The Jan Strnad Interview, Part 2(2)
by SidSid Keränen
Copyright © 2001 Heart-Attack-Series, Ink!
Interview was made in February, March 2001.
| Part 1 | Jeremy Brood | Doomscult | Such Pretty Little Toes | Donna Corben | The Wreck of the Katerra-dan | Incantation | Donneman’s Bluff | Turtles Take Time | Den Saga | Batman: Monster maker [B&W] | Denz | Bludd |
“Jeremy Brood” has incredibly beautiful beginning of story on planet Eden. The escape of Brynne is my favourite. The very same pages appeared in Epic #15 (1982) as an ad of the story. “Jeremy Brood” was planned to be a trilogy. The original first Album had five picture pages, where Mr. Corben explanes the backgrounds and plannings he made with Stan Dresser. What really happened?
“Jeremy Brood” was planned as a three-issue series. The first one didn’t sell well and so we had to cancel plans for the rest of the series. We didn’t feel right about leaving readers totally up in the air, so I wrote a short “ending” that feels to me kind of like, “And then they all got hit by a truck.”
Did other chapters ever appeared on “paper” as it was planned? Did thrid chapter ever saw daylight?
No, that was all. There’s no “missing Brood” out there.
What ever happened in original second chapter? How about third? What did we miss with shortened version? How shorteded story sits in original story? Does it cover totally “planned stories”? Is the end we can see really the end of “thrid” chapter?
Sorry, I don’t remember how it was supposed to go. I do remember that it was going to be more of an epic somehow, but the ending is totally different from what was planned.
As general, what kind of way you used to make stories together? Do you see “penciled” version of Mr. Corben’s art before inking and coloring? You prob. can ask some changes for pictures? Is dialogues collaboration?
I write a script, usually a full script that breaks the story into panels. I write all of the dialogue ahead of time. Then Corben does his thing and the next I see of it is when it appears in print. He might send character designs for my approval, but his penciled pages are so loose that it’s pretty hard to tell what he has in mind!
Does Mr. Corben follow your story faithfully? Or did he want any changes in it?
He’s extremely conscientious about following the story whenever we work together.
How do you name certain stories places and people? Like for example Dimento and Dimentia. From where you found them?
Usually, I just make up names from thin air. “Donna” and “Dick” from “Such Pretty Little Toes” are exceptions. I based a couple of minor characters in Mutant World on a pair of animation editors I knew briefly, but I don’t want to say who because they might sue me!
Sometimes I’ve provided Corben with background photography. I shot some clouds that appear in one or more Creepy or Eerie stories, and I videotaped some beach scenes for his Dagon film.
“Doomscult”‘s story is moderately close the presentation of video “The Dark Planet”. Both stories have Bruce Jones and Stan Dresser in them. Why you were not in video production?
I didn’t really know Corben at the time those were filmed.
What kind of relationship you have got with Bruce and Stan?
I’m friends with both, though I haven’t seen Stan in ages. Bruce recently moved from the Los Angeles area back to Kansas City, but I’m hoping we can keep in touch.
After “Doomscult” there was longest break before next collaboration. 1986 Mr. Corben started his Fantagor Press comic books series, five issue “Rip in Time” with Bruce Jones was first of them. He went on with “Children of Fire” (three issues) and then ten issue comic book “Den [III]”. In Den [III] #8 (1989) appeared short story “Such a Pretty Little Toes”, sort of Hansel and Gretel variation. This little story has magical atmosphere. I like it. By the way, it was first additional story in Den [III], which was not reprint. Why you made this story? Was it only because of bigFOOT? Was it tailored specially for Den [III] or did you do it before?
Corben and I both do various things and so sometimes it works out that we can collaborate and other times not. I wrote “Such Pretty Little Toes” as a short film and as a comic story, but I honestly can’t recall which came first. It eventually became a feature length script called Maladjusted, which my friend Steve Vance was going to produce. Instead, we optioned it to someone else and the movie was never made.
I am maybe uneducated but I did not figured out what did you mean by “sacajawea”. Would you give a clue?
She was an Indian guide who led explorers Lewis and Clark on an expedition through North America in the pioneer days.
Who piced up such names for Hansel and Gretel? Donna and Dick? They sounds like nicknames for Madonna and Richard…
I picked the names, and they are indeed nicknames for Madona and Richard Corben.
By the way, did you know about Madonna Corben’s Siegfried Saves Metropolis animation? She won 1965 in Famous Monsters #34 and #35 animation contest’s first pirze: the amazing portable Sony television. In #34 she was still Miss Madonna Marchant, but already in #35 she was Mrs. Corben (she married her cameraman Dick Corben). Do you know anything about this film? Famous Monsters’ double article about it was poorly edited/written; they mixes winners and prizes and even animations several times during it!
I didn’t know that! Thanks!
Next story in Den [III], in #9 (1989), is “The Wreck of the Katerra-dan”. Story is quite risky. There is no action, no beautiful girls, no nothing like. Oh, there is a girl, but you cannot say anything about her beautiness. Whore in this story is the best of it. She’s kind of smiling to Druk all the time. Why did you put him to kill that girl? I understand he did it, but he kept on carring her with him. That is already a stupid thing to do. Is that symbol of his (fate of course but also) state of mind? You put name of wreck itself oddly. Does Katerra-dan have Arabic traces? This way or another, I like the way it sounds.
Oh, man…I have no idea. I’d look it up to job my memory but most of my books are in boxes in the garage.
You have got two stories in Den [III] #10 (1989). Actually first story is a poem, “Incantation”. Would you tell more about this incantation. Is it really existing language or invented? Mr. Corben used Esperanto in story “Rowlf”. This is not, I presume.
It’s a made up language, the verbal version of an abstract painting.
Second story is really comic story, “Donneman’s Bluff”. How comes? All new stories in Den [III] is written by you. You have got deal around here with Mr. Corben? Did you send them to him as a pack or one after another according what he needed? Which leads me to idea, was there any unpublished stories during Den [III]?
He needed some short stories and I was available, so I wrote them as needed. All of the scripts I wrote were illustrated and published.
In 1990 you have got possibility to make a story for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What is your relationship with turtles?
If I remember right, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was originally against everything what it is now. Anyway, they were big fan of Mr. Corben and they gave possibility to put out entire story of Mutant Turtles. Mr. Corben contacted to you for this story? Or how did it go?
Corben was hesitant to take on the job because it was a “work for hire” job, meaning that we got paid just once and didn’t get any royalties or ownership of the story. But Kevin Eastman, a big Corben fan, was generous with the pay and, even more importantly, just let us do whatever we wanted. I had fun writing the Turtles and still think they were cool characters who got kind of sucked up by Hollywood and became victims of their own success.
“Turtles Take Time” is time travelling story. You put them use the similar Rubic cube than Mr. Corben used in story “Top to Bottom” or they used in Hellraiser movies. Did you end up this kind of story together with Mr. Corben or was it your own idea? Turtles coming out of (crocodile) eggs was good detail in the story.
It was my idea, as were the eggs.
I am not a special fan of those turtles; I cannot compare your story on theirs. So, I will jump forewards, past “Son of Mutant World” to DenSaga (1992-1993). There was mention of you under additional material (on “DenSaga”, part 1). What does it mean here? Can you explaine?
Many years before, I’d sold Corben a “plot” for a “Den” story and created some cosmological stuff to expand on who Den was, that he was mythic hero, and so forth. He didn’t use it at the time, but he incorporated some of those ideas in DenSaga and so credited me with “additional material.”
After DenSaga you did not have anything with Mr. Corben until Batman: Black and White #2 (1996). “Monster Maker” is fresh, B&W story of old classical character. I adore B&W comics. They are usually more effective than color ones. How do you like Batman?
Batman has always been one of my favorite super-heroes.
In this story I like realistic point of view. Specially last line was like point to i. Batman did the deed, cops came and he replies laconicly to himself, “It’s going to be a long night…”. Did Mr. Corben has anything to say about this story? I mean, did you ended up stright a way to this story, without any other possibilities? Do not get me wrong, I like the story. I was just interested was there any other stories but this one.
Corben’s story was supposed to dovetail with the one I wrote for Kevin Nowlan. The idea was that each story was a comic book story within the other one. In fact, the last panel of each story was supposed to lead into the first panel of the other. They both dealt with “monster makers” but one (Kevin’s) was the classic comic book mad scientist, and Corben’s was more street level and realistic. Corben got his story in on time but Nowlan was very late with his, so they weren’t able to appear together as they should have been.
I actually pay attention on the same frase in the end of Kevin Nowlan’s story’s “Monsters in the Closet” and wanted to ask about it next.
But lets proceed, you did full feature story with Mr. Corben, which appeared very same year, “Denz”. Story is full of familiar events from old Den stories. But this time you put a lot of comedy on it. Is this farewell to Den?
How did you get to find this story from pages of Penthouse Comics (#15 to #20)? I have to say, Penthouse Comics is full of good for nothing stories. “Denz” was a little bit in wrong league, comic with story in such company. Only Arthur Sydam has interesting stuff, though there he has not his best stories.
No, it’s not a farewell to Den. “Denz” was mostly a joke. We didn’t want to tie in too closely with the Den continuity, since Denz was, let’s face it, semi-pornographic and appearing, as you say, in the “wrong place” and not really pandering to the reader as much as Penthouse would have liked. You have to live with this stuff, though, so we thought that making it funny would redeem it somewhat.
I did not find “Denz” too pornographic; that kind of themes was before in Mr. Corben’s stories, even in Den stories. But you did “Denz” as a hired story, tailored for Penthouse?
Your most resent work with Mr. Corben is Internet animation “Bludd”. Would you like to tell more about it. From where we will find it?
Corben had been approached by a new internet company called PirateNet to do an animated internet feature that, hopefully, they could sell to TV or the movies. He recommended me to write it, partly because PirateNet is located in Los Angeles, as I am, and I could check on them personally. I had a meeting with them, liked them a lot, and said I’d do it. Bludd is an original idea of mine. It’s a 22-minute “Flash” animated story broken into ten “webisode” of about two minutes each. It was quite a challenge to write ten very short episodes that were somewhat complete in themselves but which tied together to make a longer story. Richard did design work only, none of the animation. The video is currently making the rounds of networks here in the USA. The internet version will appear shortly, but I don’t know where. The best thing to do is to keep checking my web site for updates and links to wherever it finally appears.
When I saw “Bludd” preview trailer first time I kept in my mind Corben’s favourite themes, I didn’t find from it. One of my “non-Corben” friend, who saw the very same preview, put it in words: where are all Heavy Metal voluptuous girls? As you said, Corben did just design work; what does it mean? Is there anywhere in Internet the original design work Mr. Corben did for it?
None of Corben’s art appears directly in the series. It’s all based on his character sheets and other drawings made especially for Bludd. The artwork that appears sporadically on my web site is original Corben. When Bludd is posted on the internet, I may publish Corben’s original art on my website if PirateNet agrees.
I thank you answering these questions and sharing your limited time with me; I know you are quite busy right now.
I’d just like to add that Richard Corben is one helluva fine guy. It’s been my deep pleasure to meet and work with him so many times over the years, and I’m proud to call him a friend. –Jan Strnad
| Part 1 | Jeremy Brood | Doomscult | Such Pretty Little Toes | Donna Corben | The Wreck of the Katerra-dan | Incantation | Donneman’s Bluff | Turtles Take Time | Den Saga | Batman: Monster maker [B&W] | Denz | End |