Terry Moore once again charmed his fans at a spotlight panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Moore has undoubtedly hosted dozens of these panels, and this one caught up the audience with what was going on with his comic book creations, complete with some exciting news on one front, as well as some behind-the-scenes explorations of what he’s done with his characters over the years and why he did those things.
Moore’s first and biggest update was that film rights to his new series “Echo” had been sold to “Watchmen” producer Lloyd Levin. Moore explained that there are two ways that rights are sold: one as an option, where the purchased property is added to a portfolio of other properties and taken to a studio. If the property is passed on, it gets put in a drawer where it might remain for years. The other option is a “film deal,” where you “charge the guy out the nose and he has to make [the film],” Moore said. “Echo” is the latter.
Moore said “Echo” will be Levin’s first project for his new production studio, which launches in September. Moore wasn’t enamored by bigger Hollywood outfits because, he explained, had “Echo” been sold to one of them, Moore would have no control over how the film ends up. “That’s what you’re stuck with, even if it’s bad.” He added that he would want undiscovered actresses for the major female roles in “Echo,” but that he could clearly see Thomas Haden Church as the homeless bad guy, Cain.
The other big update for Moore was the release of the “Strangers in Paradise” omnibus, a gigantic collection of every issue of his most popular work. The volume (released as two hardcover books, with a third containing covers, packaged in a slipcase and sold with a free tote-bag, since it’s a huge thing to lug around) was released at the convention and only 250 copies were produced, only 50 of which (for pre-orders) had arrived at the show by the beginning of the panel — until an associate appeared halfway through to tell Moore that the rest of the books had arrived.
Moore said one of the reasons he made the “Echo” film deal was to bring attention to “Strangers in Paradise.” He would like to get “Strangers in Paradise” on television, especially on HBO or Showtime, since there wouldn’t be any limits on the sex and violence, which Moore said there’s more of in “Strangers in Paradise” than in almost any other comic book available, but that most people still reference the book as a soap opera and/or female-centric. The problem with pitching a “Strangers in Paradise” television series is that Moore can’t really boil it down to an easy, one-line explanation. He said he hoped to get different projects going so they could bring attention to the other projects.
Moore brought up an interesting point, saying Comic-Con isn’t really the most creative environment, that people are pushing their books and promoting themselves a lot more than talking about how they create their work or discussing with each other their creative processes. He also seemed disappointed that “Echo” lost the Eisner award to “Invincible Iron Man” but said he was proud to be nominated alongside three series by Vertigo and that Matt Fraction is an excellent writer.
Moore opened the panel to fans for questions. The first questioner asked something that could only be of interest to a devout fan of “Strangers in Paradise”: what are the girls of the series doing now? Moore, who won’t refer to the stars of his stories as characters but as people, said that they’re doing quite well and they’re rested and semi-retired. Moore dropped some hints that there might be some further stories down the road in the series, that he had an idea for a one-shot but just didn’t have time to produce it, at least not before this convention and when the omnibus was released, which would be a good time for it to come out. Moore didn’t just leave the idea of returning to the series alone, he actually thought about it. He’s not sure how it will all end up but it’s a possibility that there could be new stories, saying you can’t live with someone for 15 years and not think about them anymore. He said that a television show wouldn’t count as his return to the characters, but actually getting back to do a story in a comic book would. Moore said he would like to go back to “Strangers in Paradise,” just to spend time with his creations, but he needs a good moment to launch from.
One fan asked about “Motor Girl.” This was to be Moore’s project before “Strangers in Paradise,” about a girl living in the desert with a gorilla friend. Unfortunately, someone was already doing a similar project and the name was already taken, so instead of changing it, Moore put off the project. He said when he looked back on it, “Motor Girl” was just “a generic idea.” Moore said all the ideas he had in the 10 years of working on “Strangers in Paradise” now seem “so outdated,” so when “Strangers in Paradise” wrapped, he came up with a new idea from scratch and that was “Echo.”
Moore said when “Strangers in Paradise” concluded, he went into a depression, lost for a new project to keep him busy. The idea of “something with atomic weapons” was an idea he thought was fairly boring, but he came up with something better. Moore said this is common amongst nearly every creative person, but noted that one person who can come up with good first ideas is Neil Gaiman.
A fan asked if there was a scene from “Strangers in Paradise” that couldn’t be done on television. “Strangers in Paradise,” Moore said, is a book for mature readers and that he liked that much of the graphic violence is hidden. He said it’s easy to depict violence on television but the point of his story was to show the consequences of action, to balance that with what happens after the doors to the bedroom are closed, and that’s a way to come to care about the characters and to form a partnership with the people in the book and see their entire lives, not just the good parts.
Moore added that he hoped to push the boundaries in a “Strangers in Paradise” television show, because the story won’t still be edgy 10 years from now.
Moore also noted how important color is to a story and how it should be on a television show. He said that he purposely used fewer areas of heavy blacks in the art of the last chapters of “Strangers in Paradise,” as Katchoo’s problems started going away and the book took a lighter tone. Moore admits that there are all kinds of subliminal messages he worked into the background of the series, as many as he could fit in. “If you thought you saw something, you were probably right,” he said. Moore hopes those touches can be replicated in a possible television series.
One fan asked if all of the protagonists Terry Moore created were going to be women. Moore said he made his characters women because there were enough stories about men and that he wanted to write what he didn’t know, as a way of trying to “figure women out.” “‘Echo’ came from the same place as ‘Strangers in Paradise,'” Moore said. “Men deal with what they see while women deal with what they feel, and it’s two different stories that come from that. In a male story there are always guns. Women can connect on a different level and are more spiritually attuned.”
Moore also confided that every woman in his life has almost died at some point, but they’re all still alive now and they talk about “something more than just the mortgage.” Also, Moore said that the woman-within-a-woman story of “Echo” was more interesting than a man-within-a-man story.
A fan asked Moore what he is reading now. Moore quickly replied that “Spirit of Wonder” was one of his favorite books, as he can’t read a book that doesn’t have pretty art. Outside of comics, he spoke animatedly about Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”
Moore said that the premise of “Echo” came from “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” a David Bowie film. Moore posited the question of, what if we’re using the wrong math base? What if instead of the real math base as being 1 but rather .618? Moore cited examples of this reasoning being used elsewhere. He then said that the suit in “Echo” is only just a spin-off of the main experiment in the story and that was the challenge of the story. He also said the book was originally planned as a tight, 30-issue story, and that there are still two more years to go — but that plan might change.
The last question was if Moore has an interest in directing film or television. Moore said no, adding that he doesn’t want to filter his vision “through 100 people” and likes to guide “the moment that can be most touching.”