This week (and possibly also last week - reports vary) sees the first trade collection of me-favourite Kill Shakespeare in stores, and in addition to the tale of a plucky Danish prince embroiled in a sea of Elizabethan intrigue and attempted deicide, the book features a bonus story written by newcomers Owen Craig and Curtis Westman. To commemorate this event, here is an extra-special bonus feature for this here blog, namely the return of the Wednesday Interview for a talk with Owen Craig!
Huzzah, and here we go:
First of all, how about a pocket bio of Owen Craig?
I was born in Perth, Ontario. Don't worry if you haven't heard of it, it's an extremely small town located between Kingston and Ottawa. I moved to Toronto as a teenager and then I went to York University to study theatre where I became interested in both comics and writing (remember that, it'll be important later). I started doing some work with a high school friend, Curtis Westman, and we collaborated on a short film called "Hamlet: A Comedy in Three Acts", which lead to us writing together on a regular basis. Since then it's been pretty much business as usual for any budding writer: working a boring day job and writing in the evenings and on weekends.
So: your story is appearing in an upcoming trade of Kill Shakespeare. Give us the one-sentence plot hook that will make everyone completely unable to pass it up. And maybe throw in a couple of other sentences if you feel the need.
Yeah, our story is in the first trade paperback of Kill Shakespeare. Curtis (my writing partner, I don't remember if I established that I work with a writing partner) and I approached this story with the goal of building on the Kill Shakespeare world. When looking at their concept it occurred to us that one Shakespearean play which would be difficult for Conor and Anthony to bring in would be Julius Caesar, so we've taken the moment of Brutus making his decision about whether or not to participate in the conspiracy to murder Caesar and shown how that particular moment plays out in the context of the Kill Shakespeare comic. It's basically a fun Easter egg for fans of both Shakespeare and fans of Kill Shakespeare, with some pretty cool ties into the main book.
How did you get mixed up in all of this Kill Shakespeare nonsense, anyway?
While at the Wizardworld Toronto (formally known as the Paradise Toronto Comicon) show I came across the Kill Shakespeare table. As a former theatre student I was naturally intrigued by the book. I ended up talking to Conor and Anthony for... I don't know... half an hour? It was one of those "damn, I wish I'd thought of it" concepts. On an impulse I asked them if they would let me pitch them an idea for a backup story and, much to my surprise, they accepted. So I got together with Curtis and we wrote up a couple of proposals, which they ended up liking. It's pretty much the classic story of being in the right place at the right time with the right idea. Conor and Anthony deserve a lot of credit for giving a couple of first-time writers their first break, it's an extremely cool thing that they're doing and I couldn't appreciate it more. Between the opportunity, their guidance and their constructive criticism I owe them a lot.
Did you have to revise your plot at all? Were there any cases of Conor and Anthony saying that they were actually already using Character X for something in the main plot, or did such things come together without a hitch?
We pitched them a couple of stories, and there were definitely some characters that we quickly realized were more off-limits than others. One of the stories we pitched was problematic because we were told that the character we wanted to use wouldn't be introduced until issue 7 or 8, so our story would predate the character's first appearance. That's part of the reason we pitched a Julius Caesar story, as there would be no crossover characters and it gave us a lot of freedom.
It's worth mentioning, though, that Conor and Anthony were extremely generous about letting us play around with some fairly major elements of their story. In fact, there are a couple of hints in our story as to what is coming up in the main book (yet another reason for fans to buy the trade).
Where can people look for more Owen and/or Curtis if they like what they see in the trade?
Well, nothing is coming up soon, but you can rest assured that Curtis and I are hard at work on some original material we hope to be pitching to publishers in the near future. We have a few ideas that we're very excited about. Plus, if everyone's happy with this story than there's always a chance that there might be another Owen/Curtis story in the second Kill Shakespeare trade! In the meantime you can check out our blog at www.bunchofice.com, Curtis and my website.
Gratuitous Canadian question: How do you take your Tim's?
Well, I may not drink a lot of Tim's but I think I can top that for being Canadian: I WORKED at Tim's. That's right, I worked at the Tim Horton's in Perth (Ontario), which falls on Highway 7 between Ottawa and Kingston. Let me say, everyone, treat the staff there well. They work extremely hard.
And finally, a two-parter: name your favourite a) play by Shakespeare and b) comic book series and attempt to link them thematically.
Favourite Shakespeare book and comic series...that's a tough one. I don't know that I could pick a favourite of either, definitively, but I'm a huge fan of both Hamlet and James Robinson's Starman. Both are stories about young men who find themselves suddenly immersed in a situation they don't want to be in and don't understand. And, hey, both young men spend more time thinking and talking about their situation rather than acting on it! There you go!
Edit: Whoops, I'm a dope. I didn't even think to ask about who did the art on the bonus story. Turns out that it's J. Bone and it's unsurprisingly awesome.