Layman & Kieth Unleash Happier, Gentler Sides with Eleanor & The Egret

This week sees AfterShock Comics' release of the collected edition of Eleanor & the Egret, the bizarre and charming tale of larceny, art, lamprey-wielding assassins and gigantic talking birds created by none other than the Harvey and Eisner Award-winning writer of  Chew, John Layman, and the iconic creator of The Maxx, Sam Kieth. 

Staying true to style for both creators, Eleanor & the Egret is a quirky tale with an array of extraordinary characters and captivating artwork that is bound to excite longtime fans. CBR talked to both creators to get a glimpse into the creative process and collaboration behind the colorful story.

CBR: John, Eleanor & the Egret was definitely a departure from your previous series, Chew. What was it like for you writing such a different genre?

John Layman: I purposely sought out a book like Eleanor as a palate cleanser to Chew, no pun intended. When Eleanor was conceived, I was on the tail end of Chew, killing people left and right, and getting really dark. I wanted something happier and poppier and more fun to offset the darkness that I knew was Chew’s end.

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It’s not every day we get to read about magical birds who perform heists and eat paintings. How did the idea develop for Eleanor & the Egret? What about the villains?

Layman: It came organically out of a lot of conversations with Sam. "What do you feel like drawing?” It was sorta supposed to be a jam between friends, just the two of us doing something that would be light and fun. I’d say it was something we didn’t take too seriously, but that makes it sound like we didn’t care, which is not the case. We didn’t take it seriously in that our primary concern was to have fun, and give something to the readers that would be fun. Sam and I have done a lot of dark stuff, so just doing something light like this was a departure for the two of us. An experiment of sorts.

Sam, I follow your blog pretty closely and noticed the same egret featured in one of your pieces that you mentioned was an idea for a children’s book. Did you have a lot of input on the storyline and characters for Eleanor & the Egret? What was it like working with John in that aspect?

Sam Kieth: John and I still haven't ruled out the idea of a children's book at some point. I think almost every thing I create is a weird combination of Dr. Seuss and underground comics. Though John's and my sense of humor is pretty perverse, I think we both drifted towards a bit more heart and innocence on this one. I've never trusted any writer as thoroughly as I have John before. He's unique among anyone I've ever worked with.

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