YATTAAA INTERVIEW TERRY MOORE!
By Daniela Zeta, Martina Galea, Linda,
Federico Castagnola e/\/one
Hi Terry, would you like to introduce yourself to
the Italian readers? Who is Terry Moore?
TM - A really nice guy who should be sent many presents on a yearly
basis. He also draws comic books
When and how did you first feel the passion to create comic books?
TM - Probably when I saw a page of original comic art in a books
store and realized I could understand how it was made. I was about 20
years old at the time. I looked at the line work and the white out,
the layout and I thought "I could do this." I couldn't imagine
how to get into the industry though so I didn't pursue it.
Strangers In Paradise was first published in 1993, and it was your first
comic book ever drawn: how did you arrive to the concept of SIP and
its subsequent publishing?
TM - I wanted to read a story like SiP and couldn¹t find what
I was looking for, so I began making it for myself, then became ambitious
about it. When I finished my first issue I took it to a couple of comic
conventions and showed it around to favorable reviews. That¹s when
I decided to make a go of it. Antarctic Press offered to publish a mini-series
and off we went.
Could you explain how the American comics publishing works, as it is
quite different from the Italian one?
TM - Normally you work for a big company who assigns you a job. You
work at home, say penciling a 22 page Goofman story. You send that in
to your editor who passes it around to an inker, a letterer, a colorist
and then to a graphics guy who preps it all and sends print ready files
via ftp to the printer. The book is printed, picked up by Diamond Comic
Book Distributors and shipped to stores all over the world. Diamond
bills the retailers. The printer bills the publisher. The retailers
pay Diamond, Diamond pays the publisher who then pays the printer. What
is left is distributed to the publisher and the people who worked on
In my case, since I have my own company and publish myself, I make the
book by myself (except for the cover color which is done by the very
talented Brian Miller) and send the print ready files to the printer.
When Diamond pays for the books they ordered, I pay Brian and the printer
and try to survive on the rest.
I wonder how it is done in Europe?
What is the origin of Francine and Katchoo, two characters pretty normal
but, at the same time, larger than life? When you started to think about
SiP, who was the first born? And graphically?
TM - Katchoo came first. She was one of my comic strip characters.
Francine was her opposite. They became the stars of SiP because I looked
through my comic strips and pulled out my best original characters to
make the SIP story with.
In the first mini-series, SIP was about the everyday life of two girls
and their boyfriends, suitors, love, jealousy... then, in a second time,
the story became a sort of political fiction and not all readers loved
this change. Finally, it went back to everyday life, focusing on Katchoo
and Francine: which aspect of SIP do you prefer to narrate?
TM - SiP is in 3 parts: domestic with mysterious tensions, crime
drama, back to domestic with wounds. I have no favorite section, it
is all one big epic story to me.
Often, David seems quite marginal, something like "the odd man
out" between Katchoo and Francine, yet he is a very interesting
character, who has grown issue after issue: where the inspiration for
this character comes from?
TM - I needed somebody who could balance out Katchoo¹s bitter
feelings towards men. On the one hand she hates men and can explain
in great detail why (trust me, you don't want to hear it), on the other
hand, David is one of her most trusted friends. There is a nice metaphor
or two in there, a comment on society.
In WASP culture, or however in Katchoo way of thinking, how much is
important David being christian? I mean, when Katchoo discovers than
David is christian, she seems really angry, and I cannot understand
why, maybe this is just due to a different approach to religion between
America and Italy...
TM - True, America is no longer a religious country but that¹s
not why Katchoo was angry. She was mad that he would not tell her something
about himself that was obviously of great importance to him. He was
hiding himself from her and she had opened herself up to him. She was
angry at the imbalance of trust in the relationship. Katchoo has respect
for people of faith and considers God a subject she is not finished
thinking about yet.
If Katchoo homosexuality is perhaps (and I stress on "perhaps")
a repugnance on all men due to her stepfather violence, Francine's is
a more "intimate" one, more based on her love to Katchoo as
person, and not as woman: is it difficult for you, a man, to talk about
the deepest feelings of two female characters?
TM - I can't pretend to understand or explain women. No one can.
I just write about people then give them a sex and tweak the writing
a bit to reflect their sex and how each sex handles things. We all share
the same human emotional palette.
You are SIP's writer AND the drawer: how do you organize your work?
Do you first think about the story and then draw it, or do you sketch
some situations and then build up a script around them?
TM - I do whatever works best at the moment. Sometimes the words
come first, sometimes the visual. Often it happens all at once?that¹s
when I tap into the beauty of cartooning, it¹s a dual-persona craft.
It seems that a writer can't stop... being a writer: that's because
he continuously observes behaviours and situations happening around
him. How much do you feel that Francine and Katchoo are present in your
TM - They are always present. I carry a notebook with me always to
jot down notes, lines and observations. You can confine your art to
a set of hours but the writing never stops. It¹s not a job, it
is a lifestyle.
In a few years, SIP ha become a great success, with its own merchandising
and cross-overs (Gaiman, Bone at the San Diego Comicon): every author
hope the best for his "creature", but have you ever thought
about this huge positive reaction from an everyday life story?
TM - No. It's my life. I just keep moving forward and try to stay
in the magic bubble I need to create.
What do you think are the stereotypes to be avoided, while writing about
TM - If it has appeared in fiction it is now a stereotype. So each
writer must say something new and give the reader a new hope and/or
SIP is (more or less) 15 years old: have you ever thought about an ending,
or do you think that it can go on forever? What about the news about
an ending near at hand?
TM - The series will come to and end May 2007. That should put us
at about issue 89 or 90. I think the story needs a strong ending to
be a definitive statement. If I let it go till it fizzles out, all those
years of work will amount to nothing more than a rambling monologue.
Talking about your characters' everyday life, raises the question on
how the plot evolution is programmed. How much of it is scheduled a
long time before, and how much is instead created just as the story
unwinds? Is there any memorable case in which you had planned something
but you found out that a new improvised solution was better?
TM - Every issue I throw out what was planned in favor of a better
idea. The process never stops. I¹ve sat down to begin drawing an
issue and had an idea on page one that made me throw away the entire
script, even when I was late on my schedule and couldn¹t afford
to be doing things like that. But my loyalty is to the story, not the
schedule. Once a book is out, nobody remembers whether it was late or
not, but they will remember whether or not it was worth reading.
To an Italian eye, the American comics world seems ruled almost exclusively
by superheroes. How do you feel about it as an indipendent authours'
representative? Is it a hindrance to your creativity or, is it, nevertheless,
the American contribution to world public fiction?
TM - Independent comics are like the pilot fish around a whale. We
live off a system that exists solely to support Marvel and DC. I¹m
happy we can do it. If Marvel went belly up tomorrow SiP would be in
trouble. As far as the comic public¹s devotion to superheroes,
that has been frustrating for SiP and other indy creators. But there
is nothing we can do about that other than pursue our futures in the
general book trade.
You had a brief experience in the superheroes' world as a writer for
Birds of Prey (DC Comics, from n.47 to n.49, not yet published in Italy).
How was it to write about characters that were not your own? Are there
any other famous characters you would like, sooner or later, to write
TM - I would like to do a stint on Supergirl or one of the classic Marvel
characters. That would be fun. I wrote a Vampirella story recently and
it was fun to think she was in my hands after all these years of reading
her stuff. It¹s like sitting in with a famous band.
What is it that you like the most, and what do you like the least in
your job? How much freedom are you allowed in what you write and draw?
TM - I can write as good or bad a story as I want, but I censor myself
concerning many things. The American public is very sensitive to so
many things now, it is best not to poke the bee hives, if you know what
I mean. I write what I want but only publish what I think the reader
will tolerate. I draw what I want but I show the American public a censored
version. Sometimes I am very angry about it, but it is better to pick
Do you know anything about Italian comics? Are there any Italian characters
or authors you know and appreciate?
TM - I have been a fan of Italian culture since I was a boy and discovered
cars and film. The art culture of Italy is the finest in the world.
I have admired many Italian artists over the years, more than I can
name. Their work still influences me often. But you have to search to
find anything Italian in America. Your works are not widespread in our
country. We are too busy staring at Britney Spears¹ belly button.
What about SiP Italian issues? Unfortunately, ther had been several
problems with different publishers: from your experience, what do you
thing about our country?
TM - I am glad SiP is in Italy in one way or another. I have every
hope that our new publisher will make a perfect set of the SiP series
for the Italian readers.
Aren't you afraid that a counrty with a culture different form yours
cannot understand all the subtilities in your books?
TM - Yes. But hopefully the basic story will remain intact. Everybody
can understand the love, the danger and the hope. What I fear will be
lost is the humor. Jokes are so dependent on where you live and what
your daily life is like. I hope our Italian translators will be able
to get most of that across to their readers.
Have you ever received any comments on SIP from the Italian readers?
TM - Oh yes. I have had a lot of support from Italy. I have been
to Italy several times, once for an extensive signing tour, and the
reception has always been great. Once in Milan, a fellow did his university
thesis on SiP and gave me a thick hardcover copy of it. I still have
it. I can¹t read it because it's in Italian, but it looks incredible.
Like a textbook explaining the science of SiP. Cool!