TERRY MOORE: Fables, Echos & Risings

Leave it to Terry Moore to surprise his fans yet again.

Three years ago, Moore followed up his long-running series Strangers in Paradise with a sci-fi story called Echo. Many of his most loyal followers were surprised as the writer/artist switched from SiP's relationship-based narrative to a fast-moving story based on a nuclear super-suit and the end of the world.

Now Echo is finishing up with May's issue #30, and the cartoonist is shifting genres again -- this time to a horror-themed comic. As he announced on his blog last month, the self-published creator will start a new ongoing series in July called Rachel Rising that is inspired by Moore's love of "scary" horror stories.

Yesterday, Newsarama talked to Moore about all his upcoming projects, including one issue as guest artist on Fables #107 by Bill Willingham. He'll also be starting a series of comics titled Terry Moore's How to Draw, beginning in June. Rarely content with one project, Moore has often dabbled in other universes, including a recent stint as writer on Marvel's Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane and Runaways.

But the biggest news for his fans right now is the much-anticipated conclusion to Echo, a story that has even attracted Hollywood's attention, as producer Lloyd Levin (Hellboy, Watchmen) acquired screen rights to the comic in 2009.


Echo, which Moore published through his Abstract Studios imprint, has given some pretty detailed answers to life's mysteries. As Moore explained to Newsarama readers in past interviews, Echo offers a third option to the usual explanations of science and religion.

But as the series finishes up, the cartoonist has incorporated even more theories and themes into the story, all built around a young, ordinary woman named Julie who is reluctantly trying to save the world.

As Echo concludes and Moore sets his sights on Rachel Rising, Newsarama talked with the creator to find out more details on the new series while adding to the wealth of information he's given us about the mind-blowing concepts behind Echo.

Newsarama: Terry, I have a few questions about Echo's ending, but let's start by talking about Rachel Rising, the new ongoing series you're starting in July. I think a lot of your fans are surprised that your next series is horror-themed. Have you had this idea for a while?

Terry Moore: Yeah, the whole premise of Rachel Rising really started bouncing around in my head back when I was working on Birds of Prey. I wanted to introduce a new character, and my code name for her was "Dead Girl." I wanted this new character that the Bat-family couldn't figure out. They would encounter her and she might die this horrible death, but then she'd be back the next night. And I had a really cool idea about how that would work.

I was on Birds of Prey for such a short time that I didn't get to use her, so I just kept her in the background of my mind, waiting for her turn. And I've decided, well, it's her turn.

I would actually call the series "Dead Girl," except Mike Allred already beat me to that name. He already has a character with that name. So the title now is Rachel Rising.

Nrama: Which refers to the fact that she keeps coming back to life. She won't die, right?

Moore: Right, and when we first see her, she's waking up in her own grave.

Nrama: Like the first cover, which is a nice, creepy image, by the way.

Moore: Yeah, but that logo is a place-marker. I'm still working on that design. But the color is kind of there.

But the series starts up with her waking up in her own grave, then going to investigate who murdered her, trying to figure it out.

Nrama: Is this a lengthy story like Echo?

Moore: I'm actually picturing it right now as an ongoing series, because I have characters in mind, and the town is sort of a character in itself. I would really love to just make a world.

And it all ties in. It's all one big "Terryverse."

Nrama: We just saw that Echo is part of the larger "Terryverse," because Strangers in Paradise characters showed up in issue #28. When you first talked to me about Echo, I remember asking if it would exist in the same universe as SiP. You said at the time that you'd like to think it did. I assume you decided to go ahead and make it official?

Moore: Yeah, but it had to happen organically. It had to be part of the story. And it ended up happening because Ivy needed somebody who knew how the military works and could get information. And I just happen to know a character who can do that. So I thought it was very organic and appropriate for Tambi to be involved.

I also thought that bringing Tambi and Casey into the story kind of triangulates the risk that's being taken up in Alaska. It gives it more of a sense of consequence. If the girls don't stop that collider in Alaska, it means a little more, now that we know what kind of people are going to be affected that we care about. I thought it worked.

Nrama: I think it's important that you didn't have to read Strangers in Paradise to understand this part of the story.

Moore: Exactly. That was my intent when I wrote it. You won't need to know about the other series, but it will be fun if you do. I don't want you to have to [read everything], but if you have read everything, then you'll see all these cool little networks, and you'll get a kick out of it, hopefully.


And you know, I think it would be really easy to tie these titles in with Rachel Rising as well, because in Strangers in Paradise, there were several instances where Francine was shown to have some sort of sixth sense. And then there's one really creepy issue in Strangers in Paradise where Francine goes to a graveyard and talks to her grandmother. This woman appears in the graveyard, and it's her great-grandmother in the snow.

So there's always been a supernatural side to SiP, but I didn't play it up much.

Nrama: Can you tell us anything about Rachel Beck? How will we identify with her?

Moore: It's so hard to describe that beforehand, before you have a chance to meet her. But I've been thinking about her a long time. I think she's very likable. I do try to have her be a newer character, in terms of what makes her tick and what personality she has. I don't want to do the same characters I've done before. Rachel is her own person. And the stuff that she's struggling with in this town and the people that she encounters really shows what she's made of and how she handles it.

I'm very excited to actually dig into that. It's awfully fun to flesh out a character in the opening parts of the story.

Nrama: It's been fun to see everything come together in Echo, but are you really going to finish in issue #30? It doesn't seem like you're going to be able to pull this all together in one more issue!

Moore: I know! But there's a secret to that. I only have to get part of it done by issue #30, because I'm leaving myself open to come back and do another run at it. I've always seen the story as continuing beyond a certain point.

The Echo story -- the story of Julie and Annie -- is just a one-arc story. But Ivy goes on. This was just one of Ivy's cases. Ivy makes a living doing these kind of cases, so if she can survive this story, she's going to have another case like this, at some point.

Nrama: You know, we've done several interviews about Echo, so I'm always surprised when I start to see another subtext or theme that we haven't discussed.

Moore: I'm glad it still surprises you. It still surprises me sometimes.

Nrama: It does! And you know, we did a really detailed interview about Echo back in 2008 in which we discussed the concepts and themes you were exploring. It's a great resource of information now that the series is concluding, and I recently referred to it again because I remembered a quote: "One day, science is going to look in a microscope and find themselves looking straight into the eyes of God."

Moore: Yeah, that's from Creator [the 1985 film with Peter O'Toole and Mariel Hemingway].

Nrama: Right, and at the time, you credited that quote for starting the ideas behind Echo. But you know, I didn't really pick up on the "eyes of God" part of the story in Echo until the recent references to Cain, as Ivy was doing research on the biblical character. What were your thoughts behind the biblical references in this story? Is it related to this idea of science finding the origins and meanings behind the universe?

Moore: Cain's part of the story came to a conclusion in issue #25, but I do continue to have creepy things about Cain in the last segment of the story as well. And yeah, I am posing a new, third alternative look at science and faith, and whatever kind of history people base their faith on.

I think it's pretty safe to say that faith is based on historical elements, and the premise of this story is, what if you re-evaluate that history through this perspective. So that's what I'm going for here. I'm on a third lily pad. I'm not on either one of those lily pads; I'm on a third one, looking back at them. By the time it's all over, there might be a fun, new way to look at it.

Nrama: The whole story of Echo explores the question of what happens if man taps into the answer to life, the answer to the mysteries of the universe. When you start talking in those kind of terms, you can't ignore the fact that for many of us, the thread holding together the universe is God.

Moore: Yeah, but Echo does it in kind of a different way. And I thought of a good way to describe it the other day, because I've been thinking about it. Half of the world is faith-based and the other half is more science/humanist based, and those two sides seem to always be clashing. And it just pains me, in the same way that it pains me to see this country so divided between "red" and "blue," almost as if we're at war. That pains me. I don't really have membership in either side of politics or faith issues. I just watch everybody get into two camps and fight. I feel like I'm a child watching the parents fight, like the two side in politics having a divorce fight, or the creationists and evolutionists having a divorce fight. And I'm just like one of those kids screaming, "Stop!"

And my story takes the kid's point of view, looking back at those two warring factions. And maybe they're not noticing that the setting around them is changing, and I'm describing the situation where one side is doing what it does, the other side is doing what it does, but through our mind's eye, through the story, and through Ivy's eyes, the world kind of turns on its axis a little bit. And there's a whole new, incredible thing happening. Maybe the only person noticing it is Ivy.

Nrama: It's interesting that use the description, "viewing it as a child," since Ivy is the only one who's noticing this. Because in the story, she's literally becoming a child.

Moore: I know! I'm glad you noticed that. If you go back and start acting the part of an English teacher, analyzing the story, I think everything is going to be pretty blatant. I never made any secret of the fact that, yeah, I do everything subliminal that I can. So all the elements are there, and some of them are just glaring.

Nrama: There are a lot of layers to the story. It will be interesting to re-read it, once you finish it all.

Moore: By the time Echo ends, I hope I'll be able to do what really good sci-fi writers do, which is show that something bizarre happened -- it was kind of organic and natural that it was bizarre -- and that maybe we didn't know as much as we thought we did. Maybe we need to step back and re-evaluate. And I always thought that good sci-fi stories did that. So I'm shooting for the moon here. I'm shooting for that.

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