Farel Dalrymple Returns to MySpace DHP

Farel Dalrymple, best known for his surreal "Pop Gun War" and "Supermundane" comics and for illustrating the Jonathan Lethem-penned "Omega: the Unknown" for Marvel, offers a new story set in the weird and wonderful world of "Pop Gun War" in this month's MySpace Dark Horse Presents.

Dalrymple, who has previously contributed a short comic to MDHP spinning out of Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible" web series, created a new story about young rock star Emily and Gwen, who believes she has a talent for magic. A preview of a full sequel to "Pop Gun War" has just been made available on Arthur Magazine's web site, and the artist will also be offering a 'zine sized booklet at Portland's Stumptown Comics Festival.

In addition to the strip on MySpace Dark Horse Presents -- entitled "Em and Gwen in: Magical Spell" -- Dalyrymple recently published a "Pop Gun War"-related comic on Top Shelf's webcomics site starring Percevil, the giant goldfish with glasses.

But on a broader level, the new strips and PGW itself are part of something larger. CBR News caught up with Dalrymple to discuss the MDHP strip, the shared world of his stories, and what's coming up next.

"All the comics that I write myself pretty much inhabit the same world. I like the characters to be able to cross over freely into each other's comics," Dalyrymple told CBR. "The character of Gwen appears in that Percevil story, which is more of a 'Pop Gun War' story, and also in my 'Supermundane' strips on the Meathaus website. Emily has pretty much just been in the 'Pop Gun War' stories until now. My MDHP story was sort of an introduction to these girls hanging out together rather than any sort of sequel.

"I am planning on developing the idea further of them and another girl all based in this magical tree clubhouse thing and getting in mystical mystery adventures. The stories will be supernatural detective tales à la the X-Files, but more of a goth thing. I plan on doing some more short stories with them and maybe a big book eventually. It will be a while before I can get to that though. I have some other big projects I need to focus on first."

One of those other projects might be Dalrymple's graphic novel "Wrenchies," which will be published by First Second Books, but the artist admits he is "more than a little late" with that book. "I am terrible at scheduling my time and figuring out how long a project will take me. I think I need a business manager or something. First Second has been awesome though. They have been more than gracious. I am really excited to be doing a book with them, and I am having a total blast working on the book. Hopefully I will be done with it though sometime this year."

The sense of a shared world between different projects might even be seen to crossover to "Omega: The Unknown," a Marvel Comics book illustrated by Dalrymple and written by "Fortress of Solitude" novelist Jonathan Lethem. Though taking place (at least nominally) in the Marvel Universe and written by another creator, "Omega" felt very much in keeping with the world Dalrymple has established in "Pop Gun War," with wonderful visuals and characters taking absurdity in stride.

"I would say I did feel a very strong kinship with Jonathan's writing," Dalrymple said. "I was a big fan for years before I got the 'Omega' gig. It was really cool to work with him and Paul [Hornschemeier, 'Omega' colorist] on that series because I relate to both of their aesthetic so much.

"Working with any writer is a bit hard for me just because I stress myself out so much over what I think the writer's intentions are with each panel," the artist continued. "Jonathan was very detailed in his scripts. Each panel was lain out precisely with what he was going for, which I thought was excellent. There were a couple times though where it was a bit hard for me to figure out how to put all the pieces together on a page. In those instances, I just did the best I could and hoped it worked out. Everyone seemed cool about everything. I have been pretty lucky with all the work for hire I have done for the comic companies so far. I have never had to go back and change any art."

Both "Omega: The Unknown" and the expanded world of "Pop Gun War" draw upon a dreamscape logic and symbolic visual language, which Dalrymple indicated reflect the sort of stories he most enjoys as a reader. "I grew up reading comic books and children's fantasy adventures like Madeleine L'Engle's 'A Wrinkle in Time.' For some reason, those are the stories that move me the most," he said. "I remember when I saw my first David Lynch movie and when I watched Orson Welles's 'The Trial' on late night public TV I just knew that I wanted to tell stories like that, stuff that is a little freaky and a little cryptic but still has a sense of weird fun. That may not the best description of either one of those guys' work but that is just what I get from them mostly.

"And I'd like for children to enjoy my comics too. I am working in the funny book business after all.

Early on, a couple people told me that my comics fall into the magical realism set. I used that description to a potential publisher and he scoffed at the term. So I don't know what you would call it. It is the stuff I like because I like it."

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