Intervju med skaparen av Rat Queens och Dryad!

Publicerad: Torsdag, 4 mars 2021, Skribent: Johannes

Kurtis Wiebe är en författare med många strängar på sin lyra. Han debuterade 2009 med serien Beautiful Creatures och sedan dess medverkat och skapat flertalet serietitlar, drivit podcast och arbetar idag som Story Supervisor hos spelföretaget Ubisoft. I serievärlden är Kurtis troligen mest känd som en av skapare utav den kritikerrosade serien Rat Queens. Serien släpptes första gången 2013 och den fick snabbt en trogen läsarskara. 2014 nominerades Rat Queens till ”Best New Series” under Eisner Award och 2015 belönades serien med det ärofyllda priset GLAAD Media Award. Kurtis själv har beskrivit Rat Queens som "a love letter to my years of D&D (...) and fantasy" with a modern twist, and the concept as "Lord of the Rings meets Bridesmaids". Kurtis arbetade med serien fram till 2019 då han lämnade över facklan till Ryan Ferrier.

Nu är Kurtis återigen aktuell med en ny serie, denna gång i ett samarbete med serieskaparen Justin Osterling. Tillsammans har de skapat serien Dryad vars första del, Dryad Vol. 1, släpptes i början av året. Vi fick möjlighet att ställa några frågor till Kurtis gällande detta nya projekt. Kurtis passade även på att signera samtliga exemplar av Dryad Vol. 1 som fanns i lager i Stockholmsbutik. Detta gör att om du beställer seriens första del för hemleverans via vår hemsida så skickar vi med signerade exemplar så länge lagret räcker!

Hi Kurtis! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions. You and Justin Osterling have recently released your new fantasy series ”Dryad”. How would you, as one of the creators, describe this series?

KW: Dryad is a strange mix of fantasy, action and slice of life drama. It’s about a family of refugees who escape their old life under mysterious circumstance to start again in a new town, but many years later, their past comes back to haunt them.

How did your and Justin Osterling’s collaboration start and do you have different responsibilities when you work?

KW: I discovered Justin’s art on Twitter a long time ago and I’d followed his work for years, obviously as a big fan. I hired him to do some artwork for me on a podcast I had been running and shortly after approached him about a concept I’d put together.

When we work on Dryad, it generally begins with us talking about the story, what we want to cover or themes we want in the issue. Then, I write the script, before handing it over to Justin to do all the actual hard work. Writers have it easy.

A second volume of ”Dryad” is expected to release this spring. Do you have plans for additional volumes or do you have other projects in the works?

KW: Yes, there will be a third and final chapter that brings the Glass family story to an end. The series has always been about family, even with all the action, magic and monsters, it is a story about what happens when family relationships are broken by mistrust and neglect.

What do you think are the biggest cornerstones for creating an interesting and captivating storyline for a comic series?

KW: An engaging world and relatable characters. You can always lean more into one than the other, but you really have to do the work at delivering depth to both. From there, a choice in themes, the message you want to share through the story, to pull it all together.  If you have that solid groundwork done, you can take the character and stories almost anywhere.

Your characters, both in your previous series like ”Rat Queens” and in ”Dryad”, manage to have a lot of depth and still convey a lot of lighthearted humor. How do you develop your characters and where do you find your inspiration?

KW: A lot of what I write is inspired by personal experiences or life situations. Rat Queens was my homage to the many years of roleplaying games and building a world and series around the idea of those fun memories.

Dryad came out of my reflections on having a family, and the early days when my daughter was still a toddler. I wanted to tell a story about a strong family that was tested by very dark times, and how that could bring them together, or drive them apart.

It feels like you are actively working to introduce characters which are outside the classic stereotypes. This focus on diversity is something I as a reader appreciate very much. Is representation something that you actively try to include in your stories, or does that happen organically?

KW: A lot of it is by leaving it up to the artist, how they want to draw and represent characters. It seems like an obvious idea, but giving that part over to the art team can have a big impact. In Dryad, most of the characters are POC, reflected by the life and experiences of Justin, the artist.

Most times I will give a general physical description (tall, short, built, skinny, etc), and a taste of personality, and the rest I leave for the artist to decide. And, in general, many characters are inspired in some aspect by real life friends or family, which definitely contributes to that feeling you describe.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in getting into graphic storytelling?

KW: Find a writer or artist that has a solid reputation, both professionally and personally. Comics are weird blend of professional and personal relationships and if you’re committing to a few years of working together, you have to prepare for and expect bumps in the road. Communication is vital, to ensure that your team is heard and that they are contributing equally to the process of creation.

Do you have any personal favorite comics that you would like to recommend to our followers?

KW: I Kill Giants is one I always recommend to new comic readers. These Savage Shores by Ram V and Sumit Kumar is a stellar gothic horror series, one of my favourite reads in the past five years. And, I’ve recently fallen in love with European Sci-fi, and I’d give a big recommendation to Metabarons by Jodorowski and Gimenez.