Tom Taylor on Flinch and The Example – Interview
Tom Taylor is an ex-professional Juggler who has gone on to juggle plotlines and characters more effectively than any number of balls, chainsaws and kittens. His plays have achieved great success in recent years, winning any number of awards. However in the last couple of years he has found himself working in one of his great loves: Comics. We spoke to him recently about his creator-owned comics and working on a massive universe like Star Wars.
Q: Tom, we met you recently at a couple of Supanova’s and out of all the guests there, you were most definitely… one of them. congrats. You were talking about two of your projects at the time, Star Wars: Invasion and The Example, yet we didn’t hear too much about this upcoming release “Flinch” can you give us a bit of a background as to what its all about?
Yes. We met. We sang together… and then came the tequila.
Flinch is an anthology put together by the hard working people at Gestalt Publishing. These people are, quite seriously, hospitalized on a regular basis due to the amount they work. Not restricted by ‘traditional’ channels through which to source talent, Gestalt actively seek out individuals from complementary media for creative collaboration.
Flinch brings together some incredible creators like World Fantasy Award Winning artist Shaun Tan, fantasy author James Barclay, horror writer Terry Dowling, Tom Bonin, Colin Wilson (2000 AD, Star Wars), Justin Randall (30 Days of night), Chris Bones (Waldo’s Hawaiian Holiday), Bobby N, Mel Tregonning… it’s a who’s who of awesome.
All of these creators were given the word ‘Flinch’ and told ‘go for it’.
It’s fantastic that this Australian comics publisher has such an eye for quality and a determination for the quality of the work to be matched by the quality of the printing… which means you don’t get great work ruined by photocopy paper and poor stapling.
Flinch includes two of my stories, which range from the bottom of the ocean (96000m -illustrated by Tom Bonin) to the farthest reaches of space (White Dove III – illustrated by Colin Wilson).
Flinch and (the limited edition of) The Example are actually being launched together at the same time in the same place – Dymocks Melbourne, 234 Collins St Melbourne VIC on Thursday, 7th May at 6.30 pm. Come buy the books and drink the booze.
If you can’t make it to the launch, Flinch can be bought at all good comics stores. And The Example and Flinch can both be bought at Amazon, Gestalt’s website and from Dymocks, Melbourne.
Q: The Example was originally an award-winning stage play which you wrote and then converted to a comic book. Tell us a little about it. Do you have any other theatre scripts kicking around that you can see being a cool comic book?
by Tom Taylor & Colin Wilson
The award-winning play is finally a comic book!
Two people. A train station. An unattended Briefcase.
Prejudice versus Preservation.
In the war on terror, will suspicion and fear be the big winners?
“…a skilfully executed commentary on instilled modern paranoia in a brief case of racism at a train station.”
- Media & Culture Reviews
“…touches on the war on terror, notions of trust and suspicion and the bases for them, bigotry, credulity, offbeat romance, superstition, alienation and more. All this, from an abandoned bag on a suburban railway platform.”
- Australian Stage Online
“The image of the briefcase sits at the centre of the nine-frame grid, growing slightly larger with each turning page. The action never leaves the confines of the platform and the characters don’t do anything dramatic, yet the work is full of suspense.”
- The Australian
Yes. I can see many other plays of mine as a comic book and soon others will see them in the Graphic Novel collection ‘Brief Cases’. The Example is the first story in this collection of my works and will be joined by other stories, some also adapted from award-winning plays, like Falling Praying and Believe, and some brand new ones, like Status Quo and Mystery Flight, and all of these stories will be linked together by great artists and briefcases. Thank you for the link to pimp yet another project.
Q: I notice that you’re in talks to develop an animated series! Is this one area that you have always had an interest in? the writing of cartoony goodness? What were your favorite cartoon growing up?
Favourite cartoons growing up? I’m not grown up yet so this list could go on forever.
He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Battle of the Planets, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Voltron, Astroboy, Thundercats, Rescue Rangers, Silverhawks, Duck Tales, M.A.S.K., Mighty Machine Men, Ulysses 31, Tailspin, Astroboy, Gummi Bears, Cities of Gold, Inspector Gadget, Centurions… and that’s just the eighties – I was more cartoon than kid.
Yes, I love writing cartoony goodness, particularly the cartoony goodness that I’m currently writing and which may be on the cards. Cross your fingers and every other digit you have for me!
Q: You are working regularly with this Colin Wilson guy, who seems to be a bit of a no-talent loser. I mean lets be honest, he’s only done work on what? 2000 AD? and some other stuff? How did you get saddled with such an amazingly incompetent artist? (Kidding, he’s freaking amazing!)
Three of Colin’s recent writers were Andy Diggle, Ed Brubaker and Garth Ennis, so I feel like I’m in some pretty good company. I can’t say enough nice things about Colin and his work, mainly because he’s asked me not to, but he’s an incredibly talented individual and a great friend.
Seriously, I have no idea how I was lucky enough to work with Colin. If it’s a karma thing, then in a previous life I must have been a worm that saved a busload of children and ducklings from certain death.
Q: What sorts of things do you try to say in your work? For that matter do you think it’s important to have something to say, or comment on? An agenda, if you will?
I have some very liberal beliefs, particularly when it comes to social justice and human rights. I was raised by a wonderful woman (hi mum) who instilled in me a set of values that I hope I remain true to today, and I think these values come through in my work.
It’s easier to write if you’re passionate about what you’re saying. I try not to lecture in anything I write but I like examining situations that I feel strongly about and putting the audience/reader in someone else’s shoes. I certainly use my writing as a vehicle for vent, an outlet for outrage… and sometimes I just crap on.
Q: What’s it been like trying to break into comics from Australia? There is almost a cringe factor when it comes to Australians talking about their comics. Why do you think that is?
I think there’s a built-in cringe factor in being Australian. We’re slightly embarrassed about everything.
Am I ashamed of writing comics? I don’t write comics. I write ‘Graphic Literature’
I’m writing Star Wars comics! What’s to be ashamed of? I know doctors and actual rocket scientists and I wouldn’t trade places with them for a second (something their patients and weapons manufacturers should be quite happy about).
Q: What comics series or comics character would you like to work on outside of the star wars universe? Do you have an awesome Batman story inside you? or is there a “Rainbow Brite Begins” in your future?
I would happily write almost any character or property. I’m a big comics fan and I’m blown away that I’ve been given a chance to play with the awesome toys I’ve been given.
Having said that… SUPERMAN!!!!!
He was my absolute hero growing up, possibly due to my being mainly raised by a single mother… but let’s analyse me in a later interview. I don’t think I ever had a proper costume, but I fondly remember walking proudly down the street in furry, red underwear over blue jeans, tucked into Red Bubble-Gummer boots with a faded op-shop superman logo on my chest.
Despite being a fairly cynical guy, I would write the hell out of Superman. There was a point a little while ago where I never would have aimed so high but I’m already writing another childhood hero in Luke Skywalker…
Q: Whats the hardest thing about writing Comics as opposed to writing stage plays, or for TV?
It’s a different beast without a doubt but, for some reason, writing comics feels completely natural to me and is coming fairly easily. My editor (and VP of Dark Horse Comics) Randy Stradley recently said in an interview that “Tom Taylor (is) writing comics like he was born to it…” What Randy doesn’t know is that I actually WAS born in sequential panels… you wouldn’t want to see them though.
Sure, there’s a tonne of work that goes into writing a comic that people will never see on the page. I’ve written thousands of words of descriptions and action and outline and direction that people will never know about. But I am happier writing comics than any other medium I’ve ever worked in.
Q: have you ever been tempted to write a “Tom Taylor-esque” character into Star Wars?
Not really, but if you ever see a young kid wandering the pages in a crowd scene wearing red underwear, bubble-gummers and an optimistic smile, you’ll know why.
Of course, every word out of the mouths of every character in the series has come from me, so I guess I’m pretty present on the page.
Q: What’s next for you? Any big secret projects you can hint about which we will not understand until months later?
Secret projects I can hint about? All I will say is ‘Dave’.
I’m writing a feature film for a director, I’m involved in three possible TV series, I’m looking at getting a new creator owned series off the ground with artist Wayne Nichols (Church of Hell, Star Wars: Force Unleashed) and, as well as Star Wars: Invasion, I’m writing something else in the Star Wars universe for Dark Horse which will be announced soon.
I’m also tinkering on something in the back shed which may accidentally rip a rift in time and space. Don’t worry; you’ll barely feel a thing.
Thanks for joining in with the fun here at (Cool) Shite on the Tube Tom! I can’t wait to see you spectacularly un-cancelled book very very soon and i hope it sells a metric shit-tonne of copies! Cheers to both yourself and Colin!
And to all the Star Wars Fans out there the Star Wars: Invasion prequel goes online at starwars.com/invasion on Friday in the US. Check it out for a sneak preview of Tom and Colin’s work on this exciting series!
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