Below is the end result of a recent Q&A we did with Carole, where I asked her a number of questions about Torchwood and to a point comic book literature as well.
SciFi Pulse: It says here that you and your brother John first hit on the idea of doing the comic strip while attending last years San Diego Comic Con. Can you give us a little background on how the idea came about to do this strip.
Carole Barrowman: John and I have wanted to collaborate on a Captain Jack project for awhile, but at Comic Con the idea became a reality. We were signing Anything Goes when Tommy Lee Edwards and Trevor Goring wandered over from their own booth to have John sign a poster they’d drawn of Captain Jack’s image over the ‘Face of Bo.’ John was gobsmacked. I was too. John told them it was probably the best depiction of Captain Jack he’d seen (so if you were lucky enough to get a copy of the poster that day, you own a unique piece of scifi history). We chatted with Tommy and Trevor for awhile and the four of us hit it off. We agreed when the opportunity presented itself we’d all like to work together. In the car on the way back to the hotel, John said rather than wait for the opportunity to present itself, we should create one. John let Torchwood Magazine know he was interested in a comic project and then he and I started to think about a story.
SciFi Pulse: Being raised for part of your childhood in America, I’m guessing that you had a little exposure to comic books thanks to the big two company’s Marvel and DC. Did you and John indulge much in comics back then, and if so what sort of comics did you both enjoy and why.
CB: Actually, I spent most of my childhood in Scotland. I was 17 when my family immigrated and John was nine. John has always been a Captain America fan and has quite a collection of comics and memorabilia. I think the whole valiant superhero saves the world appeals to him. He also loved (and loves) the Justice League in all their variations. I found my way to comics from graphic novels (although I have to say both John and I have been ‘Tin Tin’ fans from childhood). One of my areas of interest as a scholar is the depiction of the future in fiction–in fact I teach a course on this at Alverno College in Milwaukee where I’m an English Prof. I’ve read Spiegelman, of course, Eisner’s “Contract With God” is a particular favorite, as is most of Frank Miller’s stuff. I wrote an article in 2007 on the my picks of the best graphic novels. If you’re interested, you can read it at http://carolebarrowman.squarespace.com/graphic-novels
I have to say I lean more to the dark and the political in my comic choices.
SciFi Pulse: The story is set on a remote Scottish island. Will you be borrowing from Scottish legends and ghost stories or is the alien or entity in your strip something entirely original that you and John have come up with.
CB: The story we came up with is a retelling–a re-imagining–of an ancient Orcadian myth. I think most fans of scifi and of comics would agree that the best graphic stories involve recreating myths or myth making in some way. I’m a big fan of Michael Chabon’s fiction and non-fiction and he writes much more eloquently than me about the role of comics and graphic novels to a culture’s zeitgeist.
SciFi Pulse: Could you share with us what your favorite type of Torchwood story involves? The one great thing about Torchwood is that it does horror, comedy and science fiction so well, and every episode is very different from what came before. So what sort of Torchwood story appeals to you as a viewer, and what do you feel the series has done well thus far.
CB: I like the stories that involve the past in some way. For example, two of my favorite episodes are “Out of Time” and “Captain Jack Harkness.” I’d like to see an episode of Jack in 1930s/40s Hollywood sometime …
SciFi Pulse: In the press release John hints that this maybe only the first comic book that you and he will be doing. How many ideas do you and he have for comics, and will any of them involve John’s love of musical theatre. As in perhaps Johns Torchwood version of The Phantom Of The Opera or something likes that.
CB: John and I are having too much fun to stop and as long as fans enjoy the products of our collaborations then we’ll keep doing them. I have to ponder the Phantom idea as a comic . . . John and I loved the musical episode of ‘Scrubs’ and we are both ‘Dr. Horrible’ fans so who knows what will be next?
SciFi Pulse: You said that myths from other cultures have always been something that has interested both you and John. Do have any favorite myths from other cultures that you’d like to see adapted into comic book form.
CB: Given our Scottish heritage, I’d like to keep exploring the Celtic myths for awhile. They are generally more visceral than the traditional Greek myths–okay Oedipus with the gouging of the eyes is pretty visceral . . .
SciFi Pulse: What is it about the comic book format other than great art and writing that you feel appeals to people, and how far do you think you can take Torchwood in the comic book universe.
CB: Hmm …. we’re just beginning so I hope the Torchwood road is a long one. For me the appeal of the comic or the graphic novel is the fact that I can read with all my senses heightened in a way that’s different from reading text only (which I love a lot too). Frankly, I’m a book slut. I’ll read anything and everything if it’s good enough and it’s entertaining. I do have standards. Life’s too short to read bad books of any genre.
SciFi Pulse: Do you think there would ever be a Torchwood and Doctor Who crossover in the Torchwood strips? And if you had your say in how that story developed. What would you like to see happen that perhaps hasn’t been touched on yet in the television series.
CB: John and I have been Doctor Who fans since childhood so a crossover would be appealing to us as fans, but the powers like to keep the two universes separate for good reasons . . . but who knows? That’s the great thing about the future. It’s ours to create.
Carole is a Professor of English at Alverno College in Milwaukee, WI, where, among other things literary, she teaches a course titled, ‘The Future in Film and Fiction.’ She’s a regular reviewer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, and a regional NBC morning show.
SciFi Pulse would like to thank Carole E. Barrowman for her time and the people at Titan Magazines for making the above interview possible.
- Torchwood Magazine Issue #14
- On sale in the UK and Ireland 19th February
- On sale in the US 17th March
- Torchwood Magazine Facebook Page
By Ian M. Cullen