Thursday, November 22, 2012

CBNAH Interview: Joe Harris

Joe Harris has many strings attached to his bow - Comic scribe, screen writer, director. His new creator owned comic, Great Pacific, has just debuted at Image Comics, so Renaldo sat down with him to discuss it.

Great Pacific #1
Can you shed some insight into the plot of GREAT PACIFIC?
Sure, it's a sci-fi, survival adventure story set out on this hyper-realized version of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  It follows one young oil heir who throws his cushy life of privilege and inheritance away when he decides to settle this growing continent of ocean trash, plant a flag and declare it his own, sovereign nation.
What inspired you to helm such an 'unconventional' concept for a book?
At least partly, the fact that it is such an unconventional concept.  And, honestly, the reality of the environmental disaster motivated most of my thinking.  While the Great Pacific Garbage Patch isn't, in reality, the contiguous island of refuse as depicted in our book, the fact that it exists and neither appears to be shrinking, nor getting cleaned up, makes me believe anything is possible.
Did the BP Oil Spill play any part in orchestrating this story?
At least somewhat, sure.  The feckless arrogance of big oil and the gross juxtaposition of these massive, multinational mega corporations against the damage they often do has inspired a few ideas of mine.  Consider that alongside the enormous profits they enjoy providing energy to a world that is being damaged by its use as much as it is benefiting from the service, it can't help but take things for granted and you've got some rich material to dig into.

The BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened while we were getting ready to begin making the first issue of this series and it did sharpen our focus a bit.  Seeing the different upper management figures become the face of this company on television and watching them walk this tightrope between displays of contrition and desire to limit their liability wasn't lost on us.

What would you say sets this book apart from the average comic?
Well, it's got a political message, as well as more than one about humans and the shit we do which we probably shouldn't.  And it's got a mutant octopus swimming around and causing problems.

The real Great Pacific Garbage Patch
As a writer, you penned DARKNESS FALLS. What's the difference when approaching and scripting a screenplay from a comic script?
When working in Hollywood?  The interference, honestly.  Working on creator-owned comics like GREAT PACIFIC has allowed me more freedom than any movie or big publisher comic book I've ever written.

Would you ever be interested in doing a DARKNESS FALLS comic series? I ask this as I know you penned an origins title on Matilda for Dark Horse.
At this point?  I'd have to say no.  There was a window for the studio to make sequels, but I think that has passed too.  Though I was happy with how the Dark Horse prequel, drawn by a fantastic but yet-to-be-a-superstar Charlie Adlard, came out.

You've also written for DC so I your career, what's your most favourite work you produced?

GREAT PACIFIC, without question.  I'm fond of it all or, at least, most of what I've been able to do.  From SLINGERS for Marvel to at least most of FIRESTORM at DC.  But the creator-owned books of mine, from GHOST PROJEKT through the upcoming GREAT PACIFIC, are my faves.

Ghost Projekt Vol. 1
 What comics or film material are you going to be working on once GREAT PACIFIC comes out?
I've got a lot of new projects in the works.  Stay tuned!

I read the Firestorm run recently and enjoyed it. Sad to say, fans of that run are missing your take on Ronnie and Jason so I ask, what's your current future with DC?
Well, I'm writing an upcoming three-parter for DC Digital's BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT series.  It's called "Arkham's Ghost" and concerns a haunting that's plaguing the inmates in Arkham Asylum, and what happens when this poltergeist starts enlisting the aid of the criminally insane to right some past wrongs.

Any words of advice for upcoming writers?

Read a lot, and not just comics.  Watch a lot of movies and understand how cinematic storytelling works.  And write, all the time, every day, even when you don't want to.

Biggest challenge you ever faced in the industry?
It's continual, man.  Staying employed and earning money.

Finish this sentence, 'Comic book nerds are hot because....'
...the brain is an erogenous zone, and comic book nerds have beautiful brains.

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