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Interview: Jamie Delano On ‘Crossed: Badlands’

Writer Jamie Delano is a legend in the horror comics scene. His lengthy, and essential runs on “Hellblazer” and “Animal Man” still stand the test of time, and are recognized as some of the best works with those characters. Delano is making his triumphant return to the comics world with a six issue arc on Avatar’s brutal, twisted, and violent series, ‘Crossed: Badlands‘, beginning this week with issue #4. Bloody-Disgusting caught up with Delano to discuss his upcoming work on “Crossed”, his thoughts on DC’s New 52, and his inspiration within the darkness.

Tell us a bit about how you came to get involved with Crossed and were chosen to write an arc?

JD: In order to be chosen to be part of the Crossed creative team it is necessary to endure rituals of induction whose precise nature is too foul and disturbing to reveal to the untutored minds of your readers. In general terms, however, William Christensen from Avatar sent me Garth’s first run on the book a couple of years ago and asked if I was inclined to play in their vile new arena. In a moment of weakness I agreed to dredge the depths of my imagination and reveal the results for money.

Your run on the book begins with issue #4 and takes place in the Florida swamps. What else can you tell us about your arc and what you have planned for the book?

JD: My run on Crossed is sick shit and I’m ashamed of it. Contrary to the suggestion that “The meek shall inherit the earth.” my story proposes that, in the event of a catastrophic de-civilization of the species, a more Darwinian process might prevail. CROSSED: HOMO SUPERIOR tracks disparate survivors post-apocalypse – an ex-US Military Intelligence operative, a frustrated ‘survivalist’, twin armed and hormonal South Florida teen girls, an abused backwoods youth from a clan of White Supremacists – as they meet and combine in a search for a viable future. Their salient common denominator is a ruthless self-interest which has enabled their initial survival. Question is: will this be enough to ensure continuation of their good fortune…

Your run on Crossed is being drawn by newcomer Leandro Rizzo. What can you tell us about his work, who found him and is this his first published work?

JD: From what I have seen so far, Leandro is a talented artist from Argentina who is making a heroic and largely successful effort to graphically realise the depravity with which I have confronted him. Avatar Press are wholly responsible for our association. I have no idea if this is his first published work, but judging by the degree of its accomplishment, I doubt it.

Crossed typically pushed the boundaries of things that are considered morally reprehensible or even obscene. Is it harder to find inspiration when dealing with such extreme subject matter? is there a line or subject that you wouldn’t tackle as a writer?

JD: CROSSED is zombie grand guignol. As with work in any genre, one takes onboard its conventions when applying imagination to it. Personally, whatever I am writing requires that I first find an angle that allows me to develop a few characters who interest me enough to explore how they might react and interact in a given situation. In some ways, the more extreme the situation, the simpler it is to find its dramatic potential. There may be subject matter that I would not wish to tackle as a creator… but that would be as a result of my disinterest in seeking an angle sympathetic to my political or moral worldview rather than on grounds of someone’s subjective taste or decency judgment.

Do you have to be in a certain frame of mind when writing something like Crossed?

JD: A degree of disbelief suspension and disinclination to take things too seriously is certainly useful, but this can usually be achieved through the exercise of professional creativity. Only rarely is it necessary to resort to typing in a bath of congealed blood while chewing on the harvested adrenal glands of children.

Your best known for your lengthy runs on Hellblazer and Animal Man. What is your take on both being integrated into the new DC 52 and the DC universe? What’s your take on the re-booting of the DC universe?

JD: Other than that integration into any artificial umbrella structure for over-arching commercial concerns is usually bad for individual creativity. I am – being now quite distance from the internal creative politics of DC – without a strong opinion on the merits or otherwise of the adjustments you mention. The vibe I pick up at long range suggests that the last few years have seen changes in the DC ethos within which I doubt that I would personally feel comfortable. The concept of universal re-boots is alien to me and of zero interest.

What do you think of Jeff Lemire’s work so far on Animal Man? Jeff Lemire has been quoted as saying he intends to break your run on the book and do more issues than you did…

JD: I’m embarrassed to admit that I have not yet had an opportunity to see Jeff’s work (my complimentary copies have long-since dried up and I rarely get to visit comic stores these days) – that said, a number of people whose opinions I respect have spoken very highly of his work, so I will wish him well and certainly look forward to reading it when the chance presents. On the subject of the longevity of our respective runs on the book: it’s not a competition. I quit Animal Man when I began to get bored with writing it and (hopefully) before that latent boredom leaked into the stories we were asking readers to pay for. If Jeff’s creative enthusiasm persists longer than mine did, I applaud his stamina and wish him good luck.

Being a veteran of the comics business, is there a work of yours that you feel like was overlooked by fans and should be revisited?

JD: ‘Veteran’: your diplomacy is appreciated. Oh, I guess it would be possible to get all bitter and twisted and list a few neglected masterpieces drowned out in the global cacophony… but hey, life’s too short for that shit. Who knows what recognition posterity may bring.

Is there a title that you never got the chance to work on but would love to write? Any artists you would love to work with?

JD: Nothing springs to mind. I was always flattered to be asked to contribute to a continuity, but generally saw it as an opportunity to exercise an interest or preoccupation in a previously established arena. The longer I worked in comics, the more I was inclined to original work.

What can you tell us about your upcoming novel, Book Thirteen, and where can people find it?

JD: “Book Thirteen” is a darkly comic family drama in which an old writer, struggling to control the unruly characters of his life, blurs the line between imagination and reality and loses control of his plot. I embarked upon it in order to fulfil a long-standing yen to practice extended prose. I’m fairly pleased with the way it has turned out. While “Book Thirteen” is relatively straight fiction (no superheroes or supernatural powers) it also contains within it elements which I may well exploit as the basis for an ongoing future series of novels of a slightly more genre nature. I am currently planning to self-publish the book sometime in the next couple of months, with the longer-term intention of establishing a ‘collective’ of self-published authors with work to offer readers that the mainstream of commercial publishing is unlikely to support. For continuing news of “Book Thirteen” and associated matters, the occasional visit to or monitoring of @jamiedelano on Twitter will provide updates as things (hopefully) progress.

What’s next for Jamie Delano? Any projects you have coming up that you can talk about?

JD: As far as comics work is concerned, I have nothing planned – but that does not mean I won’t consider opportunities as and when they present themselves. Oh, I should perhaps mention an adaptation of Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model” for a Self-made Hero anthology which veteran and contemporary Animal Man artist, my old pal Steve Pugh, did a fine job of realising. If it’s not already published, it will be shortly. Thanks for your interest.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Jamie! We look forward to checking out your arc on Crossed: Badlands and your upcoming novel.

– BigJ



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