MORIARTY: THE JADE SERPENT Daniel Corey and Janet Lee

Q&A with Daniel Corey

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It’s not every day that we get to enjoy seeing writer Daniel Corey chime in on virtual reality and all things indie comics, so let’s do this, with relish.

Q:  MORIARTY: ENDGAME: VR looks wild.  What can you tell our readers about that, without giving too much away?

DC:  Well, it’s an entirely new way to enjoy comics. VR and AR are the next wave, and I figured that comics should have a place. Who doesn’t want to be able to visit the inside of a comic book panel?

I was working on my new comic with Chris Fenoglio, called BLOODWORTH, which is about an FBI squad that can enter people’s memories to solve crimes. As I was developing that story, the idea of integrating comics with VR hit me. I spent about a year and a half putting out inquiries to anyone who would listen (or not listen, as was the average). I finally met Transmedia Entertainment at the VRLA convention here in L.A. back in February, and they were keen on the idea. So, we brainstormed, and they put together a prototype VR comic using the MORIARTY: ENDGAME story that Anthony Diecidue, Dave Lanphear and I did for Image Comics last year.

The result is something very special. I was able to demo the tech at Comic-Con this past weekend, and show some video footage to a crowd at the “Comics of Tomorrow” panel that I spoke on. So far, readers have been very excited by the VR comic experience.

Q:  Hats off to you for this groundbreaking approach to the craft.  Are you as surprised as we are that it’s actually taken this long to become a thing?

DC:   Thanks! I can’t say we are the first VR comic, but I’m probably OK to say we are one of the first. I haven’t seen any others yet. I’m surprised no one else (or very few people) are doing this. You know, Anthony and I had the first MORIARTY comic book. In 100 years of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, no one else had created a comic book featuring Professor Moriarty as the title character and leading man. It seems appropriate that he’s headlining this emerging form of media. I’m happy be on the forefront of this, in both comics and VR.

Q:  What’s new at DangerKatt?

DC:  Mainly concentrating on the MORIARTY VR project, and getting my new comic BLOODWORTH up and running. I recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the first full issue of BLOODWORTH. I had artist Chris Fenoglio and letterer Dave Lanphear working on it, and the legendary Darick Robertson drew a variant cover. I’m very blessed to have such a great team.

Q:  Darick Robertson? Awesome! How did his involvement with the project come about?

DC:  Darick and I are both repped by the same management team, David Server and Ray Miller, at Archetype, here in Hollywood. I first met Darick a few years back at San Diego Comic-Con. I walked into a meeting room at the Image booth, and there was Darick, just sitting with Grant Morrison, having a meeting. Darick stopped the meeting, looked at me and said, “Hey, you’re Daniel Corey. David Server has told me a lot of great things about you.” It was like something out of a dream, really. Actually, it may have been a dream. I’m still not sure.

But Darick is a super-amazing, nice, generous guy. We kept in touch, and it finally came about that I had a chance to ask him to do this BLOODWORTH cover for me. He was terrific to work with, and of course, you can’t argue with the results.

Darick has recently had two TV shows picked up, based on his titles: THE BOYS at Cinemax, and HAPPY, his Image Comics collab with Grant Morrison, at SyFy.

Q:  Chris’ art and Dave’s lettering really are top shelf.  When did you first become a creative team, and how did it happen?

DC:  I met Dave when I was first working on MORIARTY with Anthony. I know writer extraordinaire Joelle Sellner through the Comic Book Sunday networking group here in L.A., and she introduced me to Dave. Dave, in turn, introduced me to Eric Stephenson at Comic-Con that year, and we were able to close the deal for MORIARTY at Image in the following months.

At present, about 22 books that Dave Lanphear has worked on have been nominated for Harvey Awards. He’s doing a lot of work with the Dabel Brothers at the moment, and can next be seen at Baltimore Comic-Con.

I met Chris Fenoglio at the Image Expo 20th Anniversary in 2012. Anthony and I had a table, and Chris showed us his portfolio. I loved his work, and it took a while for something to come along, but after working with Chris on a few small projects, I was able to rope him on as colorist for RED CITY at Image. Since then, Chris has colored ORPHAN BLACK for IDW, and is currently lead illustrator for the Mulder story on IDW’s X-FILES ORIGINS miniseries—which is being written by Burbank House of Secrets compadre and fellow Angelino Jody Houser. You may have heard of her.

MORIARTY Master Artist Anthony Diecidue is currently working as a concept artist for a lot of film and TV projects, and is working on a comic titled GANGSTERLAND, a new project by my friend James Cotten, which is a Southern-fried, fairytale-like account of Al Capone’s time in Arkansas in the early 1920s. I was lucky enough to help out a little on the script for that project.

Q:  GANGSTERLAND sounds epic!  How did you assist James Cotten with the script?

DC:  James had an original story completely written, beginning to end. I took his story and broke it down into issues, pages, panels, and I wrote the first-draft adaptations of the first two issues. GANGSTERLAND is totally James’ baby, though, and I just helped him get it started. Anthony is doing amazing work on it. It’s going to be great book.

James is currently in Oklahoma, prepping to direct a Western. I can’t talk about it too much at this point, but it’s exciting stuff.

Q:  Which books were most influential during your early formative years as an up-and-coming writer?

DC:  As far as superheroes, Batman and Superman were my main guys, as well as Spidey and Cap. When I was a kid, I was big into military heroes, so I devoured Marvel’s G.I. Joe title every month.

Q:  We don’t see much in the way of military heroes in comics anymore.  Why do you suppose that is?  Is this indicative of a sea change in modern society, or is that an overstatement?

DC:  It’s definitely the times we’re in, the political climate and such. As a kid in the ‘80s, what with the perceived threat of nuclear holocaust, it was a kind of a relief to imagine super-soldiers protecting us from an evil empire.

So many military actions have gone so badly in the past 70 years, we’ve learned a lot, and the discussion has become much more nuanced than it was, even when I was a kid 30 years ago. I think toy and game makers have taken this into account. We definitely see fewer toy guns for sale, and more parents are less likely to buy military-themed comics or games for their kids.

Q:  How might you explain the craft of creative writing to an attentive class of eager freshmen in high school?

DC:  Crafting a story is like solving a puzzle. The ingredients for a good story are out there, you just have to find them and arrange them correctly. It’s like building a house, using ideas instead of concrete. To be able to do that takes study, technique, and a lot of practice.

Read and watch everything you can: comics, novels, plays, movies, and TV. Become familiar with character archetypes and story styles. Don’t be afraid to emulate work that you respect. That’s how you learn.

Q:  Learning is everything. When did you first learn that you wanted to be writer?

DC:  I was in college in the mid-late ‘90s, when the indie film scene was taking off. Movies like “12 Monkeys” and “Pulp Fiction” got us all excited about cinema, and we were constantly going to the theater, looking for off-beat, smaller movies to watch. I started thinking about it then, but I lacked any sort of know-how or discipline.

Right after college, I joined a regional theater group called the New York Acting Ensemble, led by award-winning, multi-hyphenate Ken Eulo. I was studying acting, doing these heavy scenes from some of the greatest plays of the 20th century, really feeding my soul. I learned that being a good actor meant that you would write your own story in your mind as you paced through the story on the page. It was a natural for me that I would start writing my own scenes, eventually my own plays, my own movies, and then work my way into comics.

My background in the theater, reading and acting in plays, is what really taught me to understand character, orientation, theme, and through-line.

Q:  BLOODWORTH looks like great fun.  What’s it been like for you, working together with illustrator Chris Fenoglio?

DC:  Chris is an amazing artist. He can basically deliver anything that you ask for. He has a remarkable sense of storytelling and visual style. Every time I give him a script, I am amazed at the visual ideas he has found that I didn’t even know where there.

Additionally, he is extremely responsible and reliable. He works fast, keeps on schedule, and is great about giving updates.

Q:  Whenever someone mentions “indie comics” to you, what pops into your head?

DC:  Comics that no one was asking for, but they are glad to have. Indie work comes from enterprising individuals that have a singular vision and purpose, who sacrifice time, rest, and sanity to create a product that would not exist any other way. These individuals have little or no help, no company is funding their efforts, and they’re the ones that are going to give you the best stories that you weren’t expecting.

Q:  With so many indie comics to choose from these days, which have you been enjoying most?

DC:  I’d have to side with the home of my books MORIARTY and RED CITY, Image Comics.

Q: Are plans in place to bring us more MORIARTY in the near future?

DC: Indeed, yes. As we speak, Eisner-winning master artist Janet Lee is drawing the pages of the next MORIARTY installment, based on my script. It’s going to be a one-shot titled MORIARTY: THE JADE SERPENT, and it’s basically a locked room mystery that takes place in 1915 Tokyo. I wanted to get Jade back in the picture; she’s the ninja warrior that fought alongside the Professor in MORIARTY Vol. I: THE DARK CHAMBER.

It’s going to be a really special take on the MORIARTY mythos that Anthony and I started up, as the story is told completely from Jade’s first person POV. Janet is doing an amazing job, and I can’t wait to unleash THE JADE SERPENT onto the world.

Q:  Five dinner guests.  Which five living writers (of indie comics or otherwise) would you invite to a dinner party?

DC:  Hmm…I’ll say Brian Bendis, Scott Lobdell, Mark Waid, Jim Krueger, and Charles Soule. I likely wouldn’t say a word the whole meal, just listen.

Q:  Charles Soule sure is writing some gripping yarns, isn’t he?

DC:  He sure is! I first met Charles back in 2011 at HeroesCon. I had just released the second issue of MORIARTY, and Charles was finishing up his 27 series for Image Shadowline. Charles had a handful of credits to his name, and I was working on my second book, first one with a major publisher. It wasn’t too much later that Charles took over SWAMP THING for Scott Snyder at DC, and we all knew that big things were in store for him.

We had a lot of fun at that HeroesCon. I remember singing Karaoke in some off-the-path dive with Charles and the whole Image crew. Good times.

Q:  What hasn’t really happened yet, in indie comics, that you would love to happen next?

DC:  I’d like for publishers to think a little more out of the box with their distribution and marketing, and I’d like for more readers to learn about new media. Readers will adapt, as long as we let them know what’s available.

The tools are out there, we just need to get used to using them, and convince others to use them, whether it’s something like ComiXology, Thrillbent, or VR and AR comics.

Q:  When the Daniel Corey biopic gets greenlit by a major motion picture studio, who will portray you, and what will the film be called?

DC:  Cate Blanchett, in drag, as me. The title: “Have Sandwich, Will Travel.”

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MORIARTY: THE JADE SERPENT (inked by Janet Lee)

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