Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Comics, with Ian Daffern

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Ian

May 1, 2011 -

Ian Daffern is Open Book's 2011 Whazamo! Writer in Residence.


OBT:

Tell us about Freelance Blues.

ID:

Freelance Blues is a comic about a guy named Lance who has a problem. Whenever he shows up to work, he finds out that his boss is a monster trying to take over the world. So he's got to save his co-workers, defeat his evil boss and get up tomorrow and find a new job, because for him, being a hero doesn't pay the bills. It's an episodic comic-book, where each issue is a complete adventure, exploring everything from homicidal call-center cults to blood-sucking pharmaceutical testing labs. At the end, it will answer why all this bad stuff keeps happening to him. It's a workplace misadventure about trying to find your place in the world really.

OBT:

What first inspired you to create graphic novels?

ID:

I was hooked early on, but it's hard to say what first did it. Maybe it was the 2000AD's (the British sci-fi comic that featured dystopian super-cop Judge Dredd) that my extended family shipped over from the UK when we moved to Canada. As a teenager growing up in the 90s it was the mutant melodrama of Marvel Comics like Chris Claremont's X-Men. While in university, Neil Gaiman's Sandman series showed me what comics could really do: inspire horror, fear, wonder and amazement in a reader. I've been chasing that feeling ever since, and it's what I continually aspire to in my own work.

OBT:

Describe the collaboration process between writer and artist in the creation of a graphic novel.

ID:

At its best you're looking to play off each other's strengths; find what you can bring to the table that is different; while telling the kind of story that you'd both love to read, but no one else could make. How that works out in practice depends on how well you both communicate. I've heard it described as the relationship between a director and a photographer when making films, one describes the vision, the tone of the story, the other brings them to life. As someone who has worked in video, that feels right to me.

OBT:

What's your favourite graphic novel of all time?

ID:

Possibly Scott Pilgrim; it was like reading the story of my life. But there's also Dylan Horrocks Hicksville, which is sort of romance to comics as a medium, Jeff Smith's Bone, and Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind, both incredibly epic fantasies in graphic novels.

OBT:

What's your next project?

ID:

Right now it's finding out my next project. But it might be Robohorse, another collaboration with Mike Leone, which the less said about the better... .

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