Master of Illusion To Master of Elusion...
An Interview with Glen David Gold
dark forces behind him...
few years ago, Glen David Gold made a splash in the publishing
world with the of-touted on Fanboy Planet novel Carter
Beats the Devil. A wild adventure that combines
history, politics and the fictionalized life story of one
of the world's greatest stage magicians, the book was snatched
up by Tom Cruise for a potential film adaptation. You know
how that goes. Really, it would make a terrific movie, even
that's not why we're here. Recently, Gold's peer, pal and
Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon offered Gold a writer's
slot on his latest project: Dark Horse Comics' Michael
Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist,
based upon characters from Chabon's The
Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. In itself,
that's not amazing. However, Gold got to work with one of
the giants of the comics industry, Gene Colan. Not bad for
a guy taking his first shot at writing comics.
story appears in the second issue, now on sale, but not
quite evenly distributed to comics shops everywhere.
writing Fanboy Planet an email promising to deliver a great
story for the book, Gold also offered to answer some questions.
As we're fans here, we jumped on the chance. And so, fanboys
and fanwomen, Glen David Gold...
McCaw: How did you get involved in this project?
comic book debut...
David Gold: Ten years ago, I went to a reading Michael
Chabon gave in Berkeley --
Boys. While he was in the middle of signing my
copy, I said, "Last week I was standing in Roz Kirby's
living room," and he slammed the book shut, stared
at me, and said, "How did you know I liked comic books?"
at that point, it was just a couple of steps above discussing
Ron Jeremy-- no, porn has gone a bit mainstream, too, hasn't
it? -- no, to bring up comic books to a literary writer
telling the truffle maker at Chez Panisse that you'd just
toured the Hershey plant.
told him I'd seen the clues in Wonder Boys, and
we talked about it and when I got home that night, I realized
he'd never finished signing my book.
when I sent Michael galleys of Carter to read,
he sent me a copy of AAofK&C, which was just
about to come out, and I believe there was some mutual recognition.
"Oh, yeah, you REALLY like comics." And magic.
And history. And stories in which things actually happen.
believe that when Dark Horse made The Escapist happen, Michael
had me as one of a few writers in the back of his mind who
might have an interest in doing something like this.
and I brought him my copy of Wonder Boys in 2001,
and he did finish signing it then.
Were you assigned Gene Colan as artist ahead of time, and
either way, what was your reaction upon hearing that you
would be working with Gene Colan?
Back in 1996, there was an ad in the CBG which
Colan had taken out -- for $250, he'd do a commission for
you. I took him up on that. (This
was years and years before I finished Carter.)
my man. I love his stuff. I loved it when I was a kid (who
else drew like he did? You know modern comics better than
I do -- does anyone these days draw in "the Colan school"?).
He did an amazing Captain America, an amazing Daredevil, and
(as you can tell) his Howard strikes me as definitive.
Beats The Devil.
the editors at Dark Horse if they could get Colan to draw
the story, and about an hour later, I got an email from
Gene saying he'd be delighted. Which terrified me. Now I
had to try to write something good. I think he did an amazing
job. How he does that light-and-shadow thing is unreal.
DM: What parameters were you given
for your Escapist story?
There was an extended origin sequence from AAofK&C
and a history of the character's corporate travails over
the years. That was it.
if they'd done a femme fatale yet, and it was early enough
in the game that no one had.
much complete freedom. I turned in an outline for a ten-page
story which they liked enough to ask if it could be 20 pages.
Or it was more like *I* thought it was ten pages and they
suggested a full script, but I thought that telling Gene
where to put the camera was like letting the usher direct
the film. So I wrote a page-by-page outline, and he did
his thing, and then I went back and dialogued it.
only editorial hoo-hah came after it was done -- Diana had
a question for me about something erroneous I'd written
and rather than admit she was right and I was wrong, I started
rambling out an essay-style retroactive continuity dodge
over the phone. She suggested I write it up and she thought
it was funny enough to include.
What really appeals to you about the overall
Dark Horse Escapist project, not just your own involvement?
Diana Schutz, Diana Schutz, Diana Schutz, Diana Schutz and
Diana Schutz. (If I keep chanting her name, maybe she'll
Between you and Chabon, I’m developing this
theory that there is a secret cabal of great novelists who
are comics fans. So, are you actually a fan, and what books
would you consider most influential on your formative years?
The cabal ain't so secret any more, pal.
directed our attention to: Give
Our Regards to the Atomsmashers! : Writers on Comics
at Amazon. I swear. Glen's doing the shilling here.)
read the galleys and what's funny is we all have just about
the same story, just about: ages 8-12, all of us reading
Marvel comics in the depths of the nadir of the Bronze Age.
All of us sensing, like citizens of Troy ten years after
the Trojan War was over, that something really great had
passed us by, and it was our duty to catch up with it.
Me, I started
with Trimpe's Hulk (as you can see here) and then worked my
way back to Kirby and Ditko. My favorite writers were Steve
Gerber and Steve Englehart. I've re-read Gerber often. Howard
the Duck and the Headmen (Headsmen?) tales really stand up,
as does the weirdness of Omega the
and Starlin's Warlock series. I'm sure there's other stuff,
it wasn't part of the question, can we just talk for a minute
about how Lynda Barry rocks the house? I I think she's an
actual, honest-to-gosh, give-the-woman-a-MacArthur genius.)
and thanks for the "great" you tossed in there.
I've written one novel so far. I wrote 4 bad ones that weren't
published (and won't be). I need to get on the pony again
a few times before the "great" thing really applies
All right. The toadying ceases now. Would
you consider doing further work in the comics field? Which
characters would you want to work on?
I have a fairly strong and developed idea that
would be, I'm told, creator-owned, and I'm trying to carve
out some time when I can sit down for three months and just
do the writing part.
curious whether I could plot an arc of comics the way I
did Carter and collaborate with an artist so that the development
came out in the showing more than the telling. I am a visual
writer, but I don't know how to draw, and I don't really
think in panels, so it's an interesting challenge.
I was 13, I wrote out a big giant Nick Fury story which
I sent in to Marvel. Jim Shooter was really nice about it
-- he took me under his wing for a while and talked to me
about how to tell stories. I haven't really had many ideas
for the big characters since, though I do keep my ear to
How about “Carter The Great”
I would read Carter the Great comics with great interest
and amusement, but telling the story again myself would
be like chewing the same stick of gum twice. Who would illustrate
them? Colan? Mignola?
And speaking of, how involved are you
in the film adaptation of Carter Beats The Devil? Has that
stalled, or are we just not hearing anything?
You're just not hearing anything.
I suppose I should leave it at that.
been in the Hollywood mill once or twice, and I know you
shouldn't believe they're making the movie until you're
sitting in the audience and politely applauding as the title
comes up. But I have
good feelings about the people involved. Every so often,
I hear something that makes me excited about it.
as with the Carter-as-comic idea, I'm staying away from
the script. Robert Towne and Michael Arndt know what they're
Fom our "Angel"
reviewer, Chris Crotty... Where did you get the idea for
your wonderful story "The Tears of Squonk" (appearing
Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales)?
Thank you, Chris --
my wife's grandmother died, we went through her house to
set aside furniture and such. Her late husband -- his name
was Hal Hale, which is quite the superhero name now that
I see it in print -- had worked for the state of Tennessee
his whole life, and had collected oral histories of weird
things that had happened. He wanted to write a book one
day, and there was a 3 by 5 card in this file drawer, "Tell
the story of the elephant they hanged."
it doesn't get any more directive than that, does it?
into it, found it was a real story, and then went to work.
What are you working on next?
Long, long, long short story about WWI. Next novel (more
historical fiction). Short story appearing in Playboy in
their Christmas issue Article (also for Playboy) about obsessive
comic book artwork collecting.
bottle feeding a litter of kittens I found in the garage
so we leave Gold to it...kittens take a lot of time. We're
off to find that second issue of The Escapist...