Interview: David Avallone

The writer of Bettie Page and the upcoming Drawing Blood talks with SciFiPulse.

David Avallone has written Legenderry: Vampirella, The Twilight Zone: The Shadow, Doc Savage: Ring of Fire, and the currently running Bettie Page. I met with David on the floor of the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday, July 22, 2017.

SciFiPulse: The Bettie Page comic. Great idea to have her as a spy.

David Avallone: Thank you.

SciFiPulse: Is she going to go to other countries?

David Avallone: She doesn’t leave the country in the first four issue arc. I have no comment to say what happens beyond that. It is conceivable…we have talked about the Riviera. The whole series in a lot of ways is me getting to do everything I think is funny or exciting about the 1950’s. So, that’s why in Issue Two she’s working on a low budget science fiction movie called Invasion of the Space Commies. Given enough issues, we will definitely get around to the Berlin Wall and other stuff. For now, the first four issues are in Pasadena.

SciFiPulse: Do you have plans for her to meet up with celebrities of the time?

David Avallone: No. I have written about…It’s “No” with an asterisk. I have written about celebrities before for Dynamite. For example, in The Twilight Zone: The Shadow there was a lot of concern in the second issue where the Shadow wakes up in the body of Orson Welles. I didn’t really want to lose the visual, so I agreed to make the character Preston Springs. The artist, Dave Acosta, came up with that name and I loved it. Agnes Moorehead is called Madge Minafer…If you spend a little time with IMDB you’d figure out where those names come from. Minafer is her name in The Magnificent Ambersons. The celebrities in Bettie Page, aside from Bettie, will all be abstracted.

As an example, and this will only hit with history nuts, the gentleman in Issue One, Rick Chaplin, who saves her, is a rocket engineer who works for Pacific Aerospace Technologies, which is pretty transparently the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. If you know the history of JPL, that’s really got to be Johnny Whiteside Parsons. It’s not that clever. (Laughter) All other famous people who show up will be treated similarly. Someone on Twitter said, “Love the first issue. I can’t wait for L. Ron Hubbard to show up.” (More laughter) There is a villain in the series named Elroy Benway, but he has no connection to L. Ron Hubbard. That’s the long answer to “Will there be celebrities?”

SciFiPulse: How far have you arced out this series? If you had an unlimited amount of issues?

David Avallone: I’ve outlined to five. I’m kicking around six through eight. Beyond that I have the Riviera. Not “What am I going to do on the Riviera”, but Bettie goes to the Cannes Film Festival. Not to give too much of a scoop, but in thirty issues Bettie’s going to end up on the moon.

SciFiPulse: (Laughter)

David Avallone: I’m not against it. She is working for JPL. So I’m not against teaming Bettie with NASA. If I’m having to fill in seven years of her life, God willing, sales holding…

SciFiPulse: Do you have any other projects coming up?

David Avallone: Yes. What I’m here for is co-creating a comic book with Kevin Eastman called Drawing Blood. We have a panel here and we’re going to do a Kickstarter to get the fans involved. It starts on August first. It’s about a cartoonist having a breakdown, a mid-life crisis. He rocketed to international fame and wealth when in his youth. He created a comic book titled Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls. It was about mutant cats fighting crime using Japanese techniques. Again, no resemblance to persons living or dead implied, et cetera, et cetera. It’s a fun book. Depending on who I’m talking to, I say it’s like All That Jazz set in the comic book world, or Fellini’s 8 1/2 set in the comic book world.

I feel like everybody has done the existential crisis of the artist who’s already created his best thing. It’s been done on Broadway, in movies, in novels forever. Comic books are such a large part of the pop culture right now and there really isn’t any about comic book creators. There are autobiographical comic books. You generally get Harvey Pekar, very autobiographical, very true to life. You really don’t get an autobiographical fantasia that’s fictionalized.

And to address the elephant in the room, it’s absolutely a project that came from Kevin. We talked about it. It was a thing he wanted to do. He very kindly hired me. We’ve plotted it together and I’m writing the script. As much as you can say, this character is similar to Kevin in real life. It’s also drawn from my real life. No one knows who these people are.

SciFiPulse: (Laughter)

David Avallone: I think it defies an easy one-to-one that’s that person in the real world. No character is one hundred percent drawn from anyone. Even the Shane Bookman character. It would be a mistake to view him entirely as Kevin. We decided very intentionally, the opposite of Bettie Page, Drawing Blood takes place in a world where there is a Kevin Eastman. There’s also the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We were kicking around a scene the other day where (the protagonist) goes to a con and shows his drawings of his series, Radically Rearranged Ronin Reptiles, to Kevin. Kevin says to the character, “You better not do reptiles–That’s too close! Stay away from reptiles. Stay away from amphibians. Stay away from any kind of lizard.” And that’s when they become cats.

SciFiPulse: Is this going to be one big book?

David Avallone: No. We’ll see how many issues we get to. It’s intended to be an open ended comic. We haven’t quite decided yet how many issues we’re going to put on Kickstarter. One or five or nine…We’ll make that decision soon.

SciFiPulse: Since it’s on Kickstarter, it’s going to come with all the perks?

David Avallone: Yes, there will be perks. You’ll get the comic–the usual stuff. We’ll draw you as a character. Original art. Things like that.

SciFiPulse: Who’s illustrating the book?

David Avallone: A very talented artist named Ben Bishop is doing the main story line. We’re actually doing a Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls comic from 1992 that Troy Little is going to do.

SciFiPulse: The artist of IDW’s Powerpuff Girls and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?

David Avallone: Yes. If you’re familiar with his Hunter S. Thompson book, you shouldn’t be surprised Troy is illustrating the drug hallucinations of the artist. Kevin will be drawing the flashbacks to the character’s early life. It will have a very unique visual style.

SciFiPulse: Will it be black and white or color?

David Avallone: I don’t know if we’ve decided about the Ragdolls’ one-shot. That might have to be black and white. Our impulse is to go color. It’s supposed to be in ’92, not the 80’s It will be set after the black and white boom that Kevin was a part of. We’ll figure it out by the Kickstarter release.

SciFiPulse thanks David for his time at the convention and wishes him and his partners success with Drawing Blood, which should be on Kickstarter soon.

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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