After some reminiscing about CBR TV appearances past, Greg Rucka discusses the origins of his and artist Michael Lark’s hit Image title “Lazarus”, the role Warren Ellis played in its genesis and the importance of approaching all comic book work as a collaborative effort.
On writing Warren Ellis about his pitch for “Lazarus”: The sad truth is that it wasn’t that hard at all. I suppose if I had a higher self esteem [Laughs], I would have been like, “I can’t be seen talking to [someone else]” — the fact of the matter is, writers like to talk to writers. When I get a chance to sit down and just catch up with Kelly Sue DeConnick or on those rare occasions when Bendis is holding still long enough, just any of these people, you want this exchange of ideas. The bold part of it — if we’re going to say there was a bold part of it at all — was that I was willing to reach out to Warren who I certainly think of as a professional friend, but who I really don’t have a personal relationship with outside of the industry. It did feel a little bit to me like [asking], “Hey, Warren? Do you have an idea you’re not using? I need an idea. Can I have your idea?” The flip side of it is honestly that a lot of us who do this professionally, we’re pursuing various interests and various researches at any time. If you follow Matt Fraction’s tumblr, it is an education in cinema and it’s specifically an education in Italian cinema of the late ’60s. My fascinations are pretty well documented at this point. I’m into police procedurals, crime, espionage, politics — things like that. I was not until fairly recently really adept as to what we’re doing in modern technology. When I’m looking for a technological answer to this problem of, “How is it that this character can be shot three times, effectively die and then get back up again?” and I didn’t want magic — I think my email to Warren began [with] “Look, this is the thing I want to do and I don’t want to go to nanotechnology yet again. There’s got to be a different way but I don’t even know where to begin to look.” … The thing about Warren is he has always been spectacularly gracious to me with his time and his communications. Our entire relationship is an email relationship. People are scared of Uncle Warren, but Uncle Warren has always been very kind to me.
On the intimidation factor of Warren Ellis: His intimidation, if we’re going to grant Warren Ellis an intimidation, is exactly the kind of intimidation that I love, because his intimidation is an intolerance for stupidity. You want to make Warren Ellis angry? Be dumb in front of him and he will drop an anvil on your head — and it will be a very well-phrased, cutting anvil. A lot of times, he will have eviscerated the target before the target even knows it.
On comics being a collaborative medium between writer and artist: This is a collaborative medium for me. I am not a triple threat; I cannot ink, write and draw. I can’t do it. If I want to tell the story in comics, I have to have a collaborator. The beauty of the collaboration if you get it right is that you’re going to create something that is greater than either parts would have made individually. You will come together and you will make something beautiful and something unique and something that is going to be challenged and enhanced by each of your passions. One of the great things about what I’m doing with Michael [Lark] is that he’s constantly challenging me. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of tongue-in-cheek, but I’ll send him a script, it’ll have a description of a location, and he’ll come back and say, “But if it has this and this, then why does it have this?” Because of the nature of the work he has to do, the physical world building that he has to do — and “Lazarus” in particular is a dystopian future, it’s speculative future, so now we have to talk about iterations of technology, iterations of lifestyle, iterations of infrastructure. He’ll come back and say, “If this, then also this” and I’ll have to go, “Well, not this, because this. I need this from the story.” That makes it stronger.