If you’ve ever found yourself transfixed by the stunning architecture that our nation’s capitol has to offer, just know that you’re not alone — except you’re not likely to saw through the topmost tip of the Washington Monument for world-saving, supernatural treasure-hunting purposes, are you? No, that’s more Lorna’s thing.
In “Lorna: Relic Wrangler,” author Micah S. Harris (“Heaven’s War”) and illustrator Loston Wallace (“Batman: The Animated Series”) have joined forces to tell the tale of a young southern belle named Lorna who trots the globe in search of extremely rare treasures and artifacts, all in the service of her mentor named Vernon. A character that’s 25 years in the making, Lorna marks her comic book debut in Image Comics’ March-shipping one-shot that brings our hero to Washington, where she must steal a mysterious item in order to save all of mankind. There’s just one problem: her lifelong rival, Posh Meow, is there to stop her.
To learn more about the debuting one-shot, CBR News spoke with Harris and Wallace for an exclusive interview about all things “Lorna: Relic Wrangler.”
CBR News: Lay it out for us, guys. What is “Lorna: Relic Wrangler” all about?
Micah S. Harris: We described Lorna in one of our promos as Lara Croft with a mint julep twist. She’s a southern gal who goes into these adventures and escapades trying to wrangle relics, typically. [Laughs] She does this under the guidance of her mentor, Vernon, who wants these objects. He’s especially interested in what he calls “Ex Occulta Americana.” Of course, these objects have some sort of power to them. So she’s gathering them for his mysterious purpose.
In this issue, we’re getting into the conspiracy theories of Washington, D.C. and its whole occult layout. Lorna has been sent there by Vern to turn back a cosmic catastrophe with the United States as ground zero. She needs to get a certain object from a certain memorial there to stop this from happening.
What drives Lorna as a character? Aside from hunting these treasures, what makes her tick?
Loston Wallace: You know, she’s a sparky character. She clearly loves the adventure aspects of what she does, and she obviously has all of the skills she needs to pull these missions off for Vern. I think she’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie; she loves the adventure. That’s a big part of her motivation, but also, I think there’s an underlying sort of previous relationship with Vern that she may have had — an innocent crush she might’ve had early on when they first met up — so some of this is for Vern, I think. She’s at a point with her character where she’s moving beyond that, but some of her past seems to always catch up with her. And one of the things from her past that catches up with Lorna in this particular story is her archrival, Posh Meow.
Harris: Right. I’d had the idea of Lorna having this archenemy and somehow, I came up with the name Posh Meow. I was driving down the road and I gave that name to Loston, and immediately he said, “Yeah, I know what she should look like.” He started describing this to me and it was right on the mark, which is one of the great things about working with him — he pulls the ideas right out of my head. He usually knows what I want before I know I wanted it.
Can you tell us about your design process on this book, Loston?
Wallace: When I came on the project — there was initially another artist on board to do the story, and he sort of bowed out, so Lorna had a previous design. I just wanted to update it so it was more in line with what I thought it should look like, and Micah was all for it. I wanted to give her something that made her unique, that you could point her out in the crowd. I changed her hairstyle and she had the cutoff shorts already — that’s a great Southern tag with the Daisy Duke sorts of shorts!
Harris: You walk around South Carolina and that’s the kind of look you see all of the time. [Laughs] The rumors are true!
Wallace: The other thing I wanted to do, when you think of characters in comics, you always think of them as having a physical emblem or some kind of recognition point. I wanted to give Lorna that, which is how I came up with the cat symbol for her shirt. I thought it was kind of a cute play on the “Hello Kitty” sort of thing. We’re changing it up a bit, but I think the joke is there. We wanted Lorna to have a unique look from the other girls you see in comic books, so I thought the hairstyle and the emblem gelled together to make a different form of character.
As far as Posh, when Micah started describing her, the idea that she was sort of a counterpoint to Lorna — who, in my mind, is part Tomb Raider and almost like a secret agent as well — Posh was sort of a reflection of that, so I was thinking of the great British women of the ’60s with the go-go catsuit and the look, and I thought that was a great motif to go with her. When he described her as Posh Meow, that just struck me as a go-go name, and Meow made me think of cat’s eye glasses. I wanted to play with that. The idea of her being posh, I gave her a number of jewels with the catsuit.
You mentioned that you weren’t the first artist on this book, Loston. When you first heard about “Lorna,” what was it about this project that made you want to work on it?
Wallace: The bottom line for me when doing any kind of project — I’ve done a lot of licensing work for DC Comics, and those projects are great because they have Batman and Superman for kids, and that’s fun. But this was just such a fun and unusual thing. When I read the script, I thought it would take an awful lot for an artist to pull this script off. I told Micah before I came on board, “Whoever the artist is that’s handling this will have his hands full.” There’s so much referencing work here, because of Washington, D.C., and it’s just a tall order that he put into the script. I liked that challenge; I wanted to see if I could live up to it. It appealed to the sensibilities of why I love comics.
Harris: The story of Lorna goes back 25 years, believe it or not. I wrote a prose novel and she was the main character’s girlfriend. I liked her so much that I wrote a couple of other prose tales in which she was the central character. Eventually, in the third novel, she was breaking into ancient temples and stealing idols and icons. She ends up running into Vernon’s daughter; that was in the novel. A friend of mine suggested that I should develop Lorna for comics, and when I went into that adventure girl, Lara Croft, “Mission Impossible” style, that seemed like the best place to dive into for the comics medium. So here she is — 25 years in the making! [Laughs] That’s right!
Beyond the main adventure, there are some shorter stories in this one-shot, right?
Wallace: That’s right. There are stories drawn by Olli Hihnala and Michael Youngblood. It’s cool, because there are other adventures, and you’re able to see other artists tackling each one. It’s all in the same universe and mythos, unlike Betty and Veronica. When you go from one Betty and Veronica story to the next, there’s no real continuity. Whatever happened in that story, there’s no evidence that it happened in this one. In the “Lorna” mythology, there’s a lot more of an arc where each story adds up to something else. It’s fun to see other people’s take on the material as well. Those guys did an excellent job.
Harris: Olli and Michael’s stories are sort of separate from the rest of the book with their own little covers, and they’re two tales of younger Lorna. We see the back-story of how her relationship with Vern began to develop, you get to see a little story that was based on actual events. There’s a lot in here.
Clearly, you’ve lived with the Lorna character kicking around in your head for a good little while now, Micah. What appealed to you about this one-shot as the right place to start Lorna’s life as a comic book character? Why not go with a miniseries or something longer in form?
Harris: With the one-shot, we’re testing the waters. We’re putting it out there and we’re seeing what kind of response we’ll get. If things go really well, which we hope, then we’ll follow up with a miniseries or a series of one-shots. I already have two scripts in drafts and Loston has begun drawing the second one already. Originally, that was the one that was going to be up-front, but for expedience sake and getting it done in a timely fashion, we went back to this one. This one introduces our main cast and sets up the rivalries and relationships, but that second story is a lot of fun.
In the “Lorna” series, you can have more relic wranglers, more occultists, other supernatural stories that could tie into some of the mystic elements of the world. Vern is gathering these objects for some reason, and you might say that he’s putting something into the water, so to speak. I have a bunch of ideas in mind — a time travel story, even! — but they all have to develop. It could go in so many directions, and a few of them are already set up.
“Lorna: Relic Wrangler,” written by Micah Harris and illustrated by Loston Wallace, arrives in comic book stores on March 23, 2010, courtesy of Image Comics.