It may have been a big summer for artist/writer Terry Moore, but this week tops it off.
In stores this week, his sci-fi limited series Echo hits the halfway mark in the story with Issue #15. And also this week, the self-publisher fulfilled store orders for hundreds of his much-anticipated hardcover collection of Strangers in Paradise.
Spanning more than 90 issues over 14 years, Strangers in Paradise was Moore's Eisner award-winning black and white comic about the crazy lives of now beloved characters Francine, Katchoo and David. The collection features two 1,110-page hardcovers and a bonus color cover gallery hardcover, all in a slipcase, pulling together every page Moore created from its beginning in 1993 to its final issue in 2007.
And Moore's more recent comic series, the Eisner-nominated sci-fi drama Echo, is gearing up for the second half of its run just as it was announced this summer that the story has been optioned for film. Announced at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Echo's movie rights have been picked up by Lloyd Levin.
Echo centers on the adventures of a down-on-her-luck photographer named Julie who witnesses the explosion of a super-suit that then fuses to her body. The series debuted in March 2008 as a comic from Moore's self-publisher, Abstract Studios.
Newsarama talked with Moore about Echo, its film option, and what it feels like to finally have SiP collected in an Omnibus.
Newsarama: Terry, let's start off by talking a little about this film option. How did this come about?
Terry Moore: I have a very good agent, and we have been sifting through offers and looking for the right team, really. The right people that we wanted to work with. So it turns out that we had a wonderful offer from Lloyd Levin, whose background is pretty rich in comics stories. He does a great job with them. He did Watchmen and Hellboy. And I just liked him. So that's the one we decided to go with.
Nrama: We spoke in detail about Echo after it first began, and you revealed that there's a much deeper idea behind the series, related to a unified theory and what happens when science merges with humans. Do the filmmakers understand that deeper meaning?
Moore: You know, I have not asked that question. My impression from conversations is yes. I think the action is what draws people to it initially, but its the deeper stories that make it worth your time. And I think they get that. They are always looking for what's below the surface. In the past, I have had conversations about, say, Strangers in Paradise, where I only talked about the surface story to somebody who didn't know it, and their questions were always about, "What is the understory? What is the point? What is the meaning?" So they do think that way, especially the good ones.
It's the human interaction within these events that everybody is looking for.
Nrama: When you first started writing Echo, you made it clear that you were creating an action-filled character drama with a definitive ending. Did you have live action in mind when you began this?
Moore: Yes. After doing Strangers in Paradise, we wanted to do something that was a little more high concept, a little easier to explain, something that would be enjoyable by a larger number of people. So right from the beginning, I was trying to write my version of, say, Indiana Jones or something – a story that was meant to click to a wider audience.
Nrama: It seems like it is structured in a way that can play to a wider audience, but with a heroine like Julie and some of the other elements, this series is still pretty unique, isn't it?
Moore: I hope that there's something unique about it, otherwise you wouldn't be in those conversations. So I'm hoping that the appeal is there for people who discover it, that they see the characters are an unusual combination of characters. It's awfully hard to surprise people with a brand new sequence of events. You can find elements of Echo in every adventure story written in the 20th Century. But where the surprises come and the charm comes is from the characters themselves and how they handle it. So I think that's what it is that makes it unique. The combination of elements is unusual, and the characters are interesting in a different way. That's what I shoot for anyway.
Nrama: Let's talk about the story right now, without spoilers for those who might be picking this up in trade. You left readers with a huge cliff-hanger. Is this week's Issue #15 as big as it seems like it will be?
Moore: Oh yeah. Issue #15 is probably going to hit the stores this week, and it's a big deal because it's the middle of the run. It's the middle of the story. It's also the last chapter in the third trade paperback. So I saw it as a very pivotal issue where everything we've read so far kind of clicks about 45 degrees, and one character changes sides. It all kind of leads up to #15, and then that issue points us in some new directions. So it's all about Echo #15 now.
Nrama: The story has been building so much, and this feels like the climax before an ending. It's hard to believe this series is only halfway. There's a lot more?
Moore: Oh, yeah. It gets bigger. Let me tell you.
Nrama: You mentioned before that you always had live action in mind when you were putting this story together. Did you cast any of the roles when you created them? Or did you just make these characters up completely yourself?
Moore: I made them up myself. But after working with them, and once I knew we were going to go to other media, I have let my mind kind of imagine who I thought could play these roles well. I've come up with a couple of ideas, but nothing anybody should hang their hat on. And who knows? If we can get past all the obstacles and get Echo made into a film, that would be terrific. And who would end up playing it is just anybody's guess at this point. I don't know.
I'm always just as delighted when they find actors that I've never heard of who end up being perfect for the role. I'm not hoping for red carpet talent for Echo. I'm just hoping for the best people to play these roles.
Nrama: But you just admitted you've thought of some actors. Do you have a Julie in mind that you could share?
Moore: You know what? I don't have a Julie in mind. I really don't. It's so much easier to think of the other characters, but the Julie character is so important. I have not been able to pick somebody. It was easier for me to think in those terms when I was doing SiP. But in Echo, I have not cast anyone as Julie. I'm sure there are plenty of actresses who would just be terrific in the role.
The only one I can give you is I thought Thomas Haden Church would make a really good bad guy, the homeless guy.
Nrama: Oh yeah! He would be fabulous in the role.
Moore: He would be great. I mean, really just trash him up and grunge him up and let him have that scary voice. He'd just be terrific. Kind of like a younger Nick Nolte.
Nrama: You mentioned Strangers in Paradise, and you've got the Omnibus coming up. Is it coming out to stores soon?
Moore: It's been in the process of coming out. We've had trouble with the printer in China. We wanted everything to come out during San Diego, but it didn't happen. We were able to get a portion of the print run in San Diego, and we delivered those to our customers who pre-ordered. Now we've delivered some after San Diego. But we had to go back to press and make new boxes in China. So we've been waiting on these new, improved boxes to come back to America, put the sets back together and then ship them out to the remainder of our customers.
This week, they sent the order out to Diamond, which means they'll be out to stores now. Diamond ordered 500 of them. So, it's been a process, and we posted on the internet, we're disappointed it had to turn out this way, but I think we're about a week or two from being finished with it all and getting it all out there. When the customers get the set, they say, this was worth the wait. And I hope everyone feels that way. It's certainly been worth the wait for me. This is sort of my big Beatles boxed set, you know? It's everything in one big box set, and the books are just gorgeous. I'm so proud of it.
Nrama: What extras are in the Omnibus?
Moore: The biggest extra is that there's a third book that is nothing but all the covers that ever came out in America. And I've always wanted a book like that -- a cover gallery. And it's full color, art cover, and 164 pages of nothing but covers. So I love that book. I've wanted that for quite some time. That book will only be available in this hardcover set.
Later on, next year, we will print softcover versions of the Book 1 and Book 2, which is the story. But this is the only place to get the cover gallery. So I really like that. That's my biggest perk.
And Book 1 and Book 2 are the entire series. And at the end of Book 2, after the story concludes, then we also include all the short stories that ever came out, so you have the Xena story, the mini-series short story about shopping, and then there's Molly and Poo back there.
So it's everything. It's just a complete SiP run. We're getting a lot of positive feedback from the fans about this, and I'm very satisfied about that. But personally, as an artist, I'm even more satisfied because I took the opportunity to go in and re-edit every page and make sure that I could repair any little misspellings and little art things that were bothering me. And I was also able to re-arrange the order of the chapters. Some of the chapters were out of order when I looked back in retrospective. So I was able to do things like that. This Omnibus will read different than any of the previous collections, in terms of reading order and having little errors repaired.
So this is the one I'm going to sit down and read, because now I can read it without anything catching my eye and bothering me.
Nrama: What else is on your plate? Anything coming up you want to tell your fans about?
Moore: I'm totally focused on Echo now. It's all about Echo now, especially as I'm turning the corner on it and getting into the stretch of the story that delivers on all these promises that the first half of the story made. So, I'm totally into it, and that's keeping me busy now. It would be nice for the Echo movie project to move along, but that involves a lot of other people, so I just try to be positive and supportive and wish them well.
We're also trying to place Strangers in Paradise with somebody in TV. I think that would be a great TV series. So I push for that, but it's not my job. My job right now is to focus on Echo.
Nrama: Has there been interest in Strangers in Paradise?
Moore: Yes. There are a lot of people talking about it. There are always good things happening, but it takes time for these things to develop because a lot of people have to talk themselves into it. If I want to draw a new issue of something, it's just me. But if somebody wants to do a Hollywood production, they have to talk a hundred people into it. So it's a slower process. But both stories have their champions out there in L.A., and they're stirring things up and trying to get both properties where they need to be.