Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Alex De Campi

I am so excited to bring you this interview. Writer Alex De Campi's career has spanned different types of media but I think us ladies in the comic world particularly look up to her work in the comic industry. In the past she's brought us IDW title Smoke, her Eisner Award nominated manga from Tokyo Pop Kat and Mouse, and the acclaimed European release Messiah Complex. Currently you can see Alex's name on two very exciting new series. Archie vs Predator has made a lasting impression on a generation of Archie readers both new and old, while her exciting collaboration with comic giant Carla Speed McNeil  No Mercy has released simultaneously. Issue one of both series are available in stores now! I wanted to discuss both series with Alex so without further pandering on from me here is the interview!

TFQ: Alex, you've been busy! What is it like to work on two stories so drastically different?

Alex:
It's actually lovely to work on very different stories. They work different muscles, as it were -- I don't know how some writers stay in the same genre their whole life. I suppose "my" genre is Thriller, but it's nice to break that up with a slasher/comedy like Archie vs Predator. Some of the creator-owned work can be very tiring/demanding. Not that I don't put my all into work for hire, but No Mercy -- I'm juggling about 10 different plot lines / characters. And the spy book I just finished writing, we're doing a lot of very innovative visual storytelling in it. It all looks easy on the page, but you have to work very hard to make it look easy.

TFQ: Is it hard to write in someone else's imagined world with iconic characters like Archie and the Riverdale crew? What kind of challenges did you face?

Alex: A good writer is a chameleon. We do our research, soak up the characters, and then disappear into them. I read about 4,000 pages of Archie comics in prep for this (Archie kindly sent me a whole pile of giant digests) and so by the time I sat down to write the kids, it was pretty easy. I tend to write the zanier, edgier Archie characters of the late 40s and 1950s, they're my favourites. And I can write Betty and Veronica aaaall day.

TFQ: How did you come up with the ideas behind No Mercy? We're there any real life events that inspired this book?

Alex: I've lived outside the US for a large part of my life, and I did a lot of stupid things overseas as a teenager that probably should have gotten me killed, or at least bitchslapped REALLY hard. So much of writing is taking a feeling or an experience and just tweaking it a little more, pulling at a dangling thread a little harder, and saying "what if?" What if I had gotten what I deserved? What if my luck ran out? And now I'm older, and understand more about the nature of tragedy and its after-effects, so I'm stronger at writing it... the little moments, they're the ones that count.

TFQ: I am a die hard fan of Carla Speed. How did you hook up with her on this project and what was the collaboration process like?

Alex: We had worked on a couple projects together, had friends in common, and I thought she drew the greatest teenagers in the world (see: Finder: Voice). So we were hanging out at Baltimore Comicon one year and I was talking about No Mercy and how I couldn't find the right artist for it and there was this pause, and then she just said, "I'll draw it". Obvs I said "sure", then excused myself, went into the bathroom, shut the stall door and happy danced silently for about five minutes straight!

TFQ: Just for fun, what are you reading right now? What are you absolutely in love with from today's current comic trends?

Alex:
What I'm reading: The Tale of Genji (Royall Tyler translation). Man Without A Face: the autobiography of Markus Wolf.

Oh! Comic books. I'm afraid I'm not going to surprise anyone -- I read Saga and Wicked/Divine like everyone else. I just finished mainlining all the books of of Gisèle Lagace's Ménage À 3, which is so fun and addictive.

ARCHIE VS PREDATOR #2 IS AVAILABLE MAY 20th!!
NO MERCY #2 IS AVAILABLE MAY 6th!