December 14, 2017

 




Interview:
Doug Murray

By Brian Jacks



 

In one issue you received a letter that equated the Vietnam veterans to Nazi death camp guards.  In your response you said, ďIt is people like you that made the Vietnam vetsí homecoming the shame it was.Ē  Do you think the public has since changed its mentality in regard to soldiers.  Whereas now when people are against a conflict it they understand it is the government and not the soldiers they should be demonstrating against.

I think the mentality has shifted but I think the mentality has shifted because of the Vietnam vets and the people who fled the Vietnam War, and the people who went to Canada, being reintegrated into the population.  I donít think you can help but have a change in the way people look at things when you put a couple hundred thousand people who were involved in that situation back into the population.  They have families and they talk to people and so on.  Itís an attitude that was wrong at the time and now itís changed because the people who were wrong have come back into general population.

As a comic book writer and also as a Vietnam veteran, do you feel comic book writers should have a responsibility to portray soldiers in a certain and moral light, and not fall upon stereotypes?

I donít know if thereís a responsibility to do that.  I think that writers of all kinds have a responsibility to be even-handed.  Not all soldiers are bad guys, not all soldiers are good guys.  You kind of portray it that way.  If you look at the Sgt. Rock comics where heís a hero, and everyone in an American uniform is essentially a hero, I donít think that was right either.  I think you need a balance.  

Keep in mind that most comic book writers, especially these days, are young guys.  Sam Glanzman and I may be the last two comic guys left with extensive wartime experiences.  Maybe a couple others.  So theyíre writing from what they read and what theyíve seen in movies and TV.  Thereís going to be a kind of skewing of perceptions.  I donít think thereís anything you can do about that.  All I would like to see from a readerís point of view is balance.

One of the things that bothers me about the comic industry these days, and even the Buyerís Guide which I read regularly, is that very skewed towards a liberal view of the world, which Iím not convinced is the right view.

You also worked on a Dark Horse series called Medal of Honor.  What was the story behind that?

Basically they contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in doing it.  It started off because the Medal of Honor Society and Dark Horse had reached an agreement where the Medal of Honor Society would make all the stories of the Medal of Honor winners available to us to use.  And, in return for their participation in the profit side of things, would also see that the book was sold in PXís and military reservations.  So we went ahead under those circumstances.  Actually, it was kind of interesting doing the research for that book and I would have liked to have done more. 

But as time passed it became apparent that the Medal of Honor Society wasnít really meeting their obligations.  We had a few problems with widows or relatives of some of the people we were trying to do stories on telling us we werenít allowed to do it.  Which is something that weíd already had clearance on from the Society.  So that was the real reason that we ended up canceling the book because (a) we lost a big part of our perceived sales because they never got us into the PXís and military reservations, and (b) because we were having copyright problems that we hadnít anticipated.

How many issues was it supposed to have gone for? 

It was an open-ended series.  It was never supposed to be limited.  I actually wrote about 16 issues of stories with about 14 issues actually drawn.  I think 12 came out, and one was put inside Dark Horse Presents in one format or another and the others are either finished or unfinished in the artistís possession at this point.

Joe Kubert worked on some of them, correct?

Joe Kubert did a cover.  Some of the artwork was actually brilliant.  Simonson did a nice cover for me.

Kubert actually met or knew one of the people featured in the book.

Yeah.  And I met one or two of them. 

I also did a Flying Tigers project.  The history of the Chennaultís Flying Tigers, which was a fully-painted book by a guy named Naperstak, who was a Popular Mechanics cover artist.  The guy was a brilliant artist.  And we did it for the guyís who did the Turtles, Peter Lairdís company.  They went out of business before they were able to publish it because the artist took forever.  Itís too bad because I got to interview a bunch of the Flying Tigers and I thought the story worked out pretty well.

Not too many people know about the Flying Tigers.

Now?  If you go to an air show, pretty much everybody.  If you talk to somebody in high school, I figure pretty much nobody.  I think it would have found an audience, but I think it would have been a typical audience these days for that kind of book.

Do you think there is a market for history-themed comic books?  Most of the comics coming out now still revolve around superheroes.

I donít know.  I donít know what the future of the comic book industry is, generally.  I know that some of the projects that have been done that are not superhero books have been successful.  But theyíre downsized from the superheroes.  Iím not sure you can do a project like that for a big company today and be successful because Iím not sure they can promote it properly.  I think if you do it for a smaller company, or do it independently, you have a better shot. 

But again, the way the comic industry is, and the way the numbers keep dropping, Iím not sure.  I think the industry is going to have to change somewhat.  Because I donít think weíre in a time period now where people read for enjoyment.  Itís not an entertainment field anymore.  Youngsters donít.  They play videogames or they watch TV.  And I donít think comics have reacted well to that.  I think weíve lost an audience.  We lost a generation when the speculator phase went on.  I think that might eventually kill the industry.  I hope thatís not the case.  I hope they find a way to come back.  But at the moment, I just donít see anything happening where you can get the right kind of audience for that kind of book.

Do you think movies are more conducive, at least at this point in time, in telling war or history stories?

I think the current generation of youngsters, the 12-18 year old if you will, are conditioned  to looking at a screen and having it tell the story, rather than to turning a page and telling the story inside their own head.  So I would have to say yes.

With the launching of Marvel's new mature audiences line, if given the opportunity, would you still be interested in doing a one-shot or a mini that featured Ed Marks going back to Vietnam?  Or any story that looks back on the main characters?

I'd love to do anything of the sort -- I have a Mark's return story laid out and ready to go.  It would be fun to go back that way, although I don't think Iíd like to go in the real world.

Finally, are you working on any current comic book projects?

No comics at the moment -- Iíve done a couple of novels (Blood Relations for Harper/Prism and Call To Battle for White Wolf) and am currently working on a children's book.

Slush thanks Doug Murray both for his participation in this interview and for his service to our country.  Be sure to check out last year's interviews with Doug Murray, Dan DeCarlo, Will Eisner, and Joe Kubert.




Marvel.com
Interview with Will Eisner

Interview with Joe Kubert

Interview with Dan DeCarlo

Interview with Doug Murray


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