Terry Moore's New Paradise? "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane"

With the conclusion of writer/artist Terry Moore's indie epic "Strangers in Paradise," the acclaimed author suddenly found himself out of work. What's his next move following the very personal and emotional work he accomplished in SiP?

Moore is heading to Marvel Comics to take over "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" following Sean McKeever's run on the title. The current plan is to take a three month break following the conclusion of McKeever's run, then relaunch with a new #1 later this year. No artist has been announced yet for the title.

CBR News spoke with Moore on a very stormy Thursday afternoon from his home in Houston, Texas – so stormy that we could actually hear the rain pelting his windows in the background.

The final issue of "Strangers in Paradise"; "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" vol. 1

First off, what interested you in in "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane?"

What I love about "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane"– and it was immediate once I discovered the title – is that it's the closest thing to the original Spider-Man series for me. It focuses on young Peter Parker in school, his personal life, his problems and girlfriends. Here's a 15, 16 year old kid who commutes from Queens over to Midtown once in a while to take on some disgusting adults, then comes back to high school to try and sort out a life. This is the title closest to that magic of those early days.

Are you going to run with storylines Sean McKeever already began, or will you be going off on your own direction?

I've been joking that I'm thinking of making everyone wear capes and turning them into zombies.

[laughs] It'll certainly help boost sales!

I know! [laughs] Seriously, I think what Sean has established is just wonderful. The rules of the book so far have been very clearly established and Sean has crafted a wonderful title that has a lot of charm. And it has a lot of fans. I really feel like I'm coming in like a step-father on this title – I have to win over the kids now. It's really sort of my job initially not to go in and spear everybody and turn them off.

What are your plans for your first storyline? What will you be tackling?

That would be giving a bit much away. I believe Sean's last issue is #20. I've been talking to the guys back at the bullpen – how many people still say bullpen?

You just dated yourself there, Terry!

I know it! [laughs] But I'm working on an old school title so it fits! So, the guys back at the office have been saying that they want to start with a new #1 just so that they can separate the stories. The characters won't know the difference - it could be the next day for them - but I do intend to leave just a little gap in time for them so that by the time you and I catch back up to them, we catch them in the middle of all kinds of stuff going on. I like to catch a moving train when I start a story. It won't be everyone wakes up and finds something to do, I can guarantee you that.

I've got a two part question for you here – first, why is "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane" the right thing for you to do following the end of your independently produced epic, "Strangers In Paradise?"

It's very much in keeping with something that I'm comfortable with, which is just writing about people and relationships. I wanted to do something completely different from SiP for the next year, kind of to get a breather and have some fun, but still doing something I'm comfortable with. Of all the books at Marvel, running a team book focusing on relationships that doesn't have a lot of Marvel Universe continuity I have to worry about seems perfect for me as I break in. I genuinely find the book charming and enjoy it a lot, but I also have spent the last year discussing what I might do next and it always comes back to me wanting to write a book that young readers can approach, especially girls. There's just not a lot out there for girls. I spend a lot of time trying to hash out some sort of strong, alternative female heroes, but I'd kind of like to make these next titles that I work on more accessible to young readers and give girls something to get attached to and get interested in.

Likewise, why is Marvel the right place for you to be working at following the conclusion of SiP?

Well, I love their books for one thing and I've always been a very vocal supporter of what Joe Quesada has done with the company. I was upset and worried about Marvel before Joe got in there and I think he's done a terrific job of attracting talent and putting them on the books they're comfortable with. He's really helped turn that company around.

I have always thought in my mind, and I believe I've said this before, if I wasn't doing "Strangers in Paradise," I'd be doing mainstream work. I like both Marvel and DC, they're definitely two sides of the street, and I just happened to be able to work out this arrangement with Marvel quicker than I could work out one with DC. Hopefully in the span of my career I get a chance to play with everybody's toys. I'm all about Marvel right now.

Who made the initial approach?

I called Joe Quesada and said hey, I'm finishing up and will be twiddling my thumbs in a couple of months. I asked if Marvel had any projects I could do and he said, "That is great news. Let me walk around the office and I'll get right back to you." He called me back that afternoon and offered up "Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane."

One thing I remember hearing Joe say at a convention once was that as skilled as he was as a writer and artist, he felt one of his biggest strengths was in helping creators manage their careers, helping them see what the next best opportunity would be for them. Did you guys have any discussions along those lines?

No, we really haven't. I didn't approach him in terms of becoming a major Marvel player, I simply asked about maybe doing a book for a year, but I would agree with that assessment. His record speaks for itself. Look how many new artists have been introduced through Marvel. When you talk to new artists they're all scared to death thinking, "How am I going to get into this business?" Marvel's definitely given the talented ones a big chance. The great artists are out there and Marvel has been very brave about giving these guys a chance. Thank God they don't have some sort of old boys school mentality where someone has to die before you can even get on a title. [laughs]

So, do you plan on working any "Strangers in Paradise" references into "spider-Man Loves Mary Jane?" Maybe an image of Katchoo or Francine?

Yeah, I plan on putting subliminal SiP stuff in every single panel! [laughs] That would be fun. You know, I did do an "Ultimate Spider-Man" book one time and Francine and Katchoo were walking in the foreground of the very first panel. Who knows, maybe I will pull a Hitchcock on everything I do from now on.

You could do that – make it one of your signatures.

This is also the first of two books you'll be doing for Marvel. Now, we can't talk about the second one yet, but once you're done with these two commitments, is your goal to stick around with Marvel for a while or maybe return to indy publishing? What are you considering?

You know, I love my future and I love my options. I would love to have an open door at Marvel for the rest of my career. They have all kinds of things going on that I'm interested in. There is a character over at DC Comics that I've been squawking about and demanding for the last year – Supergirl! I have this Supergirl campaign as if I'm running for President! Hopefully I'll get a chance someday.

I'm not myopic in thinking with a one-track mind at this point. I'd love to do a great job with Marvel, make some good books, then see what the future brings. And I'm definitely working up a new independent series because the two books I'm doing with Marvel are just me writing, which leaves me plenty of time to draw, so I have plenty of time to get in trouble with something else.

Do you think, at this point in your career, you'd ever draw someone else's script?

The number of people I would draw for I could count on both hands. The major writers I'd love to work with, but it would have to be a really special project. The thing about art is it's that which takes the longest. If I have to draw something, that's all I can do. Writing, you know, you could do several titles at once. Whoever gets me to draw something, they need to get all of me.

Your independent project – talk about that a bit. I believe the working title on this is "Motor Girl?"

Right. I'm still kind of bashing it around and doing so quite publicly. It's still very much a work in progress.

How long do you think you'll need to develop "Motor Girl" before officially announcing it's ready to go?

I'm shooting for the end of the year. Robin thinks I can't get it done that fast. It's kind of on hold right now because several publishers are negotiating with me to buy it and do the graphic novel with them. If that doesn't work out, then I'm just going to do it as a series myself and publish it myself.

Here you were working for 107 issues total on SiP and were your own boss that entire time. Has working for Marvel been an adjustment for you versus working completely on your own?

I wondered about that myself, so I went to New York last weekend and spent the day at Marvel hanging out with my editors. I thought, maybe, I would spout off a bunch of ideas and they'd start beating me with rubber hoses! But it wasn't that way at all. They listened to me, we talked and ate Chinese food. These guys really love the characters – this isn't a job to them. They're really putting themselves into this book. They care about the characters and the readers and how it'll all work out. That's been my work ethic, too, and I want to continue that. I'm not just writing a comic, I want to write something that's a lot more, an experience and will still be readable in ten years. The editors I talk to feel exactly the same way. It really is a great situation.

Terry, thanks for talking with us today.

Now discuss this story in CBR's Spider-Man forum.

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