Talking Comics with Tim | Terry Moore
Terry Moore fans have recently been greeted with a variety of opportunities to support his work recently–given that on March 28, comiXology released the first half of Moore’s Harvey award-winning, adventure series Echo (which ran from 2008—2011) for all of the company’s digital platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and the Web). As noted by Moore in anticipation of the release: “comiXology is releasing issues 1-15, plus the first three TPB collections. Issue one is just .99 cents. The remaining issues are $1.99 each. The first TPB, Moon Lake is just $6.99 and also comes with bonus material: aka sketches and designs”). Also on March 28, Robert Kirkman offered readers a five-page preview of Moore’s current creator-owned horror ongoing, Rachel Rising, in The Walking Dead 95. Later this month, folks will be able to buy the first Rachel Rising TPB, The Shadow of Death. This Wednesday, comiXology will release the remainder of the Echo series (issues 16-30, and the final three TPBs). I respect the fact that Moore is making sure to maintain a strong relationship with the brick-and-mortor retailers that have supported his work throughout his career, while not turning a blind eye to the potential gains of digital distribution. We talk about that, as well as Rachel Rising in general–as well as his How to Draw projects. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Moore someday hopes to see his work released in full color–and that he approaches his black and white current projects with that hopeful inevitability in mind.
Tim O’Shea: How did Robert Kirkman broach the possibility of previewing Rachel Rising in Walking Dead? What was your initial reaction to his proposal?
Terry Moore: It actually started with Eric Stephenson. We were both at Comics PRO in Dallas recently and Eric told me he liked Rachel Rising. That’s great, I said. Back home, I got an email from him telling me Robert liked it too, and they offered me the preview in an upcoming issue of The Walking Dead. I was thrilled, because it’s a great opportunity to reach new readers, especially with an endorsement. Such a great break for Rachel.
O’Shea: How important was it for you to have both traditional brick and mortar (comic book retail) distribution and digital distribution for Rachel Rising? Was there any retailer backlash back in January, despite the fact you stressed “Don’t misunderstand me as abandoning print“?
Moore: I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for brick and mortar stores. You have to understand, from my early days of self-publishing, I haven’t had any middle men (excluding the year at Homage). It’s just retailers ordering direct from me, through Diamond. So, I have always felt the immediacy of the creator-retailer connection.
Digital, on the other hand, fills a hole that the brick and mortar stores don’t cover. To me, they are two separate markets, and I have tried to keep it that way. That’s why I went to Comics PRO, to personally thank the retailers for their support, for my long career, and to share my desire to add the digital market to my big picture. Basically, I went to ask their godfather blessing. And I got it. I literally asked 100 retailers face to face, they all replied positively. We’re good. Retailers aren’t afraid of digital, they’re just concerned about people getting stupid over it.
O’Shea: As detailed in this CBR/Kelly Thompson review of your first issue: “‘Rachel Rising’ opens with nine gorgeous silent pages as Moore effortlessly shows us a woman rising from, what seems like a grave, though it’s in a muddy riverbed, not a cemetery, while another woman looks on unimpressed. It’s a powerful and engrossing sequence, and in the hands of a lesser storyteller it might be confusing, but it’s clear and concise and, since it’s Moore, beautiful to boot.” Were you hesitant at all in attempting a silent open like that for a new series, or did you hope to get people’s attention by taking that unique approach?
Moore: I didn’t think about it much. That’s just how I saw it, and heard it, so that’s what I did. It was all about the story. I can see how it’s unconventional for a comic book, but I wasn’t trying to make a comic book. I try to make a good story. The comic book is just how we print it. Silence for pages, especially if you can make it palpable, is no different than including the musical score of a scene, like in SiP. I try not to let the mute medium of comics keep me from trying to instill the audio to you.
O’Shea: You recently released the first Rachel Rising TPB, were you able to include any extras in the collection?
Moore: I included some future cover art, just as an enticement to see that the story continues and gets stronger.
O’Shea: If you had the opportunity to publish Rachel Rising in color would you do it, or do you feel this series is most potent visually because of the black and white dynamics?
Moore: I would publish all my work in color if I could. It’s just been impossible for me to achieve in terms of time and money. I’ll probably never have more of both, but maybe I will hand the properties over to somebody bigger someday and they will color it for us, like Jeff did with Bone to Scholastic. To me, Bone came alive when it was colored. I was about half way through SiP when I knew I wanted to color it all someday. I began drawing for color, doing less pen and ink cross-hatchey stuff and leaving more open spaces. You can see where I started doing that—it’s obvious. Echo was drawn for color. Rachel is drawn for color. Someday.
O’Shea: You are releasing the entire Echo run on digital as well, do you hope to gains a new audience for the series through this new platform?
Moore: Yes, I do. But I also hope to get Echo to fans who want it on their iBrain. People are using digital memory to build virtual brains for themselves, which includes a media library of everything they like. Even if they’ve already read Echo, they want it for their digital brain so they can have it on-call always. You gotta be there for them.
O’Shea: A Dustn Cabeal/Comic Bastards review offered the following opinion: “He’s frankly at the prime of his career in my opinion and cranking out one of the best creator owned series on the market period. A while back he did a lot of work with Marvel and as much as I tried I couldn’t get into it. It didn’t feel like Moore, it felt like a highly regulated environment that wanted this big name in comics to come over and add his spin to their properties but without actually changing anything. With Rachel Rising, you get the true talent of Moore’s skills and that’s something Marvel will never be able to fully tap into.” Would you agree that your writing is stronger when unhindered by corporate editorial guidance, or do you think your Marvel work is just as strong as your creator-owned projects?
Moore: Well, when I work in cooperation with others, they are part of the final product. When I work alone, it’s all me, good or bad. It’s just simple physics. What you hope for in working with others is that you will hook up with people more talented than you, who will take what you offer and make it better. It’s the great band syndrome. Great bands work like that. Suck-bands have one star backed by others with no say. So you don’t want that. You don’t want to work with DC or Marvel and tell them to leave you alone. You say, give me your best, and then you listen to them. I’m sure that, given time, we would have tightened up the chemistry and done great work. I just couldn’t stay on and keep my own book going at the same time. I was making two series at the same time for a year. It was too much to continue.
O’Shea: You have a series of How to Draw books, what prompted you to start this series? How do you choose the topics, such as the brand new How To Draw Beautiful release–and what kind of beautiful ground do you address in this edition?
Moore: I just felt that, after all these years working every day on a deadline, that I had enough things to share with other artists. When all you do is draw, you have a lot time and thought invested in the process. When you get to that point, you’re supposed to share, it’s how the arts works. Growing up, I read every art how to book I could find. And there are a ton of books out there. So I decided to write about the things the other books don’t talk about. My book is meant to compliment the other traditional teaching books. Like Drawing on The Right Side Of The Brain did in its own way. My stuff is not so ground-breaking, but I think it will help any artist.
For the topics, that’s easy. I only cover the topics I specialize in: women, expressions, beautiful (sic sexy), funny and how to make comics (will be the final one). I know a lot about these areas. Not so much about other arty topics, so this is what I went with.
O’Shea: In a recent post you admitted you love hiding details in the text of your work, which you label “Little Typy Stuff”. Can you recall the first time you worked Little Typy Stuff into your stories?
Moore: It started in early Strangers In Paradise comics. I was writing inane things in the legal indicia because my book was so small I thought it was stupid to even have a legal indicia. I also included popular songs in the story because, how would the rock star ever know? Just, you know, total smart-ass rebellion mind set. If nobody’s paying attention to you, you can say whatever you want, right? So, one by one, my six or seven fans began to notice that even the legal indicia wasn’t to be overlooked and we got to calling it the little typy stuff, because I felt like only the true fans were reading every word in the book, even the little typy stuff. To reward them I used to print answers to story mysteries and give them clues and tidbits of info. It was fun. It became an in-crowd thing. You had to know. Today’s reader aren’t so easily won over by little typy stuff—they prefer cash.
O’Shea: Any questions you’d like to ask the Terry Moore/Rachel Rising/Echo fans?
Moore: Is there anybody out there?