, when you have a big, huge. Canvas like the world of Ascender to have that point of view where things are, can be scary and dark, but still exciting. And, and, I have to have her as your sort of navigator for that world is, was really fun for me, for sure.
Jeff: It clicks as she is.
She’s a wonderful character and another character that popped up that I really think is. At least visually I’m very excited is
Jeff Lemire: Canto.
Jeff: I can’t going to get his own mini series or background story. At
Jeff Lemire: some point he gets it. He definitely, there’s definitely a lot more Canto and you get this whole origin story and everything. He’s not going to get his own series or anything, but yeah, he’s going to, he starts to play a much bigger role in the story as we, as we move forward.
Jeff: Like I said, if he does, he looks absolutely off he’d side of like, the, the way he may set up the [00:42:00] appearance, and just visually, he’s just, he’s a very, he grabs your attention
Jeff Lemire: in a
Jeff Lemire: exciting way. Yeah. I told them when we were thinking of him, I told Dustin, just think of like, If, if Batman were to be created in the world of Ascender, what would he look like?
And so Dustin kind of went nuts and greeted like this cool,
Jeff Lemire: super hero kind of vigilante character, but in the, in the context of descender and Ascender, and it is pretty fun,
Jeff: but he does, he does seem to fit perfectly in that, in the world that you’ve created for him. the other thing about a sender, that’s interesting.
You seem to reach it. You seem to reach and use a character that shows up in descender
Jeff Lemire: a
Jeff: month. I don’t get that in anything. I get too much away with the character.
Jeff Lemire: how does that change the dynamic of your story? All right. Yeah, you have to do you have to forgive me? I, I write the stuff so far ahead that honestly don’t know what happens in each issue anymore.
So can you tell me what pops up in fall?
Jeff: 10 [00:43:00] 21.
Jeff Lemire: Okay. All right. Yes, he’s a. Yeah. I mean, obviously now we’re getting to the point where you’re starting to pull the, you’re starting to pull the sender and the sender together and weave them together more closely, you know, we have to send her and then we had a sender, but you kinda knew at some point, these two worlds would have to, to merge and become one story again.
And this is, Tim is obviously the, the point where that’s going to happen or, you know, the worlds of the world of machines and of science fiction. Now are, are. Returning to this world of magic. And, and now we’re going to sort of see the. These two sort of sagas come together and tell the big story that we’ve always been building towards.
Jeff: Yeah. And system 21 was such a major part of descender and is a major part of what you have with Ascender because you introduced 10 21. Does that mean the point of view now is going to shift towards. Him now, or
Jeff Lemire: is he no background character of the sender? Yeah, I wouldn’t say he’s a background character, but [00:44:00] I think Ascender was always meant to be Milos story and that’s, that’s, she’s she’s she will remain sort of the heart of it.
it’s hard to answer that question without spoiling some stuff that’s that’s gonna happen, but yeah, I think Milos definitely remains, the protagonist of Ascender, but, I wouldn’t say Tim will be in the background. He’s going to have a pretty major role in how, how her story ends.
Jeff: Yeah. And I mean, the, the serious art is fantastic.
I’m really loving it. I’m a sender. And once again, I, again, with you, it seems to be the running theme is that descender and a sander is now picked up by NBC universal. So the television.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, that’s great. So, yeah, that’s also in development, you know, I’m working on that one myself, so that’s really exciting to kind of, take this world that we built in sort of adapted and interpreted for another medium has been a real challenge for me, but it’s been a really cool and yeah, sometimes looking at the story from a different point of view, like that gives you ideas that you can net you can kind of bring back to the [00:45:00] comics.
So that’s been cool too.
Jeff: With NBC universal. Is it being made for NBC? Is it being made for peacock station? Is it going to be streaming somewhere else?
Jeff Lemire: I think it’s too soon to know any of that stuff. It’s, it’s a fairly new deal that we struck with with LARC entertainment. So we’re not really concerned yet with who’s going to broadcast it so much as what they’re going to brag.
So we’re working on the story right now and that’ll come later.
Jeff: I mean, it, there’s gotta be some sort of irony there where you started off in the world of sin, you know where to go to for comic books on some level. You’re actually moving back into some a little bit.
Jeff Lemire: Yeah, it’s weird. I never expected it.
That’s for sure. But, you know, You know, these opportunities come and they’re exciting and fun to do. And, so I, I am enjoying writing for the screen as well. I didn’t think I ever really would do a lot of that, but, the more I do, the more I enjoy. So, you know, as long as I can juggle all this stuff, I’ll, I’ll keep doing it, but certainly comics will always be my, my home and the thing I returned to.
Jeff: Well, at least I think it’s fantastic. I’m loving [00:46:00] everything you’re doing right now. is there anything else you can tip to our listeners to look forward
Jeff Lemire: to? Yeah, the thing I’m working on the most right now that I’m, I’m super excited about is, doing a SQL it’s a sweet tooth, which is going to come out through.
Yeah. It’s going to come out with your black label. it starts in November. I believe yeah. In November. So the first issue ships in November, I’m writing and drawing it all myself again. So that’s really cool. and again, there’s going to be a Netflix TV show up sweet tooth next year that they’re filming at the moment.
So, suddenly found myself back in that world in a big way in that’s been really fun. To go back to, so
Jeff: is there, is there, from a production standpoint, is there any different between black label and vertigo or virtually the same
Jeff Lemire: entity? Me? There’s no difference. No. I mean, I’m working with this actually working pretty much the same editors I worked with back when I was doing in a vertigo.
Cause they’re all at black label now and, you know, creatively in terms of the process of actually creating the book and everything. It’s, it’s really the same. the only difference is [00:47:00] obviously the. The, the logo on the cover when it comes out. So not a big deal to me here.
Jeff: Exactly. The book was an oversized
Jeff Lemire: comic book, basically.
Jeff: the same format.
Jeff Lemire: No sweet tooth will be traditional comic size. I wanted it to be the same as the original series so that they all can sit together on the shelf. So, yeah, I think they’re doing that a little more where a lot of these, some of these graphics, wills or miniseries are that sort of oversized format, but there are, there are projects that are still the traditional stuff.
I think the, all the Joe Hill books and, and sweet tooth and a couple other things are, are traditional comic size. So I was glad that I could. I could do it that size. So it could sort of feel like a companion to the original
Jeff: a collector. I really liked it with the size of the books.
Yeah. But that’s, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much for talking to me about your fantastic books. I’ve really been [00:48:00] enjoying reading them. And I think I, to seeing what you do next.
Jeff Lemire: Thanks so much. Yeah. Thanks for taking the time.
Jeff: It’s definitely my pleasure. I said, you’re fantastic. You definitely have produced basically.
You’re one of the big combo people right now.
Jeff Lemire: She writers in the industry, right? Oh, thanks. Yeah. Thanks for reading this stuff. I mean, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without the support of people like you. So, I mean, it’s, I really appreciate it.
Jeff: Absolutely. No worries.
Jeff Lemire: Thanks a lot. Have a great day. Bye bye.