It's back! One of our most popular website attractions in recent years was our "10 Questions With..." series of interviews with Shadowline creators. We're bringing it back for your entertainment, and a whole new crop of comic creators are waiting to surprise you with answers to questions that you may or may not have ever thought of asking. First up is the legendary COLLEEN DORAN, who has brought the remaining few issues of A DISTANT SOIL to Shadowline.
1) What was your original “elevator pitch” for A DISTANT SOIL, or how do you explain it to people who’ve never read it before?
A teen brother and sister, Jason and Liana, are confined to a mental hospital where they are the subject of secret government experiments. They escape their prison only to be pursued by supernatural forces, strange alien people, and creatures with unique powers. Separated and kidnapped by two different factions of warring worlds, they learn they are the children of a race of powerful and ageless psychic beings.
The brother and sister are then used by both factions of these alien forces to unknowingly battle against one another.
Combining the sci-fi space opera, grand romance, and visual opulence, the A Distant Soil saga finds Liana forced to ascend to the throne of the alien world. Her unique power makes her a living weapon of mass destruction, the first line of defense for the corrupt alien government.
Jason joins a rebellion dedicated to destroying her and the people who rule with her, unaware that the new ruler of the alien world is his younger sister.
When brother and sister finally meet again, their joy at finding one another is destroyed when they realize they have grown apart and now freely choose to stand against one another.
This was our actual Hollywood pitch. It's gotten around!
2) Which actress would you select to play you in a movie about your life & career?
Oh cripes. I dunno, a young Sally Field? I don't really think about things like that, it creeps me out. I'd rather imagine who might be in movies made of my work.
3) When creating a book like A DISTANT SOIL, do you find yourself avoiding other “Space Operas” for fear of subconsciously having those ideas seep into your own?
Absolutely. Sometimes people send me their books for commentary or review, creators I really like. I have to tell them I'm not in a good head space to read their stuff at the moment. I try to avoid anything that might derail me.
I often listen to audiobooks while I work or watch movies. I try to stick to things I'm familiar with. I just like to hear people talking, clever dialogue, a pleasant voice. You know, snappy movies from the 1930's or 1940's. Kathryn Hepburn. Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell. Adaptations of Jane Austen.
I often listen to motivational books and things like that. I like the rah rah.
I'm not worried about being accused of lifting something from someone else, because that's unavoidable. People are always looking for similarities. I just don't want to get derailed and start doing the "Oh, Pretty Shiny Thing!" when I see other people's stuff. I wrote A Distant Soil so long ago, the worst thing I could do would be to start fiddling with it and go off track.
4) You have to make a choice and give up one thing forever: Sandwiches or Pizza. Which one and why?
Pizza. I love extra cheese and all the goop. None of it is good for me. But I could not live without a Bacon Lettuce and Tomato with my home grown tomatoes and lettuce on it, with our local farm bacon.
5) After the six-year-long hiatus, how long did it take you to “get back into the swing of things” with working on A DISTANT SOIL?
Oh, man, it was a long series of fits and starts. i didn't just stop cold and then start work again after six years, I picked away at it over a long period of time. I was pretty sick for awhile, and they gave me some weird cognitive problems with concentration and memory, so writing was tough. When I started to get better, then I got my writing mojo back. But for a long time I couldn't remember what day it was. So, writing it was pretty hard for awhile.
I'd also forgotten how meticulous the art style is! Quite laborious! At the same time, it's a lot of fun to be working on something that plays to all my strengths and is very comfortable for me. I am very insecure about my work most of the time, but it feels nice to be in the zone which doesn't happen nearly as often as I would wish.
6) What is your favorite season?
7) If you never got into making comics, what do you think would have been your career path?
I intended to be a doctor. I even worked at a veterinary hospital as a kid, and learned how to sew sutures. I always wanted to draw, and thought it would be wonderful to work for Disney someday, but I didn't really have a concept of it as something people did for a living. I guess because it came naturally for me, art didn't seem like real work for awhile. I learned better about that later! My dream job was astronaut. I grew up a five minute drive from Nasa. But I knew I would never pass the physical. I'm too short to reach the pedals on the space shuttle.
8) When you started mapping out the world for A DISTANT SOIL, did you always have a specific endpoint in mind?
Absolutely. It's always been a closed story.
9) What are your biggest distractions when working on a comic and how do you keep them at bay?
The internet. I even have my family come in and take my ethernet cord away. It's just a procrastination habit. I web surf when I am not comfortable with my work. I'm not as bad about it as I was a few years ago, but I had the worst habits for awhile. I never read message boards anymore. I had a long talk with my editor Joan Hilty about it. It's nice when you can tell your editor what your Achilles Heel is, so they can spy on you and make sure you're not spending too much time on Facebook.
10) How do you think that the comics-creating community has changed for female creators since you first entered the industry until now?
For the better in every way. It's unrecognizable. How much time got wasted having to deal with gender politics, dirty old men, and bizarre women with Only Girl in the Room syndrome! I could have drawn 100 more comics with all that wasted time and energy! Sheesh. I hardly ever have those issues anymore. I got into this business to write and draw, I didn't want all that stupid drama from people who spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating how women are different or handicapped in some way because of their genitalia. People believed women could not draw or read comics because "women aren't visual". Some silly women were devoted to the idea that they were special cases and "one of the boys" because they worked in comics, and weren't weak like other girls, who were just there to be male appendages. I'm sick of these people.
I know they still crawl the Earth, but these days, they're a tiny fraction of my daily problems. Some of them have stopped publicly gender bashing and even pretend to be gay friendly now. I'd much rather they crawl back under their rocks with their crap behavior and mean ideologies and pretend to be better people than they are. At least they don't creep out in the street and scare the horses anymore.
And if they don't like my work or don't like me because I'm a girl, tough deal, someone else will.
I'm glad I'm living and working today, but I wouldn't go back to 1984 for anything in the world.