Exclusive CBN Interview: Writer Daryl Gregory apes on POTA run
As writer Daryl Gregory, with issue #16 in July, brought to an end his time on the critically-acclaimed Planet of the Apes comic title published by
Gregory, a science fiction novelist, talks about working in comics, about some of his favorite Planet of the Apes characters, working with artist Carlos Magno, on what's to come and more.
Cosmic Book News: You have been praised by fans and critics alike for your writing on the Planet of the Apes comic book. But tell me, when you first began the series, what were the biggest challenges, especially since so much had been made of staying true to the films’ histories and characters?
Daryl Gregory: I wanted to be true to the facts of the Apes universe -- but I was most interested in staying true to the spirit of the movies. They're overtly political, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. So that's why this series was about terrorism, security and xenophobia. It's a "political" series in that there aren't good apes or bad humans, or vice versa -- there are two groups struggling for power.
DG: This is going to seem dead obvious, but the main difference is that comics are a visual medium. Every idea has to be expressed in some vivid, dynamic way. Consider what happens to Philip K. Dick novels. Those are generally very "talky" books, with characters spending an inordinate amount of time discussing things like God and the nature of reality. But when it comes time to make a film, you need a director like Ridley Scott to express the Dickian mood visually. Bring on the rain and neon blimps!
I wish I could have written a POTA novel as well as a comics series. There were so many more details about the world, so many questions I wanted to ask, that I just could not find room for in the comics.
DG: I love the two sisters, Alaya and Sully. They're the heart of the book for me. But I've really enjoyed writing Nix, the albino gorilla who begins the series as a war criminal. When we introduced that character, readers assumed that he was the villain. But he is, at his essence, a soldier, and a noble one at that. He's the Norman Schwarzkopf of the apes: If you give him a job to do, he will go in with maximum force -- because that's the way you protect your soldiers and achieve your objectives.
But if I had to pick my favorite character, it's probably Casimir. He started as a side character, a one-armed beggar on the street, and over the course of the issues he's become a general -- and a poet. I don't know if I've had more fun in a comic than writing the epic poem "The Midnight Ride of Casimir" and inserting into a comic.
DG: I can't imagine the series without Carlos. He shaped the design of the world, down to every baroque carriage and costume, but he imbued each character with so much -- yes, I'll say it -- humanity. Every ape is distinctive and full of life. Sometimes I would write into the script something like "And now, a half page which is a close up of this character's face" -- just so he could go to work. And his battle scenes? Forget about it!
DG: We're finishing up my run with three giant-sized issues [which Daryl will write at a later date; his regular title ends with #16], which will bring the story to a close. I've been aiming for this ending for a long time -- every plot line paid off! Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko will be continuing their fantastic series set in the Dr. Zaius time period. I've got some comics projects I can't talk about yet, but I can talk about the prose project I'm working on now. My fourth SF novel, AfterParty, which is all about neuroscience, God, and drugs, will be be coming out from Tor Books sometime next year.