NRAMA: Michael, tell us about what it's like to be doing a longer storyline with Madame
Xanadu. Do you see yourself doing extended runs or original graphic novels for comics in
the near future? With DC taking on some pulp characters, any chance we might see you on
the Shadow, or reprints of your earlier work?
Michael William Kaluta: Doing a comic book series, even only five issues, is like the weather: One
is surrounded by it... there's few places I can look that haven't got some element of Madame Xanadu
in, on, around, above, below, under or stacked up against them.
I don't see any extended runs on comic book characters being offered to me... besides, if I did do lots
more comic books, I'd like them to have points of interest for me (as opposed to comics to draw for
work). Selfish of me, I know!
Is DC garnering pulp characters (beyond Mr. Pulp Pope?). As with every freelance artist, I have to
be asked to work on a project. If this color Starstruck reprinting/redefining “works,” meaning it
generates income for the publisher, perhaps my next extended comics job will be working on
assembling the rest of Starstruck for the near future.
That would entail a lot of new work (no more extending the length of pages, but a huge amount of
brand new comic book pages) that would mean someone would have to be the banker if the work
was to get done.
NRAMA: What's been the biggest challenge in putting this series back together?
Elaine Lee: Trying to keep it straight in my mind what is actually in the books, and what exists only
in my head. Michael and I were, for years, completely immersed in this universe. We came up with
lots of material that never made it into the stories, but certainly takes up space in our brains.
For instance, one day we sat down and talked about how every character in the story was going to
eventually die. You won’t see them all die, but we needed to know it. And that’s only the tip of the
iceberg! There’s a huge amount of story that exists only in our minds. As stated before, Lee has been
a huge help with this, as he knew Starstruck as a fan and probably has a more clear view of the
whole thing than we do!
Lee Moyer: The world of Starstruck is so very complex that getting back into every panel requires
extreme levels of concentration for all involved. The tensions between the stated and the unstated are
great, and simply remembering whether or not something has appeared is difficult. And if something
has appeared, where did it show up? And how much of the truth was presented? Tricky.
Elaine: Ha! Like I said...
Lee: All three of us have huge stacks of comics, sketches, rough drafts and the like spread all over
our work areas...
Michael: The biggest challenge is to keep at it, falter not, trust in the material and the invisible
audience-to-come. Luckily, we all have each other to double (and triple-) check our "facts" by.
That there is so much work already stacked and ready for press is a real help when days and days
of focused labor begin to smooth the edges of one's intensity. And, as each day, week, month goes
by, that stack grows larger and the potential reaction from all our combined input more awesome.
Elaine: While working on the glossary and Dwannyun’s forward, I’ve been trying to patch together
a timeline that reconciles Standard Galactic Cycles, Old Terran Years, D.O.G. years, etc. When did
it happen and what did “they” know about it? And how many ribecs really are there in a cycle?
Depends on where and when you are!
NRAMA: How do you think having Starstruck as one big story will affect readers'
perception of it?
Lee: I believe that readers will be blown away. I thought the original graphic novel was one of the
finest on the history of the form (easily in the same class as Moebius, Moore and Gaiman), but to
see it done right? Wow.
Elaine: Seeing it all together will probably give the readers a better view of our vast universe, really
a character in and of itself, and that should serve to make them comfortable with the nonlinear
storytelling though, as I said before, part of this will be due to the popularity of the many nonlinear
stories that have appeared in books, comics and TV shows since we were first published.
Our fans should find things in the story that they may have missed before. New, young readers will
see a story that, though exciting and complex, is structured like many of the stories they are used to
seeing. After the run of the series, it will be thrilling for me to see the Starstruck stories collected into
their own graphic novel and the Galactic Girls Guides collected into theirs. Hopefully, we’ll find a
whole new readership for these collections in mainstream bookstores.
Michael: I can stand for certain on the idea that readers will, as they always have, find the story has
meaning beyond anything expected by Elaine, Lee M or me... unlike a chef, we've really no idea how
the story will taste to the audience: Elaine has whipped up something quite special: spiced, gravied,
done to a turn; both Lee and I have added the curliques and presentation, plates, knives forks and
spoons but it'll be the individual palate of each reader that savors the entire meal. It'll be dessert for
us to hear how the story intrigued, tantalized, irritated and maybe even satisfied the folks who came
to the table.
NRAMA: Anything you'd like to talk about that we haven't covered yet?
Elaine: One thing that has really changed since we were first published is that people are used to
seeing strong female characters in adventure stories. When Starstruck first came out, there was no
Buffy, no Xena, no Sarah Conner, no River Tam.
There were no shows like Heroes or Firefly or Farscape, with a good number of very different female
characters. Of course, there were some female characters in comics, but they were in the minority
and (other than a few characters like Wonder Woman) tended to take a backseat to the men in the
group. Because we had many female characters, and they tended to be movers and shakers, readers
found it surprising. These days, no one would even lift an eyebrow.
Lee: I grew up loving the Marvel Universe, back in the days when continuity was both possible and
desirable (I hear that DC has just named a continuity editor, so maybe continuity is coming back!),
but considering the number of working parts and the vast number of ever-changing creators over
many years and countless ret-conned books running down parallel tracks, it's a wonder that any
sense of reality or depth can be maintained.
In Starstruck there are lots of moving part, but no replaceable parts, nothing (and no one) to water
down the intoxicating effect. It's like a fine British series (The Singing Detective, Bleak House,
Ultraviolet) that contains only what it needs and leaves the viewer hungry for more.
Starstruck returns to comic shelves in August from IDW.
|All art copyright Michael Wm. Kaluta and the respective owners.
|Michael Wm. Kaluta
|The Starstruck Chronicles III: Xandau and Looking Ahead
by Zack Smith
|Our interview with the creators of IDW’s Starstruck re-presentation concludes today, with a look at
what it took to bring this new series to readers, and what its return means to the creators.
Part one here, part two here.