The Starstruck Chronicles III, Xandau and Looking Ahead

The Starstruck Chronicles III

Starstruck #2, page 20

Our interview with the creators of IDW’s Starstruck re-presentation concludes today, with a look at what it took to bring this new series to readers, and what its return means to the creators.

Part one here, part two here.

Newsarama: Michael, tell us about what it's like to be doing a longer storyline with Madame Xanadu. Do you see yourself doing extended runs or original graphic novels for comics in the near future? With DC taking on some pulp characters, any chance we might see you on the Shadow, or reprints of your earlier work?

Michael William Kaluta: Doing a comic book series, even only five issues, is like the weather: One is surrounded by it... there's few places I can look that haven't got some element of Madame Xanadu in, on, around, above, below, under or stacked up against them.

I don't see any extended runs on comic book characters being offered to me... besides, if I did do lots more comic books, I'd like them to have points of interest for me (as opposed to comics to draw for work). Selfish of me, I know!

Is DC garnering pulp characters (beyond Mr. Pulp Pope?). As with every freelance artist, I have to be asked to work on a project. If this color Starstruck reprinting/redefining “works,” meaning it generates income for the publisher, perhaps my next extended comics job will be working on assembling the rest of Starstruck for the near future.

That would entail a lot of new work (no more extending the length of pages, but a huge amount of brand new comic book pages) that would mean someone would have to be the banker if the work was to get done.

NRAMA: What's been the biggest challenge in putting this series back together?

Elaine Lee: Trying to keep it straight in my mind what is actually in the books, and what exists only in my head. Michael and I were, for years, completely immersed in this universe. We came up with lots of material that never made it into the stories, but certainly takes up space in our brains.

For instance, one day we sat down and talked about how every character in the story was going to eventually die. You won’t see them all die, but we needed to know it. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg! There’s a huge amount of story that exists only in our minds. As stated before, Lee has been a huge help with this, as he knew Starstruck as a fan and probably has a more clear view of the whole thing than we do!

Lee Moyer: The world of Starstruck is so very complex that getting back into every panel requires extreme levels of concentration for all involved. The tensions between the stated and the unstated are great, and simply remembering whether or not something has appeared is difficult. And if something has appeared, where did it show up? And how much of the truth was presented? Tricky.

EL: Ha! Like I said…

LM: All three of us have huge stacks of comics, sketches, rough drafts and the like spread all over our work areas...

Starstruck #3, page 1

MWK: The biggest challenge is to keep at it, falter not, trust in the material and the invisible audience-to-come. Luckily, we all have each other to double (and triple-) check our "facts" by. That there is so much work already stacked and ready for press is a real help when days and days of focused labor begin to smooth the edges of one's intensity. And, as each day, week, month goes by, that stack grows larger and the potential reaction from all our combined input more awesome.

EL: While working on the glossary and Dwannyun’s forward, I’ve been trying to patch together a timeline that reconciles Standard Galactic Cycles, Old Terran Years, D.O.G. years, etc. When did it happen and what did “they” know about it? And how many ribecs really are there in a cycle? Depends on where and when you are!

NRAMA: How do you think having Starstruck as one big story will affect readers' perception of it?

LM: I believe that readers will be blown away. I thought the original graphic novel was one of the finest on the history of the form (easily in the same class as Moebius, Moore and Gaiman), but to see it done right? Wow.

EL: Seeing it all together will probably give the readers a better view of our vast universe, really a character in and of itself, and that should serve to make them comfortable with the nonlinear storytelling though, as I said before, part of this will be due to the popularity of the many nonlinear stories that have appeared in books, comics and TV shows since we were first published

Our fans should find things in the story that they may have missed before. New, young readers will see a story that, though exciting and complex, is structured like many of the stories they are used to seeing. After the run of the series, it will be thrilling for me to see the Starstruck stories collected into their own graphic novel and the Galactic Girls Guides collected into theirs. Hopefully, we’ll find a whole new readership for these collections in mainstream bookstores.

MWK: I can stand for certain on the idea that readers will, as they always have, find the story has meaning beyond anything expected by Elaine, Lee M or me... unlike a chef, we've really no idea how the story will taste to the audience: Elaine has whipped up something quite special: spiced, gravied, done to a turn; both Lee and I have added the curliques and presentation, plates, knives forks and spoons but it'll be the individual palate of each reader that savors the entire meal. It'll be dessert for us to hear how the story intrigued, tantalized, irritated and maybe even satisfied the folks who came to the table.

NRAMA: Anything you'd like to talk about that we haven't covered yet?

EL: One thing that has really changed since we were first published is that people are used to seeing strong female characters in adventure stories. When Starstruck first came out, there was no Buffy, no Xena, no Sarah Conner, no River Tam.

There were no shows like Heroes or Firefly or Farscape, with a good number of very different female characters. Of course, there were some female characters in comics, but they were in the minority and (other than a few characters like Wonder Woman) tended to take a backseat to the men in the group. Because we had many female characters, and they tended to be movers and shakers, readers found it surprising. These days, no one would even lift an eyebrow.

LM: I grew up loving the Marvel Universe, back in the days when continuity was both possible and desirable (I hear that DC has just named a continuity editor, so maybe continuity is coming back!), but considering the number of working parts and the vast number of ever-changing creators over many years and countless ret-conned books running down parallel tracks, it's a wonder that any sense of reality or depth can be maintained.

In Starstruck there are lots of moving part, but no replaceable parts, nothing (and no one) to water down the intoxicating effect. It's like a fine British series (The Singing Detective, Bleak House, Ultraviolet) that contains only what it needs and leaves the viewer hungry for more.

Starstruck returns to comic shelves in August from IDW.

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