December 12, 2017

 




Interview:
Greg Rucka

By Michael Sullivan



 

Greg Rucka began as a novelist, writing the Atticus Kodiak series of crime-thrillers. He created the Oni Press mini-series Whiteout, also a crime-thriller...set in Antarctica. Then Denny O'Neil read of one of his books and before he knew it, he was being offered that Bat guy. Building a rep during the "No Man's Land" event he capped it by taking over Detective Comics.

He's spun out into writing many many more comics. Black Widow, Elektra, his creator-owned Queen & Country, Felon, and many others.

He let us try to turn his brain to slush, but he is wily, that one.

Instead, my brain was turned to slush transcribing this.

 

You've completed a new novel. Is it another in the Atticus Kodiak series?

It's from Bantam, but it's not a Kodiak. It's the first non-series book I've done and it's called A FISTFUL OF RAIN. It's a departure book, but it's still a kind of suspense/thriller, but if you read it carefully you can figure out it's taking place in the same world, though none of the Kodiak characters appear.

Is this the beginning of a new series?

The character is really different and I like her a lot, but I honestly don't know if initially she'll get up and walk and talk for a second novel.

With Atticus, it's easy for him to professionally get into trouble. It's the nature of his job. He's a bodyguard. He's going to get involved in stories with suspense and so on.

The main character of this book is a 26-year-old alcoholic rock star who gets home from touring to find her life falling apart, not in the least because her father, who murdered her mother when she was eleven, has just gotten out of prison.

She's really different. She doesn't kick and she doesn't jump and she doesn't have a gun to point at someone, so it creates a really different dynamic. She has a very active character, but unlike Atticus...who if you say "you're going to be ambushed in a car," now knows what to do.

The suspension of disbelief can only get you so far. How many times is something like this going to happen in a rock star's life? She could go further. I have no immediate plans to follow it up. The one after that is actually a novelization of QUEEN AND COUNTRY. Straight prose. Then after that I'll get back to Kodiak

Will the QUEEN AND COUNTRY novel be a new story or an adaptation of a story from the comic?

It'll be a variation of a story arc There are certain changes that I'm making. Ideally it's not going to be recycled material.

Instead of basically going right, it makes a left and that makes for a different book and that's also more along the lines of what's been presented for the film.

Where is that at?

Tall Trees, Betty Thomas's production company has the rights and a treatment is in at Fox. We're waiting for the go-ahead on the screenplay

Are you getting a crack at the screenplay?

That's what we're waiting to find out.

How might it differ from it's own source material?

Because it is a film it is going to be different. Oddly Hollywood seems to-- well not oddly-- Hollywood wants certain things. They're more inclined to the running and the jumping and the shooting.

Because QUEEN & COUNTRY and the British television show The Sandbaggers (Rucka's inspiration for Q&C) are similar, how is that going to affect the film? Will it seem like a Sandbaggers movie?

I have spoken to Ian Mackintosh's brother (Lawrie) and we've been corresponding and that has all been cleared up. Fox was concerned that there would be issues with the similarities, but there's only so far you take the similarities before you have to go "QUEEN AND COUNTRY isn't the same." It is its own thing.

You can see Crocker and Burnside are cut from the same cloth. The initial political connections on the surface are very similar. The difference between the Minders and the Sandbaggers are growing. They are different people. The focuses on the series are really different. Ian Mackintosh was in intelligence. He knew what he was writing about. He was also writing in a world where the espionage and political stuff was, in its own way, easier to trash.

Because these are different people and because the world is different and my knowledge is very different, the stories tend to go a very different way. The stuff I'm working on now does seem to be moving in a fairly different direction...hopefully still as good because I think THE SANDBAGGERS are the best TV ever. If I can aspire to that level of writing I'd be a happy guy.

"Morningstar," the current arc in QUEEN & COUNTRY deals with the Taliban in Afghanistan and was written entirely before the events of September 11th. Was anything altered in the aftermath?

Not a bit.

Will 9-11 have an impact on the series?

The story arc after "Morningstar," is called "Crystal Ball." It begins with a 3-4 page sequence taking place on September 11. It's shown from the point of view of the Ops Room and then from where the Minders are when they find out. The reason I'm doing that is because it becomes a pivotal date in intelligence work, if for no other reason than that the immediate focus is on intelligence and the goals of intelligence are being reformatted. It's kind of a reboot.

QUEEN AND COUNTRY isn't set in this world, but it's set pretty darn close, so there is no way to write an espionage story and ignore it. It has to take it into account because it changes the nature of what going on in intelligence. One of the things going is how the CIA and SIS are working with other intelligence groups.

It deals in part with fact that, if you retaliate, there is an issue of feeding a fire that's already raging because you're going to get attacks anyway. It's pretty clear that Al-Qaeda is going to keep going regardless of what one does. There are lots of elements that are motivated by 9-11, I should say.

There was talk of a Question miniseries following the recently collected BATMAN/HUNTRESS: CRY FOR BLOOD miniseries. Where does that stand?

As a backup now. We tried to get approval for a miniseries, but DC seemed to feel that no one would buy it, though Rick (Burchett) and I really wanted to do a Question mini series. What that has metamorphosed into is a backup in Detective, probably starting in November. It'll run about eight or nine parts. It will follow up on the Question and the Huntress and it'll bring back a couple of characters from the late Question series (by Denny O'Neil).

One would think that the collection of CRY FOR BLOOD would bode better for Vic Sage.

One would hope. The Question is a strange character at DC from what I can gather. People seem to like him but they aren't quite sure what do with him. At various points people have proposed using him in a Vertigo line. He's cropped up in other places in the form of the Ditko version and the Denny variation.

The impression I've gotten is that the real resistance to doing anything with the Question is that he doesn't have a costume per se and it seems to be a marketing issue.

What about moving him to Vertigo, then?

I've never been approached about that, but then, that's not something I would want to do. When you move somebody into Vertigo, they are pretty much gone from the DC Universe. The two really don't meet. This is why you don't get John Constantine wandering around in JLA. If you took the Question out of the continuity like that, you're left with the core of the character, but invariably, I think, if you put him in a Vertigo series he'd spend about three issues pondering his navel and then go off in search of God, kicking a lot of ass along the way.

Denny was able to elevate the Question to some fairly serious comics literature and he posed some really good thematic questions. He did that when there wasn't really a Vertigo line, so I don't think there is a reason to take the character out of mainstream continuity like that.

And the other thing that happens, frankly, is if you do that then you take him away from other people. That not cool, I think.


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