Friday, August 12, 2011

Interview With Jonathan Case about Dear Creature

Jonathan Case’s graphic novel Dear Creature is coming out in October from Tor Books.     It was a Staff Pick in July's Diamond Comics Previews magazine.  

From product website: Deep beneath the waves, lives the creature named Grue.  Grue has found Shakespeare's plays in cola bottles and, through them, a new heart.  A chorus of crabs urges him to reconsider.  Now he yearns to join the world above.  Rising from a brine of drive-in pulp and gentle poetry, Dear Creature is the love story you never imagined!

I enjoyed this book.  Jonathan Case has a really dynamic style and real talent creating expressive faces.  The clean line work and fantastic compositions enhances the creature's story; of love and trying to fit in a world where you don't feel you belong.    

Dear Creature is available to preorder from Jonathan’s online store (with special numbered editions), your favorite comic shop (SKU JUL111244) or any of your favorite booksellers.

Doug Dorr:   Why and when did you decide to make a monster love story?
Jonathan Case:   I liked the idea of elaborating on the classic monster dilemma: I'm unique and alone, and want to find love. That theme is pretty consistent in monsterdom. Everyone thinks of themselves as a monster sometimes, so it's easy to put yourself in their shoes.
DD:  What made you decide to use Shakespeare as a catalyst?
JC:    I grew up with an appreciation for theater. My dad loved literature and Shakespeare, and took our family to see plays every year. I ended up a theater major in college, too. My senior project was a play about a sea mutant who found unlikely love in the arms of a woman, and the whole thing was written in verse. That was the genesis of this book.

DD:  Why did you set this in the 60’s?
JC:    A lot of reasons... It was an era that produced a bunch of monster beach movies, and a lot of other great film that's close to my heart. Fellini, Hitchcock, and Bergman were big influences, and I liked the idea of mashing the spirit of those things up with the Z-grade monster stuff. I was also a product of my parent's culture. They grew up in that era, and since I was home-schooled most of my life, I absorbed their outlook and mannerisms  way more than a normal kid.

DD:   What is your favorite moment of the book?
JC:   I think it's the scene where the monster takes his love interest to see a drive-in movie, and they watch West Side Story from a hilltop. That movie came out around the time the book is set, and features its own reworked Shakespeare theme, so it was kind of a perfect backdrop.

DD:   Which Character in the book do you most relate to?
JC:   The monster.

DD:   Which Comics did you read as a kid?
JC:   I read mostly the funny pages. Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side were favorites.

DD:   Who are your influences as writer and artist?
JC:   Writing-wise: Shakespeare, Larry McMurtry, Bill Watterson, and a lot of movie scripts, especially older ones.

Art-wise: Bill Watterson again, Windsor McKay, Alex Toth, Auguste Rodin, and the film directors I mentioned.

DD:   Is this your first book you have written?
JC:   Yep! Unless you count 'Whale's Christmas', written and drawn when I was 5. Even then, I was all about the sea!

DD:   Living on a boat as child must have been an influence on this book.  What was it?
JC:   Definitely the themes of isolation- yearning for someone or something that's similar to you (there weren't many kids around the boating community, and I was introverted anyway). And just being in the water all the time. Getting to know your local oceanic flora and fauna. I also used our boat as inspiration for the Marietta's interior.

There's a certain cross-cultural thing that happens in the boating community that really impacted me too. People from all walks of life and corners of the world intersecting in one unexpected place, and living life together. That was the richest part of growing up on the boat. I think some of that might come through in the book too, in the characters' voices.

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