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Talking Comics with Tim | Michael Kaluta on ‘Harry Palmer: Starstruck’

Harry Palmer: Starstruck

Harry Palmer: Starstruck

It seems to me a Kickstarter for an Elaine Lee/Michael Kaluta project should be a no-brainer. And considering that in the first 24 hours of the Harry Palmer: Starstruck Kickstarter, close to half of the $44,000 goal was raised, I was not alone in thinking that way. At present, the Kickstarter, which started on April 2 (and ends May 2), has reached more than $35,000.

Kaluta agreed to an interview about the 176-page sci-fi noir graphic novell, which has been years in the making, and it proved fun to chat with the legendary artist on how he intends to marry 80 new pages with 60-some pages of existing material.

Tim O’Shea: This Kickstarter came within hundreds of dollars of making half of its goal within that first 24 hours. What was your reaction to see the project make such progress, so quickly?

Michael Kaluta: I was definitely gratified, and tried to be sanguine (I read books … sanguine … heh!), but, of course, the specter of getting almost to the goal and then having the Kickstarter stall looms large in my dreams… as it must for everyone hoping to go forward with their dream-project thanks to the Kickstarter approach. I’ll soldier on, clearing the drawing board for not only the new Harry Palmer pages, but for the Kickstarter reward drawings I’ll be doing when and if everything comes up roses.

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Talking Comics with Tim: Elaine Lee

Starstruck #1

Starstruck #1

When I got a look at IDW’s first remastered issue of Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta’s Starstruck, I immediately wanted to talk to Lee about the story’s return. In doing the email interview, I wanted to get an idea of the creative processes involved (for the comic, as well as related theater and audio productions) and some of her thoughts regarding the remastering of the work. My thanks to Lee for her insight, as well as IDW Special Projects Editor Scott Dunbier and IDW’s AnnaMaria White for helping make this interview possible.

Tim O’Shea: Back in the 1980s when you and Kaluta originally developed this comic, it seems like you were among the first to attempt a multimedia concept–You were able to take a play and adapt it to a comic book. How challenging was it to pull off, given that you were taking comics into seemingly uncharted territory?

Elaine Lee: I guess we weren’t really thinking about taking comics into uncharted territory. We were just thinking about telling the story we wanted to tell and having a good time doing it!

We never tried to adapt the actual play. The action of the play takes place on two ships out in space, over maybe a day’s time. Not enough scope for a comic series. And any play has much more dialogue than even the wordiest comic, so it wouldn’t translate very well. But in the play, each character had a big monologue, wherein he or she described events that happened in his or her past. We first envisioned Starstruck as a series of vignettes that related these stories from the characters’ pasts. Later, we would add the material that linked all these events together.

If Michael and I were influenced by anyone working in comics, it would’ve been the European artists, like Moebius and Enki Bilal, whose work was appearing in Heavy Metal at the time. And in fact, Starstruck was published in Europe before it was published here in the States, serialized in magazines in France and Spain. They weren’t publishing much unusual material in the US at the time. But we always had an American sensibility and both the play and the comic were greatly influenced by old American science fiction movies and TV series, the stuff that came out between the forties and the sixties, from the old Buck Rogers serials and Rocky Jones Space Ranger, to Star Trek and Lost in Space, Queen of Outer Space and Barbarella. We lifted themes, archetypes and settings from classic sci-fi and tried to drop into them flawed characters with real human problems.

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