The Starstruck Chronicles II: Helping Gene Colan

The Starstruck Chronicles II

Starstruck #1, page 1

Our three-part interview with the creators of IDW’s Starstruck continues today, with a look at the staged reading of the original play to help comics legend Gene Colan, a look at the new material in IDW’s reprints, and more. Plus, we’ve got more preview pages from the reprints.

Click here for Part One.

Newsarama: Overall, how much work was involved in presenting this version of the series, and is there any new material?

Lee Moyer: One of the great joys for me has been as a sounding board for Elaine as she brings an important but hitherto background character to life as he looks back on all the amazing events that these books chronicle, the lead-up to the Great Change.

Elaine Lee: This character is the previously mentioned Dwannyun of Griivarr. Lee has been a great help to me in figuring out what sorts of extra information it might be useful for the reader to have. It’s tricky with Starstruck, as some readers enjoy being kept off-base, while others would like a bit of additional info.

For every answer we give away, we try to include another couple of questions. This way of storytelling was sometimes a problem for us in previous incarnations of the book. When we were first published, people were used to comics with linear stories about a main character. But now, with an audience used to shows like Heroes and Lost, with large casts and non-linear storylines, we’re hoping that Starstruck will find an even larger readership.

LM: Ensuring that the revised panels are seamlessly integrated sometimes means tweaking things I never imained touching - lettering, layout, et al. There are new panels, and new pages where the pacing and story require. New covers, new texts and new titles as well...

EL: And the new Guide episodes!

NRAMA: How does it feel to have the series collected and completed after so long?

EL:: Ha! I may have to see it before I can tell you!

Michael William Kaluta: Me Some Too... don't tease fate, folks... and remember, this terrific 13-book series will bring only a third of Elaine's full Starstruck Expanded Storyline to the slavering public! Fingers are crossed in my pocket.

LM: To paint the first new cover was a thrill, but to know that the story inside is at long last the best it can be is a great feeling.

NRAMA: Tell us about your upcoming reading of the play to help Gene Colan. This might be a launch for a new series, yes?

Starstruck #1, page 10

EL: The staged reading of Starstruck is being produced by the not-for-profit audio theatre company, Play it by Ear Productions, and will be presented at the Henry Miller Library, an outdoor performance space surrounded by gorgeous giant redwoods, in Big Sur, California.

The play will be performed by professional voice-over actors and some of composer Dwight Dixon's music from the original New York production is being used, as well as pre-recorded and live sound effects performed by a team of professional foley artists.

The library takes a percentage of the ticket sales but, other than that, all proceeds go to Gene, including the rest of the ticket sales and bids from a silent auction. We have some great donations to auction off!

The Big Sur show will be recorded (for timing purposes only) in preparation for an official recording of the play, which will be produced by AudioComics , a collaboration between director, Lance Axt, voice-over actor/audio book narrator/sound installation artist Dan Bernard, and the voice of Bob the Builder (and in the UK, Peter Parker/Spider-Man), William Dufris.

The Starstruck play will eventually be available on compact disc and pay-per-MP3 download. This recording will lead into an audio series featuring several brand new Starstruck and Galactic Girl Guide pieces written for audio, the intent being to present each piece a la Dirk Maggs' 1990’s Batman and Superman serials for the BBC, making 5 to 10 minute pieces available every few days, with the CD and MP3 of the finished piece available for purchase at serial's end.


So… Big Sur, CA, Saturday August 15 ($12 advance admission, $20 at the door - the Library taking care of that through their site), with a reception at 6:30pm and show time at 7:30pm. Be there or be square!

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NRAMA: Give us an idea of what to expect in the new material.

LM: What's interesting is that it'll all be new material to most people - I tried to pick up a second copy of the old graphic novel at Powell's City of Books here in Portland, Oregon, and they told me they haven't so much as seen a copy for a dozen years! Its presentation will be beyond what even the oldest fans (like myself) have ever seen, and Michael's work thrives in color –

As much as I loved the black and white versions of 1990, there's just no comparison. As great as I'm finding the new introductions, panels, and details, the truth is that I'm getting even more from the old pages that I'd never fully grasped.

issue #1, back cover

NRAMA: What’s it like working with Charles Vess?

EL: I met Charles at pretty much the same time I met Michael, as they were roommates back in the day. Charles also worked on the play, building incredible helmets for several of the actors and helping Michael with the sets, so we’re all old friends. Lots of work, lots of fun, lots of parties! Charles’ inks on the Girl Guide episodes are extraordinary, but were done after my bit was completed.

On Starstruck, I worked mostly (and very closely) with Michael. But I worked more directly with Charles on some little fantasy stories called The Morrigan Tales, and scripting his plots for the Prince Valiant series Marvel did back in the late 90’s, which I dearly loved. I also adapted the ballad “Tam Lin” for Charles’ Book of Ballads and Sagas.

Michael and I are extremely lucky to have Charles and Lee, both talented artists in their own right, to do ink and color art for Starstruck.

MWK: Charles is a quiet powerhouse. He knows his own strengths, and is aware of the limits of time and place... working with Charles on the Starstruck play, my over-enthusiastic world view in set design was made closer to my vision than my "now that I've thought of it, do I have to build it" personality would have accomplished on its own.

Having Charles as the Inking Hand on the Galactic Girl Guides was even more of a breath-saver... it was like having 14 tons of coal to dig that was then loaded into The Little Engine That Could. When Charles Vess is in the team, the result is always great and on time!

NRAMA: What does Starstruck mean to you personally?

Starstruck #2, page 9

MWK: Though I did suggest Elaine do a comic book version of the play when all the rest of the rights were tied up by the then producer, I didn't want to draw the comic book. I'd stopped drawing comic books about 5 years before and had big doubts about ever doing so again. But the material, and, esp (and always) Elaine's witty approach to everything she writes set a small fire under me in which I found my long-somnolent story-telling talents rising to a high rolling boil.

Before long I was at full steam (a few fits and starts), drawing page after page of material I'd never have come into contact with otherwise. I was totally remade (in my exuberance, I drew the first 60 pages about twice-up from a regular comic book page: they are too big to scan in one go, even on my 12 x 17 inch Epson).

I've drawn four times as many Starstruck pages as anything else in comic form. And, though I may be my harshest critic, revisiting this art from 1980 and 1993, I find myself constantly remarking: "Who is this guy Kaluta?" Being impressed by my own work really rings the bell on what Starstruck means to me.

EL: Starstruck in all its forms is, quite simply, the best project I have ever worked on. After my beautiful sons, it’s my favorite baby. It was incredible luck that I ran into Michael all those years ago, just as I was working on the play!

There’s lots of nostalgia involved, as the project takes me back to my twenties when it was first created, when I was a wild young girl in Manhattan and the characters were all my best friends. If you had walked into one of our parties, you would think you had walked into a party on Rec Station 97! When I went back to the material, I found I was still very proud of it. It’s been a joy to slip back into the universe.

LM: I was lucky to work with Michael back in 1984 on a video for the Alan Parsons Project called "Don't Answer Me," and not long after encountered the graphic novel that collected those incredible stories I'd longingly poured over in those old Heavy Metal magazines I was not allowed to bring home.

When I bought the first issue of the Epic series, I wrote Michael a little note offering my services "if there is anything I can do". Four years later I had the honor of writing the introductions to Dark Horse's Expanded Universe stories.

Starstruck #2, page 10

EL: When Michael introduced me to Lee, he was a green kid Starstruck fan (cute as a bug’s ear!) who wrote messages to his friends in android Stark Verse. I saw that Lee was very talented, but had no idea he would become such an important part of our universe.

LM: A few years later I worked with brilliant game designer Keith Baker (Eberron, Gloom) on a cutting-edge online game for AOL that, like so many excellent game designs, went nowhere slowly... I used Starstruck characters in a game I ran (coincidentally a block or so from Michael's childhood home), manufacturing Girl Guide Cookies, Krystals as big as the Ritz, Bajar shillings, et al...

EL: I still have one of Lee’s Girl Guide Cookie boxes from the game on a shelf in my office.

MWK: As do I, along with at least one Krystal.

LM: Later, my wife Annaliese played a properly glamorous Verloona Ti using some parts of the original stage costume. Five years ago she was visiting NY City and I suggested that she bring some of Michael's never-painted pages home so I could show the painted treatment I had in mind. They were well received, and now, 25 years after my note to Michael, I'm finally bringing everything I can to my favorite comic ever. I only hope my work lives up to the brilliance of Elaine and Michael's magnum opus.

EL: Trust me, it does!

MWK: I concur!

In the conclusion of our series, Kaluta discusses his upcoming run on Vertigo’s Madame Xanadu, and what readers can expect from the revised series.

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