We were recently able to sit down and have a chat with Victor Gischler, crime fiction author and prolific comic book writer whose resume includes such titles as Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth, X-Men, Punisher MAX and, more recently, Clown Fatale, Noir and Kiss Me, Satan.
Here’s how the conversation went;
Big Comic Page: Your started out as an author. What prompted the transition to the world of comics? Were you always a fan of the medium, or was it something you simply fell into?
Victor Gischler: I loved comics as a kid and as a teenager. When I was 8 or 9 years old, I wrote comics scripts in pencil on notebook paper and sent them to Marvel. Yeah, I was one of THOSE kids. As I got older I fell away from comics, especially in college when there was just no time and no money to keep reading. Later, after I published a few tough, gritty crime novels, I was offered a chance to write some issues of PUNISHER MAX for Marvel and bang that was my transition into comics as a pro.
BCP: As someone who has had success in both fields, what would you say the main differences between writing for comics and writing in the prose style are (aside from, y’know, the pictures)?
VG: Both kinds of writing take discipline but very different kids of discipline. A novel, at the very least, is a shit-ton of typing. You have to make yourself sit down and DO IT. It’s easy to get discouraged when starting a novel. You sit down and look at a blank computer screen and think, “Okay. Just 300 pages to go.” Yikes. A comic script takes a different kind of discipline. An issue is 22 pages and you need to fit you story into that very restricted space. No more, no less. And it has to feel natural and not forced. That can be tough too.
BCP: Recently you were simultaneously writing three separate books between Dark Horse and Dynamite. That’s quite a heavy workload by anyone’s standards. How did you manage all the conflicting deadlines, etc?
VG: I didn’t always manage them well honestly. But there are guys out there with bigger workloads than that. (Younger guys with more energy maybe?) Right now I’m more or less on track. Let’s see how long I can keep it up.
BCP: You’ve worked on a lot of established characters over the years (Deadpool, X-Men, Buffy, etc), but recently seem to be veering more towards creator-owned work like Kiss Me, Satan and Clown Fatale. Was that a conscious decision on your part?
VG: I think a balance is good. I’m taking on Angel & Faith for Dark Horse, so my efforts aren’t quite 100% creator-owned. But, yeah, I think most creators sooner or later realize they are playing with other people’s toys and want to do their own thing. I have some pretty specific tastes and many of those tastes are not mainstream at all. Clown Fatale is a good example. I’m not deluded enough to think I’m going to sell 150,000 copies of something like that as I did with X-MEN #1. It’s a book for a special, select audience of fellow degenerates. That’s what creator-owned is for in my opinion. To go chasing those odd little ideas that make a creator happy.
BCP: As a writer, do you prefer the ‘blank slate’ approach of putting together your own stories and characters, or the challenge of providing a different take on already well-known properties?
VG: Blank Slate. But there is also a coolness to writing characters you’ve known and loved too. For example, I was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer long before I did any work for Dark Horse. Getting to write some of those characters is a genuine thrill. But there is nothing like creating characters and a world from soup to nuts and just being the complete uber boss of that world.
BCP: Now, this interview is inevitably going to come around to Kiss Me, Satan, your recent horror series for Dark Horse (which I absolutely loved!). Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
VG: The spark came from this fairly simple thought: “When Lucifer rebelled, he took a third of the angels with him out of heaven. Only one wanted to return.” From there it was all, okay, who is THAT guy? What does he do? What does his world look like?
BCP: How was it collaborating with Juan Ferreyra (a personal favourite of ours here at BCP), and how much input did you have into the appearance of the characters?
VG: Juan went above and beyond. He added pages, changed layouts to make them better. I flatter myself to think my script inspired him, but he absorbed everything I tossed at him and took it to the next level. The cover of the trade should read JUAN FERREYRA’S KISS ME, SATAN (with script by Victor Gischler.)
BCP: Any plans for a follow-up series, or perhaps (fingers crossed) an ongoing? I’d love to see more of Barnabus Black, and the way you finished the series definitely left it open to continuation.
VG: Plans as in scripting it right now? No. But I do have some “if” plans. Like IF the trade sells well and IF there is demand for it, then, yeah, I’ve got some ideas about what might come next. I think the world I’ve created can offer us many more Barnabus adventures.
BCP: Moving on to Clown Fatale, another very well-received series from yourself that just wrapped up this past week. You’ve got a well established crime thriller background, but was the almost 70’s exploitation style (described by one of our team as “Quentin Tarantino’s Charlie’s Angels”) something you’ve wanted to try your hand at?
VG: Yep. I wanted to do something with a Russ Meyer vibe that had a Tarantino edge. Something that was flat out exploitative and irreverent and not pretending to be anything else. I am tempted to say it is the comic work so far that I’m most proud of in that it almost perfectly hits the target I was aiming for. But … well, I’m proud of Kiss Me, Satan too and I have other stuff coming soon. I love all of my warped children.
BCP: Bit of a standard question here, but one that sometimes provides some interesting answers; are there any characters or properties out there that you’d love the opportunity to work on?
VG: For Dark Horse, I think I’m living the dream working in the Buffyverse. For Marvel, I always wished I’d had a shot at Doctor Strange. And if DC wants to call and offer me Challengers of the Unknown, I think I have a take on that which would kick some ass. I was very lucky to write the iconic THE SHADOW for Dynamite. But I wouldn’t mind doing some Flash Gordon for them too.
BCP: And finally, what can we expect to see from you in the future?
VG: A season of Angel & Faith for Dark Horse! Also an irreverent, goofy B-Movie style post-apocalyptic thing for Titan called SALLY OF THE WASTELAND. (Check out the trailer on YouTube!) I’ve also written an epic fantasy novel for Amazon’s 47North and I’m hoping to pen a sequel to that… but that’s on the wait-n-see list.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Victor, and we look forward to seeing more from you in the future, including – fingers crossed – more Kiss Me, Satan.
And on the subject of Kiss Me, Satan, the trade paperback of the Dark Horse series is set to his shelves this July, and we’re excited to be able to unvail an exclusive trailer that should – hopefully – show you just what all the fuss is about.
Get this bought, folks!